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Live chat for starters (part 1/7)

This 7 part-series 'Chat smarter with your customers' is an update of my earlier written guide Chatiquette.
You can find many tips and trics how to gain and retain customers and learn the best practises of using live chat.

Want to know more about how to use messengers like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger? Learn best practises about using messengers with your customers Download the ebook.

Part 1: Live chat for beginners

The biggest mistake companies make is thinking that they don't need live chat. Of course they don't 'need' no chat. We've lived without Email for centuries. We survived; it all worked fine with regular mail. Nothing wrong with a little patience! And when the fax machine made its appearance, many eyebrows frown took the position. What is new, creates fear. Because novelties were not there first, and if it ain't broke, why fix it?

Well, maybe because good novelties make the world a bit more productive and fun than before. There is no self-respecting Western company that nowadays can not be reached via e-mail. With this channel lap the number of customer inquiries height in: sending an email is free, easy and relatively accessible for the customer. But customers who want a straight answer, and do not want to have ten minutes to hang the line before an operator (e) to the line krij- gene respite with the latest trend: chat.

Well, new ... Chat existed before the Internet was in the sixties. Chatting went there when very cumbersome to it: it was only when the computer is off made of a network. Servers they had trouble yet. You had the address of each mega computer knowledge sources, otherwise your machine did not know where the message should go. Of 'ff chat' was still far from there.

In the late eighties chat took off: in 1988 the first IRC (Internet Relay Chat) client and server has been developed. The invention appears to be in the name of Jarkko Oikarinen, a Finn who was attached to the Finnish university of Oulu. The Finns coupled the IRC network to the local network, which in turn was linked to other local networks. From that moment IRC was part of a long-distance network, which then Arkanet called - the "Inter (between) Networks - what we now know as the Internet. By 1990, the weighting reld counted some 40 IRC servers.

However, it took years before the first true 'instant messaging service' was born. it was finally in 1996 that: the technology Mira- awareness in Israel launched ICQ ( "I seek you 'or' I seek you"). On the ICQ website is why: "[The four young founders] have Realized That people were connected to the Internet, but not interconnected. Instant messaging was the missing link, a Technology that made peer-to-peer communication possible. "

Those who downloaded the free program, and could chat directly with other ICQ'ers. A smart move, because ICQ'ers who wanted to chat with friends, had to exhort them to install the program. This form of viral marketing, the company grew rapidly. Barely two years Mirabilis was later acquired by US giant AOL. Other providers sequence den a few years later, such as MSN Messenger (now known as Windows Live Messenger).

Anno 2009 is chatting so ingrained that even the most well-known chess-playing and writing over sixty, Tim bé crab, media herhaardelijk tells about the happy fact that he communicates via live web chat with his son living in Japan. And that's saying something.

In the United States, live chat business has already developed into a serious sales and service tool. With the emphasis on tool: chat is a tool, a tool that is used as an additional communication channel in the B2C market. Even the Dutch B2B market starts chat to deploy as customers binder.

Example? MSA IT is one of the oldest independent ICT service providers in the Netherlands, let her key account managers to chat with their main (B2B!) Customers. Once a company known for the customer Mega Sellers. nl (part of MSA-ICT) is the accountmana- ger of this particular customer receives an alert that the customer is online, after which he can invite these proactive to discuss the latest situation through live web chat. Chat is therefore more than supplement: MSA-ICT shows that there are also devise new touch applications.

The benefits of live web chat at a glance:

For the customers live webchat a direct, personal and accessible way to get answers to their questions. They are already on the website, and with the chat button, the answer is just one click away.

For the customers it is convenient to chat without others noticing. Today, consumers can even ask questions of their office about botox and breast enlargements: they can chat via Kliniekoverzicht.nl with plastic surgeons. No colleague who can listen!

Customers abroad? With instant they have free contact with you. 0800 and 0900 numbers do not work across borders.

Both customers and call center employees with a hearing disability to communicate well through live web chat. Deaf and sign language interpreters can chat since early 2009 with Team Deaf Interpreters Menzis. The health insurer hope live webchat will replace the old text telephone in due course.

The call center employee can combine a chat conversation with another chat application or an email. With chat so you can work efficiently.

In the future, we will see that instant email will displace. There are multinationals that already indicate chat preferable in the long run over emails. Many companies struggle with overflowing mailboxes, so they do not always respond quickly enough. If customers start calling after, create a channel conflict: their emails are however still in the mail queue when their question has been answered. That conflict Wil- len companies overcome by using chat intensive.

In the search for a good chat application you will see that there are a lot of free variants, such as Google Talk and Yahoo Messenger. Worse, these ap- plications not, and for individuals they meet just fine. But for call centers they are suitable on the one hand a free application can chat request is not routed to the appropriate employees cancer, and the other a visitor who wants to chat from his workplace with a live advice desk is very likely to be blocked by his company. Can chat at work, which must be aware, and the stream of the free chat applications are often at system level known and are based on the company policy blocked. A good chat application circumvents this problem.

Prices vary. Do you have a small shop, you need to make any major investments. Thirty per month and you're there. But larger companies chats want to store safely. Chat can be used as evidence in disputes and shall be valid bewijsmateri- material at trial. Data storage and security are for larger companies so important, but They wanted cells also can block temporary visitors (the so-called IP-blocking). And they often need extensive reporting, integrated comparison testing (A / B testing), performance analysis, and above all, the guarantee of consistent availability. They want to ensure that their chat provider is not up once declared bankrupt, making it their own customers and employees - who were already accustomed to the chat function - to disappoint. Larger companies with a few bucks a month so far done.

First let anyway perform a quick scan to determine whether chat anyway adds to your current customer contact channels. For chat is fine and dandy, but also eats FTEs because it is a one-to-one channel. Think objectives: if you want a higher conversation rate of looking at purchase gain, reduce the number of dropouts, better service to offer can give personal advice or an online customer? Then it is entering chat
a good idea. But do not just happen.