Keeping in touch with your customers is an important aspect in running a product, or a service-oriented business.
An easy way to do it is through live chat tools – incredibly effective, yet often underrated category of software. What sets live chat tools apart from other support methods? And how can this cost-effective solution cultivate a higher level of satisfaction among your client base?
How live chat tools work
Adding live chat support to your business website requires you to find a live chat tool or service provider you like.
There are a few live chat tools out there, from GoSquared Live Chat ourselves(!) to San Francisco based Olark, Zopim, and others. All it takes is the installation of a couple of lines of code and you’re up and running.
Or it can be passive and customers are notified if operators are available. To initiate a chat session, clients first provide identifiable information, such as their name and their customer account number. All conversations in the private chat room are in real-time text messaging.
Alternatively, setting up a message board-type service also gives you access to its public live chat function. In the United Kingdom, service providers like O2, maintain both its private live chat and public bulletin board service (BBS) channels through its community page. BBS works similarly to a knowledgebase-type system, but without being as passive.
One of the advantages of live chat is that it’s an efficient way to serve your customers. According to an article written by TELUS International’s Vice-President for Customer Relations Emily Millar, this communication channel saves operating costs by a number of major factors. For one, overall contact center expenditures are reduced by lessening interaction, and agents are able to multi-task customer support, increasing efficiency. Compared to maintaining a costly 1-800 toll-free number, multiple customers can be entertained at any given time. It saves time and customers receive timely responses.
The “Human Factor”
Live chat operators play the biggest part in making live chat support successful for your business. Customers are naturally more inclined to engage in conversations with a real person than a machine. A study by Offerchat revealed that one in six shoppers prefer using live chat because they feel that it’s more “personalized”. The same study also shows that 79% of customers like using this channel because they receive responses almost immediately. These are possible because operators are more intuitive and have access to the necessary knowledge at any given time.
Customers who use live chat, according to a MoneyCrashers article, generally feel more comfortable in communicating their concerns than doing it over the phone. While the “human factor” is responsible for a more personalized experience, the text-chat format still provides a level of confidentiality that actually helps both parties. Clients feel more confident, talk clearer, and ultimately save time. In addition, customers enjoy a level of privacy, especially in places where people can hear them, something that is impossible in a phone conversation.
Rapport and trust
With its unique qualities, gaining your customer’s trust becomes even easier. Data compiled by support firm Netop.com shows that it has a three-step beneficial effect to both the business and clientele. By providing a better customer service experience, the company achieves rapport with its clients. These happy customers build a sense of trust with the company, leading to a closer business-client relationship. In fact, a survey conducted by customer relations management (CRM) firm Agendize shows that up to 77% of chat users had a good experience doing business online. The same study also indicates that sales conversions brought about by live chat interaction constitute 83% of the total figures.
It is also notable that in terms of building loyalty, personalized support is almost, if not as good as a company’s first impression. A paper by Dubai-based LiveAdmins JLT points to the fact that over 48% of customers find the first purchase as the most crucial point of the business relationship. Surprisingly, the same study shows that over 40% of the respondents think that they become loyal to the brand, after a good customer service experience via live chat.
A growing trend
Live chat support has a long way to go in terms of being adopted as a primary customer service channel. But the numbers are promising – the Offerchat study data shows that between 2008 and 2012, customer awareness for live chat has increased 21%. With the current mobile boom, it is no surprise that more people are going online, and less are picking up the phone.
In what ways do you think live chat support outperforms traditional customer support lines? Tweet us at @GoSquared
Set up GoSquared Live Chat software to make your customers happier.
About The Author
Lucy Price is a self-confessed geek and lover of new tech, fashion, latest mobiles and online communities. You can find her on Twitter.
Article updated 21st December 2016
Article updated to reference GoSquared Live Chat, and removed mentions of discontinued Olark integration.