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Best practices for live chat & live chat handling skills

best practices for live chat

One thing that is universally acknowledged about the average internet browser and online shopper is that they are very impatient.

If someone lands on your website and has a question, they are unlikely to search for an email address or a phone number. People want instant answers, or they will leave and buy from a competitor. With this in mind, live chat can drastically increase the number of website visitors who become clients or customers. 

The art and science of “conversion rate optimization,” or CRO, involves creating the best user experience for your website visitors and making it as easy as possible for them to make a purchase or inquire about a service. 

CRO often involves many split testing of designs, colors, review widgets, testimonials, buttons, and page copy. Another huge factor, however, can be the inclusion of a live chat. 

Best practices for live chat

Live chat best practices have changed in recent years. In the past, live chat was seen as an addition to email and phone as a customer service channel. However, in 2021, many online shoppers expect to find live chat on a website, with 62% of users wanting to communicate on live chat, according to a recent study. In fact, live chat, thanks to its real-time, instant communication abilities, provides a satisfaction level of 73% compared to 61% for email, according to Econsultancy, and 63% of consumers reported that they would return to a website that offers live chat according to Emarketer.

Studies and surveys both suggest that live chat can completely change and enhance the performance of a website. However, it is also possible to annoy and repel visitors if live chat usage does not adhere to certain best practices.

Customer support or Conversion Rate Optimisation?

Before you start with live chat on your website, consider what goal you are trying to achieve. Live chat set up for customer support is often wholly different from the settings and practices that might be adhered to when looking to convert more visitors to customers or leads.

The goal of live chat regarding customer support is to reduce the number of issues and tickets dealt with via email and phone and resolve issues as quickly as possible to benefit the visitor and the company behind the website. Live chat best practices and live chat handling skills will be considerably different when customer support is the primary goal compared to the pursuit of a conversion rate increase.

In many cases, a hybrid of both goals might be desirable. On specific pages of a website, for example, the main goal may be to nurture and convert visitors, while on other pages, the primary goal may be customer support.

Make live chat data-driven

Assuming that your goal is to increase conversions, it is important to start out with some data related to conversion rates. Take a look at all of the website pages, and using data from software such as Google Analytics, assign a conversion rate percentage to each page. Evaluate which pages convert well and which don’t.

You can further evaluate your data by splitting each page’s performance in terms of conversion rate, into during office hours and outside of regular working hours. It would help if you also looked to see how long, on average, it takes for someone to convert on each page. You don’t want to interrupt or distract users when they’re in the process of making a purchase, so set any proactive chats so that they appear and popup to the visitors after the average conversion duration for that page is up.

Any trends and insights from Google Analytics may be helpful. For example, if you have a limited resource in terms of the number of live chat agents you have, do you want to spend time engaging with visitors from overseas if you are a local business? Probably not!

Assuming that your website uses cookies to track visitors, you should also consider using specific greetings and chat introductions with new visitors and returning visitors.

Provide immediate answers

Why is live chat so effective? Because responses are immediate. If you fail to resolve any issues or answer a question instantly with live chat, it loses much of its benefit as a customer service channel, and you may well lose a potential customer.

With this in mind, it is essential to minimize response times. It can also help to use a typing indicator that shows the visitor an agent is responding to his or her query.

Providing live chat agents with pre-written responses to frequently asked questions can also help to improve speed and response times. For example, if people often ask about shipping rates and details, have a pre-written response about delivery times and costs.

Use live chat data to inform webpage design

If you have access to the live chat transcripts, then analyze these, either using data mining software or by scanning through them manually. If there are frequent questions, consider adding the questions and answers to the relevant web pages.

For example, if visitors regularly ask about shipping times, consider adding this information in a prominent place on product pages and/or checkout pages.

Target specific pages with live chat

The chances are that if someone has entered your site via a Google search and is viewing a blog post, they are not ready to make a purchase or sign up just yet.

However, if a user is on a checkout page or a sign-up page, they may well be evaluating whether or not to make a purchase. These “high-value” pages tend to result in many sales or inquiries; it can pay to analyze the user behavior data and experiment with different live chat settings.

For example, you can set the Moneypenny Live Chat window to pro-actively pop open after someone is on a checkout page for more than 30 seconds. You can also customize the greeting. So you could, for example, offer information about your returns policy, shipping pricing, or even a discount code to incentivize them to finalize a purchase. With recent data suggesting that the average cart abandonment rate is around 75% across all industries, making the most of live chat and testing different settings can provide an immensely profitable return on investment.

Be aware, however, that in some instances, a proactive live chat can reduce conversions – sales and sign-ups. If a product page is well designed and optimized for a high conversion rat, and within 5 seconds of a visitor landing on the page, a proactive live chat window pops up and takes up a large percentage of the screen, this can be annoying and distracting for the potential customer who then abandons the page. This is why testing and intelligent, specific use of live chat is essential. Only implement proactive chats on specific pages and be cautious with the time settings of proactive chats.

Use live chat to capture leads directly

One major variable with live chat that you will also want to test is whether or not visitors need to provide any contact information before initiating a chat. This should be informed by data from Google Analytics and any other analytics or tracking software you may have installed on your website, including the reports provided by your live chat software. If your website is set up to generate leads, you need to consider your website’s goals and the visitor’s goals simultaneously. You want contact information while the visitors want quick answers. If you jump straight in and ask for contact details from the start of the chat, the visitor will likely get annoyed and leave the website.

Make live chat human

While integrating chatbots with real live chat agents has several advantages, whenever possible, build rapport with customers and don’t be afraid to have a personality.

Adding an agent’s name and picture to the live chat window can also humanize the experience and increase interactions. This is where on the fly chat handling skills will come into play. Spelling and grammar can be essential, as poor grammar can poorly reflect your brand and damage credibility. Being able to multitask during busy times and enjoy a fast-paced environment can be necessary for a live chat agent. Acknowledging issues and showing empathy is also a critical chat handling skill and best practice.

Send users a transcript

If a chat results in the exchange of important information, then sending a transcript can provide a helpful reference for the visitor who may otherwise need to rely on his or her memory.

Offer 24/7 live chat support

With the number of people working shifts increasing year on year, providing 24/7 instant customer support can provide a distinct competitive advantage. Moreover, people who work regular hours may well be looking to contact businesses late in the evenings, when for example, they have put their children to bed. Your website does not close for the evening, so your live chat shouldn’t either.

Up to 60% of leads will come through outside regular working hours, so it can provide a significant increase in conversions if support is available out of hours.

Conclusion

The best practices for live chat will depend mainly on live chat goals, the type of website the live chat is on, and the baseline conversion rate. Data analysis and testing are critical to getting the most benefit from live chat while showing empathy, and building rapport remain key live chat handling skills universally.

With Moneypenny’s outsourced live chat, you can take a free trial to see the benefit for your website. Set up is quick and easy, and there is no obligation to sign up after the free trial. 

 

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