Live chat software is relatively new to the customer support world, but it’s caught on like wildfire. Today, most websites offer live chat support as an option. That’s because customers overwhelmingly rank live chat as their preferred method of contact.
But are businesses meeting customer expectations when it comes to live chat support? The answer is a resounding no.
Kayako talked to 400 consumers about the live chat experience and found that 47% said they can’t remember a positive live chat experience in the last month. Thirty-eight percent of those customers cited poor user experience as the channel’s biggest problem.
It seems customers love live chat in theory, but the reality of how businesses implement live chat isn’t what consumers are looking for.
With up to 86% of consumers willing to spend more on a better customer experience—only 1% whose expectations are consistently met—there’s a huge opportunity for brands who can get live chat right. Let’s look at the top 5 ways you can improve your company’s live chat experience today.
1. Set the right expectations
Like any relationship, from a marriage to a business partnership, setting the right expectations from the outset sets you up for greater satisfaction down the road. When customers know what to expect from your live chat support, they can make a more informed decision about which support channel they choose. That means those who do come through live chat have expectations in line with the kind of help desk support you can and do provide there.
Some of the most important expectations you should set for customers revolve around chat availability, first response time, and topics your live chat reps can handle.
When your help desk support is offline, your best bet is to hide the live chat module entirely. Don’t invite any opportunity for customers to expect a response when your team isn’t there to provide one. When you are online, clearly state the hours your team’s available.
Unnecessary chat conversations create a bad experience for customers and add unnecessary work for your team. Set expectations on your live chat tool’s welcome page around which topics warrant a chat conversation. For those that don’t (like checking on an order’s status), point customers to the best place to have their question answered.
First response wait time
The only thing worse than waiting for a response is waiting in uncertainty. Even if the first response time’s are long, it’s best to transparent about it and set accurate expectations for customers. When wait times are length, customers may even choose to come back at another time—meaning they’ll have a better experience and lighten the burden on your support team.
2. Cut first response time
Speaking of first response times…long and uncertain wait times are one of the biggest frustrations customers have with the live chat experience. In fact, our study found that 44% of consumers are less than 50% sure they’ll get support in a reasonable amount of time.
Speed and convenience are some of the biggest benefits of live chat support, so it’s vital that your team gets them right. That can be tough for small, overburdened support teams, but there are a few pain-free steps you can take to cut down on first response times—without doubling your payroll.
Keep all of your support conversations in one place
Whether it’s email, social, or live chat conversations, your ticketing system is harder to keep track of (and respond to in a timely manner) when support queries are siphoned off into 7 different inboxes. Keeping everything together enables your team to stay on top of support requests.
Set up notifications for real-time conversations
Sending all support requests to the same inbox keeps your team stay on top of conversations, but notifications specific to real time support tickets (i.e. live chat) can help you prioritize those conversations. That means you can provide response times that are in line with customer expectations based on the support channel.
3. Empower reps with context
One of the obstacles to a great live chat experience is the back and forth. In order for your team to get an accurate picture of customer problems, there’s often a lot of question and answer that goes on—way before reps can even begin to offer a solution.
Excessive back and forth adds time and frustration to live chat conversations. To make the most of live chat’s ease and speed, you need a live chat solution that works together with the rest of your help desk support, website and customer support tools.
The best live chat software empowers support reps to see the whole picture of a customer’s experience. That means they can begin the conversation with more of the information they need to solve customer problems. Information like:
- FAQ searches the customer ran before turning to live chat,
- Problems with payment processing, and
- Which products a customer has viewed, among other things.
When support reps are empowered with that kind of ticketing system, they can provide faster, more complete support and a better experience for customers.
4. Infuse live chat with your brand’s touch
Companies who manage to turn customer support from drain to competitive advantage have one thing in common: amazing customer experiences. Many brands go out of their way to establish a quirky, relatable brand voice—it’s a great way to connect with customers.
For too many businesses, though, all of that goes by the wayside when it comes to customer support. That’s a mistake. Your overall brand sets a precedent that customers expect to carry over throughout their interactions with you. That includes support interactions, and live chat is no exception.
Creating a stellar live chat support experience starts with remembering the basics of satisfying support experiences. Agents should go out of their way to welcome customers, offer up one-on-one attention, and really listen to what customers have to say.
Adding your brand’s personal touch to live chat conversations (on top of an already great experience) creates a more unified experience for customers and generally boosts their experience. Here are a few ways to bring that unique voice into live chat:
- Write scripts in your brand’s voice,
- Provide brand voice training to your support team, and
- Encourage support agents to connect with customers on a deeper, personal level.
5. Ask for customer feedback
As support professionals, we like to think we have a pretty good idea of how to provide effortless experiences for customers. But there’s no substitute for cold, hard customer feedback. Good customer feedback helps us question our assumptions, get to know customers and generally serve them the way they want to be served.
All that is to say, customer feedback betters the overall live chat experience. That’s why we recommend ending each chat conversation with a survey.
Gathering this valuable customer feedback can help you get a sense of where your live chat experience currently stands. It also offers your team a clear-cut path for how to improve that experience. All of our tips will help but your customers are unique—and so are their help desk support expectations.
But here’s the thing: customers aren’t usually falling all over themselves to give feedback—unless it’s super negative. To get feedback that paints an accurate picture of your customer experience as a whole, you need to make it radically easy for customers to share their thoughts. Here are a few tips to create a feedback from customers actually use:
- Keep it short—no more than 5-7 questions
- Ask multiple choice questions
- Write questions in your brand’s voice
- Show customers where they are in the process
- Prioritize mobile-friendliness
Boost your live chat experience today
For better or for worse, consumers love live chat technology. While most of us aren’t satisfied with the experience companies bringing to it, there’s a huge opportunity to carve out a competitive advantage for your business based on providing top-notch live chat support.
Customers report being 50% more likely to be loyal to companies when they receive high-quality customer support. That means offering live chat and boosting the experience customers have there can help you inspire the kind of customer loyalty that grows your bottom line and your business.
Get started today.