Live chat software connects service and sales teams with website visitors in real-time, routing them to the appropriate agent using built-in tools that improve customer satisfaction and sales. When implementing live chat software, it’s important to understand best practices like integrating with third-party apps, setting up automatic triggers, programming chatbots, customizing the experience, and more.
Freshchat live chat software provides chat box customization, triggered campaigns, intelligent routing, chatbots, and in-depth reporting to help service and sales teams succeed. They offer a free plan and three tiered plans to help teams of any size. Find out more about Freshchat’s service and sales features by visiting their website and signing up for a free, 30-day trial.
Here are the top seven best practices for improving your sales and customer service with live chat:
1. Customize the Conversation to Answer Questions Quickly
Most live chat software will let you customize how you engage with visitors, from personalizing the look of each agent’s chat widget to letting you add a customized list of clickable resources for the most commonly asked questions. The ability to provide fast, personalized service will instill confidence in your customers and help them find answers to their questions without roadblocks.
Personalize the Chat Window
One way to show your visitors a human face is to personalize the chat widget. In your profile settings, include items like your name, title, photo, and a few words about yourself. When available, add links to your social profiles for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Additionally, customize the look of the widget with options such as changing the background color, background design, and size.
Create Categories for Information on Common Questions
By creating business categories for the most common questions and including them in your chat message, you can significantly reduce the time your agents spend answering the basics. For example, you can create a category for scheduling a demo and provide a link to a meeting scheduler for your sales team. Like a phone tree, these categories also act as navigation prompts for customers if they’re unsure of where to begin.
2. Optimize the Chat Experience With Integrations
Providing a stellar chat experience can also mean adding additional tools that will provide both the agent and customer a little more communication flexibility. Integrations usually come standard with live chat software for third-party apps such as Facebook Messenger, Slack, and data provider Clearbit, to help optimize the experience for both the customer and the agents who serve them.
Leverage Facebook Messenger
Integrating with Messenger sends texts from Facebook directly to your chat inbox, eliminating the need to have another app open and providing customers with another chat option. This integration is also a reason for businesses to consider using the social channel for company news, content distribution, and communication.
Respond to Chats Quickly With Slack
Slack has over 8 million daily active users, with the team at FitSmallBusiness becoming a recent convert. As more small businesses embrace the collaboration tool, more will see the necessity of integrating it with their live chat software. Agents can respond to chats right from their Slack app, tagging the appropriate teams during the conversation. This gives a small team one primary app with which to communicate.
Engage in More Productive Sales Conversations
The more context a salesperson has when talking with a prospect, the better that conversation is likely to go. Integrating with apps like Clearbit provides sales-contextual information from anonymous visitors using their IP address. In the chat window, agents will have data points like the visitor’s company name, location, industry, size, description and social channels. This information can then be used in conversations with prospects, saving the sales rep time in research.
3. Route the Conversation to the Right Team Member
If you have multiple agents and departments, make sure your site visitors get connected to the right person. Chat is the preferred method of online communication because it is efficient. The average wait time to speak to an agent is 2 minutes and 40 seconds, so it’s crucial to provide a seamless chat experience that ensures your visitors speak to the agent who is more quickly able to respond.
Assign Chats Automatically
Automatically assigning chats to account management team members based on conversation load takes the task away from busy managers and evenly distributes chats across the team. This ensures that agents are never taking on too many chats at once. As mentioned regarding the expectations customers have regarding speedy responses, this should make it a must-have for businesses.
Use Rules to Assign Chats
Rule-based routing lets you automatically assign chats to team members or groups based on predefined filters, rules, and keywords. This feature ensures that visitors and customers are always routed to the right department or agent, increasing the chance that it will be resolved on the first contact, a key metric for determining the overall health of a customer service department.
For example, if you want to route all questions regarding pricing or billing received from mobile chat users to the group you created called Pricing & Billing, you would create an assignment rule that looks like the example below. This takes the task of determining who to send chats to out of the hands of managers or others in the service department.
4. Organizing & Prioritizing Visitors for Service Efficiency
The ability to organize and prioritize chats, especially for businesses with multiple agents and departments, is crucial for ensuring top-notch customer service. Some chat software allows you to create message channels that organize conversations by topic so they are routed to the right team member. An inbox with a priority feature sorts messages, letting a team member see which chats need an immediate response and how long the visitor has been waiting.
Routing the Right Conversations to the Right Team
If you have multiple departments handled by multiple chat agents, you’ll want to provide your visitors topics in the chat window to choose from to expedite their query and then route these chats to the right people. The solution is setting up topic-based message channels in the chat box with corresponding departments. This allows a customer to pick where they want to go and to have a conversation with a member of that team.
Prioritizing the Chat Inbox
Chat software that sorts messages automatically and prioritizes an agent’s inbox using a queue that typically sorts by first response due, response due, and no response due. It gives team members a quick view of their chat load, usually identified by color codes indicating the status and further prioritized by time elapsed. They don’t have to think which chat to respond to first and who is still waiting on answers.
5. Increase Customer Engagement with Triggers & Campaigns
Triggers and campaigns send targeted messages proactively to visitors and customers to increase online sales and improve the customer experience. Triggers let you send contextual messages to visitors based on a variety of filters. Engage visitors with a relevant, timely piece of content or provide incentives to take action such as completing a purchase in a shopping cart.
Campaigns are designed with the customer in mind from onboarding new customers with tutorials to proactively announcing a company-wide service issue. This makes it easy to communicate with customers for an endless variety of scenarios and then track the success with metrics such as sent, opened, read, and replied.
Boost Online Sales with Triggered Messages
With cart abandonment averaging nearly 70%, according to research collected by the Baymard Institute, it pays to incentivize the right shoppers with the right offers at the right time. Triggers are automated messages you can schedule based on a visitor’s geographic location, user attributes, and events. For example, you can create a trigger to provide free shipping to a visitor who is looking at a certain product based on preset filters.
Here are examples of the types of filters you can set:
- Page Properties: current URL, number of page views, time on current page, number of visits
- User Properties: location, city, browser language, browser, browser version, device type, first seen, last seen, time zone
- Events: page, read article (including URL, count, last occurred, first occurred)
Provide Customer-Specific Service with Campaigns
Campaigns let you engage with messages targeted at specific customers, providing another way to be proactive and stay engaged. This feature can be set up for a variety of situations such as onboarding new users with tutorials, re-engaging lapsed users with success stories, gathering feedback, and sending company notifications.
You would define who you are going to target with parameters such as whether they are a new customer, ex-customer, or customer who hasn’t visited in a while. Each of these segments of users can typically be filtered by location, language, email, first seen, last seen, and sessions. The filters provide a very granular way to target users based on the individual campaign.
With live chat software like Freshchat, you can create triggered messages for any conceivable scenario, from offering a new visitor a free e-book to surprising a long-time customer with an additional discount at checkout. Freshchat’s campaigns let you define exactly who you want to target with multiple filters to engage old, new, and even lapsing customers.
6. Implement Bots for Offline Support & Lead Capture
Bots automate the chat process by answering questions and collecting visitor information even when your team members are offline. The bot can engage in question-and-answer conversations, collect contact information for lead follow up, and let a visitor know when they’ll be contacted by a team member.
However, a bot is not designed to replace a human (yet), so it should be identified as a bot (e.g., “Hello, you’re talking to a bot named Sue”). That said, some bots are more sophisticated than others. The most sophisticated bots use artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve conversations over time. At a minimum, these have “if/then” branching logic like a decision tree that you define for the bot.
Collecting Leads with Bots
Chatbots can collect leads whether your team members are offline or not. At a technology minimum, bots can collect visitor information such as email, name, business name, and phone number. More sophisticated bots can have deeper conversations using “if/then” branching logic. For example, you can ask pre-qualification questions and based on their answers, the bot will route the visitor to the appropriate salesperson.
Providing Customer Service with Bots
A bot can also collect information from a current customer outside of business hours to initiate service. You can ask for contact information (name, email, phone), as well as ask open-ended questions to gather more context for the service request. These questions could be used to solve basic service requests such as how do I initiate a return or even walk a customer through a common software fix.
7. Make Data-Driven Decisions to Improve Sales & Engagement
In order to measure chat success, dashboards give a visual summary of the current activities such as chat volume, chats not assigned, average response time, and customer satisfaction ratings, all at the team and individual level. This equips a manager with a granular understanding of a team’s workload, their responses, and successes to see where adjustments should be made in real-time.
A reports section typically provides data such as group and individual performance in chat productivity, volume, customer satisfaction, and chat category (e.g., tech support, billing) resolution across conversations during a custom time period. With these reports, managers can set benchmarks, create goals, and monitor team and individual performance using the results to discover issue areas, trends, and understand where improvements are needed.
A dashboard provides a real-time, visual summary of all the current activities in your software. This lets a manager see who is overloaded and where to make on-the-fly team adjustments so that customers are never waiting too long for service. There are usually two views available: the entire team and individual team members. Customer satisfaction surveys can reveal which team member needs coaching or maybe just a break.
Here are some common metrics found in dashboards:
- Agent Availability: Which individual team members are currently logged in, the number chatting, and how many chats each agent is engaged in
- Chats: The status of all chats that have come in, e.g., unassigned, assigned, and assigned, and not replied
- Chat Volume: Number of incoming chats, today versus last week for each hour of the day, incoming conversations versus resolved conversations for every hour of the day, and resolution label trends
- Customer Satisfaction Rating: Overall team satisfactory versus unsatisfactory ratings as well as average rating, usually based on a 5-point scale
- Team Performance: Tracking data for each individual team member, such as first response time, response time, resolution time, resolved conversations, messages sent, and conversations assigned
- Incoming Conversations Volume: Compared to the same day last week
- Labels: Tracks chats by label category, volume, agent, and customer name; this can be used to see which departments are getting chats, e.g., billing, technical support
Where the dashboard is a real-time snapshot of the day’s performance, the reports section provides managers with a date-filtered view of data at the app, group, and individual level for chat productivity and volume, customer satisfaction, and resolution across chats by category (e.g., billing, technical support). Data such as chat volume can highlight issue areas such as the times of the day that see consistently higher volumes of chat and require heavier staffing.
Bottom Line – Live Chat Best Practices
Live chat software provides features that will help improve a business’ sales and customer service departments when combined with key live chat best practices. Service teams will appreciate customization options, workload-based routing, and auto-tagging of chats in the inbox by priority. Salespeople will like the campaigns, triggers and visitor intelligence provided by integrations such as Clearbit. Managers will make smarter staffing and training decisions with real-time dashboards and granular reporting options.
The features of Freshchat will not only improve the experience of your customers and visitors, but it will also give your service and sales teams the tools to succeed. Customization, integrations, priority inbox, bots, triggers, and campaigns make this platform ideal for businesses that want to integrate their sales and service teams. Visit Freshchat today to schedule a demo or jump right in with a free trial.