A beginner's guide to live chat and online customer service


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You’ve made the decision to take online customer service seriously. You've installed a live chat widget, want to put your frequently asked questions on your website, and set up an excellent notification system for new customer queries. Good for you.You’re already on your way to more sale conversions! But get your customer support team members (whether there are 2 of them or 12) ready, or most of your intentions will evaporate quickly. Here’s what you should consider:

1. Prepare your team for live chat

Statistics show that 86% of consumerswant live chat assistancewhen getting stuck on a website.Chat is a more informal method of communication than email, but it’s important to consider how informal your support agents can get. Before enriching your website with a chat widget, ask yourself the following questions and cover these issues with your team: - Is it okay to add emoticons such as smiley or sad faces to a chat conversation, or would that confuse the perception of your brand?

  • Are abbreviations allowed, or should every word be spelt out in full?
  • How many seconds is it okay for a web visitor to be left waiting before a member of your support team picks up the chat conversation?
  • Without hearing the tone of voice, the written word can sometimes be received with a different meaning than intended. When is it best for a complaint to be followed up with a phone call rather than handled over chat?

2. When to change agents or channels?

The main reason why people choose to chat with you, is the immediacy of this communication channel. That benefit is lost if your team members can’t quickly and easily transfer a chat conversation when the question is beyond their expertise. Also, some conversations can better be continued by phone. - Define why and when a chat conversation should be diverted to someone else.

  • Define what everyone's expertise is and when they are working.
  • Define at which point a chat conversation should be continued by phone.

3. Get your self-service organized

Chat is one of the most accessible channels available. It’s anynomous, it’s free - it’s great. However, it isn’t all that great if your support agents are getting the same ‘lazy’ questions over and over again. Their time is precious and should be spent on answering chat requests about less common issues. To avoid being snowed under by FAQs, make sure your website is equipped with a comprehensive knowledge base. - Make it easy for answers to be found in your knowledge base, with logical categories and headings.

  • If you’re not sure where to start, begin by answering those frequently asked questions. Your categories and subjects will become clearer while you’re at it.
  • Make it sure your knowledge base has a Google-like search feature, and consider adding keywords to each item on your knowledge base so the right answer is retrieved whatever expression is entered into the search query.

4. Create macros to speed up customer service

We said it before: immediacy and responsiveness really are critical to a successful chat inquiry. So work faster - but not harder - with some canned responses (also known as macros) that you insert into your chat conversation within a click or two. Here are some useful macros: - Hi there! Thanks for contacting our support team. I’m Denise. How may I help you?

  • Please hold a moment while I look that up for you.
  • I’m retrieving your account details right now! I’ll be back with you in no time.
  • Is there anything else I can help you with today?

5. Get notified

Sometimes the person with the answers is out of the office, or maybe you want to offer out-of-office-hours support to VIP customers. No problem: set up notifications in your support tool so that you, or the senior decision-maker, can be alerted when a chat conversation is started or updated. No matter what time it is or where you are: with live chat powered by Casengo, you can be responsive anytime, anywhere. Give it a try - it’s just as free as chat is for your customers! A PS in Dutch

If you want more advice on how to use live chat to increase customer satisfaction and conversion rates, and speak Dutch, you might want to have a look at Chatiquette. Deze praktische gids, geschreven door Casengo’s oprichter, leert je slimmer te chatten met je klanten. Het boekje is dan wel al ruim 3 jaar oud, maar de tips die erin staan (gegeven door onder meer AEGON Bank, Huis & Hypotheek, de Gemeente Groningen en AnderZorg) zijn actueler dan ooit!