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What Is Live Chat and What Are Its Benefits?

Whether we’ve tried it ourselves or not, we’ve all encountered businesses that offer live chat at one point or another. So, what is live chat meant to do? The simple answer is that when businesses offer live chat, customers can use it to help them get instant answers to their questions. So far, it seems reasonably easy to understand what live chat is, but in practice, there’s a lot more to it than you might expect. Let’s begin with the basics.

What is Live Chat?

For chat to truly be “live,” it should connect customers to people: your customer service agents who are ready and waiting to give your customers speedy and efficient assistance. However, it’s important to note that live chat isn’t the same as interacting with a chatbot.

Bots can be helpful in guiding customers through routine interactions, but they aren’t really “live.” Owing to their many limitations, they shouldn’t be presented to customers as though they are anything other than bots, and there should always be an option that allows them to talk to a real person instead.

How Live Chat Works For You

Apart from offering your customers an easy way to get in touch, live chat can help you to gain valuable insights. Since the information is stored, it can be analysed, and that can teach you important things about your customers’ likes and dislikes, what they want from your business, and where they’re experiencing a degree of difficulty or confusion.

It may seem temptingly convenient to centralise customer interactions and use your live chat platform as the primary place where customers can contact your business. However, you should still allow your customers to choose how they prefer to interact. 

Here’s the good news: live chat needn’t be just another addition to the many channels your team has to monitor. It can make going omnichannel easier for you – especially when the software integrates with other communication channels, for example, social media platforms, email, and SMS.

Live Chat Features

Apart from having all the chat tools like file sharing, chat tags, notifications, and the ability to transfer chats when necessary, there’s a lot going on beneath the surface of what may seem like a fairly simple feature. As we already mentioned, your live chat platform should be able to integrate other channels and it should offer you useful data analytics, but that’s not where it ends.

Some live chat software options offer the ability to switch between languages, and have accessibility features that help the visually impaired to listen instead of read. Want your live chat to be on-brand? Customisability makes it possible. 

As you can see, choosing a live chat product shouldn’t be done in haste. Check out what features are offered and compare your options, especially those all-important analytics features, before taking the plunge. 

Benefits of Live Chat For Business

You’ve probably spotted some of the benefits live chat can have for your business already. Let’s pick these out and add them to the list in the process. 

  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • An extra chance to influence customer decisions
  • Fewer abandoned carts
  • Higher conversion rate
  • Lower bounce rates
  • Better user experiences for website visitors
  • A reputation for great customer service (when done well)
  • Fresh insights about your customers from your customers
  • Integration with automated systems like “canned” responses or bots save resources
  • Potential to reduce customer service costs e.g.  by integrating other communication channels
  • A tool for monitoring your support team’s key performance indicators, e.g. response times

Benefits of Live Chat For Customers

So, how do your customers feel about a well-executed live chat? It turns out it can leave them feeling very positive about their experience and your business. Here’s what they like.

  • Near-instant responses to their questions
  • Interpersonal interaction even when shopping remotely
  • Ability to get insider help and expert opinions
  • Able to communicate without moving to another platform/device
  • Personalised service based on their individual customer profiles

Getting Live Chat Right: Best Practices

As you’ll have seen, there are many benefits to using live chat, but they only apply if you get it right. For example, have you ever tried a business’s live chat only to find that nobody is on duty? Did you really save your question for the next day or try talking to the bot? Most people won’t. 

This example brings us to our first best practice: live chat has to be “alive.” That means fast responses from human agents, ideally, around the clock. Sounds like a problem? We’ll talk about solutions soon. 

If you really don’t see your way clear to keeping live chat “live” all the time, make sure that you don’t just leave your customers hanging on for an agent that never appears. Offer them an alternative, even if it’s just an email address. Program your bot to respond to frequently-asked questions and direct customers to any resources they might find helpful. It’s not ideal, but it helps.

Your agents have to be pretty sharp too. That means that they must be well-trained, courteous, friendly, expressive, and able to type fast and accurately. You can script some common responses, but your agents need the skills to know when scripted responses are appropriate. And, even though your customers can’t hear their voices, they will soon pick up on “tone.” Positivity is a must. 

Apart from all this, your live chat customer service agents need to be able to give concise answers in straightforward language. After all, customers want advice that’s relevant, easy to understand and actionable. And, since they’re representing your brand and making sales, your live chat agents must have a high level of professionalism and a knack for salesmanship and service. 

Does best-practice live chat sound like an almost-impossible goal? It doesn’t have to be. Let’s take a look at solutions next. 

So, What’s The Solution to the Live Chat Dilemma?

Let’s first sum up why implementing live chat according to best practice could be challenging:

  • Your customers expect it to work around the clock
  • They want instant responses
  • Customers want to talk to real people who give the right advice in the right way
  • They hate talking to bots

You can see where this is going. Even supposing that you’re willing to have a live chat customer service team on standby around the clock, overcapacity is a waste while understaffing will mean long waits for your customers – if they’re willing to wait at all. Then there’s the training and management of your customer service team to consider, and the myriad of skills they must master in order to be effective. 

Should you just give up on benefitting from live chat customer service? The answer is a very definite “no.”

Imagine this scenario. You have a single touchpoint that grants you access to a flexible team of skilled customer service specialists. They already know your business well, and they have superb communication skills. The team scales up and down on auto based on how many people are needed at any given moment, and it’s definitely online around the clock. The work gets done well; your customers are happy; and you get valuable intel.

Realising all the benefits of live chat customer service is not an impossible dream, and turning it into reality is as simple as using RSVP’s live chat support services. Build great customer experiences with RSVP. Let’s talk about your live chat support needs today

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