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Customer service online chats aren’t just fast and convenient; they’re in demand. Modern consumers prefer live chat over any other support channel, and they expect the companies they do business with to offer it as part of a well-rounded customer service experience.
For contact centers, providing quality customer service is paramount. Disgruntled customers are much more likely than happy customers to tell people about their experiences. You’ve probably heard this statement countless times because it dates back to 1980 from a study conducted for Coca-Cola by TARP.
Fast forward to 2022 and the amount of people a dissatisfied customer has the ability to reach is much larger. The average person has 338 friends on any given social media platform. One post on their page has the potential to not only reach their friends but their friends’ friends, their friends’ friends’ friends, so on and so forth. So, how do you ensure your customers have the best experience possible?
First, you need to examine what makes customers happy. During the course of an interaction with an agent, customer happiness is influenced by a few things.
- Response time
Customers appreciate a short response time. They would rather get a response in real-time than have to slog their way through a series of menu options only to be put on hold. They also do not like to wait a long time to receive a response to a question.
- Issue resolution
When a customer reaches out to an agent for help with an issue they are having they expect it to be resolved in an efficient manner. Agents must have a wide knowledge base and be able to act quickly and efficiently.
- Personable interaction
Customers are happy when they feel the interaction is personable. They should feel like the person on the other end of the conversation wants to help them. Here, we’ll explore how customer service online chat facilitates all of the above pillars of a winning customer experience.
The best experience possible
In the past, voice calls and email ruled the customer service world. But now, there’s a (not so) new kid on the block: live chat. Online chatting became popular with young people using AIM (AOLl Instant Messenger). Originally, it was a way for people to communicate casually with their friends. Today, instant messaging is used by people of all ages for all reasons.
Contact centers have found there is an advantage to using online chat. It is faster than email and more efficient than a voice call. Adding a chat widget to a business website is becoming standard practice and for good reason. Webchat has minimal response time, efficient issue resolution and allows for a personable experience. Website visitors not only prefer a live chat feature but expect a website to feature one.
Live chat is beneficial to customers and agents alike. Adding live chat software to a website improves customer satisfaction by improving agent efficiency.
What makes an agent efficient?
An efficient customer service agent should be able to:
- Answer questions thoroughly
- Field a maximum amount of “calls”
- Have a large knowledge base
- Be personable
- Anticipate customer’s needs
- Quickly determine the most appropriate resource to solve the customer’s problem
- Move with ease from one customer interaction to the next
Given the right tools, any agent can be an efficient agent. Live chat makes it easier than ever to ensure that agents are able to provide the best customer service possible.
With the option of working in multiple chat windows simultaneously, each customer service representative can service a higher volume of calls rather than relying on the slower one-to-one interactions phone support requires. Because the natural cadence of live chat allows for a brief pause between responses, an agent can more easily access the necessary information and determine the best solution without having to place the customer on hold.
How can agents use live chat?
Live chat has a variety of tools that agents can use to be more efficient. In order for an agent to be efficient, there are three important areas they must excel: customer support, sales, and productivity. Let’s examine how live chat tools lend a hand to each area.
Agents can better support customers using live chat tools. They can receive and answer questions in real-time. Furthermore, agents can provide more thorough answers in less time than they can on a voice call. Sometimes customers ask questions that require long, technical answers. With live chat, these answers can be presented, read and clarification questions then asked. Other times customers may need to be led through a step-by-step process. Live chat allows those steps to be laid out easily. This is not only beneficial to the customer but also to the agent. The agent has the ability to ensure they are giving clear, easy-to-follow directions.
Live chat helps with sales in a few ways. Most sales are based on leads. The faster an agent can respond to an inquiry the higher the conversion rate to a lead. The faster that lead is followed, the more likely it is to become a sale. Live chat enables agents to respond quickly to inquiries thus driving sales and agent efficiency.
Some live chat tools also allow agents to access sales history in real-time. This information helps agents anticipate their customer’s needs. Agents can make informed suggestions regarding their customer’s needs using live chat tools.
Agents can have more influence over whether a customer will go through with a purchase or not. Chat widgets can be placed just about anywhere on a website and one that is strategically placed can potentially increase sales.
With live chat, customer support agents aren’t limited to one conversation at a time the way they are with phone support. Instead, it’s easy for them to jump seamlessly between windows and work with multiple customers at once. While Customer A is trying to find their part number, an agent can be assisting Customer B in finding the correct size seat for their motorcycle and Customer C with a question about what kind of oil goes in their specific engine, all while convenient chat notifications keep them on top of the latest response.
The more customers an agent can serve, the better. Bonus points if your customer service software allows agents to handle emails and other support channels within the same interface for an additional productivity boost.
Customer etiquette is a delicate balance. Live chat tools help agents find this balance.
Agents should be:
Live chat tools help promote these etiquette values. It provides a platform where agents can easily be cheerful, professional, and empathetic in their responses. Some of these tools are simply built into the way live chat functions while others are programmable and personalized.
Interactions with customers can range from monotonous to complicated to downright awkward, and one too many negative interactions can take a serious toll on a customer service agent’s morale. This damages everything from their job engagement to their effectiveness at reaching appropriate solutions for the very customers they’re servicing.
Live chat reduces the impact of unfavorable interactions by allowing the agent to keep their emotions at arm’s length. Because they’re not speaking to the customer directly, the customer service representative doesn’t have to worry as much about reacting emotionally or having an appropriate off-the-cuff response. Live chat makes it easier and less stressful for agents to handle negative situations, which results in more positive customer feedback.
In addition to supplying a natural filter, webchat gives agents the benefit of canned responses, which can further increase the impression of professionalism. A canned response is a ready-made phrase, like a script, that an agent can use in response to some of the most frequent support inquiries. Using a canned response allows an agent to automate a portion of their responsibilities that is time-consuming.
It also allows them to have ready-made responses to stressful situations. Agents don’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing on the spot if they have canned responses at the ready. Canned responses take the pressure off agents allowing them to do their job more efficiently.
While a canned response can help in a pinch it is of course always better to use a natural speaking voice, even when interacting digitally.
Live chat allows room for agents to sound as professional or laid back as the brand needs. A surf shop might encourage employees to speak in a laid-back manner with lots of lingo. An agent doesn’t necessarily have to be hip to the lingo but can have a word bank to help them along. Conversely if the conversation and brand need the agent to be technical, live chat can help here as well.
Live chat makes it easier for agents to be professional. Voice calls make it easy to slip into a casual tone of voice or sound unprofessional. When chatting with customers using live chat agents have the chance to review what they say, before they say it, reducing the likelihood of sounding unprofessional or giving an incorrect solution.
Some live chat software allows agents to instantly access past customer interactions or purchase history without having to go digging back through their records to find it. Having quick access to this information further elevates the customer experience by enabling a new level of personalization in the conversation and tailored recommendations during the support exchange.
For example, when a returning customer visits a company’s website and opens the live chat, a customer service agent might greet them by name and ask whether they’re looking for help with their particular product. With answers to the most frequently asked questions about that product at the ready, the agent can serve the customer faster. Past purchasing information allows the agent to make a personal recommendation tailored to that customer’s needs, increasing the likelihood of another sale.
Unlike voice calls or email, live chat is available 24/7. As customers ourselves we understand that not all problems happen during regular working hours. Live chat software allows customers to get solutions in real-time, no matter the hour.
Live chat is a powerful tool that helps agents and customers alike. No longer do customers have to wait days to get responses to questions and agents can be confident they are giving the best customer service possible. Adding a chat widget to a website has never been easier or more beneficial. Live chat is the future of quality customer service we all deserve.
Live chat is a support channel that allows customers to have real-time interactions with company representatives in a chat-style interface. Live chat can take many forms, happening on a company’s website, social media accounts or via an app.
Online chat greatly expands customer service capabilities by facilitating convenience, speed, personalization and round-the-clock access. Customers prefer live chat over any other support channel.