How Does Live Chat Improve Customer Service?

Most customers — 75% to be exact — prefer to chat with someone online and in real-time for answers, rather than pick up the phone to call for help. From 2012 to 2016, the number of consumers using live chat increased by 50%.

Why? It’s fast, efficient and convenient. Customers value their time and expect you to value it too. At this point, if you’re not providing live chat customer service, your competitors might be, and your customers may wonder why you’re not. Assess whether or not your customers wish they could live chat with you, whether your business model requires it, and add it to your support offerings if you find it’s a need you’re not currently meeting.

In this article, we’ll cover several ways to improve customer service with live chat for your organization. Keep reading for details on each of the ways live chat will help you take your customer service to the next level.

13 ways live chat helps deliver better service

Whether you’re looking to start offering live chat because your customers have requested it or you’re hoping to improve internal workflows for better support overall, the results you’ll see are clear. From the ability to deliver instant answers to providing a better customer experience, and from increasing agent productivity to collecting data to inform product decisions, adding chat to your support repertoire is essential.

1. Give quicker access to agents

Offering live chat is a key way to improve customer service. By giving your customers a quick and easy way to reach your team, they’ll feel like you’re there for them any time chat is available. Since real-time messaging has grown in popularly, opening a chat for immediate help — rather than sending an email and waiting for a reply — is practically expected these days. In fact, 79% of customers who prefer live chat said they did so because of the speed at which their questions are answered.

2. Deliver instant answers

Live chat is a great way to connect with customers and give them the confidence to use your product or spend money on your website. Messaging in real time can allow an agent to explain how to get started to a person just starting out, or to walk a customer through the sales process and see them through to the end. According to Forrester, consumers who use chat are 2.8x more likely to convert to a sale than those who don’t. Being available to help builds trust, even if your customers don’t need to talk right then and there.

Download the Live Chat Infographic

Download the Live Chat Infographic

Find out what customers think of chat support, by the numbers.

4. Provide a direct connection with customers

Live chat provides a unique opportunity to connect with your customers directly. In an ongoing chat, agents can observe the tone and sentiment of a customer and adjust their style to fit the situation best. By mirroring style or adjusting formality to match a customer’s, agents can more quickly build rapport and establish a friendly, helpful relationship. Messaging platforms offer a more authentic way to showcase your agent’s personality than traditional channels.

5. Reduce repetition

No one wants to repeat themselves over and over again. In fact, 72% of customers expect an agent to know their details — including support history and product information — without asking for them. With a quality live chat customer service tool, agents can read the text supplied by the customer, while also reviewing other details they have access to. This may include things like an indication of which screen the customer is currently viewing and notes from previous interactions with customer support. During a chat session, some tools will even allow an agent to share a screen with the customer or easily send links and screenshots to help them better understand a set of directions, making everything crystal clear.

6. Problem-solve quickly and effectively

A customer may find a solution using email or phone support, but it’ll take the time required to reply via email or connect on the phone. With chat, an agent can not only be available quickly for a customer, but also guide them through the necessary steps to fix their problem through the use of links, images, and text instructions. Not only will this reduce the wait times as the agent and user communicate back and forth, but the customer can also refer to the information later if they need a refresher.

7. Increase agent productivity

Live chat is also helpful in improving the productivity of your customer service agents. While a person can only be on one phone call or reply to one email at a time, with chat they can juggle a few at once. For trickier issues requiring research and reporting, they may want to stick to one or two, but if they’re working the chat queue full of quick and simple questions, handling five at once is manageable with some practice. Since features and chat handling vary for each tool, be sure to choose the live chat software that works best for your workflows and team. Even better, look for a help desk ticketing software that can handle your chats, emails, and other support channels all within one tool, so agents can focus in on one spot and get the work done.

8. Provide 24/7 support

With careful scheduling, live chat can be made available 24/7 — if that would be beneficial to your business — or any other selection of hours you prefer. By expanding your instant availability to cover the whole day, your customers will have little reason to complain about their questions going unheard. Even if you can’t keep chat staffed around the clock, your self-service support options, like a knowledge base full of content about your product, is available anytime. When chat isn’t available, be sure it’s quick and easy for customers to find their way to your support documentation. Many times, people are perfectly happy to help themselves, but they aren’t sure where to find the information they need. With your knowledge base and chat working together, customers will feel taken care of, and therefore be less likely to look around for a competitor.

9. Deliver a better customer experience

Customer experience (CX) is a critical factor in the success of your business. An organization with great CX is better able to satisfy customers and make sure they continue to return year after year. With live chat, you give customers a way to reach you instantly. The ability to have questions answered right away or log an issue and know someone is working on it feels much better than sending an email into what can sometimes feel like a black hole.

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Your brand is special, so make sure every touch point with your customers is delightful. Level up your customer service →

10. Provide higher customer satisfaction

Live chat results in happier customers. An eDigitalResearch survey found 73% of consumers are “very satisfied” with their experiences over real-time messaging, compared to 61% for email and 44% for phone support. It’s easy to guess why: Customers like their questions answered quickly. By offering live chat, you’ll be providing a method of support many people prefer, helping your users more quickly and raising your customers’ satisfaction.

11. Increase customer engagement

When you make live chat readily available, you’re likely to see an increase in interactions. While some of that may be customers who switch to using chat instead of email, a portion of the growth will be people who found chat and realized they could get help instead of giving up and possibly ditching your product altogether. With increased customer engagement comes a chance to make a good impression and give them a reason to stick around. To add to the inviting feel, set up your chat tool to display agent names and photos, if possible, and implement a conversational chat style.

12. Edge out the live chat-less competition

If your competitor doesn’t offer live chat or provides low-quality chat support, that allows you space to do it right and earn their business. Consider the following: If you were a customer in a hurry trying to decide between two products, would you pick up the phone and call? Or would you be more tempted by the company that was readily available on their website? Over half of customers prefer chat over phone support, so study up on live chat best practices and start impressing the customers waiting for you to add messaging to your site.

13. Gather chat data to inform decisions

One major perk to providing support via chat is all of the data you can collect. Depending on your live chat software, you should be able to store, organize and tag chats to filter them for review later. By putting the work in up front to sort chats and review them, you can create a collection of data that informs your support team, as well as the product and marketing teams too. For a simple starting point, develop a set of tags all agents will use and have them tag their chats. Consider tagging for things like feature requests and bugs, as well as by question type or topic to help pinpoint any frequent issues. As you tag by type, you’ll be able to spot the places in your product that may need updating or require more support documentation to help your customers out.

Achieve support success with live chat

Are you ready to add live chat customer service to your support offerings yet? As time goes on, people are more and more comfortable with the technology, and they not only prefer it, they expect it, too.

Beyond satisfying your customers’ wishes, the ability to increase productivity as your agents handle multiple chats at once, combined with the data you’ll collect and the increase in customer engagement, will lead to greater success with live chat as part of your support plan.

Meet customers where they are with live chat support.
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Sarah Blackstock

Sarah Blackstock

Sarah is a freelance writer specializing in technology and customer support and a former Happiness Engineer at Automattic. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

How Does Live Chat Improve Customer Service?

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