When online customers want to make a purchase, it’s a sin to ask them to pick up the phone and spend money on a call or to have them wait hours for an email reply.
Customer psychology proves that people often buy under an impulse of a moment. Emotions often affect our actions, we also do spend more money while happy and in good mood. Just as brick and mortar shops use lights, music and colors to make us put more into our shopping cart, online sellers have their methods and tools to convince a potential buyer into placing an order.
Some online businesses have a hard time ‘catching’ a customer in the moment of hesitation and creating that impulse, which adds some emotions to ecommerce and might just push him further through the order process. Email exchange puts this moment off in time for hours – potential buyer is already gone when his message will be read and answered and the phone call creates barriers in technology and costs.
The Cyber Monday was invented, because online retailers wanted a piece of the Black Friday’s cake.
Live chat software promotes immediate communication directly on the website where customer is about to click the Buy button.
Best online chat software
There’s no such thing as best live chat software. There’s plenty to choose from – huge number of live chat providers makes it easy to start your own live chat support. You can select from the entry-level and free services, good for bloggers and freelancers with no budget, like Olark and SnapEngage, as these tools allow connecting the chat service with existing IM accounts.
For small and medium businesses, the previously mentioned chat software will become insufficient, so companies with at least several people onboard will quickly look at more advanced solutions. Software pieces from LiveChat or LivePerson offer native apps for desktop and mobiles plus more features dedicated specifically for online customer support and maximizing online sales.
Live chat software is a proven way for improving sales without increasing website traffic.
The decision about choosing right application impacts the results, and consequently, the future of the business, so take your time while looking at different tools. Play with software for a while, pay attention to details like design, end-user experience and ease of use. It will all pay off later.
Think about the live chat implementation scenario – a role you see for a chat app in your business. Ask yourself, will you have a dedicated sales or support team, will a secretary or an assistant use it to answer questions, or will that be you and several more people using it daily on their desktops and mobile phones while out of office. What I’m trying to say is – each business is different and an idea and certain expectations about how should the chat work on the website must be defined before any development or technical work is done.
Do you have customers to chat with?
Before you even ask a web developer to set up your new chat software, make sure that you have enough traffic on the website. If yes, you are good to go, if not – Google Adwords campaign and search engine optimization will be a better way to spend your money.
How much traffic is enough for live chat, you might ask.
How much traffic is enough for live chat, you might ask. In some cases, businesses might not be receiving enough chats to justify the cost, unless there are at least a couple of hundred visitors per day. This applies to companies with wider offer but lower margins, e.g. online retailers.
Adding live chat is pointless on a website without traffic. Investment in ad campaigns and SEO makes more sense.
On the other hand, for real estate or law firms one customer can bring a lot of profit and there are probably not that many daily visitors of their websites, but each one is of huge value – chat is a good fit here as even with 10-20 visitors/day it can pay off quickly. Several hundred dollars-worth sales after the chat is more than enough to cover the expenses for a monthly chat subscription.
Chat setup and customization
Technically, placing an online chat service on the website is easy – in most cases it’s a simple copy/paste operation on a piece of code. That code is responsible for monitoring customer activity in real-time, inviting online visitors to chat and obviously for the actual chat. Your web developer will take care of this part in minutes.
Finally, don’t forget to adjust the chat to your website’s look & feel. Add a logo, make sure the colors in design are exactly the same, use real names and pictures of your customer service staff. This will make the website and the chat look professional and your business will be perceived as transparent, reliable and trustful.
Live chat means real-time help
All companies using chat on their website need to remember that this is a promise of an immediate help and a guarantee of an access to well-skilled advisor. Important factors are wait times – for the chat to start (in case there’s a queue of customers) and first response time after chat session starts.
People working with online visitors using live chat solution are more efficient than sales clerks in a grocery store or call center agents. They are able to handle multiple conversations at once and keep high quality of each one of them. Making use of special tools like canned responses or customer message preview makes their work even more comfortable.
Text communication has a few constraints for the users. Staff needs to use proper language, which includes spelling (there are spell checkers available though), grammar and style. It should match the language used on your website. Online skateshop salesmen will probably use an informal style in their chats with customers. At the same time, dentist appointments will be made in a more official form.
Live chat etiquette
Chat etiquette is similar to the etiquette of the entire cyberspace. Apart from the business-to-customer relationship, it’s also a communication between (at least) two people and needs to be conducted with respect.
Pay attention to quality of chats – your customers will be grateful.
There are certain lists of live chat best practices that cover multiple aspects of communication and settings that will tell you:
- how to optimize chat settings – know how to properly set up the chat on a website to make the most out of it.
- how to conduct a chat – learn the rules of courtesy and polite chatting, know good manners for a visitor and an agent.
- how to train chat staff – for some companies being good is just not enough – they know how to be outstanding at chatting.
Blazej, Head of our Support Team, commented on Quora’s question about live chat best practices:
“Besides the obvious courtesies you need to instantly let the customer know if you’re a sales-person or a supporter. These days consumers don’t just buy products – they buy brands and services, with which they want to stick as long as they’re satisfied. If you initiate, make sure you have something to offer – either knowledge of an expert, or humility and patience. Both of those always win hearts – regardless of technology behind them.”
And after all – it’s about helping the customer, isn’t it?