Live chat is something that today’s online customers expect to see. If you are yet to provide it to yours, read on to learn more about how it could boost your sales, enhance your competitive edge and help you build valuable customer relationships.

Every business at some point will be seeking ways to enhance the customer experience. Mainly this will entail improving customer communications, whether that’s streamlining existing points of contact, or adding new ones.

The customer of today has high expectations when it comes to ways of being able to get in touch with a business. Everyone has their personal preference, but there’s something that has become incredibly popular in recent times, particularly amongst millennials and especially during times when contacted by telephone has been such a challenge. And that’s live chat.

Live chat is an important channel for sales, marketing and for customer service. The reason it has become so popular is that it offers a real-time contact platform.

Compared to other channels of communication, online chat creates higher levels of satisfaction. More than 50 per cent of all customers have a preference for chatting to someone in real time online, rather than making a telephone call.

Why the preference for live chat?

Individual customers have their own reasons for using an online chat feature, and these will differ according to where they are in the purchase chain.

Customers who are yet to buy something for example will use live chat to ask a technical question or check something before they make a purchase. They may be unable to find what they need and need steering, or perhaps they need help choosing the right product for their individual needs.

For customers who have already made a purchase, their motives for using real time web chat will be different. Some will be looking to find out the status of their order. Others may want to resolve an issue or organise a return, or they may have a question about using the product they’ve bought.

But why the preference for live chat versus making a call or sending an email?

  • Not everyone has the time or patience to navigate their way through an tiered answering system.
  • Most people want an instant response rather than having to wait for an email reply.
  • It can be used on any device, any time, any place.
  • It is more private to chat online that on the phone.
  • Users can continue doing what they’re doing whilst they wait for the answers they need.
  • Instructions and information provided in writing are more easily digested than spoken instructions.
  • Live chat conversations can be saved to review later.

What are the benefits to businesses of live chat?

The benefits of web chat to customers are easy to understand. But why should businesses be adopting live chat and offering it to their customers?

1.     Live chat can boost sales

The statistics have it all on this one. A report by Forrester showed that customers who had engaged in an online chat spent 10 percent more than those who hadn’t. Emarketer research revealed that 63 percent of customers would be more likely to return to a website with live chat installed. And a FurstPerson study showed that 77 percent of customers would refuse to buy anything on a website unless it had a live chat facility.

2.     Live chat can enhance the competitive edge

For smaller business, adopting live chat can deliver a competitive advantage. Doing something that all the big brands are offering? It’s got to be good for your image, and help you stand out amongst competitors in your field.

3.     Live chat is a great relationship-builder

There is nothing more important than cementing long term relationships with customers. Loyal customers are fantastic brand champions, buying more over time, and making valuable recommendations. Web chat for many customers makes them feel like they are being heard, and that a company has the time to talk to them. A great way to instil a long term relationship.

Important things to consider when offering live chat

Managing live chat well is just as important as implementing it in the first place. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of it.

1.     Be available

Try not to leave your chat function unattended during working hours. This can be frustrating for customers who may feel that there is no one available to help them. Avoid leaving your live chat manned only by chatbots too. They might be useful for signposting and making product suggestions, but when it comes to answering real questions, they can have the tendency to send customers round in circles. Not good for your reputation! It’s also beneficial to have a chat-to-call feature included in your live chat. This is particularly useful where there’s an issue that needs escalating, so the process is seamless for the customer.

2.     Provide training

Customer service agents using web chat should be well-trained in written communication skills. This should include how to communicate effectively, politely, respectfully and without the use of jargon, stressing the importance of double-checking spelling and grammar before hitting send. They will also need sufficient knowledge to be able to answer questions of all types, including technical ones. Sales training is also a good idea if you’re keen to boost conversions.

3.     Monitor and improve

It’s really important to keep track of how your online chat is performing. Live chat software will allow you to monitor things like whether a sale resulted from a chat; how many chats were dealt with; how long issues took to resolve; the most common problems communicated; feedback from users as to whether issues were rectified, etc. This is very important as it gives you the knowledge to make improvements where necessary.

Ready to offer live chat on your website?

Live chat is all part of the Unified Communications offering from AK Telecom Solutions. To learn more about how this cutting-edge technology could benefit your business, including helping you make significant savings on your telephone bills, we welcome you to get in touch.


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