As a company who services a variety of clients with thousands of live chats per week, we’ve learned first hand the processes that work well.
WARNING- Live Chat is one of the few marketing tools that could actually hurt your business if not done well.
A savvy ad campaign means wasted money if sales are not produced for your business, but otherwise nothing is lost.
However, if you implement Live Chat improperly, then you could actually end up hurting your business reputation through bad customer relationships. This loses not only current revenue, but future revenue as well.
Before we cover advanced tactics for Live Chat, let’s make sure you have the basics down.
When you enter a retail store and ask a question, does the employee require you give personal information upfront before helping you? Never!
So why would you require a visitor who has a simple question to give their name and email address?
If a visitor clicks the “ask a question” box, the best experience for them is to simply be helped by your team without having to commit to providing any information. Many websites do make this mistake. But you shouldn’t be one of them.
Staying with the example of a retail shopping experience, because this is what most people know, imagine that you have a question while shopping at the Apple Store. It would be unusual if you couldn’t find an employee to answer your question, wouldn’t it?
Some websites make the mistake of having Live Chat available only on certain parts of their websites. Others make the mistake of having Live Chat someplace other than the lower right corner, where visitors are accustomed to finding it.
Here’s what not to do:
If visitors can’t find it right away, then they are much more likely to leave your website without asking you the question that is keeping them from buying. And you end up with a lost sale.
Imagine that you are in a retail store and an employee walked up to you asking,
”Do you have a question I can help with?” This is probably a good experience, at least so far.
But imagine that you ask your question, and the employee literally turns around and walks away--completely ignoring you. That’s a seriously bad experience, right?
Many businesses make this same mistake with their Live Chat systems.
That probably sounds like something you would never want to happen, but it happens all the time with businesses that otherwise have great customer service intentions:
Here's how this could happen to you:
The Solution? You Need Someone Dedicated to Live Chat
One of the main reasons that this happens is that the person responsible for managing the Live Chat systems is also responsible for managing many other aspects of the business (answering phones, doing sales demos, etc.).
How Fast is “Respond Fast”?
A good “first response time” for Live Chat is between 4-6 seconds. The absolute maximum is 20 seconds. In a later section, we’ll share ways that you can measure and reach these targets. For now, focus on give your visitors a great experience by not leaving awkward silences in your Live Chat box.
Unfortunately, many people’s experiences with Live Chat include some scenario of chatting with someone overseas who represents an enormous corporation but hasn’t been adequately trained to respond appropriately to a variety of questions.
An Example of Poor Customer Service
Here's a laughably bad example from Amazon.com (Full transcript published by Business Insider):
It became apparent that Farah didn't understand the question.
And once Farah finally did start to understand, she told Chris to delete his entire email account rather than help him delete the Amazon account that was created.
This obviously led to Chris being frustrated, and in this case a public example of Amazon’s poor customer service. I’m sure they’ve improved since that time, but the story lives on online because of how laughably poor the situation was handled.
Sadly, this is not an uncommon experience with Live Chat. This means that visitors who are chatting with you may be skeptical at first. Because of situations such as this one, you’ll need to earn your visitors’ trust when you chat with them.
How to Understand Complicated Questions
At first it probably seems like understanding a question would be easy. However, customers don’t always ask questions in a clear, concise manner. You’ll likely need more information to clarify the question before giving an answer.
If your Live Chat system is configured well, which we’ll discuss later, you can see the context from the visitor so you’ll have the information you need to give a good answer.
Here are the things you should be able to see while chatting with your visitor:
(Image / Data Source: https://www.livechatinc.com/tour/)
All of this information should give you the context you need to understand the question the visitor is asking. And if it does not, then there’s a simple solution- ask for clarification.
Although simply asking for clarification might sound silly, you’ll find that visitors appreciate it when you do. They want you to give you the information you need to get them the answer they need. It’s a win-win. As long as your clarifying question is reasonable, of course.
Here’s an example of a clarifying question scenario:
Imagine you run the scooter company mentioned previously. A visitor sends you a Live Chat question:
Visitor: How much does this battery cost?
You can see from your side that the visitor is looking at two batteries for a certain model scooter.
You reply: Model A59 costs $179 and Model B59 costs $199. Do you have questions about which model will work for your scooter? If you tell me which scooter you have I can help you determine what you need.
Visitor: I have the red scooter.
You reply: Okay, there should be a model number on the silver plate on the back that will help me get you the right battery,
Visitor, after a pause: It’s XZ404.
You reply: Okay, great. Then the battery you need is A59. That one costs $179 and we have free shipping. What other questions can I help you with?
Visitor: That’s all. Thanks.
You reply: You’re welcome. Have a good day.
Once you correctly understand the question the visitor is asking, you can supply the answer. Your visitor will feel more confident and you’ll be one step closer to making a sale.
Live Chat allows you to truly help your visitors by being available any time, responding quickly, and giving good answers to questions. The mindset of customer service should always come first, but you can also use the opportunity of Live Chats to get the leads and sales.
If you are a seller of shipping supplies and products to businesses, then you know a business that ships 100 units per day is ultimately going to be more valuable to you than a small business that ships only 2 units per week.
Live Chat provides an excellent opportunity to engage with a future customer and gain information without being too “salesy”. You can learn a great deal about a prospect simply by listening to the questions that they ask and the details they are willing to share with you during the conversation.
Learning to ask specific questions in a strategic way allows your team to gain information that will be helpful to future relationships with this client.
Here’s an Example
Visitor: I’m looking for a supplier for cardboard boxes. I see they are 6.92 ea. Is there a price break at any
As the first question the visitor asks, this offers two big hints that this is a potential buyer of large quantities of these types of products.
Of course, this example is fairly specific since the visitor basically handed the information to you. Sometimes you may have to work a little harder to get the information you need, but the idea is to always be learning about the visitor’s potential as a customer for your business.
Here’s an example of a more subtle exchange:
We run the live chat system for a website that sells payment systems and equipment for brick and mortar retailers. We frequently get chats with basic questions about terminals, but sometimes a visitor will ask more complicated questions such as:
You know that these questions would only be asked by a serious prospect because they are so detailed.
The kind of visitor who would ask these types of questions usually fits the below profile:
The moral of the story is that it is vital to read between the lines when people ask complicated questions. Not only should you be seeking to give them answers, but you should also be looking to determine the amount of potential this visitor has to turn into a big sales lead.
When a visitor asks a question, you can learn a great deal about them and their business. If they don’t readily share this information, you should try to seek it out in a professional way whenever possible.
Keep the conversation going by engaging the visitor’s interest. Otherwise the visitor will simply become annoyed. Here are some simple, but effective, ways to keep visitors engaged in Live Chat:
Helping visitors is the main priority of Live Chat, but there are a few steps you can take to turn as many chats as possible into revenue for your business.
The Hard Close
If you have answered a question for a visitor through Live Chat and it seems like they are ready to make a purchase, offer to help them through the process. This allows you to ensure they get through the process successfully and complete the purchase right away.
But how can you tell if a visitor is ready to make a purchase? Typically you can tell by the questions they ask or by seeing the pages they’re on.
Here’s some obvious signs to look for:
At this stage, however it is important to be careful not to push the person too hard. In a retail store you can read a person’s body language or if they are walking toward the cash register. In a Live Chat, you need to read between the lines of what they’re saying and doing on your website.
The Follow-up Close
A common scenario is that visitors will ask questions about a product via Live Chat and then return later to make the purchase. The fact that you helped them with their questions allows them to feel trust has been built, meaning they are more likely to return to make the purchase. But it’s still not a guarantee.
If it seems like a visitor might be ready to make a purchase but is pausing, do your best to get their contact information.
We track revenue produced for the websites we manage chat for, whether the sale happens during a chat or in the hours or days after a chat. We’ve found that a simple but effective follow up process from our customers (i.e. the websites we manage chat for) significantly improves the likelihood of converting chats into future sales.
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