Live chat is an increasingly common customer service, support, experience channel. But what is it and does it really work?
What is live chat?
Put simply, live chat is a tool and a means of providing instant online customer support. It currently is provided in two ways:
Where a ‘chat now’ icon is on the website but remains dormant until clicked on.
Where the chat window pops up automatically. A more complex option (and potentially more intrusive) it uses sounds, animations or even timing cues to draw attention.
Who’s using it?
Around 56% of people have used live chat at least once and 49% of them prefer to use the feature while conducting online shopping. On the flip side, 74% of people still prefer to use telephone communications when it comes to issues such as complex financial issues.
Does it work?
‘Q1 2015 live chat led all other channels in customer satisfaction at 92%’ – Zendesk
‘63% of customers were more likely to return to a website that offers live chat’ – eMarketer
So the customers like it, in fact, 56% of 18-34 year olds prefer live chat to phone (that number drops to 27% for the over 35 year olds but that figure is increasing) but what does live chat provide for revenue and conversions?
And here’s where the data gets murky. Some studies suggest that live chat does increase conversions, while others suggests it does nothing. While some believe that live chat decreases the costs involved in providing live customer service, others disagree. It’s true that potentially you will require less staff, the haphazard nature of website traffic could mean that you have staff available to utilise live chat and yet no one to chat with. Perhaps it’s best to consider the benefits of live chat to customer service and integrate this tool into current strategies rather than spend too many separate resources to this single aspect of your website’s functionality.
So far research suggests that live chat works best for start-ups to build awareness of their offering and complex purchases so as to breakdown any barriers.
Tips to help live chat convert:
Like a ringing phone or a customer standing right in front of you, don’t leave it too long to acknowledge them and begin a conversation.
Send more messages
Sending more messages is likely to engage the customer more than if you leave the communications entirely up to them.
While utilising live chat use this one-on-one opportunity to gather as much information as possible, regardless of whether they become a customer or remain a potential customer for now. This will help to build or add to your customer profile so you can better target your communications to appeal and engage to your target audience as a whole.
Limit chats per agent
Ever tried to send a text message, while on the phone, while one of your children is asking you questions and someone knocks on the door; impossible. If live chat is popular with your target audience look at scheduling more staff to handle queries so that your agents can be dedicated to the conversation at hand and provide a better level of customer service and potentially convert more.
Use it as another brand touchpoint
Consider live chat as yet another brand touchpoint and entry point to your sales funnel. Placing an appropriate level of importance on live chat your team will give it the attention and diligence it deserves.
For many companies using live chat, a goal is to garner either a phone number or an email address in order to follow up and drive more leads.
To learn more about how to better serve your customers online, contact your local branding specialist Liquid Creativity.