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7 Best Practices for Live Chat Customer Support

Live chat assistance is the most convenient way to communicate with online consumers, providing immediate access to help. In fact, research shows, that over 50% of online shoppers prefer live chat assistance as a way of communicating. Also, consumers who are willing to spend time on talking with a chat agent are already highly motivated to make a buy. Essentially, it aids to build relationships with customers and that is key.

Research conducted by Forrester Research in a study called “Making Proactive Chat Work” found the following:

„44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a Web site can offer.“

Your Chat Button Location

If they can't see you then they don't know you're there! That's why the location of your chat button is critical. Make sure it's at a prominent place and visible on every page of your site. Perfectly, customers would not need to scroll up and down to find you, and it should stand out. Placements like at the side or bottom of the page work best.

Wording on Your Chat Button

Paying attention to what your chat button says makes a world of difference – Just stating „Online“ or „Offline“ is sure to be confusing. Using simple calls to action like „Click here to chat“ or „Click here for help“ will clearly signal what they must do and will get them to click on the button.

Specify when Live Chat is Available

It is most likely that you won't operate 24/7 and will work with a schedule like 9 to 5. Hence, you should always make note of your working hours in the chat window. Next step is to strictly stick to your schedule, so customers know to anticipate your help at the times you have advertised. Avoid dead chat at any cost!

Complicated Pre-Chat Form

The less information a customer needs to fill out before starting the chat the better! If the form has required fields like phone number or location, they will probably be put off. Get rid of all fields that aren't absolutely necessary. Stick to asking their name and let them start chatting. You can gather any information you consider necessary during the chat.

Slow Response Time

If your chat window says you're „Available“ or „Online“ then you need to be just that. The person initiating the chat expects an almost immediate response – that's the whole point of „Live“. If you can't be with them straight away, send them a quick message like „Be with you in 20 seconds“. When you need to investigate an issue or look into a matter, be transparent in what you are doing - let them know you are actively working on the issue. Also, use phrases like „I'm sorry to keep you waiting“ or „Thank you for holding on“.

Using „Canned“ Responses

Live chat is about chatting person to person and using auto-responders or templates completely defeats the purpose. Visitors are not looking to chat to a robot and will instantly pick up on that. It's about making your visitor feel valued and providing them with a personalized experience.

Know Your Products and Services

Actually being useful is in the heart of successfully implementing live chat. This means knowing your products and services and also your site navigation. If you're at a loss for an answer, then you've ultimately failed at serving your visitor.

As with anything, there is a bit of a learning curve to implementing Live Chat and making sure the customer experience is positive. With focused effort you are on your way to hap­pier customers, reduced cost of operations, and most importantly improved prof­its. Live Chat will also give you a nice edge on your competition if done right.

Have you used live chat on your website? What was your experience? Have any questions? Please let us know in the comments below!

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