Live chat for business is still seen as a customer support vs. customer nurturing tool. But what most businesses don’t realize is that it has also evolved to become a tool to help you move customers from the awareness stage of the customer journey to become eventual advocates.
Why is live chat important for your business?
It’s clear that the old channels of outbound prospecting are dying a slow death. Add tougher government regulations such as GDPR mix into it and you will have more reasons to see why phone and email outreach is a fool’s errand. Outbound sales is an area of troubled water your business is better off staying away from.
Sales teams across industries have a big advantage in using live chat for their sales and lead generation goals because it’s easy to use and cost-efficient. When compared to traditional lead generation tools, live chat is also more widely accepted and scalable in the long run. While other lead generation channels are slow at prospecting new visitors and turning them into customers, live chat conversations are very handy because of their impeccable timing—they work best when customers are at the peak of their engagement with your brand.
Customers need a bit of a positive push to go through a purchase when they are on your website, interested in knowing more about your product based on their past reference, and while they are considering your product for purchase. You get to convert your leads into potential customers in real-time.
On the other hand, customers have now grown too accustomed to cold calls and emails and they tend to avoid them for the lack of relevance and personal touch in these sales channels. This is why many businesses, including SaaS-based companies, are already seeing live chat as one of the most reliable sources for closing sales and against other traditional means.
Over 51% of customers prefer live chat for customer support over other means of customer support channels. Our recent user behavior analysis shows that customers not only prefer live chat widget to interact with agents for sales and support queries but also feel comfortable using live chat support in discovering answers on their own through in-built FAQs.
Your existing customers are also the future customers for your business if you can re-engage with them through a conversational customer support live chat. With an instantaneous, always-on support channel like Freshchat, you can drive repeat purchase, increase sales, and grow your business.
Investing in an online chat support can get you the compound interest on your existing range of support channels that can dramatically improve your customer happiness and retention. In today’s high fidelity business environment, live chat for customer support is necessary for your organization because it acts as a force multiplier to strengthen your core support bandwidth.
With live chat, you don’t have to be reactive and wait for customers to reach out with a question to engage them. You can reach out first and encourage them to convert and buy.
We’ve identified three ways to bring more cohesion to live chat conversations that can improve conversion rates:
- Generate more leads
- Shorten first response time
- Remove team silos
- Customize messaging
- Improve customer engagement
- Help with customer success
Let’s discuss each of these in detail.
Using live chat to generate more leads
Live chat has an upper hand in generating leads when compared to other channels, i.e., perfect timing. While other lead generation channels function at different stages of a customer journey, live chat for business kicks in when customers are at the peak of their engagement with your brand. They are in your website, interested in knowing more about your product based on their past reference, considering your product for purchase, and all they need is a little bit of positive affirmation to go through the buying cycle. You literally get to convert them into leads in the real-time.
Compare this with cold calls or emails that are proven to be time suck endeavors because customers will find excuses to skirt around them. This is the very reason why many companies, including SaaS-based businesses, are already seeing live chat as the biggest source of lead generation as against other traditional means.
Below, let’s take a look at some of the best ways to leverage live chat for lead generation:
Use chatbots to handle menial tasks in an interesting way. Suppose a prospect comes to your website and you want to engage with her; you can deploy a chatbot to engage with her in a personable way in order to measure her interest level, collect contact information, and qualify them as possible leads. Chatbots can also replace human agents in their absence, such as during offline business hours.
2. Contextual communication
Use live chat to trigger timed messages based on user behavior on your website. For example, if a user navigates to the features page, you can make a triggered message appear at the right time to offer a one-on-one demo. You can also trigger messages based on events such as when a user drops items from her shopping cart.
Unlike phone and email channels of lead generation, live chat for business allows you to talk to multiple prospects at the same time without compromising on the quality of the communication. You can make use of automated features like bots during the pre-chat stage or send canned responses to respond faster.
Website visitors are intimidated by the long pre-chat forms that they have to fill on some websites in order to talk to a human agent. While this kind of gating philosophy is true also for live chat, users find giving their information to a bot easier and intuitive. Live chat comes with a user interface that is familiar and convenient.
Shorten first response time and set expectations
A recent study shows that 42% of people prefer live chat because they don’t have to wait on hold.
Imagine a customer walking up to a salesperson in a store, asking a question and then waiting several minutes in awkward silence for an answer. Chances are, the customer will go and find someone else to help them, or worse, leave the store and take their business elsewhere.
This is what’s wrong with companies that don’t realize the importance of maintaining a quick first response time. Customers are forced to wait several minutes to get an answer, which often results in drop-offs. To convert as many people as possible, it’s critical that your response time is as quick as possible and meets customer expectations.Setting the right expectation for response builds trust and makes it more likely for customers to go through the entire purchase cycle. Click To Tweet
The expectation of an immediate response poses one major problem though: some questions can be answered quicker than others. But that doesn’t mean you have to compromise with longer response time. Stick to keeping short response time consistent by acknowledging customers for queries that might take a longer turnaround time. You can configure a message in your live chat widget which says something like “We normally respond within 30 minutes.”
Thirty minutes might seem like a long time to wait but surprisingly, customers are willing to wait—as long as they know what to expect and they’re getting personalized service.
By setting a response time expectation, the customer isn’t sitting around waiting for an answer. Their expectation switches from a few seconds to a few minutes because they know that they’re guaranteed an answer to their problem. Having this kind of acknowledgment builds trust and makes it more likely for customers to go through the entire purchase cycle once they have more information.
Remove live chat silos to improve customer experience
The customer journey flows from awareness to advocacy. Along each step of the journey, you’re learning more about your audience and using that information to convert leads to customers.
When it comes to the traditional live chat, the problem is that it acts as a silo that operates separately from other parts of the company. Leads have to enter their names and email addresses before submitting a question every time. None of the data you’ve been collecting as you nurture each new lead is reflected in the chat conversation. This experience is broken, riddled with blind spots, and inconvenient even on the business side.
But a modern live chat has changed things around. Throughout the customer journey, it employs a more intuitive way to capture visitors’ information and display the chat history every time the customers comes back to your websites. So the next time the customers comes back with a new query, the chat agents have a substantial information on the customer’s personal details, purchase history, past preference, etc. It doesn’t look at live chat just as a way to start conversations, but as a tool to gather and record customer information in an explicit yet engaging way.
For example, you can deploy a chatbot with a friendly personality to kick in before a prospect gets around to talk to a human agent. The chatbot can engage with first-time visitors, gather their email addresses, invite them to join an upcoming product webinar, or share a product overview video within the chat widget. You can also trigger contextual messages based on certain events or the user behavior on your website:
You can automate the email addresses to your CRM tool and prospect your leads after the chat has ended. Or, you can kickstart a drip campaign to ensure the customer needs are still being met, share product updates and additional resources, or to offer timely help during the nurturing period.
For people who spend a lot of time on your product pages, offer a demo call with a sales rep. For people even further along in the customer journey—like in the advocacy stage—use live chat to invite them to read your blog or to download your latest e-book. You can even introduce special offers or upsell as a way to retain this group.
Learnmetrics, a data platform for education professionals, offers pre-configured Message Channels to help customers navigate to the right support team. This also helps Learnmetrics segment their customers and track them in the customer journey. For example, users can choose to ask for help with general information, careers at Learnmetrics, specific support questions, or demo requests.
Customizing your live chat welcome message to show that you recognize your customers helps you reinforce that they’ve made the right decision to buy your product. This, in turn, keeps them moving further along the customer journey.
Remember that the point is to keep communication ongoing and dynamic to accommodate where people are in the customer journey.
Use customized messages to engage your audience
When people first land on a web page with live chat, the first thing they see is a pop-up with a generic question like, “How can we help?” Customers already know that there’s always someone available to help so instead, use the chat message as an opportunity to better engage customers and move them further along the customer journey.Customizing your live chat welcome message to show that you recognize your customers helps you reinforce that they've made the right decision to buy your product. Click To Tweet
One way to do this is to personalize the messages people see when they visit your website. For example, Freshchat integrates with Clearbit Reveal to fetch user data so that you can see their name, contact information, work profile, social handles, and so on.
You can use this information to customize messages based on a visitor’s profile. For example, if you are a B2B company, mention a user’s company name in the message to make it relatable. If you are an e-commerce company, address them by their first name or invite them to follow you on the social media they are active in. Adbeat, an advertising research tool, does something similar to enrich customer experience. When users log on to their website, they greet their prospects by their first name. Not only does Adbeat use customer names in their live chat, but they also allow customers to see previous chats.
Another approach is to greet users based on what they’ve done in the past. For example, if you’re an e-commerce retailer, use your customers’ purchase history data to engage with them so as to ease their customer journey.
For your part, use previous chats to spot trends in the types of questions customers ask, then proactively share relevant information with them. For instance, if customers are confused about how a new feature works, send them an email with an explainer video attached. This will help you improve the customer experience because the information is timely and useful.
To figure out what custom messages to use in your live chat, work closely with your marketing team. If there’s a special offer that’s relevant to a segment of your audience—based on what Clearbit shows you—use chat as an opportunity to entice customers who are closer to purchasing your products.
Another option is to check to see where the majority of traffic spends time on your site. If that’s your product page, then change the live chat message to highlight a key product feature or benefit. The better you know your audience, the higher your chances of finding aspects of your product to showcase in live chat. Catering to specific needs and interests helps encourage people to buy and tell other people about you.
Live chat improves customer engagement
Having a live chat widget on your website is one of the best ways for your business to boost customer engagement across all stages of a buyer’s journey. Businesses that use live chat to communicate with customers witness a steep increase in their engagement metrics and eventually in their conversion rates. For example, websites with live chat earn 60% more revenue from customers than websites without a live chat widget in their website.
Here are a few points on how live chat helps businesses improve customer engagement:
Improve lead conversions
Customers highly prefer the quick and convenient nature of live chat assistance. Live chat helps businesses convert likely prospects into customers by appealing to their preferences at the right time—when their engagement level with the product is at its peak. You can use live chat to share links to relevant sign-up pages, send them a webinar invite, offer them a discount code to see them through the checkout, or nudge them to sign-up for a free trial.
Improve lead prospecting
Unlike intrusive pop-ups or pre-chat forms, a modern live chat tool is designed to capture lead information in an intuitive, user-friendly way. Live chat automates the lead data to your CRM so that you can create a drip campaign to nurture leads and ease them into becoming your customers. A modern live chat has all the context businesses need in order to have a meaningful conversation with customers when they come back with more queries.
Engage more proactively
Live chat stacks really strongly against the traditional means of customer engagement methods such as phone and emails because it’s proactive and not reactive. Client engagement is a business agenda and live chat gives businesses the onus to reach out to customers at various stages of their brand journey instead of limiting them as a reactive contact center that jump into action only when a customer initiates a query. For example, you can automate your live chat tool to trigger contextual message when customers come to your pricing page to offer them a flat 40% discount on their first purchase. This is a proactive way for businesses to capture their customers’ imagination and create deeper levels of engagement.
Drives more sales
Live chat for website is a powerful way for businesses to add a new avenue to their sales funnel. It’s fast, convenient, and contextual—the three most important ingredients customers need in their buying phase for making snap decisions. Similarly, people who initiate a live chat conversation on a website are more likely to buy products after having convincing chat interactions. Customers who use live chat also spend 60% more than the remaining customers. Live chat is an incredible sales tool because it helps customers reduce their time and effort in finding the right resources they are looking for and help in their decision-making process. Therefore, live chat is not a substitute for a contact center solution but a sales enablement channel.
Offer the best customer support
Over 40% of customers tell more than 10 of their friends or colleagues about a positive live chat experience they experience with a brand. Live chat for business is highly responsive, preferable, and personal—unlike conventional support channels. Live chat also offers the capability to embed self-service content like help videos, product tutorials, FAQs, etc. so that customers can easily find answers to their problems without having to talk to a live chat agent. This is unprecedented for other support channels. Customers become more engaged with a brand when they are self-discovering answers on their own and find it in an effortless, convenient manner.
Increase brand loyalty
Your customers are more likely to stay with your business when you offer live chat support because their shopping experience is always convenient and more fulfilling. The more the customers are engaged, the more likely they are going to be loyal to your brand. This is the reason why customers are even willing to spend more money for convenience if it means distancing themselves from more affordable brands. The always-there, always-on consistency of live chat meets customer expectations and they will be happy to advocate your brand to other prospects in their circle by word-of-mouth advertising.
Ace your customer success
Live chat helps you engage with customers proactively and support them on desktop, in-app, from mobile, within your product, and even on social media platforms. You can create campaigns and triggered messages based on user behavior and events to initiate a communication or help customers find solutions to their queries.
Live chat is multi-dimensional; customers use live chat for support inquiries, to exploit a product’s use cases and applications, and to discover self-service content. Businesses use live chat to support existing users, re-engage with them, and create new upselling opportunities.
Live chat can help your team become more productive. Chat is faster than phone and email communication; your chat agents can multitask by chatting with 4-5 customers at a time while collaborating within themselves in real-time.
Helping your customers with live chat is always-on and continuous. Businesses can deploy chatbots to engage with customers outside their business hours or map self-help content results to the right team.
Live chat is a perfect mix of personalized care and automation. It breaks the boundaries of traditional support channel because it’s highly conversational and efficient. Live chat blends the familiar UX of an instant messaging app with the productivity of a business software.
Live chat leads to improved customer satisfaction (CSAT) because the power of live chat to enhance customer engagement naturally leads to improved satisfaction. For example, you can measure your real-time team metrics and improve customer happiness with Freshchat.
You can offer omnichannel support with live chat. You can free up your customer success offerings from the traditional channels like emails and phone calls. You can create an interactive, cross-platform support system that can break the wall between your business and your customers.
Live chat for business is a game changer
As we move further into the digital age, the way we interact with and market to customers continues to evolve. Everything is dynamic, personalized, and contextual—and there is no reason why live chat for business should be any different. By managing first response time, removing silos, and customizing communication, there are more options for your business to convert more leads into being your customers and build lasting relationships with them.
The good news is—customers prefer live chat than any other form of support channels. Forty-four percent of online shoppers consider live chat as a must-have feature for e-commerce. They like the convenience of getting information right when they need it without having to leave the site.Manage first response time, remove silos, and customize your live chat conversations to convert more leads into customers and to build lasting relationships with them. Click To Tweet
Learn about your audience and use live chat for business to not only support customers but also engage more meaningfully with them as they make their way through the customer journey.
Cover illustration by Karthikeyan Ganesh