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Live chat support best practices

Posted January 23, 2020
Agent on computer with live chat program open

In the digital age, live chat has become a powerful tool in customer service delivery. From its added convenience, to faster response times, to increased scalability, there are many reasons why companies and customers alike turn first and foremost to this channel.

However, not all live chat support programs have the requisite quality level to satisfy customers. Here are six best practices to keep in mind when building a strong program.

1. Ensure live chat is easily accessible

Live chat support only has value to you and your customers if it’s easily accessible. It’s important, therefore, to make the chat option with an agent easy to find on your website.

To maximize visibility, your chat window should be placed in the right-hand corner of every web page. This will allow your customers to access the chat option at any point in their journey when they have an inquiry about a service or product while exploring your site.

2. Set clear expectations for customers

According to data from Statista, global live chat customer wait times vary from industry to industry and can range from 27 seconds (consumer products and services) to 56 seconds (banking and finance), 57 seconds (healthcare), 60 seconds (technology) and 146 seconds (business services). Customers are often willing to tolerate some wait time if you manage expectations, so be sure to post your customers’ position in the queue and the estimated time before they will be connected with a live chat agent.

If your live chat support program is not available 24/7, you should also ensure your operating hours are posted and visible to customers. This is best accompanied by information about additional customer service channels, like phone numbers and email addresses, that can be accessed right away. Always have a plan in place to redirect customers from the chat window to a secondary option for customer support.

3. Make the chat feel personal

Providing easy access to live chat is only the beginning. Once your customer connects to a chat agent, the interaction should be an engaging experience. Live chats shouldn’t be stale and boring, but conversational — and delivering this takes skill.

Train your agents to be positive and enthusiastic, and encourage creativity and improvisation when it’s appropriate. Leverage customer information gathered during the chat, including their name and relevant products, to customize the experience. Live chat conversations should also conform to your corporate identity for a consistent brand experience.

4. Proper grammar and spelling is key

Part and parcel with accurately reflecting your brand identity is preserving your company’s credibility through proficient communications.

Based on recent independent research, website development and hosting company Website Planet found that grammatical errors and typos in online ads cause brands to lose potential visitors. These mistakes can create a negative association with your brand and are sure to translate to your live chat service, making the use of proper grammar and spelling critical.

5. Know that not all issues can be resolved via chat

As effective as live chat support can be, organizations should be aware that not all issues can be resolved through this customer service channel. Complex queries requiring significant troubleshooting and discussion may need to be escalated to a phone call.

A phone conversation makes it easier for agents to interpret individual customers’ emotions and convey empathy, so consider it as a back-up plan should a live chat conversation require more time and personalized attention. While live chat is invaluable for its convenience to customers and cost-saving benefits to companies, it’s always a good idea to supplement this channel with voice customer care.

6. Measure and monitor your results

Analysis is critical for optimizing your live chat program and maximizing its effectiveness, even as customer volumes increase. Measure and monitor your metrics on a regular basis to gauge your support team’s performance, and identify opportunities for improvement.

Implement a comprehensive dashboard that provides an overview of all program insights so that you have a good handle on metrics such as:

  • Number of live chat conversations
  • Time of day that chats most often occur
  • Length of chats
  • Response rates
  • Resolution speeds
  • Satisfaction scores

Qualitative metrics like these, along with the overall performance of your individual agents, can help you create the ideal chat session to improve the customer experience and your return on investment.

Thanks to emerging technology, live chat will continue to evolve over time, but armed with the right strategies, businesses can make dramatic improvements to this customer service channel today. A strong chat program can improve customer satisfaction while empowering your agents to provide effective and efficient customer care on your company’s behalf.

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