Live chat is a powerful tool. Whether you are a product or service-based business, live chat can help you make a personal connection with your website visitors, and ultimately, convert more visitors into customers.
Recent studies have shown that web visitors are 82% more likely to convert to customers if they’ve chatted with your business first. Because of the popularity of instant messaging and social media, live chat is becoming a preferred mode of communication for web visitors.
But you’ll see the best results from live chat if you put in the effort up-front and train your team on the following best practices.
1. Customize Live Chat to Fit Your Brand
There are lots of live chat options out there, but you’ll want to choose a system that can integrate seamlessly with your website.
Your live chat should look like a natural extension of your business’s brand and messaging, so customizing the chat features is a critical step. Thankfully, with most live chat platforms, you can upload your company logo and customize the colors of the buttons and text in the chat window.
In addition to the colors & branding, review all the messages and prompts in order to convey an authentic brand. A lot of businesses make the mistake of leaving default settings turned on, which can give the wrong impression of the business. Brand consistency is extremely important today, as a recent Lucidpress report found a company’s revenue will increase by 23% on average due to consistent brand representation.
Lastly, set up a profile for each of your live chat agents or whoever on your team will be managing the chats. Web visitors are more likely to start or continue a chat if they see a picture of a person, so consider adding actual photos of your agents when setting up the profiles.
2. Create a Great User Experience
The overall user experience on your website is influenced by many factors, including design, user interface and navigation. Ideally, your live chat platform will enhance your visitor’s experience, not take away from it.
Keeping this in mind, consider how the live chat fits in with the rest of your site. First, it’s best to turn off any sound associated with the chat, as having a lot of sound and movement on a web page is distracting to a visitor.
Second, give your visitors a gap between when they appear on your site and when the chat box pops up. For most live chat systems, you’ll be given the option to decide how long to wait before the prompt appears. A good rule of thumb is 5 or more seconds: it gives the visitors a bit of time to evaluate the site and your business.
Finally, keep testing different settings and messaging on your live chat to determine which options result in the most chat conversations.
3. Train Your Team Well
A live chat system is most effective in the hands of capable live chat agents. So, take the time to train your team on how to manage the chat and communicate with customers. Response time and customer satisfaction play a critical role in whether a visitor stays engaged and converts from visitor to prospect to buyer.
A visitor expects a rapid response time of just a few seconds, so if your agent is online, they need to be tuned in and ready to communicate. In fact, 82% of customers rate an immediate response as very important when asking a customer service question, according to recent research by HubSpot.
Customer satisfaction on chat requires a bit more forethought. Consider the different chat scenarios that your business will receive and create scripts for how agents can best answer the most common questions.
Your agents will also need to know whether to guide the visitor on to any next steps. If you’re in a service business, the next step may be to connect the visitor with the sales department or with a tech team to help troubleshoot a situation.
A lot of live chat systems even have resources in place to help your team manage chats, such as transferring a chat to a specific agent or setting up shortcuts for common responses.
4. Set Up Offline Features
You don’t need to be tied to your desk (or even to a mobile app) in order to get all the benefits from this amazing resource. Most live chat systems have customizable offline settings that are supportive to your visitor and still help to promote conversions.
The automatic display will probably say “leave a message” or “start a ticket” when the live agents aren’t available online. While this is a great start, it’s worth changing the offline settings to better suit your business.
One option is to set up a simple form which your visitors can fill out. A surprising number of visitors make use of this form option, giving you the opportunity to follow up with them once you or your agent is back online.
Another popular option is to set up a chat bot. A chat bot is an automated bot that can be customized to provide answers based on common questions or guide a visitor to an online resource.
However, be mindful that bots have limited capacities. In fact, new research by NewVoiceMedia revealed that 75% of respondents would prefer to interact with a real agent than a chat bot, so when possible, get your agents on live chat and use offline tools carefully.
5. Personalize the Experience on Chat
These days, web visitors and customers are expecting a more personalized experience on websites. A survey conducted by Segment found that 44% of consumers would give a company repeat business after receiving a personalized experience. You can deliver on these expectations with live chat customizations.
Once you set up your chat and find a working rhythm, test new ways to engage visitors on chat. For instance, try setting up a prompt on live chat where you offer an article or e-book link to visitors once they’ve been on the site for a certain period of time.
You can even set up custom message prompts that appear if a visitor comes from a particular traffic source or if they are a returning visitor.
The likelihood of converting visitors will continue to increase as you keep testing new ways of engaging your visitors. You may be surprised what works best for your business.
A Resource for Every Business
While large corporations have been reaping the benefits of live chat for a long time, this growing website trend is becoming more and more accessible and beneficial to businesses of all types and sizes.
Even with a small team that can’t be on live chat 24/7, it’s still worth using it to connect with visitors when you can – and it will definitely be worth those new prospects who just needed a little extra contact.
By following the steps above, you’ll have a new tool that will not only benefit your web visitors, but also your team, helping them to feel more connected to their potential clients and customers in real time.