Ontranslation is a Barcelona-based translation agency, which happens to share an office with the ChatToolTester team. They don't only handle translations for large clients into any possible language but they also take care of proofreading and multilingual videos as well as voice-over production.
Using Live Chat in an Agency
When Ontranslation founder Oscar Nogueras saw us chatting with our website visitors they became curious about the live chat tools we use.
And when you think of it, for agencies of all kinds it makes a lot of sense to use live chat. Working with clients happens on a very personal level. Just showing nice photos of your team can only do so much - talking to your visitors on the spot can be a complete game changer for client acquisition.
Let's hear what Oscar's experiences look like so far!
How do you use live chat - to talk to new or existing clients?
Basically we use live chat to contact new potential clients and collaborators. They find live chat an easy and quick way to contact us and get immediate feedback.
Have you ever gained a new client through live chat?
Yes, indeed we have. In fact, thanks to live chatting we got 2 new clients and 3 top collaborators so far, and we have just been using it for 1 year!
What do you think are the main benefits of offering live chat for an agency?
I reckon all agencies and companies should provide live chat since it’s much easier to engage potential clients by chatting with them rather than by doing it through emails. Our clients love it and I don't see many comptetiors offering live chat - so that really gives us an edge and fits well with our helpful brand personality.
What do visitors usually ask about when chatting?
They are very interested in our work methodology and they also ask some questions about fees and payment method. It’s very important for them to chat with someone since translation is sometimes almost seen as something a machine would do; using live chat we can prove that we are humans! [note from us: this is quite funny since a lot of website visitors suspect live chat to be run by bots]
What provider did you choose and why?
After checking all providers available, we chose Olark since their free service is very good and it’s non-intrusive, meaning that they do not actually ask for a huge banner saying it’s free.
What do you like about Olark? What don’t you like?
Their templates are really interesting and their customer service that we used once was spot on. We obviously chatted through their live chat widget. :) I can't really think of anything negative right now to be honest.
Who takes care of incoming chats in your team?
It’s the account manager, the person responsible for dealing with potential and new clients.
What was the most interesting or hilarious chat you or your colleagues ever had?
Sometimes we want to have some fun and pretend to be a new client, asking the most strange and difficult questions so our colleague responding gets a bit confused. But in the end, we always say it’s us! He does not like it, obviously.
Thank you for the interview Oscar! Very interesting insights. If you want to give live chat a try yourself, please check out our comparison chart.
Using Live Chat to help your website visitors with their questions is a powerful way to boost your website’s performance.
Once you see that it’s working, you’ll want to have it available constantly. But managing it yourself at all hours of the day is not realistic.
At HelpFlow, we manage website live chat software for a wide range of websites and currently do over 1,000 chats per week (January 2015). In this post, I’ll share how we find and hire high quality live chat agents.
Odesk and Elance Work, If Used Correctly
Odesk and E-Lance can be a really powerful source to find great live chat agents, but you need a solid process to filter through the noise.
To get great hiring results on @odesk @elance , you need a great process." (Click to Tweet - can edit)
Through my marketing agency, we’ve been building and managing a virtual team since 2006. We have overcome many of the challenges people complain about when trying Odesk, E-Lance, or other similar sites.
The Right Way to Post a Job
We usually get 100’s of applications for each chat agent job posting, but a lot won’t turn into good hires. We’ve put a few simple steps in place to easily handle the huge volume of applicants.
Describe the job posting, but make it relatively brief. It’s important to give applicants enough details to understand the work, but don’t go overboard. Similarly, don’t just say “we need to hire a website chat agent” - that’s not enough.
Require applicants to use a specific phrase in the first part of their job posting (i.e. “I definitely read the full job post”). Mention this somewhere in the job posting, which will be crucial when filtering applicants (below).
Filter the 100's of job posting responses you receive on @odesk @elance" (Click to Tweet - can edit)
Publish the job post, and let it gather applicants for around 48 hours. Longer is better, but 48 hours should be enough to get an initial list of applicants. Spending time reviewing each applicant as it’s submitted might make you go crazy.
Use “Fast Filters” to Filter Out Applicants
There are a few types of applicants that we filter out without even reviewing their profile.
On Elance, we use the “rating” feature.
On Odesk, we use the “short list” feature.
Did They Read the Job Posting? You can easily filter out applicants that just spammed your job posting without reading it. Only look at applicants that started their reply with “I definitely read the full job post” noted in the job description above.
This simple change will make finding great applicants on Odesk and Elance much less time consuming.
Do They Have At Least Some Work History? At this step, we’re not actually looking at feedback or reviews - we’re just trying to filter out people that have not done any work at all on Odesk or Elance.
There are definitely qualified people we’re missing, but there’s a huge amount of people on these sites with at least some history, so it’s not worth our time to take a chance on someone that’s new to Odesk or Elance.
Are They in Our Target Country / Price Range Very quickly, you can look at the country the applicant is from and what their bid is.
We use this as a final step to quickly screen out people that aren’t in the country we think is best for the job position or people who’s rate is way too high or abnormally low.
You can do some of this with applicant filters on Odesk, but we use our own manual process that’s implemented by our Business Coordinator that seems to be more efficient.
By the way, if you’re looking for an overseas chat agent, the Philippines is probably your best bet for quality at a great rate.
At this point, you’ve got a list of potential applicants that meet the most basic criteria you have: they read the post, they’ve worked on Odesk or Elance before, and they’re in the country and price range you wan to hire in.
But you will still have too many applicants to interview each one.
Quiz Applicants to Filter Down Further The above steps are all based on their reply and their profile on Odesk or Elance. While this is helpful to screen applicants, we’ve found it’s not enough (at least for the scale we hire at).
Before doing a phone interview with job applicants, use a quiz to test for the skills you need." (Click to Tweet - can edit)
We started experimenting with quizzing applicants prior to moving them forward in the hiring process and it has worked great for us for years.
- We message applicants that have passed the above steps and invite them to take a short 10–15 minute quiz.
- The quiz is online and managed through a tool we’ve built over time for hiring / training. But you could build an online quiz easily with Google Docs or another freebie tool.
The quiz tests a few very specific things:
- Job history that we’d prefer, such whether or not they have experience with a large customer service outsourcing firm in their country. We ask a series of questions that we have a clear preference on for the answer so we can filter applicants by these answers easily in the quiz results.
- We test their typing speed and accuracy using www.TypingTest.com. They share their scores as part of the quiz. This is another objective answer we can filter and sort applicants by.
- We also ask them to tell us more about a general topic or hobby, in order to gauge the quality and professionalism of their writing. This is subjective and something we review after the above objective items.
- We give them a few simple problem solving questions, such as “I’m on www.website.com and want to know if I’ll be able to return the product. How many days do I have to return the product?”. The answers are available on the website we refer them to, so if they answer incorrectly it shows they’re probably not a good fit for the position.
At this point, you’ve got a list of applicants that seem pretty well qualified for the position, at least based on the “efficient” screening and review process we’ve put them through.
Now, it’s time to interview.
Conduct the First Interview On Live Chat
Since we’re hiring agents to run website chat for our customers, we want to quickly vet their live chat experience.
Rather than asking them about their live chat experience, we do the first interview on live chat.
- 1–2 applicants will come onto our live chat system like any website visitor would.
- We go through a series of general discussions to gauge the professionalism of their writing, typing speed, etc.
- We ask them what live chat software they have experience with.
- We also do some problem solving questions, where I’ll give them a webpage address, ask a question that’s answered somewhere on the page, and ask them to tell me the answer. These get progressively more complicated as the interview goes on.
There’s a few specific things we look for here:
- Are they writing professional short responses that keep me informed re: their progress?
- Are they finding the answers to the questions?
- Are they typing reasonably fast? Our live chat tool enables us to see each letter as they’re typing.
- Are they repeatedly using overly formal sounding words (i.e. “forward your concern…”, “I’m sincerely sorry for the inconvenience…”, etc.). We can limit this through training and chat templates, but would prefer someone who already has a conversational but professional tone.
At this point, we’ve cut down our list to 5–7 agents that seem qualified for the job. We then move into the Skype video interview.
Conduct Skype Video Interview
The video interview is important, as we’re really trying to understand how each applicant thinks.
We’ve hired past agents without doing the video interview, and then realized during training calls later that they were a bit “slower” than we’d like when they’re problem solving for visitors.
Here’s how we find these issues earlier:
- We do the interview on Skype and ask them to share their screen
- We ask similar problem-solving questions as we asked on the live chat interview above, but watch how they solve the questions since we can see their screen.
- We’ll share tips on how to solve them more effectively, and see how well they use these tips on the next problem solving questions.
By seeing them in action, we can get a really good understanding of how well they’ll perform in the live chat agent job position.
Virtual Hiring Quick Start Checklist, with auto-filter, quiz-filter, action interviews, and more." (CLICK TO TWEET - can edit)
Quick Start Checklist
If you need to hire a website chat agent, here’s a quick summary you can use as a checklist:
- Post a simple job description on odesk and elance, and ask applicants to say “Yes, I read the entire post” at the start of their application.
- Ignore applicants that didn’t read the post, don’t have any work history, or are not in your target country / price.
- Quiz applicants that seem qualified, and filter heavily based on the volume of applicants.
- Do an interview on a live chat system with applicants that passed the quiz phase.
- Do a Skype screen share interview with applicants that passed the live chat interview.
Once you find a great hire, you need to have an awesome training and onboarding process to get them up to speed quickly and to ensure quality. But that’s a post for another day…
– Jon Tucker is CEO of Help Flow, a website live chat service. Help Flow manages 100’s of website chats per day for a wide range of websites. He regularly blogs about building the company at http://www.helpflow.net/blog.
One of the best things about live chat is the fact that you can automatically send messages to visitors based on certain criteria.
Each live chat tool seems to have a different name for them: Greetings (LiveChat), Triggers (Zopim), Targeted Chat (Olark) and Proactive Chat (SnapEngage) to name just a few. But essentially they all have the same purpose: getting the right kind of people to talk to your chat agents, usually in an effort to maximize sales.
For this article, we have asked various live chat providers and other businesses for creative examples of automatic chat behavior.
No bots, please
While it’s great to use a photo for your chat agent, some people may still think that a robot is talking to them.
Travis from Supremacy SEO solves this issue by using the following greeting message:
“Hey I'm Travis (and I'm a real person). Can I help you with anything?”
Why this works:
Web surfers are now constantly confronted with automatic live chat messages. Being a little bit original helps to grab their attention.
Ecommerce Rescue Chats
The Simply Group sends an automatic message whenever customers are having trouble with their payment. We don’t know the exact greeting they are using, but it could be something like this (created in LiveChat ):
Another example is what CampusBookRentals does. They target inactive shoppers, apparently with a response rate of 29%. Customers who spend a lot of time on the checkout page without any activity a message are effectively motivated to complete the process.
This is what the greeting could look like:
Why this works:
You can target visitors who have attempted to purchase, but after the failed payment become highly likely to drop off if nobody assists them. A lot of online stores send out cart abandonment emails these days, but why not assist them even sooner while they are (trying) to purchase something? Catch them while they’re in the buying mood, and solve the issues that could be holding them back.
We’ve taken these two examples from LiveChat’s Greetings Efficiency Report.
Speak my language!
If you are offering multiple languages on your website, you can customize the messages to fit the language of the visitor. Of course, you should only do that if you have operators who are able to speak the language. And no, Google Translate doesn’t cut it I am afraid.
Here is the greeting message we use on our German pages (it only fires when the visitor is on a URL that contains /de/).
Why this works:
Even though your visitors may be able speak English, it’s much more effective to greet them in their own language.
Taking into account how a visitor found your site
Zopim shows an example of how you can flag visitors that come from Adwords, i.e. people you have paid Google to send to your website. Using this tag makes it easier to figure out whether the ads you’re purchasing are effective.
Here’s a trigger you can set up in Zopim:
We found this example in a Zopim blog post about triggers.
Additionally, you can also add the keyword that they clicked to know more about their intentions. This will now only work properly with paid ads as, with organic traffic, the referring keyword is only very rarely disclosed these days.
Another use case could be if you got a mention in a popular blog. Just customize your greeting message to something like: “Welcome [blog xyz] reader, we have a special discount for you today! Use coupon code: 342-sep to get 10% off”
Why this works:
Tailored messages will have more relevance to your audience. The only thing you need to be careful with is sounding too robotic.
Streamline your chat requests
Typically, websites in English attract visitors from all around the world. But that doesn’t mean that you are able to sell them your products. You may not be able to ship to their destination, or you already know that your payment gateway won’t work in their particular country.
Here’s a targeted chat setup for Olark:
Why this works:
Your chat agents can focus on the most important customers without having to answer questions from visitors that you cannot service anyway.
Marketing automation is something everybody talks about right now. What people usually mean by it is sending out behavior-based email messages, which can work really well!
But what’s often forgotten is that live chat can also be automated, making it even more effective than email marketing. A direct chat is just much more personal. The opportunities are endless as you can also combine all these efforts, e.g. send out a behavior-based email message and then serve the visitor via live chat.
Just have a look at our top-rated live chat tools and their integrations with CRM and email marketing systems.
Can you think of any other ways to make live chat more efficient? If so, please leave a comment!
Dan Norris is a serial entrepreneur who recently started WP Curve together with co-founder Alex McClafferty. WP Curve is a service designed to remove a few typical headaches from WordPress website owners.
While WordPress is a great Content Management System, whenever there is a bug or malfunction, it can be very tough to get it fixed due to the lack of official support.
Starting at $69 per month, clients will get unlimited support requests for maintenance jobs like plugin upgrades and other small fixes. The only requirement is that it must be finished in 30 minutes or less.
To assist their clients, Dan, Alex and their team use email and live chat support. We are happy to have Dan give us an insight view into his operational side of things:
You only offer live chat and email support. Why did you decide not to offer phone support?
Phone support is much more difficult to scale. Our email support can be done by us, my VA, or directly by our developers. We can check all of the communication to make sure it’s held to high standards and we are providing a consistent experience.
It’s also a good qualifier. If someone can’t explain their task in an email or a live chat, it’s usually a good sign that they need a different level of support. Some people want to sit down and have a cup of coffee every time they want their website changed - these aren’t our ideal customers. The ones we want are those that can fire jobs at us quickly and efficiently. Our affordable pricing model relies on jobs being performed in that way.
Which channel is more popular - email or live chat?
When I started, I assumed everyone would want to be on the chat. It wasn’t the case. In fact, the chat is mainly used for sales. People jump on there before they sign up to make sure we are real humans (ha!).
After that, most people use email to submit jobs. We generally just use live chat in the rare case when there’s something urgent or tricky to explain via email.
What provider did you choose and why?
We chose Olark. I launched WP Curve as a minimum viable product (MVP) in one week. At the time, I already had a subscription to Olark so we used them. In choosing it originally, I’d looked at a bunch of tools and arrived at Olark and ClickDesk.
I liked the idea of having one chat window for customers and another for staff. I was using Skype for staff, so Olark let me use the inbuilt Mac messages app. I think it might have been a bit cheaper as well.
What do you like about Olark? What don’t you like?
I think it’s great, but we don’t really see it. We have the IMO app installed on our mobiles and the message app on the computer. The developers can install a Windows client to access it or log in via the Olark website if they ever have to man the chat.
There seems to be settings for most of the things we need. I haven’t had a need to look elsewhere.
What was the most interesting or hilarious chat you or your colleagues ever had?
Not sure. We’ve had too many funny ones, but we have had some surprising people come on there. Well known entrepreneurs, TV personalities and the like. It’s been surprising how effective live chat has been as a sales tool. We didn’t anticipate that.
Thank you very much for the interview! If anyone is interested in testing out live chat yourself, please check out our comparative overview of the best live chat tools.
Email and phone numbers are the most frequent communication channels available for customers on eCommerce websites. However, some leading eCommerce websites have decided to favour real-time customer service in an effort to not only improve their first contact resolution, but also reduce the amount of calls they receive.
In May 2013, the live chat provider, iAdvize, asked CCM Benchmark, a marketing research company, to carry out a survey on how live chat was perceived by eCommerce and customer service decision makers. They tried to answer the following questions:
- Why did companies decide to implement a real-time customer service solution in the first place?
- What's the economic impact of offering live chat support?
Out of all participants, 26% of respondents had already implemented live chat and 21% planned to do so during the next 12 months.
Companies already using live chat had the following objectives: 83% said improving customer experience and increasing conversion rates were their two main priorities. Improving their brand image and building customer loyalty came next as secondary motivations. Increasing the average order value and reducing contact costs were also objectives, although less prevalent.
Do they use it before or after the sale?
When asked about the stage of the online sales process at which they used live chat, 83% of respondents said they used chat for pre-sales. This is when there is a high attrition rate and the potential to improve the conversion rate is the greatest.
However, more than half of respondents said the websites they worked for also deployed live chat during the check out or sign up process; these were mainly large eCommerce websites in the consumer electronics and furniture industries. It is at this stage, the role of the live chat agent is to guide and reassure the customer to complete the purchase.
The study found that although live chat is implemented least often in an after-sales context. At this stage, the role of the live chat agent is to guide and reassure the customer in order to increase their chances of completing the purchase.
If you want live chat to be a success, involve your employees early on
The companies that took part in the study were also asked to consider the factors which they believed were essential for the success of a live chat project. As a result, the factor most mentioned by respondents was the solution adoption by teams and the general process of agents getting used to using the tool. Indeed, companies insisted that if the live chat agents were not involved in the project and trained to use the tool, the project could become counterproductive.
Therefore, the skills and training of the live chat teams are considered essential to ensuring the success of a live chat project. The implementation of a behavioural targeting strategy comes next as a key success factor. Defining the rules that determine which visitors will receive a live chat engagement is key to optimising the use of the solution.
What is the economic impact of live chat?
74% of participants said that live chat had improved the quality of service and 73% claimed it had improved the conversion rate of products with which live chat had been implemented, a globally positive impact.
When asked whether their live chat project had been profitable, three quarters replied positively. 47% of participants said that there were still optimisations which they planned to implement to improve the ROI of their live chat solution. 21% said that they expected their live chat solution to be profitable before the end of the year.
More about the study
This study was based on two sources of data: interviews with 62 eCommerce directors in charge of leading ecommerce websites in their industry and an online survey in which 31 online customer service decision makers took part. The companies they worked for included Air France, IKEA, Etam, Best Western, Carrefour, Lastminute and Tui.
About the author
Miranda Hobbs is UK Communication Manager at iAdvize. The company is specialised in real-time online customer service and provides live chat, click to call and video chat solutions. Combined with a behavioural targeting engine, these tools can increase conversion rates and optimise customer satisfaction and loyalty. Founded in 2010, more than 1000 clients throughout Europe use iAdvize today to improve their real-time online customer service. You can connect with iAdvize on Facebook.
To begin with, we must answer the following question: what is behavioural targeting and what does it have to do with customer service via Click to Chat?
The answer is quite simple. You can compare Behavioural Targeting to the shop assistant in the local grocery store. The shop assistant knows his or her customers well and knows from experience, at which point each customer needs advice - this is precisely what the clients appreciate. This system only works because the shop assistant closely monitors whether the clients may need help or information.
Thanks to behavioural targeting, this sales and consulting expertise is transferred to online stores.
- How do your website users navigate,
- who needs support,
- when do they need it and where?
These questions can be answered with behavioural targeting. The answers to these questions enable you to draw up a set of rules. A rule is a combination of different criteria (for example a transaction value and address of the current URL) which triggers off a chat button or a proactive invite to chat when these specific criteria are combined.
Defining a successful targeting strategy
Why choose to use behavioural targeting? From an organisational point of view, this method makes dealing with customer queries much more manageable. On pages with high traffic, it is impossible to offer chat to all users. In fact, all operators who attempted to do this were constantly overloaded.
Furthermore, the answers to the majority of questions could have been found on the website and added little value. Thanks to targeting rules, you can decide to only offer chat to a certain type of visitor, potential customers or visitors who are in critical situations.
But how do you build a successful targeting strategy? Your targeting rules are based on your global strategy with the aim of achieving precise objectives. They greatly affect your ROI and influence what kind of questions your visitors will ask you via chat. Generally, the later the customer receives support via chat to complete the purchasing process, the more likely it is that the visitor will be converted into a customer thanks to good advice.
How does it work?
The targeting strategy defines a list of all the scenarios in which you offer live chat. These scenarios are described in terms of rules. To define a targeting strategy, it is important to identify the following elements:
Which users offer a high ROI?
In which circumstances is online customer service in real time needed?
What are the critical situations? Where can drop-out rates be minimised?
1 Defining objectives
Before defining the targeting strategy, it is key to identify the objectives (increase conversion rate, boost average order value). These goals must be clearly defined, for example "conversation rate after a chat should be 20%."
It is essential to analyse the navigation of users on your page. Identify key steps and possible critical situations where you could lose users. And do not forget to take your users’ needs into consideration: what are your users‘ expectations regarding service and advice?
3 Defining targeting rules
Once you have identified your website’s weak points as well as your customers’ expectations, you can translate these scenarios into rules.
Step by step:
Who is your target audience? What kind of contacts are quality contacts? Create a list of qualitative criteria (transaction value, customer type ...) and assign a value to each criterion (e.g. a visitor with a basket value of more than € 199 is a "VIP" customer) to which you offer help via chat.
On which pages of your website will live chat appear? It makes sense to offer live chat on pages which are key in the purchasing process. You should have this information thanks to a thorough analysis of your website.
How would you like to offer customer service via live chat? You can either make the chat button appear reactively and leave it to the customer to click on it or send a proactive pop-up chat invite (use this version rarely!). Of course, visitors can decide whether they want to accept the invitation or not. Most of the time, chat should be available on a reactive mode. Proactive chat invitations are most adapted to critical situations with a high abandonment rate, identified during the analysis phase.
4 Implementation and result analysis
Once the rules have been successfully implemented, it is of course essential to carry out an analysis. Evaluate each rule with regard to contact typology, contact volume, response rate, conversion rate, sales and customer satisfaction. In proactive invites, response rate should be around 10%. If this is not the case, the targeting rules should be changed accordingly.
5 Constant optimisation
This can never be repeated too often: ensuring optimal integration of Click to Chat and thus achieving optimal results goes hand in hand with a regular analysis of results and subsequent optimisation!
If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment!
Author: Delphine Nölke is Communication Manager at iAdvize. They launched a Click-to-Chat, Click-to-Call and Click-to-Video solution to give online businesses the possibility to interact with their website users and thereby increase sales and improve customer satisfaction. Today, iAdvize accompanies more than 800 European companies from a variety of sectors. In France, iAdvize is already market leader. The iAdvize solution is available in English, German, French and Spanish.
Live chat isn’t suitable for every website, but there are clearly some situations where live chat shines. There are also some very common types of website where live chat should always be up-and-running as a core feature.
Let’s look at four scenarios where live chat can really make a difference to your customers and your profitability.
1. Online Store Owner: You Want to Increase Your Sales
Selling goods online can be very profitable, but it can sometimes be difficult to improve your conversion rate if your customers are not communicating with you. And let’s face it: analyzing the source of abandoned purchases and other cryptic metrics is not everyone’s favorite task.
So how do you ensure that you convert your website visitors into paying customers?
Live chat gives online stores the ability to behave almost like a real, physical store. With live chat, your sales assistants can ‘approach’ virtual customers and offer to support them with their purchase. Simply listen to your website visitors and draw your own conclusions on what should be improved to make it easier for them to buy. Just make sure that you, as the owner of the business, also answer support enquiries from time to time so you won’t lose touch with your customers.
2. Software Startup: Selling Complex Products With a Huge Range Of Options
When you’ve just launched a new software application, you usually don’t know exactly what questions customers will have about your product or which features they need most. This will be the best time to use live chat for both prospective and current customers so that you can gather as much feedback as possible.
Equipped with this customer feedback, you can put the features into your software that your customers really need. Any questions they had can then be answered with your website content and videos, a knowledge base and your FAQ pages. You can use all this knowledge to train new staff.
3. Tech Support: You Want to Outshine Your Competition
Live chat is ideal for technical support because it offers a perfect compromise for both sides. The user who needs urgent assistance can connect to a technician via live chat within minutes -- there’s no need to pick up the phone and stop everything else you were doing. The help desk technician can deal with customers one by one, help them in real time and easily pass a customer to another technician if they require specialized help. Most live chat tools make it easy to set up different support levels or tiers.
Best of all, because live chat conversations are automatically archived, the technician need not make extensive manual notes. Unlike a telephone call, the majority of the information needed is logged within the chat and can be retrieved later for further analysis.
4. Freelance Entrepreneur: Giving Clients the Personal Touch
Making an impression is a major hurdle for any small business. Without an established track record, businesses can find it difficult to make that vital connection with their prospective customers.
Using live chat, entrepreneurs can make that connection with customers by offering them an instant, personal conversation. Like a telephone call, the personal touch offered by live chat helps to inspire confidence. Find a couple of pros & cons in comparision to other support channels here.
By logging on to live chat during the working day, even a sole trader can offer a vital personal connection to their website visitors without neglecting their business tasks.
Many people initially approach live chat as a support tool. But it’s much more versatile than that. We’ve only discussed four examples in this guide, but there are many, many situations where live chat can make the difference between a lost sale and a satisfied customer.
Of course, there’s more to success than simply adding live chat and hoping for the best. When experimenting with live chat, try out some of the extended features of your chosen solution to make the technology work for you.
- Try prompting chats from users after they’ve visited a certain number of pages.
- If you serve customers around the world, use customized prompts to invite chats in different languages and redirect them to your multilingual staff.
- Theme your chat box for a special holiday or festival or use animations to draw the eye.
The more you integrate live chat into your business strategy, the more your website visitors will use and appreciate it - and the bigger the benefits will be.
To find a live chat tool that suits your needs, just have a look at our comparison table that lists the best providers on the market.
Do you know any further industries where live chat support makes sense? If so, please leave your comment!
Quite a few live chat tools offer promotions during the slow season around Christmas. We’ve researched the offers currently available.
Before making your purchase please note that you can find reviews for a number of live chat providers in our review section.
Current live chat software promotions
HelpOnClick offers a generous 30% discount for new customers using this discount code: Christmas30. You must purchase a paid subscription until 1 Jan 2013.
Redeem it here.
Get 10% off for Zopim’s paid packages by liking their Facebook page. It’s not a seasonal discount. Our Zopim review.
ClickDesk offers a surprise discount. Sign up here for details.
Our ClickDesk review.
SnapEngage points out that you can prepay your package for next year (potentially saving you tax dollars). They also offers a free one-on-one training session, which normally costs $250. The offer is valid until 31 Dec 2012.
Olark: If you upgrade to an annual Bronze plan until 01 Jan 2013 you'll get two operators for the price of one (as well as 10% off because you pay annually). Our Olark review.
What do you do with customer requests where you know before you start that you will not earn anything from them?
Why should you even answer them or waste any time on them?
Let’s look at the two live chat examples below, which we have experienced on our partner site WebsiteToolTester.com. There we help beginners to find the right website builder for their needs.
Example 1: The customer without a budget
We often receive requests from people who want to create their own free website. Naturally we can say straight away that ‘free of charge’ doesn’t bring in any money and it is therefore not worth answering the query.
But what if I nevertheless do my best to help this person? A visitor with just this request was so thrilled by our support after a 15-minute chat that he wrote a complete blog article about our website two days later, in which he strongly recommended our website to his readers.
And as you are surely aware: a recommendation by a friend carries much more weight than any conventional form of advertising. Furthermore, every recommendation via links or social media has a positive impact on your Google ranking, which ultimately leads to more visitors and more business.
Example 2: The customer who is looking for a product that you do not offer
A customer recently asked us if we could set up an online shop for her. However, at WebsiteToolTester we limit ourselves to the testing of tools.
I now had two options: either to fob her off with the reply that we don’t do such a thing (bad), or to find a solution for the customer.
The solution was the development of a new line of business (something I had been considering for some time, but constantly postponed). We now cooperate with partners who look after the creation of websites for our customers. And what do you know: what was initially a “useless” enquiry has now developed into an interesting business. It’s good when the boss himself answers chat enquiries sometimes.
There are very good reasons to take your potential customers’ questions seriously:
- On the one hand you discover what is demanded on the market,
- you can build up a positive relationship to the questioner,
- Facebook, Twitter & co. reinforce your customers’ voice: both positively and negatively.
There is no doubt that this requires long-term thinking. But if you listen closely to interested parties, you can benefit thousand-fold. Nowadays companies unfortunately tend to make their first savings in the field of customer service – despite the fact that these employees are the point of contact for potential and actual customers.
For this reason you should make the live chat and the contact form your top priority! In the long term this will prove its worth to you. And incidentally: this exchange can also make a lot of people happy.
In technical companies, such as web hosting providers, there are generally two departments that take support calls and tickets: the sales department and the technical support department.
Within technical support, there may be two or three sub-groups: the first group might administer the help desk ticketing system, another might deal with common incidents and requests, and perhaps a third will deal with more complicated problems.
It’s possible to offer one single chat option that offers the same chat options to everyone. But that’s not always the most efficient way of handling support requests. As your business grows, you might find that live chat becomes inconvenient and troublesome for your staff, with busy technical engineers being bothered by basic questions.
So what’s the answer? By using tiers, live chat requests can be efficiently split between the people who are most likely to deal with issues initially.
What are support tiers?
Tiers describe a hierarchy of groups. In the example above, sales staff and technical administrators would be considered Tier 1 staff. More advanced technical engineers would be assigned to tier 2, tier 3 and so on. Wikipedia lists a description for common support tiers here.
If you’ve got a technical support department, you might already be using a similar system for managing and prioritising support requests. Live chat can be used in exactly the same way. You can target new chats to tier 1 staff initially, and have tier 2 and above available for referrals from tier 1.
By using tiers, you’re giving clients access to your support and sales departments in the most appropriate way. Segregating your teams makes the whole process more efficient and speedy for both chat participants.
Example: In a web hosting company, a simple pricing question will directly be answered by the tier 1 support person. If the question is more complicated – for example, if someone has a very specific question about e-commerce hosting – the question can be redirected to the second level support tier. In a pre-sales scenario like this one, it makes sense to answer questions as fast as possible.
An important question is whether technical support for existing customers should also be dealt with via live chat. If the question is complex and takes more than 15 minutes to be solved, it makes sense to transfer the case into the ticketing system. This way it’ll be easier to trace and manage.
One thing you should avoid is rejecting incoming chats from existing customers. All customers should feel equally valued, and people who have already signed up should get the same attention as prospective clients.
How do I create tiers?
Most popular live chat tools support a tier or group system.
- Olark allows users to set up a tier system, assuming you have an account that provides a login for two or more operators. You can assign Operators to Groups, and different Groups can be assigned to different pages within your website. You can initiate Targeted Chats with different types of users based on rules and triggers and pass chats from one operator to another.
Zopim calls its tier system Departments. Visitors can choose which Department they want to speak to when initiating a new conversation. Chats can be passed between operators.
- SnapEngage supports the transfer of chats between agents, and also allows the creation of tiers. The SnapEngage system aligns well with the concept of tiers, as it’s designed to be a hierarchical system, unlike other providers which don’t necessarily base tiers around that concept.
- Userlike supports agent-to-agent transfer and the creation of groups. New chats are targeted at the operator with the least active chats within the relevant group.
As mentioned previously, you can combine your existing ticketing system with live chat. Find out whether your preferred helpdesk solution has a live chat function built-in. We hope this article has inspired you to make live chat more efficient in your business.
If you have any other tips or tricks, do let us know in the comments.