mohamed_hassan / Pixabay

It’s no surprise that successful brands are built on the positive relationships they create with their customers.

After all, modern consumers want more than just a product—they want a personalized experience that addresses their unique needs and expectations. And nowhere is this better reflected than the field of customer support.

According to a 2016 study conducted by Ubisend, 51% of customers polled feel that brands should be reachable 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Moreover, nearly 75% of customers admit they’re satisfied with their live chat experiences, compared to:

  • 61% customer satisfaction rate for email engagement
  • 44% for customer satisfaction rate over the telephone

So, what makes live chat so effective?

As a support channel, live chat beats out phone and email for two main reasons: response times are faster and customers can easily multitask while chatting with an agent. Here are a few other reasons it’s become the preferred channel:

  • It’s more personable than email. Live chat skips the web form and lets customers talk to a human in real time. Just like text and IM, conversations tend to be casual and quick.
  • Wait times are shorter. During high-volume periods, live chat can expedite case-handling. Support agents can work with more than one customer simultaneously. Plus, the wait is just less painful. You’re not stuck listening to hold music on speaker while you get ready for work.
  • There’s an extra layer of assurance. Unlike phone support, live chat customers usually get a transcript of their conversation. Having the answers in writing eases people’s minds, and it can prevent customers from repeatedly asking the same questions.

Live chat only works well when it’s customer-driven

While live chat is a great means for supporting customers at scale, it will only drive customer satisfaction if it’s implemented and managed properly. That means adopting a support-driven approach that focuses on quality more than just response times.

While customers do value speed, what they really want are answers. You can reply in 2 seconds and type 100 words per minute, but if you can’t come up with the right solution, customers won’t be happy.

5 tips on acing live chat

1. Maximize efficiency

Customers don’t want to repeat the same information over and again. Use metadata and information from your live chat client to identify the customer’s question or pain point whenever possible. That way, you can jump right into problem-solving mode instead of asking additional questions.

2. Make it as smooth as possible

Make sure you only offer chat during staffed shifts and limit disconnections whenever possible. Train your agents on how to handle non-responsive chats, and put measures in place to automatically resume the conversation if the customer gets disconnected. Also, avoid using lengthy pre-chat forms or mandatory registration. Let customers jump right into the chat queue.

3. Reference the customer’s case history

Customers often return with questions about similar topics or issues. Checking previous chat logs, emails, and CRM records give agents the added context they need to deliver a personalized support experience.

4. Take an omnichannel approach

Live chats are perfect for users sitting at the computer, but be sure to offer other avenues for customers who don’t have access or simply prefer other channels. Make sure cases from all channels are logged in the same place, so the customer record tells one cohesive story. This allows you to reference the customer’s case history at a glance and pick up where the last agent left off.

5. Measure customer satisfaction with every chat

At the end of each conversation, ask customers for feedback on their support experience. The Customer Satisfaction question and Customer Effort Score question both work well, because you can measure them across channels, regions, customer types, and more.

The takeaway: How to add value with live chat

Live chat works like a well-oiled machine when agents are properly trained, support channels are integrated seamlessly, and quality checks are in place. If you’re considering launching live chat for your business, remember to examine your staffing schedule and establish clear processes before rolling it out. Because once your customers start chatting their way to answers, they won’t look back.

Lastly, as you expand your channels, think about how you’ll uphold quality standards across your growing support organization. Consistency is the top determinant of customer satisfaction, and providing the same level of service across all channels is the pinnacle of 5-star support.