What do your customers want? Figuring out the answer to this question gives you an edge over the competition and develops an ongoing relationship with your clientele.
People like live chat more than other methods of reaching out for customer service. One study found 42 percent of users prefer live chat even over email communication.
However, if your live chat isn’t up to par, the customer experience suffers. Live chat is one way to improve your overall CX, but only if you offer a usable and functioning live chat. Here are eight key ways of creating optimal CX through a live chat that meets consumer needs.
First, you must understand the reasons consumers like live chat. A recent study showed over 80 percent of people are satisfied with live chat as a form of customer service. Live chat offers an instant and personal level of communication not available via email. People hate using phone-in customer service, though, because they inevitably wind up going through multiple computerized prompts or reaching someone challenging to understand or not informed about customer service policies.
Live chat offers an opportunity for instant answers and a resolution to a problem without the aggravation of telephone prompts or the wait time of email correspondence.
Xfinity, which is owned by Comcast, offers live chat via its website. One thing it does that’s effective is offering different categories, depending upon what you need help with. Categorizing questions allows the company to guide consumers to an agent who can be of help, such as tech support for new customers trying to hook up equipment.
You have a few short seconds when a visitor lands on your page to grab their interest and keep it. If the visitor lands on your page with a question and can’t find an easy answer, you risk losing them to a competitor. Place your live chat in an area that is easy to find and draws the eye. Most sites place the chat feature in the lower right or over in the sidebar, so this is a natural place for customers to look for help.
Consider the other elements surrounding your live chat button, too. Is there enough white space, so the live chat feature stands out? Make sure the color pops, highlighting the feature and drawing the eye.
Even if you use a chatbot, make sure you create a personalized experience for the user. If a live agent answers questions, give that person a name, and if possible, share a photo. Greet the person by name if possible and personalize the experience by repeating the question back and using the name and details for that specific customer.
KBG Injury Law offers a live chat on its main screen with an image of one of the lawyers. The button lives in the lower right of the screen above the fold. When you click on the live chat, a box pops up, and you learn the name of the agent you’re speaking with and are greeted immediately.
About 51 percent of consumers expect businesses to answer questions around the clock. Live chat gives you an opportunity for meeting this need, but only if you have well-trained agents that can answer basic questions and solve problems. Even though availability is important, poor experience with customer service in any form isn’t acceptable. If you can’t adequately staff your live chat 24/7, then only offer it during business hours.
Identify your typical audience’s pain points. For example, one consumer might need one solution and a different consumer another. Separate your live chat channels and the agents who cover them accordingly, so customer service reps are trained sufficiently in the area they cover.
Fitbit separates its live chat sections according to issues its customers might experience, which gives it an opportunity to thoroughly verse live agents on those topics. Well-trained agents have an immediate answer for potential and current customers, improving the user experience. They ask you to choose a product and an issue. They then route your chat session to the agent best trained in how to help you solve your problem.
Studies show that a live chat improves customer satisfaction. In one survey, researchers found phone-in customers had only a 44 percent satisfaction rate, but live chat customers had a 73 percent satisfaction rate. Of course, this varies depending upon how well your live chat meets customers’ needs and hits the other points in this article. However, simply adding a live chat improves customer experiences.
People expect an immediate response via live chat. Imagine you’re a customer and you land on a business website. You have a question before you place an order. You don’t want to wait days for a response or bother with picking up a telephone. Instead, you just hop onto live chat and ask your question.
Businesses can nail user experience at that moment by offering fast and thorough help via the live screen. Users shouldn’t have to wait for a response but get an immediate answer. A bot answers basic questions that get asked frequently, and customer service reps answer everything else. Even if you have a 24/7 live chat, users grow frustrated if they have to wait a long time before connecting to a live agent.
Federal Student Aid offers live chat and does something a bit different that is very user-friendly. It starts a countdown timer of how long it will be before your chat agent appears. It also asks basic questions while you’re waiting, such as what your name is. This gives the agent a moment to prepare for the chat session but seems like an immediate response to the user.
Test your live chat frequently, measuring the time it takes to respond, how on-target responses are and the performance of live agents. Internal analytics show how many customers who engage with live chat wind up making a purchase, but also poll regular customers and find out if there are any areas in your live chat you should improve.
Strong CX makes your site stand out and keep loyal customers returning time and time again. While you might not be able to implement every technique at one time, strive for small improvements to your live chat. Make one or two changes and see how those elements work before moving on.
Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She loves researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner
Although chat boxes are sometimes seen as cumbersome and old school, there is still a place for them in your website design. A well-placed chat box allows your visitors to chat with you in real time and lets you address any concerns so you can provide up-to-the-minute customer service that will put you ahead of the competition. Live chat is considered helpful by 90 percent of consumers.
It is important the chat box is approachable and functional. There are a few rules of thumb that will help you add an approachable chat box. Here are the elements that work well and some examples of effective chat boxes.
Your chat box should be very easy for your site visitors to find. Many will not automatically expect you to offer this customer service feature. If they don’t see the chat box when they visit your site, they may just assume you don’t have one.
Take a page out of the book of Host Gator. Host Gator offers a live chat button right at the top right of its website. The icon with the blue background and a conversation bubble combined with the words “Live Chat” makes it clear you can talk if you have a question about hosting.
Takeaway: Mark your live chat link clearly and make it easy to find.
Some software and plugins will slow your server down and might aggravate the user with the snail’s pace. You’ll want to create an approachable chat box that doesn’t bog down your server and frustrate your user.
One example of a chat box that works fast can be found on Best Buy’s Geek Squad page. It only offers service to those with a subscription plan for the Geek Squad, but getting help is just a click away, and the software loads quickly and scrolls fast. It also offers an option to phone in if you prefer.
Takeaway: Choose chat box software that won’t slow down your website and is user friendly.
There is nothing more annoying to a user than being in the middle of a chat box session, clicking on a link and suddenly losing the entire chat. You then have to go through the entire story again with a new customer service rep, more often than not.
Warren Cat offers a live chat feature at the bottom of its page. You click on the button that says “Chat Live Now,” and a new window pops up with your chat box. This alleviates the concern of navigating away from the chat box accidentally because the chat box takes up a full window.
Takeaway: Seek out chat box software that opens in a new window or at least offers a warning before the user accidentally navigates away.
Web designs can bet boring when they look similar. But there is no hard and fast rule that your chat box has to be boring. You can certainly add a little branding, personality and fun to the process.
Host Excellence does a good job of creating a fun chat box that draws your attention. It is located in the right sidebar and features an animated arrow that points at a CTA button that reads “Start Chat Now.”
Takeaway: A chat box doesn’t have to be dull. Add your own personality to the feature.
Offering a support area on your website can help visitors know exactly how to access your live chat feature without cluttering other pages with buttons. The support link should appear in all the pages of your site so navigation is simple for site visitors.
One example of a site with an attractive live chat box on its support page is iDriveSafely.com. Note how there is a simple FAQ on the left and a live chat button on the upper right that is easy to find. Site visitors are also offered other options for support, such as email or phone.
Takeaway: If you don’t want to put the live chat button on every page of your site, then offer a dedicated support area where the live chat box can be accessed easily.
Your chat box should be visually pleasing. There should be good contrast between text and background so responses are not difficult to read. Ideally, the chat box will integrate with the colors and design of your website.
One example of a website with a nice chat box is Shopify. If you click on its “Chat With Us Now” button, the page will scroll down and you’ll be asked to share your Shopify domain. If you don’t have one, you can simply click the words under the “Authenticate” box that read “Don’t have a store?” You will then be taken to a box that matches the overall look of the Shopify site but is simple, with text that is easy to read.
Takeaway: Your chat box should mesh well with the overall look of your site, and there should be a nice contrast between background and text.
A chat box is still a smart way to offer another level of customer service. It can make your site more interactive and help customers experience personal service. This can mean the difference between them choosing to do business with you or choosing to do business with a competitor.
Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She loves researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.