Out of all the websites you’ve visited in the past few years, how many times have you come across live chat support? Probably quite a lot, right? You’ve probably used live chat at least once in your life to get in touch with a business, whether that’s regarding an issue or concern you have or just a general query. And if you haven’t – you’re missing out! It’s possibly the most convenient way to make contact with a business, without having to go to the extra effort of finding the right email address or contact number to get in touch with the right person or department.

It’s no surprise that you can find a live chat icon at the bottom of almost every e-commerce website – out of all the methods of getting in touch with a business, millennials prefer using a live chat tool to communicate. Live chat is supposed to be fast and easy for the user, so how can you make the most out of your live chat tool to ensure that you’re resolving all customer issues effectively and also using it to convert leads into customers?  

1. Act quick

Generally, people use live chat because they are looking for a quick response or quick resolution. So, if they’re left waiting for over 10 minutes with a complaint about a faulty product they’ve received, they are likely to become even more frustrated than they were to begin with, which will only worsen the situation rather than diffuse it. In fact, studies show that the average waiting time for a thought-out response from an advisor on live chat is 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

If you’re not able to run your live chat 24/7, 365 days a year, make sure this is obvious by including the time frame that you are available to respond to messages clearly on your live chat tool. By doing so, all of your visitors will be aware of when they can get a hold of you and avoid any unnecessary frustration when they don’t get an instant response. 

2. Be natural

Ideally, when you are using live chat, you want to mimic the kind of conversation you would have over the phone with a customer or a casual conversation that would take place over text with a friend. Of course, you don’t want to be too laid-back and informal – this will make it harder for the customer to trust you and can come across as careless. You want to strike a balance between friendly and professional. Also, avoid using any jargon – it’s best to communicate with the customer as clearly as possible to avoid any confusion. 

Example of an overly formal response: 

“In order to find out the status of your cancellation I require the email address registered to your account.”

Improved response:

“Please can I have your email address so I can find out when your account is set to cancel?” 

3. Make it personal

This is all about choosing the right pronouns. What’s the difference between “our apologies for this” and “my apologies for this?” The former is a bog-standard response that allows you as the customer service advisor to merely apologise on behalf of the company, whilst the latter clearly communicates that you are taking personal responsibility for the customer’s issue – which is more beneficial for both you and your company. The moment you accept that you are now responsible for resolving the customer’s issue, that’s when you deliver the most empathy. Being empathetic is the key to restoring a previously damaged relationship between a customer and your brand. Angry or not, the customer will be grateful for that and will be much more inclined to accept your personal apology. 

It sounds like it’s not that important and you may think that a customer won’t even recognise whether you’ve used “our” or “my,” “we” or “I,” but subconsciously it can communicate that you’re not particularly bothered about their issue and not willing to take ownership. A simple change from “our” to “my” can make a real positive difference when dealing with an upset or frustrated customer. 

Another way to add personalisation is to use the customer’s first name during the conversation (where it feels natural to) if they have provided this in the live chat. This will ensure that they feel important and not as though they are just another customer that you’ve had to deal with that day. A personalised interaction is a memorable interaction!

4. Make (appropriate) use of bots

Specific automated messages that pop up on particular pages on your website is a great way to encourage users to start a conversation, and potentially convert their initial curiosity into a purchase. However, you don’t want to overuse bots – if a message pops up on every web page they click on, it is likely to become annoying especially if they’re only having a browse through your site. That’s why it’s best to add them on pricing pages, for example, as the customer is most likely closer to making a purchase than they would be if they were on the “about us” page. It’s also important to make sure the customer isn’t chatting to a bot for too long; often, people eventually just want to chat to a human. After all, there’s only so much a bot can do!

We have a bot that appears on the pricing page of our website. Once the customer sends a message back to our digital assistant, one of our customer service advisors takes over and replies. Check it out:

5. And the survey says…

Offering customers the chance to give their feedback via a quick survey or a question or two that pops up after the chat has ended will dramatically help your customer service team discover whether customers are satisfied or not. Your team can then use this feedback to improve their approach if needs be and also find out what’s been having a positive impact on customers so they know what to continue doing. The survey should be optional because, let’s face it, not everyone is willing to spend more time than they need to online to answer a few questions – however, the survey is quite likely to attract those who have had an extremely positive experience and those who have had a negative experience, as these two types of customers will both want to share their views. This is actually quite ideal because you then have the advantage of comparing the two extremes.

Live chat is a great addition to your existing customer service strategy if you don’t already have it, and if you do, the tips above will arm you with the knowledge you need to provide the most positive customer experience you can for all existing customers and potential customers.