Earlier this month my colleague, Jon, wrote a really interesting Insights post about millennials’ phone call anxiety. I’d certainly recommend giving it a read as it outlines an issue that is a very real cause for concern as millennials make up a large and growing percentage of customers. Check it out here. But Jon’s post got me thinking… I’m no expert in this area but I really didn’t know much about Jon’s recommended solution of live chat. I decided to do some research on customer support using live chat and have put together 7 tips to help you maximize the potential of live chat for customer support.
Live chat undeniably improves customer service levels. Companies appreciate it for its customer satisfaction and loyalty-building benefits. Whereas customers have learned that the little box in the corner of the screen is where they can instantly get any support they need, whenever they need it. And they like it! In fact, they like it so much that over 80% of customers are happy (and using) live chat customer support.
There’s no more being put on hold on the phone or waiting to get their emails replied to. They appreciate how easy it is to use and how efficiently their issues are dealt with. However, while live chat popularity is increasing, there’s still the issue of companies managing to do it well and keeping their customers happy in the process. Simply having live chat customer support isn’t enough. It needs to be efficient and personalised to increase customer satisfaction otherwise, it may end up having a negative effect.
Following the pandemic, customers have new expectations of what they demand from customer service. Good communication is key to any organisation surviving in a post-covid economy. It’s crucial to maintain a good connection with your customers and show how committed you are to keeping them happy. Having a comprehensive customer support strategy will keep your team happy as well and what’s more, well-structured, effective live chat can also be a source of revenue.
1. Standard Operating Procedures Are Key
The quality of customer support your team can offer is directly affected by how clear and organised your customer service processes are. To maintain your high standards or improve your current ones, you need a detailed procedure that everyone can easily follow through.
Having specific rules and operating procedures in place can ensure that your customers receive the fastest and best answer. For example, every good customer support system has standard processes and scripts for answering routine customer queries. Say a customer wants to return a product, your customer service reps must be able to provide that customer with immediate information on your company’s return policies and, refer them to the appropriate department for solving their query in a timely manner.
Clear standard operating procedures (SOPs) will also help you provide consistent customer support. This way, customers will know what to expect and won’t be complaining that they get a different answer every time they talk to one of your reps.
On top of this, customer support teams are also proven to be more efficient when SOPs are put in place. They are useful both for training your teams and for simplifying their workload. Having multiple customer service scenarios, segmented by various customer types and clear procedures means that all they’ll have to do is follow them for the best results. They take out any ambiguities and allow them to resolve customer queries with confidence.
2. Decrease Response Times
This may seem obvious but, since live chat’s popularity is based on how quickly it solves queries, you must assure you deliver this to customers as efficiently as possible. Short response times are a key aspect of good customer service, translating into high levels of customer satisfaction.
To improve your response times, define them clearly. Perhaps say each question must be answered in 90 seconds or less. This way, your customer support teams will have a clear KPI (Key Performance Indicators) and will know that they cannot take longer than that to respond to a customer. Even if that answer is ‘We are still processing your request’, the customer must feel that they are being tended to and you didn’t step out for a coffee.
To make things as efficient as possible, and especially if you are short on staff, you can use predefined answers to solve the most common customer queries and automate as much of your live chat customer support as you can.
3. Personalize Live Chat Sessions
Bear in mind that obviously your live chat customer support must always be professional, but having said this, that doesn’t mean you should not be open and friendly. Customer experience is based on how well you make them feel and how engaged you are in your communication with them. It’s important to be approachable right from the start with a welcoming message to make them confident about talking to you. 42% of customers will do business with a competing company if they experience an interaction with a rude or unhelpful staff member. So be empathetic and make your customers feel important and appreciated. Listen closely to what they are saying and address matters directly. If they are angry or upset, maintain a calm and professional tone and assure them that you are doing everything to help them.
It’s a good idea to continually use your customer’s name as well as asking more personalised questions throughout the course of the live chat conversation. This takes the conversation to a more individual level, increase their engagement and ultimately helps to build trust in the relationship between you and your customer.
Make sure you remember to thank your customer and ask if there is anything else they require your help with at the end of your conversation. You can also add how happy you would be to help them with any future issues. Chat can often feel a little impersonal so adding a touch of personal branding into your conversational tone adds the human element back.
4. Use Social Mimicking
With live chat, your customers can’t see you and they have fewer cues about how the discussion is going however, you can make some efforts to close this gap and mimic human interaction. The concept of social mimicking is how you can overcome any communication issues and keep your customers engaged in the conversation. It works by mirroring their preferred manner of communication and adjusting your language and tone to theirs.
Agents need to be responsive and show empathy by observing and adjusting to the customer’s approach. For example, say your customer is a 20-year-old who wants to upgrade their current subscription to your service. Their style will most likely be casual and familiar and they will most likely use straightforward language. When your response is similar in nature to how they write, they are more likely to feel that you hear and understand them, and you will help them with a quick solution.
Once the customer lays out their issue and you get a better sense of what their approach is, you can adapt your own tone and language and continue the conversation in that direction. This will help you establish an emotional connection. Remember that your main goal is to make your customers feel cared for. They need to feel your brand is relatable. So, deliver an empathic, human response.
5. Break Up Walls of Text
Customers expect a quick and easy resolution to their issues. This should also translate into how you chat with your customers.
Any response you give them needs to be bite-sized and easy to understand. This means that you shouldn’t let your chat session turn into an email or a wall of text. Separate several ideas into paragraphs and keep each message no longer than two sentences.
If you are explaining the steps your customer needs to take to solve their issue, avoid writing all the solutions in one message and then pressing send. Breaking things up will make it easier for them to understand the steps. And give them a chance to ask questions as you describe each step if they have any.
6. React to Your Customer
Another tip you can use to help make your live chat customer support conversations more personable is to react to your customer as they lay out the issue, they need support for. You will need to send them some cues that you are listening to them because they can’t see your face and how engaged you are in the conversation. That’s not to say that you should interrupt them. The idea isn’t to bother them. It’s to make them feel heard and to relate to them on a more personal level and to show empathy. Don’t wait until they’ve finished everything they’ve had to say. Add some indication now and then to show that you are still there, and you are following what they are saying. A simple “Yes”, ‘I see’ or ‘OK’ will do.
7. Reuse Frequent Responses
You can save a lot of time reusing your most frequent customer support responses. For best results, you can organize customer queries and your responses into categories and prepare scripts from saved conversations. Having scripts will allow your customer support agents to be more prompt and confident in their answers. They won’t be scrambling trying to figure out the best response for a particular situation because they’ll have it right in front of them. It not only improves your team’s efficiency but also your customers’ experience.
Hopefully, you found these tips useful. If you’re interested in implementing live chat for your organisation, get in touch. Here at Spire, we provide 3CX which is a telephone system that has a whole host of amazing features including live chat for your website. For more information on this, call us on 0330 205 0250, email us at 3CX@spiretechgroup.com or even give our live chat a try! You should see it in the bottom right of your screen.