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In an on-demand world, no one wants to wait, and that includes your customers. It’s why Live Chat is integral to a customer-centric support program for any business. The benefits of customer service live chat programs are far-reaching and provide the highest level of satisfaction according to customers — 73%, as opposed to 44% for phone.
But what really goes into a Live Chat program and what are the benefits of this channel? Let’s take a closer look at what chat programs are, how they work, and ultimately, how you can leverage them to increase customer satisfaction at your company.
What is Live Chat?
Live Chat is a company’s ability to provide support in real-time to customers by leveraging one of the many live chat software solutions available to companies. There are a variety of factors to take into consideration when choosing a chat platform for your business. Below are a few of the top questions to consider when choosing a platform:
- What problem will I be solving with live chat?
- How will my team adopt this platform?
- How will it integrate with my CRM?
- What AI abilities are available?
These are just a few of the many things to ask when demoing a platform. Not every platform is going to be right for every business, so it’s important to do your due diligence during your selection. If the sales rep doesn’t have a good answer to your question (or doesn’t have an answer at all), move on. Implementing a live customer chat program is an investment of both time and money, and it’s not something you want to repeat six months down the line.
How does live chat customer service
While we do live in the age of chatbots, human-driven chat services are still a great way to quickly resolve customers’ needs. Live chat programs to support customer service teams can work in a variety of ways. Typically, however, a live chat platform is integrated with your website or mobile app, or sometimes directly into your product.
Live chat support allows your customer support agents to meet your customers immediately where they are, whether on your website or using your product. They communicate in real-time — just like speaking on the phone — but the experience is more convenient for customers on the go, sitting at their desk at work, or in any other environment where hopping on the phone is an inconvenience.
Furthermore, many customers simply don’t like the phone. According to a survey, 75% of millennials (currently the largest generation in the US) avoid using the phone. That’s a lot of people avoiding phone calls. As such, it’s pretty clear that Live Chat isn’t a nice-to-have, but a must.
12 benefits of customer service live chat
But beyond the simple fact that customers expect Live Chat in the digital age, there are many benefits of live chat. Let’s take a look at the top 12.
- Improves support experience for customers
When customers need help, one key element of whether or not they have a good customer experience is the speed at which their issue is resolved. With live customer chat support, agents are behind the chat window, not just a bot. With humans at the helm, well-trained staff can quickly get to the heart of a customer’s problem.
In addition, in an omnichannel world, customers want to be helped on the channel that they prefer. Chat platforms that are able to integrate with a number of different channels, create a seamless and frictionless customer experience.
- Improves customer acquisition and ease onboarding
Leveraging chat technology that understands where a customer is in their journey, allows your agents to offer help during key moments of the customer journey.
For example, maybe your organization noticed that some prospective customers are having trouble checking out paying for products on your website. This is a good time to ask whether the customer would like some guidance through questions like “What brought you here today?” Or “Are you finding what you need?” In essence, it’s about being proactive, not just reactive when it comes to customer support and service.
- More efficient than phones
Implementing a live chat program for your team is more efficient than using phones for a number of reasons. As we all know, phone-based support is expensive. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the main one that Live Chat mitigates is the fact that you can only help one customer at a time via phone, but you can serve multiple customers at once via chat (more on this below).
It’s also easier and cheaper to have a distributed team using Live Chat. Unlike a traditional phone-based contact center where having a centralized location helps with operational efficiencies, your Live Chat agents can work remotely from wherever they live in the country or world.
Live chat is also easier to insert into the customer journey, as it can be added to your website’s homepage or a mobile app to seamlessly integrate with your customer’s experience.
- Allows customers to solve problems on the go
Live chat support can be offered on many different devices, allowing customers to access help while they’re on the go. Assistance can also be given in an asynchronous manner. This can be useful during times when a customer may be distracted.
For example, a customer who is hit while on the highway can use the app of their insurer or roadside service company to gain help. Between staying safe on a busy highway and dealing with the other driver, this customer may be unable to give full focus to a phone conversation. Using chat, however, allows them to respond to the agent when it is safest and most convenient for them.
- Helps build relationships with customers
Companies that provide human-based chat versus chatbots are better able to connect and engage with customers. Nowadays, consumers almost expect a company’s chat service to be bot-driven; they don’t expect to interact with a human on the other end. Companies that are able to go the extra mile and offer live chat with actual humans on the other end have a competitive advantage.
Sure, bots can solve some issues, but not all. There is a time and place for bots, and a time and place for real human connection. Customers having access to a human and empathetic individual will ultimately have a more productive and fulfilling experience.
- Reduces repetition for your customers
Nobody likes having to repeat themselves. This is especially true for consumers trying to access customer service help. Having to repeat yourself, coupled with long wait times, is extremely frustrating.
The great thing about chat support is that there is a word-for-word transcription between the customer and the support agent. This helps ease customer transfers when issues need to be escalated to the manager level. It also allows for growth opportunities for CX teams to review chat transcripts from previous interactions.
- Boosts your customer service team’s productivity
As we mentioned above, unlike providing customer support via a phone call, when leveraging live chat support customer service can assist multiple customers simultaneously.
As opposed to only being able to handle one phone-based support conversation at a time, CX reps can handle between three and five chats simultaneously. That is incredibly more efficient than phone support. And with a text-based AI service platform such as Loris, chat agents are able to receive additional insights into the emotions behind the customer’s words, allowing reps better judge customer sentiment.
- Allows for 24/7 support
If your business has customers in numerous time zones, it can often be difficult to offer support 24/7. But customers not only want it, they expect it. With live chat allowing for remote work options, it’s easier to hire a global team which means that providing support at all hours becomes doable and less of a pipedream for your CX team.
- Helps to make informed product decisions
Companies that have identified key moments in the customer journey can augment the customer evaluation process with human-driven chat. Customers will be able to ask questions about the product and get real-time support.
Oracle’s Advertising and Customer Experience division provides a great example of this. As their prospective customers are browsing Oracle’s website about its CX platform, prospects can access a live chat in the lower right-hand corner that will quickly connect them to Oracle’s Sales (live chat and phone) and Oracle Cloud Support (live chat).
Plus, there is an added benefit. With live chat, customers can mainly self-serve, yet be supported by live chat if they have trouble browsing a company’s offerings on their own.
- Increases customer engagement
Live chat boosts customer engagement, especially when customers want to stick with the digital approach (web and/or mobile) that they’re currently using.
If a customer is still in a web-browsing mindset, it can be annoying to dial in via phone when they need help. Live chat means that you don’t have to make your customers wait; help can be provided at their fingertips, increasing the seamlessness of the overall customer experience.
- Provides an edge over your competition (or levels the playing field)
If live chat is not being used by your competitors, offering live chat to your customer can create a competitive advantage. With that said, if your competitor is using live chat, the chances that consumers are going to expect it is higher.
As mentioned earlier, consumers are demanding high-quality support and services on their preferred channel. They want issues to be resolved as quickly (and seamlessly) as possible. Introducing live chat into your digital channels will enable your business to provide a better customer experience than your competitors — or at least compete on a level playing field. In the age of customer experience, great support will give your business an edge. Eventually, however, an extraordinary level of customer service will become the status quo.
- Creates happier agents and reduces turnover
It’s no secret that customer service agents put up with a lot – it’s a tough job. Even the nicest of people have been known to lose their cool when a support issue has gone awry. The daily stress of being on the frontlines, constantly being “on” and dealing with often unhappy customers is stressful and can take a toll on any agent.
It’s no surprise that employee retention is often low in customer service, with a turnover of 30-45%. This is nearly double that of the overall turnover in other industries. Now imagine a workforce of CX agents that are happier and mentally healthier – think of how much longer they’d stay with your company! In a high-stress field, the welfare of your agents has never been as important. Providing your agents with live chat and the ability to be more productive in their roles will result in higher employee retention — ultimately increasing your bottom line.
Limitations of live chat (and what to do about them)
It’d be careless to not mention the limitations of live chat, because like all customer support channels, nothing is foolproof.
As enthusiastic as customers are with having live chat as an option, they are not always impressed with its implementation. Consumers cite poor user experience (38%) and frustrating and awkward automated responses (29%) at the top of their list regarding live chat complaints.
But just because live chat isn’t perfect, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be explored and implemented. At Loris, we help bridge the gap between customers and your CX agents. We leverage machine learning to make customer support more human, less frustrating, and more scalable to your growing company.