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7 Tips for Delivering Memorable Live Chat Customer Service

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How to Build Customer Loyalty in Real-Time

You can’t miss it.

More and more, websites in every corner of the web are featuring that inviting little widget in the corner of their screens.

There’s no question that live chat is getting huge.

We’re all extremely excited at Groove this week, as we’re taking a huge step in helping our customers take advantage of this trend by officially launching our partnership with Olark, our favorite live chat software on the planet.

Starting today, Groove customers and Olark customers will be able to use both tools’ functionality seamlessly from inside either platform. To learn more about the partnership, click here, or sign up for our free webinar on live chat support next Tuesday.

To celebrate this news, I’m going to explore why you may want to consider offering live chat for customer service, and how you can ensure that you’re doing it right.

Why Live Chat?

There are many reasons that offering live chat support is a valuable strategy, but the two most compelling arguments are:

1) Customers have come to expect it

Customers are using live chat more than ever. In fact, the growth rate is pretty insane.

According to a Forrester survey, the percentage of customers who have used live chat for customer service has grown from 38% in 2009 to 58% in 2014, and it’s continuing to rise.

That’s a nearly 10% increase year-over-year, more growth than any other channel by a wide margin.

2) Customers love it

People aren’t just using live chat, they’re actually getting more satisfaction out of it than from any other channel, according to eDigital’s Customer Service Benchmark survey.

Customer Satisfaction By Support Channel
Customer Satisfaction By Support Channel Source: Econsultancy

It all makes sense when you consider the benefits of live chat: ease of contact combined with lightning-fast resolution times mean drastically reduced customer effort, the single biggest driver of customer loyalty.

7 Tips to Deliver Amazing Live Chat Support

If you’re already using live chat, or are planning to, here are seven things to keep in mind to ensure that your chat support is as good as your email support:

1) Always Introduce Yourself

A customer service interaction isn’t a transaction; it’s a conversation.

By introducing yourself to the customer, you make things personal and begin to frame the interaction as one between people, versus one between a customer and a business.

2) Be Fast

Live chat is a channel where speed does matter.

79% of customers say that they prefer live chat because of the immediacy it provides, by far the most cited reason.

As for time specifics, 60% of customers don’t want to wait more than 60 seconds for a response, while the average time for an initial reply hovered around 23 seconds.

3) Promise a Result

If a customer sends a chat message “checking in” on the status of their support request, we consider that a failure on our part.

In testing at Groove, we’ve found that customers who proactively reach out to us report satisfaction scores, on average, about 10% lower than customers who don’t inquire.

In your initial chat, even if you can’t resolve the issue right away, let the customer know exactly when they should expect to hear from you.

While you can’t always promise a solution by a given time, you can always promise an update.

Delivering on that promise doesn’t just keep the customer informed about the status of their request, but it’s another opportunity to build trust.

4) The ELI5 Technique

Even if they seem like second nature to you, the complex or technical concepts behind your product can be really confusing to customers.

When you need to explain a complex idea or instruction, don’t write it as if you were sharing it with a coworker.

Instead, use the ELI5 technique.

On the Explain It Like I’m Five subreddit, experts distill complex topics and explain them as if the reader were five years old.

As an example, see how one user explains the difference between email, Google, AOL, a website, and web browsers:

If someone didn’t understand what those things were, this would be a perfect, clear rundown that would instantly and easily make sense.

Spend some time reading the ELI5 subreddit, and practicing writing your own instructions in the same format to make life easier for your customers.

This is especially important in live chat, where the chat window is smaller than an email window, and you typically have even fewer words to get your point across.

5) Make Chat Access Incredibly Easy

When a customer wants to get help or ask you a question, they’re already having a less-than-perfect experience.

Don’t make it any worse by forcing them to work to figure out how to get in touch.

Make it ridiculously easy to reach you via live chat by putting your chat widget on every page, letting the customer get help from anywhere.

6) Lean on Links

Having to scroll through long emails is annoying and tedious, and having to scroll through long live chat messages is even worse.

Because customer loyalty is built by reducing customer effort, we want to avoid anything annoying and tedious.

Having a knowledge base with articles that you can link to is really helpful, as it can save your customers the hassle of trying to navigate a long email.

As a rule of thumb, if your instructions contain more than one image or three steps, link to them rather than including them in the email.

7) Use Time-Saving Tricks

Sometimes, you don’t need an entire knowledge base article to answer a common customer question. And sometimes, a knowledge base article isn’t appropriate (for example, if the question deals with sensitive account data or billing information.

That’s when saved common replies come in handy.

Rather than wasting time typing the same reply over and over again (probably the single most time-sucking repetitive task that support professionals have to do), common (sometimes called “canned”) replies let you insert frequently used messages with a click.

Even if you’re not using software like Groove or Olark that lets you save common chat replies, you can still take advantage of this time-saving tactic.

I’m a huge fan of aText for Mac (for PC’s, try PhraseExpress), which lets you create keyboard shortcuts. You could create something as simple as a shortcut to save you a few keystrokes typing your email address, or something as powerful as a shortcut for an entire paragraph-long email.

Build Customer Loyalty in Real-Time

Live chat support is a huge opportunity for businesses to add a powerful, customer-loved channel to their customer service strategy.

Use these tips to deliver better support—and build better customer relationships—in real-time.

To learn more about Groove’s new Olark partnership, click here, or sign up for our live chat support webinar next Tuesday here.

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About the Author

Len Markidan heads up marketing at Groove. He’s focused on helping startups and small businesses build better relationships with their customers.

Read his latest posts or follow him on Twitter

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