Customer support can be easily termed as the “Face of the company” when it comes to Business-2-Customer interaction. The role it plays in strengthening the customer relationship in business is unprecedented. But at the same time, you need to put some extra effort into strengthening customer support too.
Technology, on the other hand, has already been provided with the necessary tools to empower customer support. Be it the introduction of voice support, computers or multi-channel support, technology has always proven to be a helping hand.
One of the best ways technology has helped customer support is by introducing Live Chat..!
Live chat has served as technology’s blessing to the business world for quite some time now. This article will focus on the role Live Chat has played in customer support empowerment. Further, we will also discuss some Live Chat pros and cons, and some of the best practices to deliver a rich customer experience using Live Chat.
Live Chat Support..!
Working in any business, you may be well aware of customer support. But dealing with customers is not an easy task. Support teams require a lot of tools to manage customers and ensure they have an outstanding experience every time. Hence, incorporating live chat functionality along with other support tools is nothing less than a blessing.
For E-commerce businesses, there is a variety of live chat software that you can use. Here is a list of some of them:
Even if you prefer online business using WordPress platform, there are a variety of live chat plugins available. Take a look at the list below:
After looking at these options you may wonder, “Is there really a need for live chat..? What real difference does it make..?”
Let us see exactly how it helps.
The difference Live Chat makes
While dealing with customers you have to make sure things go well every time. With stakes this high, any help you can get seems great. Live chat provides such a helping hand to the support team.
Here are some of the Live Chat pros that will help you understand how it really helps:
Choice of young customers
Youngsters comprise a huge proportion of their customer base today. In the near future, this proportion is only going to increase. Hence, it is very important to be updated according to their lifestyle. Live chat, unlike voice support and emails, matches well with their fast-forward lifestyle.
Live chat requires less attention and provides on the go support which is the need of the hour.
Cost-cutting is one of the practices which is becoming popular among online store owners. With customer support in the picture, smarter and lesser investments have made their way to the top.
In such a scenario, live chat fulfills all the criteria of cost-effectiveness. Unlike other tools for customer support, live chat is easy to set up and adapt to. It doesn’t require any external setup or any formal training.
Moreover, you can find a bunch of live chat software or plugins well within the budget to get it through the day.
Being the choice of the new generation, live chat is bound to be faster and less time-consuming. It suits well with the fast lifestyle of customers today.
It helps in decreasing the first response time drastically. Unlike emails which may see a reply from a support agent for hours sometimes, the first reply in a chat session takes minutes. This not only makes chat a faster way of communication but a reliable one too.
With chat, the excuse of work hours being over goes out of the window. Customers can get support at any given instant of time. With almost every chat platform going mobile now getting support is just like ordering pizza when hungry.
Provides Support Agent with Multitasking ability
There are times when working with other media such as emails, voice calls, etc. when the support agents are supposed to reply quickly. This doesn’t give them enough time to discuss or even consult the issue at hand.
It simply makes the customer think that either he is being ignored or the support agent is not capable enough to answer his questions. But it is not always the case. Sometimes the support agent is simply trying to be sure of the solution that he is going to provide. And if not that the support agent may not have the necessary information or access to provide the necessary information that a customer is asking for.
With chat there comes an option where a support agent can have a quick chat even with his supervisors and other support agents. So that he can consult customer issues and save their time.
Chat also serves as among the most transparent support tool. Live chat provides customers with the transcriptions of the whole chat session. Using this transcription, customers can refer to if there are any issues in the future.
The support agents can also make use of these transcriptions. Instead of documenting the customer issues, again and again, they can refer the transcription for customer history. This will allow them to quickly come to the point of saving both their and their customer’s time.
Helps distribute work over different support channels
Customer support is not just about emails or chat sessions. There are a number of channels today that are used as a way of providing customer support.
With live chat in the picture, you can use it for smaller or less complex customer issues for a quick solution. This will make the support agents free to handle more complex and time-consuming issues on other support channels which don’t require urgent attention.
So these were some of the most important aspects of using chat support. But as it is with other support channels, live chat has some loop-holes too.
Things to keep in mind about Live Chat..!
Here are some cons of using Live Chat. It is to be noted that these can be subjective so these points may make a difference for some users but won’t affect others that much.
Since we already discussed that live chat is the choice of Millennials (born between 1980-2000). They comprise a huge chunk of the business world at the moment. But this doesn’t mean that we can ignore the rest of the customer base.
Most of the older generation still prefer voice support and email support over chat. For these customers, the concept of chat is still very complex. Moreover, for them, it doesn’t have the same feel to it as a telephonic conversation.
As chat support may be very popular among young generation it is still up to the customer’s preference to accept live chat as the perfect way to provide customer support.
No scope for Interruptions
Live chat is supposed to be quick and snappy. There is less or no scope for interruptions while using chat support. This makes the support agent very hard to handle customers at times.
Moreover, it demands that the support agents be empowered to make decisions on behalf of the company as the customers may want quick actions regarding their issues.
Limitation of Time Zones
The only limitation in terms of time management while using chat support is while providing support to countries with different time zones. Live chat may be a 24*7 service but it is not unaffected by the time zones.
We no longer live in a small community where producers and consumers share the same space. Today support is provided across the country and the time shift is not limited to just a few hours. In such cases, there seems to be a loop-hole in chat support. It can be managed by hiring more support agents or expanding the shifts but, again, it is not much of a solution.
Lack of emotional connection
We earlier discussed why the fast and snappy chat support is so popular among the young generation but not among older ones. Some customers still feel that chat support is not able to provide that emotional connection with the company and support agents.
While getting support through chat, it is not that easy for customers to trust support agents and be comfortable with them. For many such customers, chat support is not the first choice when it comes to customer support.
Well, there was not much but definitely, there are definitely some points to take care of while opting to chat support. But you can easily make sure these things don’t bother you and your support team in the long run.
Now we will see how just by taking care of the small things these bigger issues with live chat automatically get resolved.
Some Live Chat best practices
So here are a few tips and tricks that you can keep in mind while providing chat support to your customers:
Always be on your toes
Live chat is no place for slow and lazy support agents. Time matters and in the case of chat support it matters a lot. Make sure your support team is always on their toes while working with the customers. As customer support works, one single dissatisfied customer can cost a lot
Awareness of customer details
Live chat is supposed to be a quick stop for customer issues. So wasting unnecessary time asking customers stupid questions, again and again, must be avoided at all costs.
Make sure your support team is well aware of your customers and their details. These details can include personal details as well as order details. This will not only make your customers trust you more but they may feel important too.
Customer support is a game of trust where your customers need to trust you before telling you their issues. Being friendly with them and especially greeting them by their first name instead of the old-fashioned Sir/Mam, is a great way to ensure customers trust you.
Message templates for a quick reply
Custom message templates may seem a bit too much at first. But the applications of it are infinite.
Support agents can have separate message templates for new and existing customers where they don’t need to put details such as customer name and their order details, again and again.
It may seem a small action but consider avoiding writing 200-300 names and customer order details on a daily basis. It sure makes a lot of difference.
Promote multimedia usage
One of the reasons why chat support is so popular is because of the internal integration of multimedia with chat systems. You don’t need a separate software or plugin just to send voice or images or even documents to your customers, and vice versa.
With multimedia, you can customize chat support the way you want. Greet your customers a good morning, Merry Christmas, a happy new year, etc. with smileys, images and voice messages. This not only allows customers to have a better experience but they will also be able to trust in your support team more than ever.
Never lie about the time
While most of the customer have relatively easy issues to report, some customers may have very complex issues to resolve. If the support agent is able to resolve the issue before time, then it is well and well. But if due to any reason the issue is taking longer to get resolved, the support agents should be honest and tell customers the same.
Lying about the time taken to resolve any issue is never a good option. Customers will at least appreciate the honesty shown by the support agent.
Mix things up
In the beginning, we talked about how chat support is becoming popular among masses. But using chat for support alone can be a little too much.
Today there are a lot of HelpDesk solutions to customer support which come with built-in chat integration. This will help increase the efficiency of both the support agents as well as the customer support system.
Be clear while communicating
While talking to the customers the main thing that comes to play is how clear you are with your problem-solving and understanding.
Sorting customer problems, providing a well-explained solution and them asking if there is any other thing bothering the customers, leaves a great impression in the customer’s mind and helps grow the relationship.
Improvise with time
None of this will affect your customer support if not practiced on a regular basis. We are all humans and we are bound to commit mistakes. But the main thing that separates us from the rest is our ability to learn from our mistakes.
All these best practices may or may not suit your style of customer support. It is totally up to you to decide which one to follow and which one you can avoid.
Today companies are never short of channels to provide support to their customers. It is the right amount of balance between these channels will make a huge difference in providing an outstanding customer experience. Online business owners are expected to choose their support channel wisely and then work on integrating different other channels for best results.
Unlike Email and Voice support, Chat support is a must when considering different support channels. But relying on live chat alone or being unable to integrate it well with other support channels may be useless in the longer run. Chat support can make a huge difference if integrated well with the existing system of any company.
With options such as integrated feedback system, performance analysis, predictive texts and many other new and evolving technologies, choosing chat support will prove worth the resources.