6 Tips for Optimizing the Live Chat Experience

While the omnichannel approach makes it easier than ever to engage customers, few channels match the potential of live chat for delivering both great service and increased sales. As a convenient and personalized channel that offers support when customers need it most, live chat is ideal for offering timely and detailed solutions and assisting customers who might otherwise abandon a purchase. Indeed, an eConsultancy report cites that 79% of customers prefer live chat because it provides immediate support, while Forrester claims that 63% of customers are more likely to return to a website that offers live chat over one that does not. Here are six tips for optimizing the live chat experience for increased sales and customer satisfaction.

Use good timing with your chat invitations

The timing of a chat invitation is critical. If a customer has been browsing a webpage for more than a few seconds, there is a chance he needs support or is considering a purchase. Analytics may determine how long a customer has been active on a webpage, while geolocation features can help your brand send timely chat invitations to customers who are in-store. Well-timed chat invitations provide proactive customer support and may turn browsing into actual sales conversions.

Make it a user-friendly experience

Live chat is only beneficial to customers if it’s user-friendly. On a brand website, invitations should be clearly visible against the background of any webpage with a clearly legible font, yet they should not prevent the customer from continuing to browse. Also remember that mobile optimization is essential: Customers on the go need user-friendly features such as click-to-chat buttons for easier communication on a smaller interface.

Use a friendly and conversational tone

Chat is a great channel for engaging in natural conversation. Agents should first introduce themselves in a friendly manner and ask how they might be of service. As the conversation progresses, they should use the same approach as they would on the voice channel, using professional yet polite language. However, it’s best to communicate messages in short paragraphs; taking long pauses and sending long texts afterwards only confuses and overwhelms the customer.

Keep customers informed

While chat is a highly personalized channel, keep in mind that, as with social media and other text-based channels, the customer does not know if the agent is listening actively. With the exception of video chat, it is therefore essential to keep the customer informed frequently as the conversation progresses, letting him know when actions are being taken and when the agent needs time to find information. A good strategy is to tell the customer what step needs to be taken and give an approximate wait time so that there are no awkward silences or misunderstandings.

Provide a rich experience

Like messaging, chat is an excellent channel for providing customers with rich content. For example, agents may send links to manuals when a customer is seeking support for a complex issue, and they may integrate videos or photos to provide further information about products and services. Tracking information may also be provided as links, and maps may be included to direct customers to the nearest store if necessary.

Use analytics to optimize the experience

Analytics can help improve the chat experience. Knowing which webpages are visited most frequently allows a brand to offer longer support hours on those pages and better match agents to the most needed skills. Similarly, if chat is taking too long on certain pages, brands may improve the information provided on the website or train agents to better meet the demands of customers. Live chat gives brands the opportunity to engage with customers in a natural manner while boosting customer satisfaction and sales.

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