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How to Use Live Chat to Build Relationships with Customers

Even though it’s been around for more than a decade, too many companies treat live chat like an add-on; an after-thought that’s addressed only after other priority website improvements have been made. All of these companies, however, are at risk of leaving some major money on the table.

According to Zoho’s A Guide to Using Live Chat to Grow Your Business: “In a test conducted by one of Monetate’s ecommerce clients, it was found that live chat increased the average order value of sales by 3% (equating to a predicted $130,000 in extra revenue over a year).”

The guide goes on to share data from VWO, which found that, “after implementing live chat, its customer eztexting saw signups increase by 31%.” That’s huge – and it represents a huge opportunity for your company to drive revenue growth and delight your customers.

Here’s how to get started with live chat, if you aren’t already taking advantage of this powerful tool.

Pick the Right Service

All live chat services are not created equally. Inc. contributor Matthew DeLuca highlights one important distinction: “Live chat can be administrated either by the company that manages the e-commerce site or by an outside service, think a call center for live chat.” Other considerations include the fact that some chat tools work with Windows; others run only on Macs. Some require internal support, while others operate entirely hands-off.

For these reasons and others, it’s critical that you take the time needed to understand your company’s needs and the limits of your existing technology. Conducting this process ahead of time – rather than signing on indiscriminately with the first provider you find – will prevent the eventual hiccups and hassles that could derail your entire installation.

Ask yourself:

  • Does my current website CMS or shopping cart provider offer any existing live chat plugins?
  • What is my budget for a live chat implementation?
  • Do I want to manage my live chat service or use a cloud-based integration?
  • Can I handle operating a live chat tool internally, or should I look to externally-managed services (or those that essentially “take a message” when you aren’t available, like Live Chat)
  • What live chat tools are others in my industry using successfully?

Develop Live Chat Protocols

Once you’ve decided on a provider, you’ll need to develop protocols for the way your company will use live chat, whether you do so in-house or through an external support team that will be acting in your name.

Moorthy and Patel share seven best practices for properly executing live chat:

  • Empathize with the customer
  • Use positive language
  • If in doubt, ask questions
  • Don’t handle too many chats at once
  • Communicate clearly
  • Don’t close chats prematurely
  • Provide a chat transcript

They offer more detail on each of these recommendations in their guide, but the overarching theme is effectively the Golden Rule: do unto customers, as you would have done to you (as a customer). Look at live chat not as a means to minimize time spent on customer engagements, but as a way of extending the great customer service you (hopefully) already offer.

Use Live Chat to Drive Conversions

Once you’ve mastered the basics of offering customer service via live chat, consider the additional opportunities created by this kind of one-on-one access to potential buyers.

Take the example of iTheme’s Cory Miller, who found that live chat worked as not just a venue for answering questions and building trust, but an opportunity to increase sales as well:

“Obviously, we implemented live chat because we felt ultimately it would sell more themes. It’s the final result of the two items above. When people can get answers to their questions, they have more confidence in what they are buying and will be more satisfied in their end purchase, which builds trust and should increase sales.”

Creating positive customer experiences doesn’t just increase your odds of selling to the customers you engage with via live chat. It also increases the likelihood that these satisfied customers will, in turn, refer other purchasers to your business through the process of customer advocacy – all thanks to their satisfaction with your response.

The benefits of live chat can’t be overstated. By implementing a simple tool and its supporting processes, you can delight your current customers, while also giving them a reason to refer others to your company. It’s a win-win for you and your customers – and it’s all possible with live chat.

Are you using live chat on your website? If so, what tips would you add to this list? Leave us a note below with your suggestions!

Sujan Patel

Sujan Patel

Sujan is the leading expert in digital marketing. He is a hard working & high energy individual fueled by his passion to help people and solve problems. He is the co-founder of Web Profits, a growth marketing agency, and a partner in a handful of software companies including Mailshake, Narrow.io, Quuu, and Linktexting.com. Between his consulting practice and his software companies, Sujan’s goal is to help entrepreneurs and marketers scale their businesses.

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