The complete guide to providing live chat customer support

The complete guide to providing live chat customer support

Ishita Bagchi

Ishita Bagchi

Published on

14 minute read

Customer service inquiries have been revolutionised by the ability to speak with a service representative via online chat, reducing hold times and customer dissatisfaction.

If your business has an online presence, you should consider incorporating live chat customer support. It might be daunting to understand where to begin, though. We have done the research for you.

But before we dive into the details, let us understand the basics.

What is live chat customer support?

Live chat customer support is a way for customers to interact with the customer support team in real-time. Customers can ask inquiries and get prompt answers on the chat screen itself by using live chat software that is integrated into a company's website or app.

When given the option, the typical client will pick live chat or phone support over email or social media platforms. Live chat has continuously ranked as the top customer service channel over the past few years, with 41% of customers choosing it over all other channels.

Just behind phone service at 91%, live chat has the second-highest customer satisfaction rating at 85%.

This brings us to the many benefits that live chat has to offer.

‌‌Benefits of live chat customer support

It is convenient

Customers and agents can communicate promptly using live chat. There's no need to call and keep waiting before you can even speak to an agent.

Customers are able to multitask with live chat. More than 51% of  Customers prefer live chat for this reason.

For instance, you can carry on with your usual work on other windows or tabs while chatting with a customer service rep using live chat. But if you had to explain your problem through a phone call, you have to stop everything else and take the phone call.

Moreover, with live chat, the discussion can be saved for later. When users' prior interactions can be used as context for any future issues, it's simpler to solve the problems.

Additionally, live chat enables simple integrations with social media messengers. This allows you to engage with customers without requiring them to switch apps.

It increases conversion rates and sales

Potential customers may have inquiries about your product (or service) when visiting the website.

In such situations, having a chat widget on your website can be very useful. When a customer is actively considering making a purchase on your website, live chat assistance can help you provide prompt responses.

You can also reach out to your customers through live chat even before they text you. Such proactive messaging can nudge potential customers to purchase whatever they had left in the cart or wishlist.

For instance, Chatwoot has an outgoing campaigns option as one of the features in the website live chat. Using this feature, you can send an outbound message to a visitor automatically if they have spent a certain amount of time on your website.‌‌

It improves customer acquisition and onboarding of new customers

Live chat is a fantastic technique to engage with potential and brand-new customers and give them the assurance they require to use your product or make a purchase from your website.

Consumers who use chat support are 2.8 times more likely to convert than those who don't.

Even if your customers don't need to communicate with you immediately, making yourself accessible to them helps build trust and gives them assurance.

It is extremely beneficial for your employees

Live chat is useful for increasing your team's efficiency.

Chat sometimes allows multitasking while a phone call or email can only have one thing open at a time. You can usually handle multiple queries at the same time when you are using live chat.

However, if it is a complex issue, you might have to drop everything else and concentrate on that one chat to deliver a more effective service.

Agents can also study a customer's tone and sentiment during an ongoing chat and modify their styles as necessary. Agents can immediately create rapport and a helpful, friendly relationship by replicating style or changing the conversation tone to match a customer.

In short, live chat customer support is greatly beneficial for your business because it is:

  • Accessible
  • Convenient
  • Efficient
  • Fast

‌‌How to implement live chat support for your business?

There are a few things you need to know before implementing live chat as your customer support option. If you've already started offering chat support, going over this list will help you find areas of improvement.

Select a suitable live chat software.

Finding the ideal live chat software platform for your requirements should be your first priority. Here are a few things that you must keep in mind while selecting a suitable software for implementing chat support.

‌‌1. Transferring chats and automatic forwarding of tickets raised

When selecting a live chat software/tool, check if they offer options for transferring chats to another customer agent. This comes in handy when you are unable to answer a query. This helps with better and faster customer resolution.

Additionally, you should also check if the software allows automatic forwarding of tickets to a different communication channel or email address outside your business hours.

2. Offering integrated surveys within the chat itself

Having the option of collecting feedback within the live chat window itself can be beneficial. This will help you get real-time feedback on customer experience.

Most of the live chat widgets nowadays have the option of a feedback mechanism. As soon as the chat ends, a feedback option pops up using which the customers can express their satisfaction with the conversation.

Most of these surveys have a scale of 1 to 5. 1 means extremely dissatisfied and 5 means excellent or completely satisfied with the interaction.

You can use these surveys to analyze important customer satisfaction metrics like CSAT and NPS.

One of the most common KPIs to measure customer service performance is the Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT). You can use this metric to quanitify what your customers feel about your products and services.

A simple question that you might ask can be: “On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate your recent experience with our product/service?”

You can use Chatwoot to create your own CSAT survey.

3. Ability to integrate your live chat software with other apps

Integrating live chat with other apps like your social media accounts, emails, etc. can be beneficial.

So whenever someone makes a comment or gives a feedback on your social media, you can reach out to that person immediately using your live chat.

Thus, you can provide the ultimate omnichannel customer service.

When all the platforms are connected with each other, you can take up the conversation on one channel and continue on another based on all the previous information that you collected.

This will help you to keep a track of your customer’s purchase history, queries, and feedback from other platforms. So whenever a customer asks anything on the live chat, you can address their questions more effectively. ‌‌

4. Customer profiling

Your live chat software should have the capacity to categorise new users to the specific target groups they belong to. It should also be able to determine which pages they have previously visited.

This will help you to know which groups of customers are using your services the most or reaching out to you for what purposes.

Customer profiling or tracking is necessary to keep a track of your customers’ journeys to ensure that you can address the gaps in your service delivery.

5. Customisation as per your brand's requirements

Having the option to customise your live chat widget and window as per your website’s theme and branding is important. This will help you maintain brand consistency.

6. Automation and chatbot integration

By responding to basic questions round-the-clock with automation, you can improve the satisfaction that customers get from using live chat.

Chatbot and automation work hand in hand with the agents. It can gather client information before forwarding the conversation to the appropriate agent.

This makes it easier and effortless for the customer and also for the rep who can have all the required information handy and address customers’ queries more efficiently.

Here are some ways in which bots can deliver better customer and agents experiences:

  • With chatbots, you can engage your customers at all times by responding to their straightforward questions.
  • Fewer support tickets are submitted to the help desk as a result of bots handling frequent questions (such as asking about the delivery date, status of the order, etc).
  • In addition to interacting with customers, bots gather basic information like names, email, etc. for future needs.
  • When a query is complex and technical, a bot can send it to the appropriate team automatically without having to redirect it manually.

Related read: Will customer service be replaced by robots?

7. Keeping a record of previous conversations

If the live chat software can keep a record of your previous conversations with your customers, your life as a customer service rep becomes a lot easier.

Whenever a customer has a query, you can refer to the previous conversations to understand the customer and their needs. This will help you personalise the conversation.

Decide the placement of your live chat widget.

It is important to be clear on where you would be placing your live chat widget. This depends on what you aim to address through the live chat.

Start by providing live chat on your checkout page if you want to lower your cart abandonment rate. If you want to assist clients to access customer support more quickly, consider making it available in-app or on your contact page.

Decide what times you'll be available to engage with your customers.

Even if your team operates on a 24/7 schedule, chat doesn't have to be active all the time. You might start by simply covering the hours of operation on weekdays and then expand.

Also keep in mind that you can always switch off chat, unlike email assistance. Leave an offline message and allow your agents to concentrate on the email queue if the volume gets too high.

Determine what clients will see if no agents are available for live chat. Give them the option of emailing your staff with their inquiry. After that, specify when your chat will resume or when they might expect an email response to their query.

Be clear about the next steps clients must take to receive the assistance they require.

Train your customer support agents for live chat.

Chat is more challenging than email because the team must respond to inquiries instantly in live chat. Agents cannot rely on pre-written responses always.

So it is important to train your customer support agents to handle chats effectively and resolve customer queries.

Developing knowledge bases and guides on how to navigate live chat can be one of the ways in which you can train them. A more seasoned service rep can monitor the live chat discussions initially to ensure that other reps are able to handle the conversations.

Ensuring that your service reps are able to navigate the live chat customer support option is important. This, in turn, will ensure that your customers are getting the services that they expect from you.

‌‌5 common mistakes to avoid while integrating live chat support

1.Customers finding it difficult to reach out for support

If your customers face difficulty in accessing your live chat option then it defeats the entire purpose of it. If the chat widget is difficult to locate or is difficult to navigate, customers might get discouraged to use it.

Additionally, a long and complicated pre-chat form can also make it difficult for customers to even start a conversation.

While pre-chat forms capture essential customer data, it is important to ensure that these forms are not too complicated and time-consuming. Customers could get frustrated and bounce before they even talk to you.

Pre-chat forms are a great way to collect information about your customers before interacting with them.

So keeping them short and simple will ensure that customers don't leave the chat window even before starting the chat.

2. Sounding robotic in conversations

Sometimes customers do not feel a difference between chatbots and human agents. If you use only automated responses and pre-written texts for conversations, the conversation might not be so effective.

This might make customers feel just like another number or target to be achieved. Thus, it is important that you humanise the experience.

To ensure that your interaction is personalised and more receptive, just talk like you would to a friend. Personalising the experience is necessary. And it is definitely more than just using the customer’s name during the conversation.

Then, customer service reps should be polite and empathetic in their responses.

Make sure that you make the customer feel heard and valued by paying attention to what they are saying instead of sending only automated responses.

When you pay attention, you also become confident in your responses. This makes customers trust you more. After all, 84% of customers feel their experience improves significantly if an agent can answer confidently.

‌‌3. Offering live chat as an isolated option

Live chat cannot be an efficient mode of communication if it is not integrated with other third-party apps such as emails, social media platforms, etc.

You have to constantly toggle between multiple tabs and switch between different apps if all your apps are not integrated with your live chat. This makes it more time-consuming for the customers.

It is also taxing for the customer service reps when they have to go back and forth, especially when the ticket volume is high.

To avoid such mistakes, make sure to integrate your live chat with other third-party apps such as your social media, emails, etc.

‌‌4. Taking too long to respond to your customers

While it is important to deliver effective customer service and take sufficient time to do that, we also need to keep in mind the purpose of live chat. Your customers contact you via live chat because they expect to get a faster reply than they do over emails or social media comments.

A live chat is the preferred method of communication for about 79% of customers who seek a quick answer. The typical duration of a live chat response is 46 seconds. Customers might not appreciate having to wait for more than a minute.

So, ‌‌make use of auto-reply messages. Assure your customer that their message has been received even if a live chat operator can't respond right away. Give the customer a specific window of time in which they may expect a response to help them feel assured. Have pre-written responses handy for this purposes.

Some simple examples of such responses are "Hi, how can I help you?" , or  "Your request has been accepted; an agent will respond in 3 minutes."

Create your knowledge base and link it to your live chat application. You will be able to quickly respond to FAQs by doing this.

This implies that your clients will be able to identify a solution to most of the common issues on their own. Additionally, your operators could only have a small number of clients who need complex solutions.

‌‌5. Having only one or very few language options

Your target group or market might comprise people from different parts of the world. This means that not everyone will be using only one language.

When your chat support has only one language, it will restrict other customers from using it who don’t know the language. This means that even if customers have issues, they might find it difficult to reach out to you.

Here’s how you can avoid this.

None of us want our customers to face any difficulty in reaching out to us. So it is important that you offer chat support in multiple languages.

This will help you to reach out to a wider base of new customers as well who will find your business more inclusive because of multilingual chat support.

Moreover, your existing customers also might not be well-versed in the language that your chat support is offered. They too might require more than one language as an option.

Thus, it is important to keep in mind who are the target groups and add language options accordingly.‌‌

Examples of companies offering excellent live chat customer support

Netflix

Netflix is known for its social media engagements and excellent live chat support. The customer service reps know exactly how to keep customers engaged while they are waiting for the resolution of their issues.

They interact with their customers by personalising the experience in very simple yet effective ways.

Using the customer’s user data, they ask fun questions about their favourite characters in a series, etc. They do this while the customer is waiting on the live chat for their problem resolution.

This is how they keep their customers engaged and ensure that they don’t feel like they are just another customer and have no value for the company.

They also attach resources for some basic FAQs just before the chat window. This can help customers to resolve their issues that do not require any complex solution.

Moreover, on their chat support page, they also clearly mention the waiting time. This gives a clear picture of what the customer should expect.

‌‌Google

All of us know Google as an excellent search engine. Google also offers live chat support in multiple languages.

Smart Reply is a feature in Google's chat support where you can send context-based quick-reply options for your messages in English. Google has now expanded this feature by including languages like French, Portuguese, and Spanish.

The system can now identify which language you are using in a given message. If you are in an international company and have to talk to multiple people across the world, this feature is a game changer for your business.

Related read: Some interesting customer service experience stories.

‌‌Top 5 live chat customer support metrics that you should track

1.Total Volume

Total volume is the sum of all chats sent to your team in a certain period. Missed and ended chats and any additional chat integrations from third-party apps are also included.

Total volume is a useful statistic to determine how many chats you have overall. You can get information on the type of questions asked in the chats.

For instance, if there are a lot of chats around a specific issue, you could create a knowledge base documentation or a FAQ for that question and display it on your website.

You can do this by categorising your chats into different labels. And then any time, you want to see which type of conversations are you getting the most, you can easily do so with the help of a Labels Report.

2. First Response Time

First Response Time (FRT), or First Reply Time, is a crucial live chat metric that measures how long clients with issues must wait for the support agent's initial response.

The initial response time measures the typical time it takes for a support agent to respond. It also represents the beginning of a successful solution.

This metric plays an important role in determining customers’ satisfaction with live chat. Customers will be happier with your customer service staff and your brand if your initial response rate is lower.

3. Average Resolution Time

Average Resolution Time (ART) estimates how long support agents typically take to wrap up a conversation. This chat metric, also known as the average handling time, helps in gauging customer happiness.

The longer the average handle time, the longer the clients have to wait for responses. That could indicate that your agents are juggling too many duties or managing too many discussions at once.

Concentrate on improving your chat queue management, getting more training or advice, or finding solutions more quickly. One way to understand this is by checking how many conversations are open at any point of time. You can do this by tracking the status of your conversations and having a consolidated view of all such metrics in one place in real-time.

4. Chat to Conversion Rate

Live chat is very useful for generating leads. 38% of customers claim that a successful live chat experience eventually encouraged them to purchase a product.

Live chat assists in converting sales leads by giving real-time support to sales inquiries, boosting your return on investment (RoI). The number of visitors who converted as a result of live chat interactions with a live chat agent makes up the chat to conversion rate measure.

‌‌5. Missed chats

Missed chats is another KPI that you should track if you want to improve your live chat customer support delivery. Missed chats are lost chances for you to interact with clients and potential clients. The major factor here is your availability.

If your team is frequently missing chats, you either lack the resources to manage chat dialogues well or the agents are not deployed at the appropriate moment.

This metric helps you understand these gaps and take necessary action to address the same. Enable routing so that the appropriate person or department may connect with the customer to deliver a quicker and more efficient answer.

You can do this if you have a detailed view of all your other metrics such as FRT, ART etc. Keeping a track of the other metrics will help you identify where you are lacking and why are you missing chats.

Before you leave…

Connecting with customers through live chat will enhance their overall experience and improve conversions. Measuring live chat metrics and understanding what live chat is all about can enable you to enhance customer experience and achieve all of these objectives.

We hope this article helps you deliver amazing customer service experiences. Want us to write about a specific customer service topic? Let us know at marketing@chatwoot.com.

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