15 Live Chat Best Practices for Conversational Customer Support

  • Abir Ahmed Abir Ahmed
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Customers today are increasingly empowered by modern technologies, easily accessible information resources, and a wide range of options. As a result, there has been a greater demand for faster response and live assistance. And that’s where live chat comes in.

Live chat has a 73% satisfaction rate as a way for customers to interact with businesses. Hence, live chat best practices become essential to meet customer expectations and boost the experience.

Following the best practices on how to chat with customers online helps businesses to provide real time response and reduce customer churn. It also provides growth opportunities for your business at a global pace.

Why are businesses implementing live chat best practices?

In order to meet the expectations businesses look for new ways to deliver outstanding customer service. However, live chat best practices impact the three key areas of a business. They are as follows:

Live chat is real time 

Businesses to connect with customers in real time with live chat software. Identifying the problem helps to resolve it in the first contact, which boosts customer satisfaction.

Live chat is multi tasking 

With live chat, businesses can enhance efficiency by empowering agents to handle multiple conversations at the same time. Delivering faster responses reduces the average queue time.

Better return on investment (RoI) 

Businesses can deliver instant responses that drive sales from your website, preventing sales funnel drop out and ultimately delivering a better return on investment.

Live chat best practices to align with your business goals

By implementing live chat customer service practices, you enhance the quality of communication with your clients and ensure consistent support across all touch-points.

Here is a list of best practices on how to communicate with customers online to boost their satisfaction and increase brand credibility.

  1. Improve response time with canned responses
  2. Integrate live chat at right places & pages
  3. Improve resolution time with intelligent routing 
  4. Personalize your conversations with video chat
  5. Real time engagement with co-browsing
  6. Adopt right live chat etiquette 
  7. Automate your conversations with bots
  8. Integrate your live chat with business tools 
  9. Maintain human touch
  10. Target your audience with the right triggers 
  11. Measure SLAs with the right live chat metrics
  12. Maintain your customer support quality
  13. Obtain customer feedback after every conversation 
  14. Collect customer information with pre-chat forms
  15. Categorize chats with tags

Let us dive into the best practices that will help you to deliver excellent live chat customer service.

1. Improve response time with canned responses

When it comes to customer service, it’s no secret that long wait times are something to be avoided at all costs. They play a large part in customer perception of your brand. 

Customers expect faster responses without having to wait for long. Canned responses are a smart way to improve your response time and deliver a better experience. It can be one of the best live chat best practices to improve customer satisfaction rates.

Here is how canned replies help in improving the response time.

  • Faster response: Customized responses improve the resolution process with faster responses and boost customer satisfaction.
  • Improve the accuracy of responses: By using canned responses, you can enhance the responses in terms of complex names, addresses, URLs, etc. that need to be answered frequently.
  • Consistency in brand experience: Preset responses help to deliver a consistent brand messaging experience during conversations with the website visitors or customers. 

Depending upon your business interactions, you can prepare canned/pre-drafted messages beforehand, for the commonly asked queries. You can also send multimedia messages for reported queries instead of a simple response to make the conversation effective.

2. Integrate live chat at right places & pages

You may have heard the expression, “Take a walk in your customer’s shoes.” The idea is that you put yourself in the customer’s position and see the situation through their eyes. Being able to think like a customer and understand their needs helps to provide the right contextual solution. 

When the customers visit your website, they will follow their instinct to making actions. So, to deliver a better live chat experience to your customers, make live chat available in the right place of the pages. Ensuring the right place is vital for easy visibility to your customers.

According to the Nielsen-Norman Group research, customers tend to scan in an F-shaped pattern. The standard placement for live chat customer support is on the bottom-right of a window screen as customers expect their live chat widget to be available there.

place-live-chat-at-right-places

You can provide live chat across pages, which you think are the most important – add to your 

  • Website
  • Helpdesk
  • Inside your web app  
  • Mobile app

You can use it anywhere you want but make sure to account the usability. If live chat is too intrusive it can be annoying. Live chat is essential where the customers are likely to have queries in specific pages like contact page, pricing, sales, and home page.

The main purpose of live chat is instant response. Placing the live chat accordingly simplifies seeking chat options and has a positive impact on customer experience.

3. Improve resolution time with intelligent routing 

Whenever there is a new chat request, you can route them to the specific department for efficient response. You can reduce the queue time significantly and improve your response time. 

82% of consumers look for an immediate response from brands on marketing or sales questions. 

With intelligent routing, your live chat support team can:

  • Respond faster for any sales support as chats are directed to the right department and the right agent.
  • Reduce the first response time that increases customer satisfaction and improves your sales conversion cycle.

Handling the chat loads by distributing them to different departments helps to resolve your customer’s issues much faster. It also eliminates chat transfer and delivers an excellent live chat experience to your customers.

4. Personalize your conversations with video chat

When you engage your customers more interactively, they will be happy to be associated with your brand. 58% of companies don’t have formal customer engagement strategies. For them, it comes from a combination of different channels and platforms.

Video chat offers faster solutions by identifying the actual problem and improving the customer experience. Face to face chat helps you to build a better relationship with clients by providing personalized assistance to customers.

video-chat-for-face-to-face-personalized-conversations

Here is how video chat helps as live chat support best practices.

  • Provides one-click for real time sales and support assistance.
  • Identify problems faster and deliver solutions in the first touchpoint.
  • Personalize chat conversations and improve sales conversions.
  • Provide remote support and effectively engage customers.

Visual engagement can be one of the effective live chat best practices that helps to accelerate overall business with personalized interactions.

5. Real time engagement with co-browsing

Gartner’s study says customer experience is on pace to exceed price & product as a key differentiator for companies. Customer expectations align with reality when you as a business adopt new technology to provide real time live support. 

Co-browsing solution helps to collaborate with customers without letting customers wait, which improves the response time. The sharing of the browser screen during the session helps through complex form fillup and application process, makes conversations interactive, and deliver a virtual in person experience.

co-browsing-for-real-time-support

How co-browsing improves conversational experience?

  • It delivers real time remote support to your website visitors and customers in an interactive way by combining with video & voice chat.
  • Combining co-browsing with video chat allows agents to control the customer’s browser and proactively guide them in the right direction.
  • The solution helps to improve your business KPIs like average resolution time that boosts your team productivity.
  • Co-browsing tool makes the customer communicate seamlessly whether it is onboarding or product demo.

6. Adopt right live chat etiquette

Poor customer service fails to impress customers and affects your business rapport too. If you follow the right chat etiquette it will undoubtedly create a perfect live chat support experience.

Some of the areas where live chat etiquette can be followed are:

Set positive tone

Listen patiently and allow customers to explain their problems. Set a positive tone while speaking to them by using phrases such as Please don’t hesitate, Please note that, Kindly, etc. to make customers feel valued.

Ask for feedback

Asking feedback from customers and acting on it is an important live chat etiquette and a key factor that determines business growth. Feedbacks help to transform your products & services to gel with the needs of your customers.

Real time customer service

Never keep your customers waiting. More than 30% of customers expect to live chat on your website. In order to resolve customer queries faster and in the first contact itself.

The best way to win the hearts of your customers is to close their cases in the first contact itself, without having them have to come back multiple times and go over the same questions again. So, follow the above live chat etiquette to acquire more customers. 

7. Automate your conversations with bots

Chatbots have a big impact on the customer communication landscape. 64% of internet users say 24-hour service is the best chatbot feature. Bot handles automated sales and supports conversations by promptly handling the FAQs by the customers. It reduces the number of support tickets raised and boosts user engagement. 

But it isn’t just about using AI, it’s also about finding the niche areas where AI will be fast and reliable. For complex issues, you will still need to connect with the support agent. Ensure to automate your customer support in the right way to provide customers the best of both worlds without losing the human touch.

Here are some common chatbot use cases across different business functions.

  • Customer service: Chatbots allow businesses to automate live chat conversations to provide instant answers and proactively interact with customers that boost the engagement rate.
  • Lead generation: Deploying chatbots for lead generation helps to prequalify quality leads. They also help to collect information about prospects for targeting leads better.
  • Online bookings: Businesses can expand their customer base with chatbots for online bookings for food, travel, and other purposes. 
  • Website engagement: Chatbots helps brands to create user-friendly customer experiences through simulated conversations.

Hipmunk’s “Hello Chatbot” for example was created to engage customers at a closer level.

chatbot-for-customer-engagement

Hipmunk is a popular platform for searching for travel deals such as flight bookings, rental cars, hotels, and tour packages.

8. Integrate your live chat with business tools 

No matter, you are a startup or a growing business, live chat software can be seamlessly integrated with your business tools. It is a usual practice that every business uses some tools to automate and align things in a better way.

Automating tasks by connecting live chat with your other business tools can be a big time saver and productivity booster. Having such integrations helps you to spend your time more on customers and less on administrative tasks.

Here are some key tools that are frequently used that you can integrate live chat:

  • CRM tools – Hubspot, Salesforce, Infusionsoft
  • eCommerce platforms – Shopify, Magento, Opencart
  • CMS platforms – WordPress, Joomla, Drupal

9. Maintain human touch

At times, live support representatives face problems in communicating with customers in a cheerful manner. When you manage to deliver human-like conversations then only businesses can set memorable customer service examples

By adding human touch you can delight customers as a result of which there is an increase in the customer lifetime value (CLTV). It also significantly impacts your brand credibility.

Key tips on how to create a human contact over live chat:

  • Be transparent – The live chat support agents should be honest if they don’t have an answer. It can create an opportunity to set another agent of your team as an expert.
  • Drill your soft skills – Make sure to use positive live chat scripts and phrases that make you sound friendly. An informal gesture can bring a huge difference in making live chat conversations successful.

10. Target your audience with the right triggers

As simple as it is – You can’t ignore the customers who return to your business. They are really very very important. Not to miss out on it, you have to reach out to your website customers and engage them by sending proactive triggers in real time. 

You can gain a better understanding of the visitor’s journey with the help of live chat software about the buying experience from a customer perspective by combining the pain points of the customers and acting to their specific requirements.

Here are some common times you can trigger a message to start conversations:

  • A hesitant buyer
  • Customers who returned back or repeat customers
  • Customers who are from certain regions or geographical locations
  • Pop-up promotional messages to the right customer
  • High bounce rate pages
  • Customers who are visiting FAQ pages
  • Visiting certain product pages

You can reduce cart abandonment by triggering right and timely messages to your website visitors & customers. Based on their buying journey, send personalized messages to guide through a seamless checkout process.

11. Measure SLAs with the right live chat metrics

By identifying the right live chat metrics and KPIs, you can measure your Service Level Standards (SLAs) and access live chat performance. With the right live chat metric, you can measure your team performance against your defined KPI and improve the negative areas.

How key performance indicators (KPIs) to help businesses to understand and measure:

  • The customer satisfaction ratings help to understand if agents are able to meet customer expectations or not.
  • The team or agent performance in terms of business metrics and conversations.
  • The return on investment (RoI) is associated with live chat and helps to understand whether it is implemented successfully or not.

Here are a couple of key live chat metrics to measure the profit meeting the objectives.  

  • First response time (FRT): refers to how long support agents take to make the first reply on an issue. It helps to understand how agile the business is about customer communication. 
  • First contact resolution (FCR): It measures customer satisfaction across a number of touchpoints. A higher FCR means happier customers.
  • Customer satisfaction ratings (CSAT): CSAT score allows to measure customer satisfaction level to find out the strengths and weaknesses and best ways to make customers happy.
  • Cost per conversation: It measures your business RoI about how the resources and time invested in terms of live chat, is helping your business.

12. Maintain your customer support quality 

Brands are usually remembered by the quality of support they offer to their customers. The prompt and seamless support offered by brands brings customers back to the businesses. Businesses lose 71% of customers due to poor customer service.

In order to deliver a better customer experience, you have to maintain the support quality of your business. How can you do that?

Training your support team regularly

  • Conduct product & services training so that they can further guide customers with the latest authentic information.
  • Maximum queries are related to price. So make your team aware of the updated prices for helping customers for making quick decisions.
  • Train your team with the functionalities and features of a live chat widget that is scalable. In-depth knowledge about the key areas of your business helps to stay ahead in the competition.

Monitor chats and improve the key metrics

  • Define KPIs such as average response time, first contact resolution, cost per chat, open and closed conversations. Monitoring these metrics and improving the weak areas helps to strengthen your support team.

 

13. Obtain customer feedback after every conversation

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”  Bill Gates

And the easy way to know your customers are happy or unhappy with your products and services is by asking customer feedback. Client feedback is vital for every business and an important factor that determines the growth of your business.

Feedback gives your business a clearer view of how it is performing. Collecting feedback requires asking customers to share their feedback about the product, service, or about their overall experience. You can use customer satisfaction surveys, feedback forms, and questionnaires for collecting feedback.

How obtaining feedback helps businesses? 

  • Measure customer satisfaction level with the product or services
  • Enhance your customer communication
  • Deliver a better customer experience
  • Improve customer retention

The best time to ask feedback from customers is right after the customer service conversation. Collecting feedback becomes effective when you analyze and act upon it.

14. Collect customer information with pre-chat forms

Is there any way to get to know customers better?

Of course yes, you can ask for information using chat forms.

pre-chat-forms-reve-chat

You can use the pre-chat survey or forms at the beginning of each chat to collect relevant information about visitors. Asking users for their name, email, or customer ID hastes the conversation process, as you can skip those questions later in the chat.

Having such knowledge at hand, you are ready to provide a better, faster, and more personalized service.

15. Categorize chats with tags

Tagging customer chats is one of the live chat best practice options. Tagging can be used to categorize the chats based on queries for e.g. product, price, or sales. When chats are categorized, they can be followed up further from the same place it has been left.

Tagged queries help support agents to make follow up easily without having the need to ask and collect basic information. Thus, agents can deliver quick and effective service.

Final thoughts on live chat best practices

Live chat is widely adopted for marketing, sales, and customer support. If you have implemented live chat to your business the above mentioned best practices will help to increase your customer engagement and deliver great live chat support.

By using live chat best practices, you can help your website visitors and customers to achieve their goal thus you will be achieving your business goals.

Abir Ahmed
Author’s Bio

Abir Ahmed is a digital strategist who enjoys reading, writing and learning about new technologies, content generating, and the Internet. Also he is pretty good in AAA gaming!

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