As time passes, benchmarking and online endorsement become more and more relevant due to the advanced technologies that are used in respective companies and corporations. Live chat has been around for more than a decade, but only recently have companies discovered its profound effect on website conversion rates. Recent data shows that 52% of customers are more likely to repurchase from a company that offers live chat support.
Why does live chat make such a huge difference in conversion rates? It has been suggested that live chat is the only way to provide real human interaction during an online purchase. In other words, customers need questions answered and a sense of reassurance that can be provided only through live chat.
In the book, Rethinking the Sales Cycle, John Holland and Tim Young identify a sense of risk as being the most prominent emotion present in the final stages of the buying cycle. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to help customers through this stage when they see nothing more than a computer screen.
This is where the human element comes into play. Live chat allows your agents to help mitigate that sense of risk by providing reassurance and a sense of value in the product being purchased. The positive difference is undeniable.
1. Provide customers with a transcript
When customers chat with chat agents, they pick up useful information they may want to keep in their records. The problem is that most people don’t record every conversation so this information can get lost.
Action: At the conclusion of a live chat session, offer to email a copy of the transcript to your customer for their records.
2. Use canned messages
When customers arrive within a live chat conversation, they should be greeted professionally and with courtesy. But it can take a lot of time for your chat agents to type out these standard messages time after time. This is where automated canned messages can really help.
You can use carefully worded standardized canned messages to automate parts of the conversation and augment your professional profile. Use this feature with good judgment, because too many canned messages can make your customers think they’re talking to a machine rather than a real person.
Action: Create a set of professionally designed pre-canned messages and train your chat agents on how to use them.
3. Use targeted proactive chat
Customers won’t always initiate the chat conversation so you will need to proactively identify individuals who may need help and then raise the chat window with them. Customers may refuse the offer to engage in live chat, but this is not bad. In fact, just raising the offer to chat is sufficient to convey a sense of goodwill.
Consider allowing customers to browse on your site for a time before raising the offer to chat. This gives them time to get oriented before being interrupted.
Action: Identify a list of target pages where you want to increase the conversion rate, and program them to automatically raise the chat offer after a period of 30 – 60 seconds.
4. Use a pre-chat survey
When customers initiate a chat session, they should be allowed to provide some preliminary information, within a pre-chat survey, that will set the direction of the chat session. For example, they can provide their name and a quick description of what they’re looking for. The chat agent can then enter the conversation prepared to answer the customer’s concern.
The pre-chat survey also allows you to quickly route the chat session to the agent who is most qualified to handle the conversation.
Action: Design a pre-chat survey form that allows customers to set the direction of the conversation. Don’t ask too many questions – just ask the questions that will allow your chat agents the necessary background so they can provide a quick and courteous answer.
5. Promote cross-department cooperation
Your chat agents should be considered an in-house sales and support department, and as such, they should understand all product lines within your organization. This qualifies them to provide a more thorough perspective when dealing with customers – either as salespeople or as support personnel. Chat agents that know about all of your product lines can quickly identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
Action: Put your chat agents through the same preliminary training programs as the salespeople.
6. Use a typing indicator
Your live chat agents should be able to see what customers are typing while they type it. It not only gives the agents insight into what the customers are thinking as they type, but it allows the alert chat agent to respond more quickly with an answer.
Chat agents also should be alerted when a customer has hit the “send” button during the chat. The alert should be audible, visible, or both, and it can be used to interrupt a busy chat agent and let him know that a customer is awaiting a response. Keep in mind that your chat agents are likely to be handling multiple conversations at the same time, so anything you can do to help them multitask will help.
Action: Ensure your chat software is set up so that your agents can see a customer’s words as they type, and issue an alert when the customer has hit the “send” button.
7. Use chat transfer
Your chat agents shouldn’t be required to know everything. Individual agents may have different areas of expertise. If a chat agent is involved in a conversation that is outside his current level of expertise, he should quickly transfer to another agent. When this happens, ensure that the customer is aware of the transfer.
Action: Train your chat agents to transfer chat sessions when required. Also, each agent must have a list of other agents and their levels of expertise.
8. Accept chat requests automatically
Customers shouldn’t have to wait for someone to answer the chat request. Once a customer initiates a chat session, the system should accept the chat automatically and inform the customer that a chat agent will respond right away. (During this time, the customer can fill out a pre-chat survey, as mentioned in item 4.
Your response time should be less than 10 seconds. The only way to guarantee a quick response is to accept all chats immediately.
Action: Initiate an automatic response to all incoming customer chat sessions, and allow the customer to identify the problem area. Use pre-canned messages to welcome the customer and let him know that action is taking place immediately.
9. Check chat history for returning visitors
Chat agents may gain valuable perspective by quickly reviewing previous chats with an individual customer. This allows the agent to come up to speed on issues that the customer discussed previously, and to proactively follow up with any questions. Customers will appreciate the fact that they don’t have to repeat their previous problems to newly assigned chat agents.
Action: Provide chat agents with previous chat transcripts, if available, for all incoming customer chat requests.
10. Add a chat button to the email
Customers who receive emails from you should have a chat button embedded directly on the email. This is a nice feature that allows your customers to provide direct feedback on questions they may have regarding the email. Emails could be anything from periodic newsletters or follow-ups to individual questions or grievances.
Action: Ensure your outbound marketing team is trained on how to include a chat button with their email campaigns. Also, make sure they coordinate with the chat agents whenever they include a chat button on an email so that the agents are prepared to address any questions or concerns raised in the email.
11. Integrate live chat with your CRM tool
Your chat agents should have access to customer sales records. This allows them to update the CRM records after a chat session. It also allows your chat agents to gain additional perspective into each customer’s history if such history already appears within the CRM tool.
In any case, all contact with customers (or potential customers) should be recorded for future reference.
Action: Train your customers on your CRM tool and provide them with limited accounts so they can view and update individual records as the need arises.
Improve Online Sales12. Provide agents with visitor behavior analysis
Chat agents should be aware of each visitor’s online behavior before the chat session begins. Agents should know the pages that the customer has visited, and if possible, whether the customer has been on the site before. This allows the agent to more accurately understand what the customer might be looking for within your site.
It may also allow you to more intelligently route the chat session to an agent who is best qualified to answer questions that might arise from the pages that the customer visited. For example, a customer visiting pages of wireless products is more likely to ask questions related to wireless technology, so the chat session should be routed to your wireless chat expert.
Action: Ensure visitor history is available to your chat agents prior to answering a chat request.
Caution: Chat agents should never reveal the fact that the customer’s online behavior was being monitored. Nobody likes to be spied on!
13. Issue personal chat invitation
This is similar to the proactive chat, identified in item 3 above but different in its personal nature. Rather than providing an automated chat invitation, the personal chat invitation is far more attractive, actually offering the name and picture of the chat agent willing to help.
Some companies have found a 3:1 ratio of people willing to chat when offered a personal invitation over a standard automated offer.
Action: Encourage your chat agents to initiate personal chat invitations whenever possible. The additional human touch will encourage more chat activity. If possible, track the success rate to see its effect on conversion.
14. Upsell and cross-sell
Your chat agents should be highly aware of the sales techniques of upselling and cross-selling. Basically, an up-sell is where a customer is persuaded to purchase a more advanced or upgraded version of the product he originally intended to purchase.
For example, a person wants to buy a normal watch for $19.95 but instead decides to purchase a solar-powered watch for ten dollars more. He is upsold with the idea that the battery would never require changing, so in the long run, he saves money.
A cross-sell occurs where a person is persuaded to purchase accessories for his initial product. For example, while purchasing a digital camera, a customer is reminded that he’ll need some extra memory cards in case he runs out of memory before he can upload his photos.
Action: Provide basic sales training for your chat agents so they can identify and act upon upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
15. Strategically place live chat buttons
All of your product pages should feature a live chat button in a consistent location. Customers should know where to go if they need help. These buttons are typically located in the upper-right corner of each page. Some of the more sophisticated sites place these buttons in an animated “slide-out” position along the left or right margin.
Do not place these buttons along the bottom of the page, as they will disappear below the fold and may never be seen.
Action: Make arrangements with your website designer to provide the chat button in a strategically located spot on each page of your website.
So, gear up for building a sustainable relationship with prospects, get a healthy sales pipeline, and close more deals. Contact us today! Get in touch wi