Five key considerations when implementing live chat
Stage 5: Retain
Dan Matthews
28th November 2013
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live chat

Is live chat a low-cost alternative to the humble telephone?

Live chat creates a low cost, alternative communication channel to the phone – updating the modern way consumers interact with retailers. But fail to implement it correctly and it can have the reverse effect. Here are some key thoughts.

By Howard Williams, Marketing Manager WhosOn

Don’t let it fail your business

Sales and call centre agents can handle multiple simultaneous chats and customers receive fast and efficient help and advice without leaving the website. In short, it is invented to bridge the gap between the more personal offline face-to-face experience and the impersonal online experience.

Used in the correct way, live chat is a serious conversion and engagement tool and many small, medium and large enterprises are taking advantage. But, in practice, the market is still full of many poor examples of live chat implementation in terms of user experience.

Here we look at the five key reasons why live chat can fail both customers and businesses.

Security concerns

A frequently asked question from consumers is; is live chat secure?

When choosing a chat provider, this is probably the most important factor – especially for the financial and retail sector – the secure chat window, should display ‘HTTPS’ for the customers’ peace of mind.

For companies who prioritise security, an alternative to cloud-based live chat is an on-premise solution. Installed within your own data centre, all conversations and information received are kept secure, behind your firewall.

Expectations not met in chat

WhosOn industry research shows that 15% of customers have had a bad experience with one of the live chat solutions. Resource availability is the top annoyance for visitors.  What is the point of having a chat icon visible, if nobody is free to take any incoming enquiries?

All good chat providers will enable the option to remove chat from their site until assistance is available or it could be replaced with a call back request window, to ensure customer retention. Another piece of functionality recommended is the use of a pre chat survey which ensures your customers are directed to the correct department, skillset or even specific agent.

Expectations not met after chat

78% of those who receive a poor follow-up to a live chat will return to other forms of communication, following our own industry research. A trusted chat provider will offer the ability to integrate with your current CRM system, meaning customers won’t have to repeat details as all historical data and chats will be visible to the agent instantly.

A ticketing system will allow you to assign it to an agent, with a due date and relevant client history attached. This is stored against the customer record, so if they return the ticket is immediately visible. Post chat surveys are also a great way to continuously improve upon service.

Execution

11% of proactive, repetitive chat invites drive customers to leave the site, according to a report published on e-tailing.com.

The best services allow you to set rules that automatically send dynamic invites when clients clearly need help – as you would help in a high street store. Invites should be based on numerous specifics such as; keywords entered on search engine or time spent on a specific page – these invites will be welcomed as opposed to a deterrent.

Use prospect detection to prioritise hot prospects using your own rules – i.e. basket value, location specific or once a specific item has been viewed. Link this to dynamic invites, the invitation will reflect the circumstance – for example “10% discount for Midlands customers, click to talk to an agent now”.  Remember, correctly executed, proactive invites can increase your conversion rate by 28%.

Poor implementation

e-tailing.com also reported that 22% of customers don’t even notice live chat availability during their visit. Positioning and branding is key, it needs to be at a main focal point on the site.

It needs to match the look and feel of your website, showing the customer that it’s not a foreign object – use your corporate colours, your logo and even agent pictures to build trust to enable a conversation to commence.

For more information visit www.whoson.com

Author: Dan Matthews
Dan Matthews is a business journalist and author with more than 10 years’ experience writing in print and online. He is also experienced in online marketing and web project development, having created and grown several successful websites.

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