Offering customer service via live chat is critical, allowing your company to connect with customers and respond to their needs right away. But with live chat, customer service agents can do more than just resolve customer issues - they can also drive sales. Customer service agents on live chat can convert casual visitors to customers, chatting with them live at the exact moment when they are considering making a purchase. And great live chat shows potential buyers that you offer great customer service - often a key ingredient in a customer’s purchasing decision.
According to Forrester, web visitors who use live chat are nearly three times as likely to convert - and they’ll spend 60 percent more. In fact, 44 percent of consumers say the ability to get questions answered by live chat is one of the most important features of a website.
Whether you’re a e-commerce company looking to convert clicks into customers, or a software company trying to promote new features to users, you can drive sales with live chat in a few key ways. We’ll outline the do’s and don’ts of using live chat so you can attract new customers and turn live chats into sales.
1. DO respond immediately to live chat queries.
When you use live chat, responding quickly and professionally is key. Customers expect accurate answers right away in live chat, and it’s up to you to meet their expectations.
If you don’t respond immediately, or leave the chat idle, you’re inviting your customers to open a new tab and explore your competitor’s websites for other options, and potentially better customer service. Ideally, we recommend responding to chats in 30 seconds or less.
2. DON’T focus on making a hard sell.
Live chat isn’t about making a hard sell - it’s about providing incredible customer service. Look at live chat as a way to connect directly to customers and build positive relationship that could lead to sales down the line.
A study by the Temkin Group found that customers are more likely to make a purchase from a company that they perceive as providing excellent customer service. Using live chat to create a great experience for users can help you drive sales in a way that feels natural and organic, rather than forced.
3. DON’T replace humans with chatbots.
Chatbots, also known as automated bots, may help you save on labor costs, but they’re a poor substitute for a real person. Chatbots, even those that claim to use artificial intelligence, are not good enough yet to answer most customer queries.
At best, they’ll send customers’ links to relevant knowledge base articles. But chances are, the customer already searched your knowledge base or used Google to try to answer their own question. These days, anyone contacting customer support probably has a complex question that can’t be answered by a bot.
If you decide to use a chatbot, make sure it offers the option to transfer immediately to a human agent. For example, you may have a chatbot that responds to a live chat query with a simple, clear welcome message and then transfers the customer to an agent so they can get a more specific, personal answer. Customers respond best to the human touch of chatting to a real person who can answer their questions in real time.
4. DO use your chatbox to drive sales even when your team is offline.
You don’t have to offer 24/7 chat support to customers, especially if you know customers are going to be online during specific times of day. But even if your team is offline, live chat can still provide you with an opportunity to make a sale.
Create an offline message that appears whenever a customer is online and your team isn’t. The message should tell customers when your live chat team will be online to answer questions right and provide links to key content on your site to drive traffic. You can also offer customers the opportunity to email you, or customer service, directly in the chatbox and give customers the option of signing up for your newsletter so they stay in the loop.
This approach ensures your customers still get value out of the chatbox and receive excellent customer service, even when you’re operating offline.
Used correctly, live chat can be an amazing tool for companies to engage new users and maintain their existing customer base. By responding immediately to chat queries, using live chat for more than just sales, and approaching chatbots with caution, you can reap the benefits of live chat, not just for serving your existing customers but also for driving sales.
If you want to learn more about scaling customer support, download our e-book "Scaling Customer Support for Your Growing Business".
Illustration by Rhea Avanceña