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In the past few years, live chat has become increasingly popular for organizations, from enterprise software providers to retailers, across nearly every industry. While many see live chat programs as a way for customer service representatives to address customer concerns before they become barriers to driving sales and building loyalty, live chat is more than just a support channel − it can help organizations increase their top-line revenue.

To take full advantage of live chat’s capabilities, organizations must be smart about how they implement it. While in most cases, implementing a live chat solution can be as simple as copying and pasting a block of code onto an existing website, organizations that take the time to understand how live chat can improve the overall business will be much more successful in the long run. Here are three ways live chat can help brands increase sales.

Make chat proactive and personalized

It’s easy for organizations to think that e-commerce by nature removes many of the opportunities for proactive interaction with customers (think: a sales associate asking, “how may I help you?” when a customer walks into a store) and limits personalized interactions throughout the sales cycle. And most be right – if they don’t have live chat. That’s because live chat can create those same personalized, one-to-one interactions with customers. Organizations can use proactive chat to reach out to customers based on what they’re doing or where they are on your site.

By taking the time to structure proactive chat invitations that are similar to what an in-store sales associate would say, organizations can quickly capture a customer’s attention and greatly increase the return on investment (ROI) of their chat.

Increase efficiency

Anyone who has ever called a company for customer service knows the struggle of waiting for a response to an email query or being transferred around from agent to agent, likely after a long wait. With live chat organizations can easily bypass these issues, providing better, more efficient service to customers, which ultimately helps convert sales.

Before customers start a chat, organizations can use a pre-chat survey to gather additional information about the customer – such as name, location, product in question, and the issue at hand. This information enables customer service teams to have more contextualized conversations with customers, often making the problem-solving process run much more smoothly, resulting in increased customer satisfaction.

With features like this, organizations have the unique advantage of being able to identify issues that customers are facing before a representative even interacts with them – and the data to identify patterns and trends. This enables agents to help solve the customer’s problem as quickly and efficiently as possible, leading to increased conversions and building long-term customer loyalty. Additionally, simply by the nature of chatting online, live chat allows customers to multi-task while being serviced, rather than tethering them to a phone.

Brands can also use live chat to improve employee efficiency, a critical factor in measuring ROI. While customer service calls and emails can only be handled one at a time, most agents can handle multiple live chat conversations at once, reducing wait times for customers. Additionally, while there is no replacement for the personalized service a live chat representative can provide, brands can also choose to incorporate a few scripted responses into their live chat solution for commonly asked questions to further streamline workflows. Finding a balance between scripted and employee-generated responses can be difficult, but organizations that do it well will have a distinct advantage.

Lastly, chatbots can be used to deflect the more common questions away from live agents, and to extend live chat service availability beyond regular business hours. These are just some of the ways that a well-defined and executed live chat strategy can help boost revenue and brand loyalty.

Smarter sales

At the end of the day, nothing impacts an organization’s ability to maximize revenue more than its ability to streamline its lead generation cycle, an often-overlooked functionality of live chat. With the analytics tools offered by many live chat solutions, organizations have access to insights such as how a customer was led to their website, how long they spent on the site and in chat, and other valuable data that can be used to inform follow-ups and customer retention strategies.

Live chat also provides organizations with an easier way to cross-sell and up-sell, another opportunity that was put at risk in the move to online sales. The best way to take advantage of this is for organizations to train live chat representatives to look for opportunities throughout their conversations to suggest cross-sell or up-sell opportunities. Representatives should then take the time to educate customers about the opportunity, focusing on things like customer reviews and features rather than price. While most organizations have ads that suggest these kinds of opportunities to customers, today’s customers have become adept at tuning out the noise, making one-to-one conversations the best bet for success.

Chat hack: Use canned messages available in the agent console to provide quick access to the latest promotions and offers, making it even easier for agents to pass on the great deals!

Organizations know that when evaluating whether to invest in a solution or technology, the primary deciding factor should be ROI. In today’s tech-heavy world, very few solutions offer the same tangible benefits as live chat, when done correctly. By following these best practices, organizations can improve their bottom line, enhance the customer experience and increase brand loyalty.

Originally published here.