The Top 10 Live Chat Software Tips

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As live chat is utilised more and more by online retailers, financial institutions, call & contact centres, automotive dealers and real estate as a way to not only improve online customer support but also to drive additional revenue, a leading provider of Live Chat, Parker Software, with their WhosOn software have produced the following Top 10 Tips to get the most our of Live Chat Software.

As live chat is utilised more and more by online retailers, financial institutions, call & contact centres, automotive dealers and real estate as a way to not only improve online customer support but also to drive additional revenue, a leading provider of Live Chat, Parker Software, with their WhosOn software have produced the following Top 10 Tips to get the most our of Live Chat Software

1. Don’t keep them waiting    
Seems common sense, right? If a consumer visits your site and decides to engage you in a chat, you’re really close to a sale. You’re also close to losing a sale if you make them wait in the chat window! Think of yourself as one of those giant call center operations. The ones tracking every single chat stat, with the most important stat being how long you make the consumer wait.

If you step away from the computer, manually set your status to ‘away’ and change it when you return (that last part is pretty important). Ensure your software automatically sets your status to ‘away’ if you have been inactive for just a few minutes

2. Use your ‘off-line’ graphic sparingly
Have you ever gone to a retail shop door only to find a big sign on the door that says ‘closed’? It’s a pretty big turn-off, isn’t it? The online equivalent is displaying a big ‘off-line’ graphic for your live chat service. Consumers are inspired with confidence when an online store appears to be open 24/7/365.

If you find your clientele to be temperamental, consider taking down the ‘off-line’ graphic. You may need to do this by loading a 1x1 pixel image instead of your offline graphic if your software doesn’t have a feature allowing you to post no image when offline
If you choose to use an off-line graphic make sure it contains your chat hours of operation
If you allow users to leave a message, you might be inundated with emailed questions. It’s up to you to decide if you have the resources to handle the quantity of emails. If you can’t, better to post no graphic at all when off-line.

3. Use your ‘Call me back’ feature
If you’re offline often, make sure you have your “leave a message” or “call me back” feature correctly configured. Consumers who are ready to buy will use these, and they will expect a prompt reply because their interest is real. This is the lowest hanging fruit you could possibly find on your website. Better still have a “Call me back” feature displayed separately on your site. Studies show time and time again that the more ways you give customers to contact you, the more they will. If your live chat provider doesn’t offer a separate link, switch to one that does. Switching is easy.

4. Make the live chat button obvious
By adding live chat to your site, you’re offering a great service, why not make it obvious? A button that blends into your site isn’t going to ensure visitors see it. Outline it or make it bold a bright color that is complementary to your site color scheme will attract more clicks. This tip is especially valuable if you have chosen to make live chat a big part of your online strategy. When used to its fullest potential it’s a fantastic tool for closing those prospects who you worked so hard to direct to your site.

5. Use the pre-chat and post-chat surveys
Use pre and post chat surveys for the consumer to complete before and after the chat. If you’re not using them you’re missing out on a great opportunity to collect valuable information. Pre-chat surveys can allow the consumer to select departments (sales, support, shipping…), products (the A113 or the D242). Post chat surveys could contain questions about service quality, product variety or their shopping experience. It’s a good idea to really think through how you word the question and what options you give them to answer. Using radio buttons instead of drop-downs or text fields can make a big difference in the responses you receive.

6. Have (and use) a library of canned responses
Canned responses is a feature the better chat providers offer, but so few clients actually use. The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, applies to almost everything in life and chats are no exception. It’s a good bet that 80% of your inquiries are asked over and over. Canned responses allow you to pre-write and store a library of answers. When chatting, the operator can select from a list of categorized responses. What’s faster, selecting from a drop-down list, or typing the same thing over and over every day? You’ll save huge amounts of time, which means you can handle more chats, or get on to other work. Even more importantly, you’ll answer so quickly that your consumers will see you as an expert and appreciate that you didn’t keep them waiting.

7 .Watch your tone
Chat lends itself to colloquial conversation, which is great. It’s important to be friendly, but not too friendly. Engaging a consumer in a chat can create an instant relationship between the consumer and your brand. You need to maintain the image of a professional and expert.

Here’s how:
You need to use proper English

Use the spell-check feature in your chat

Avoid those modern short forms like LOL, BRB.

If you don’t know the answer, collect their details and get back to them quickly. Your company reputation depends on it. Chat is about immediacy. Making the visitor wait is not an option

8. Use your chat logs
All your web chats are stored in a database. That database is a library of stories detailing your company communication with your site visitors. Make a point to regularly examine some of the chats your agents handled and look for opportunities to improve service. In my experience, reading my own chats usually reveals opportunities to improve on my ‘tone’ and many new canned response topics. Language is of crucial importance in web chats, using one word over another can completely change the tone of a chat from personal to professional. Today I asked “what version do you have?” When I later read the transcript I realized “Which version do you have?” sounds more polite, respectful and professional.

9. Push a page
Chances are that a lot of your visitors ask questions for which the answers are (clearly) posted on your website. Most chat software gives you the ability to push a hyperlink in the chat window. A list of URLs stored in your software can significantly cut down on the effort spent answering common questions such as “where do I find pricing?” and “how do I retrieve my password?” It’s helpful to the consumer because they simply click a link and have the answer and has the added benefit of keeping your operators sane when handling repetition.

10. Reports
Where chat logs help to uncover opportunities for improvement in the quality of chats, reports quantify the chats. The more agents you have the more important reports become because they provide key metrics such as:

  •     The time a consumer waits before reaching an operator
  •     The length of time it takes different operators to complete a chat
  •     The quantity of chats handled by one operator compared to another

Comparing these metrics and working to improve on them results not only in lowered costs but also coincidentally more satisfied consumers. While reports are very valuable they should not be viewed without looking at the quality of the chats. A large array of reports is a sure-fire way to grade your chat software provider.

If your chat provider doesn’t offer this type of functionality then perhaps it time you switched?

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Ian Rowley