Using live chat effectively can drive a lot of sales. If you can figure the experience well and take a sales-minded but customer-centric approach, you should see the conversion rate for people you chat with significantly higher than people that don't chat despite similar browsing patterns. In short, driving chat volume is good because it drives sales.
But the challenge with driving a lot of chat volume is that chat takes time to manage. While you can streamline a lot and automate some aspects of chat, at the end of the day, increasing chat volume means increasing staff to handle chat. To make it even more complex, chat volume varies depending on how much traffic you get on a given day, so it's tough to have a standardized forecast per day.
It is possible to optimize your chat strategy to drive maximum chat volume (and thus sales) within the constraints of your staffing if you understand how volume, capacity, and staffing data can be used to dynamically "flex" volume. It's a bit complex, but once you have it set up, you can run in the background and feed just the right amount of chat volume to your team so you can maximize sales.
At HelpFlow.com, we run 24/7 live chat and customer service teams over 100 stores, and we’ve been in the business for seven years. We've literally done millions of chats and driven nearly $10M in chat attributed revenue. We build systems that are incredibly robust, and a big focus of those systems is maximizing chat volume while still enabling our ever-growing team to serve chats well.
In this post, we'll dive into how we manage volume based on staffing levels for a portfolio of 100+ clients with over 1 million visitors per day. There's a lot happening there, but the process is actually quite simple... and you can apply it with your own team to drive better results with live chat.
Let's get into it.
The first step to maximizing sales from the live chat is to use automated chat greetings. If you get greetings right, they will drive 70% or more of your volume. Not using greetings for whatever reason creates a huge missed opportunity for driving sales (and helping visitors that otherwise wouldn't engage on chat).
Don't use time on site or the number of pages rules to trigger a chat greeting. Instead, configure greetings to show up as someone starts to have questions or is thinking about abandoning, which you can start to decipher based on their browsing behavior (How to Setup Chat Greetings to Drive Sales).
Configure greetings to naturally start a conversation by asking a question that invites a reply. For example, "Hi, I wanted to let you know I'm online in case you have any questions. Anything I can help with?". It is intentionally informal so that it does not feel automated to the visitor.
Those are the basics. When you can figure the chat greetings well he will drive more chat volume which ultimately drive more sales. Don't worry, below I will dive into how to manage the chat volume carefully so it aligns with your staffing levels.
It's not possible to handle an infinite number of chats because chats are ultimately handled by humans on your team. Yes, you can streamline a lot and automate some parts of the experience, but at the end of the day, more chat volume is going to require more human time to handle. That time is worth it because it drives sales, but you still need to make sure that you don't drive too much volume for your current team to handle.
By tracking agent capacity in real-time, you have a foundational metric you can use to know if you're approaching your limit and can then adjust chat volume. More on that adjustment part in a second.
Set a metric for agent capacity, which is the number of active chats an agent can handle at any given time. For example, two active chats at a time are typically pretty straightforward to handle for a well-trained agent.
Then, track agent capacity in real-time. At any given moment, you need to know how many active chats each agent has so that you are able to recognize as you are getting close to your team capacity for volume.
The specifics of how to do this vary by live chat software, but it's definitely something that needs to be automated through an API or some other method. It's something you want to track in near real-time, at a bare minimum once a minute but ideally every few seconds.
Once you have agent capacity set and tracked in real-time, you can adjust chat volume in real-time by throttling the automated greetings that drive most of the volume. As agents get closer but not all the way to their capacity, you can turn off certain greetings to bring volume back down.
To perfect this process and ensure you are not throttling volume too much, it's important to track visitor traffic in real-time and understand how
that traffic converts into actual chat volume based on invites. Think of this as a "greeting conversion rate" - how many greetings will turn into actual conversations for an agent to manage. When you know this, you can throttle chat volume near perfectly to avoid missing out on chats and going too far under agent capacity.
You should also track throttle frequency and time to know when you are throttling too much and thus missing out on sales. That's the time when you should add more staffing to be able to handle more volume and thus drive more sales.
Once you begin to see the conversions that come through chat, you will want to drive maximum chat volume. But again, you need to do this without burning out your team. The framework above will help you get there.
Do you want to apply this in your business? Book a live chat strategy session with our team at HelpFlow.com. We will audit the current browsing behavior of your visitors and share how to best engage them on chat. While we obviously sell this as a service, you will get a ton of value just by doing the strategy session since we share insights from working with so many stores.
Interested in simply learning more about how to drive chat sales? Here are a few blog posts to spark ideas: