The Truth Behind Live Chat – Nurture Leads and Set Up Success
Live chat is an inexpensive and efficient way to provide customer service online. Live chat has been around for decades, but it has recently become more popular with the growth of internet commerce. Live chat is an inexpensive and efficient way to provide customer service online. Live chat has been around for decades, but it has recently become more popular with the growth of internet commerce. It’s also gained popularity because customers are now used to communicating via text messages on their cell phones. Live chat can be interactive or non-interactive; both have benefits and drawbacks that need discussing before adopting the technology into your business strategy.
In a world where the internet has made the entire globe accessible at any time, it should come as no surprise that businesses are adapting to provide service to their customers in ways beyond email and phone calls. Welcome to life with live chat!
When done correctly, live chat can be a great addition to your site’s customer service arsenal. But did you know there are hidden pitfalls? What goes on behind the scenes of this seemingly innocuous tool might shock you… and not in a good way!
Chat is an instant way to communicate with a customer service representative, who can answer questions and potentially resolve problems. Live chat can take the form of a pop-up notification or an embedded contact form, that sits in the corner of your website. The chat will then be answered when either a company representative is available or after a certain amount of time has passed without a response.
The Pros: As noted in The Pros and Cons of Customer Service via Chat by Sarah Berry for Entrepreneur, live chats give you the ability to “answer visitors’ questions immediately,” which can help companies speed up their support process. In addition, providing real-time support helps put customers at ease by giving them direct access to representatives whenever they need it — instead of keeping them waiting on hold or relying on email delays.
As noted in Why Live Chat is Better Than Phone Support for Customer Service by Claire Cain Miller for The New York Times, “customers tend to hang up when they are put on hold,” which again introduces frustration and leaves companies at risk of losing business.
Regarding increased conversions, if you’ve ever used live chat yourself, you’ve probably experienced the ease of setting up a live chat and how it can make the customer experience better. Everyone hates waiting on hold, and we all hate trying to communicate via phone when you can’t show someone what you’re looking at on your computer screen (i.e., screenshots). Live chat helps alleviate some of that confusion, which can increase conversions in many different ways — from sales to support calls.
The Cons: Not every company has the luxury of answering chats immediately, especially if they’re small or growing quickly. If no one is there to answer questions in real time, customers might bounce back to their search engines and try somewhere else where they feel like their question will be answered. This problem is exacerbated if there’s simply not enough staff for each representative to handle the amount of chats that come in.
Another problem is that, as mentioned previously, live chats that aren’t answered immediately create an impression that a company has poor customer service and isn’t trustworthy. If you forget to answer your customers’ questions, they’ll simply leave and never come back. Depending on what stage your company is at, this could be devastating for your business — especially if you expect repeat orders or need to nurture leads until they become sales.
A good thing to mention is that live chat shouldn’t replace other forms of support such as email and phone support because it can actually hurt conversion rates. The reason for this is that live chats take up website storage and will make the website load a little slower, which can directly affect SEO due to Google’s algorithm to always show “healthy” and reliable websites first. Since live chats are in a fixed position on the page, they take up a search engine’s crawling space, meaning your site will rank lower in organic search results.
- Know Your Audience! What type of customer are you trying to reach? Consider who your members are and if their needs will be met with live chat. If the majority of your clients aren’t used to communicating via text messages on mobile phones, then live chat might not be for you.
If your target audience is young and tech-savvy, then live chat could work great! Just remember that younger people tend to have short attention spans so keep the messages brief and concise. Know Your Goals How will using live chats affect member satisfaction? What are some ways this technology can help improve business? What are some ways this technology can hurt business?
- Live chat is a powerful tool that can help improve your business, but it’s not right for everyone. Before you start using live chat to provide customer service, carefully consider the benefits and drawbacks of this technology as well as how it affects member satisfaction. If done correctly, live chat could be a great addition to your organization; however, if poorly managed, it could drive away customers.
If your goal is to provide better customer service, don’t forget about the other available communication channels such as email and phone calls! Be Consistent It’s a no brainer but consider how implementing live chat will affect all of your communication methods. For example, if you’re following up on an important issue via email – do you want to include a link where your customers can chat with you? Your members should be able to get in touch with you easily and without confusion.
- Make sure all of the communication channels are synced up so that there isn’t any overlap. For example, don’t use phone calls for customer service issues while responding via email or live chats!
Conclusion: Using live chat is definitely better than not using it at all, but like with most customer service initiatives you need to make sure you don’t overdo it and remove yourself from the equation completely. If you plan to implement one or more of these modes of communication on your website, be sure that representatives are available soon after (and even during) peak hours for support requests, and prioritize what information should go into each mode (i.e., phone calls usually require audio recordings of conversations). The bottom line is that live chats are a great way to boost customer service. It just depends on how much you’re willing to do to maintain them in the long run.