Here at The Receptionist, personal relationships with customers are the heart of our business. We see those relationships as a key factor in our company’s growth and as the reason for our customers’ excellent reviews of our product.
There are lots of factors that go into this personal approach to customer service. For example, a dedicated, in-house support team and a customer-focused company culture are essential (read more about how we define Radical Customer Support here). But among the tools that we use internally to help build relationships with customers, one has consistently proven its value in reaching customers personally: the ability to chat with them in real time via our website.
Web-embedded chat features have become increasingly common, and for good reason. They’re a cost-effective, personal way to connect with customers — and potential customers — right when they want to connect with you.
Surely you’ve seen these live chat features on websites by now, but just in case, we’ll clarify: We’re talking about the unobtrusive little boxes, usually in the bottom, right-hand corner of a website, that pop up occasionally offering help from a live representative.
Chat boxes are often embedded on web pages where a customer is considering buying a product, but they can be great on any page where visitors might benefit from talking to someone one-on-one. Some companies put them on every page of the entire site. In fact, you probably can see ours now in the bottom right hand corner of this very page.
Here are a few reasons live chat tools are becoming so popular, and why we like to use one ourselves.
A Personal Touch
When you have a question about a product, of course you want an answer as quickly as possible. Finding the company phone number, navigating through voice prompts and then possibly waiting for a support rep feels procedural at best and frustrating at worst. Similarly, scrolling through a list of Frequently Asked Questions before sending an official email query, complete with salutation and signature, can feel a bit formal and less than inviting.
The chat box is a simple, friendly alternative. If a web support ticket submission form feels like the equivalent of searching for the customer support kiosk in a big box store, a live chat is a smiling salesperson popping their head around the corner to see if you need anything.
As we discussed in our article on why The Best Customer Service Is All About Real Relationships, a casual tone is key for establishing personal connections with customers. That style is well-suited to live chat, where conversations develop line by line (no need to gather your thoughts into a paragraph). It’s also nice because visitors get to connect with a real employee with a name — and often a photo — instead of just sending a support ticket or demo request into the void.
Existing clients appreciate getting a friendly and convenient reminder that you’re there to help whenever they visit your site (or in our case, when they log into their software). Once they know that they can rely on your staff consistently with the click of a button from anywhere on your site, they’ll be more likely to reach out when they need help, and you’ll get more valuable feedback.
Potential clients can quickly ask any questions they have and get a sense for the friendly, approachable service that they’ll get once they’re a paying customer.
In many ways, live chat on your website is the easiest and best way to get ahold of your customers, because it allows you to reach them exactly when they’re the most likely to want to talk to you.
Our marketing departments all spend lots of time and energy trying to craft emails and ads that will get the attention of potential customers. Most companies also reach out to existing customers through email and social media to let them know about new features and developments. However, in the end, we have little control over whether those messages will reach them at an ideal time.
We’ve all experienced this personally; even if we’re truly interested in pursuing a product and want to know more about it, if we happen to get an email or ad when we’re busy or thinking about something else, we’re not very likely to save it and come back to it later.
Reaching folks while they’re on your site means you have their attention at the exact time that they’re looking into your product or trying to find a solution to their problem.
Plus, since these chat tools make it so easy for customers to speak their minds right as they’re in the thick of navigating your website, you’ll likely get a lot more feedback than you would without a chat tool. When people are confused or frustrated on a site, they rarely take the time to fill out a contact form so they can let you know that their experience was less than ideal. But if the chat box is sitting right there and it’s as simple as writing a few lines, they might as well mention it to you. Your customer service team can then create tickets for any problems, or pass the info along to the user experience design team or marketing team.
If your competitors all have convenient live chat programs waiting to answer any specific questions your potential customers have, what will happen if visitors hit your website and don’t find one? It won’t make a good impression if they’re forced to go scour the FAQ page and fill out a contact form.
On the other hand, if your competitors don’t have live chat, it can really set your website apart. As long as the program you choose is the right fit for your company and is executed well, a live chat tool can show that your company is on-trend and willing to invest in the latest technology for the good of its customers.
Note: For more ideas of tech tools that can help give your office an edge, read these suggestions: 4 Modern Office Tools for the High-Tech Company.
There are plenty of chat programs on the market today, and they may be bundled in with any number of features. For example, our chat tool also manages customer feedback from sources like email, chat, marketing automation and help documentation together in one program and has a lot of bells and whistles for automation and testing.
Of course there are much simpler options available. But regardless of how much cash you spend on your program each month, the right one should be able to pay for itself easily with saved customer support hours, better customer retention, and higher conversion rates.Good live chat programs pay for themselves easily with better customer support and conversion rates. #receptionistapp Click To Tweet
We’ve found that compared to other forms of customer support (such as phone calls and email), chat systems tend to resolve problems more quickly and effectively, often because the support team can catch problems in real time. This may result in a lighter load for your customer support team, which can allow them to get more proactive about improving the overall customer experience.
And of course, live chat can also be very helpful as a sales tool.
Marketer Daniel J. Murphy suggests that before you embark on your quest to find a live chat system that works for your company, you establish concrete metrics for its success. If you decide exactly what you want this live chat to accomplish in tangible terms, it will be easier to decide whether any given live chat system is working for you.
We think that’s a great idea. Decide on your goals, whether they’re for retention, support, sales or something else, and then find a program that will help you meet them.
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