Live chat is fast becoming the holy grail in customer service. We live in a digital landscape, where people prefer to text than talk and where the traditional telephone is slowly becoming a relic of technology past.
The stats on live chat are compelling. 73% of customers are satisfied after using live chat – placing it first above all other communication channels. And they favour it, too, with 42% selecting it as their preferred method of receiving support.
But just tacking live chat software onto your site isn’t enough to delight digital customers. It needs to be used properly to have a positive effect – and there are many factors to consider. So, with that in mind, here are 50 top live chat tips to help you deliver superior online service.
1. Introduce yourself by name
Names add a much needed human touch to a distant, electronic interaction. Let the customer know you’re a real person – not a bot.
2 . Use a typing indicator
That way, the customer knows you’re there and responding in real-time – rather than being left wondering whether you’re still actively engaged in the chat.
3 . Avoid ellipses
Those three little dots may seem inconsequential, but they can actually make you sound condescending or indirect.
4. And avoid CAPS too
(They make it look like you’re SHOUTING.) Needless to say, your customers don’t want to be shouted at.
5. Embrace the emoji
People understand emojis. As well as adding clarity, they also show your human, friendly side.
6. Use canned responses
With pre-set, automated live chat responses to commonly asked questions, you’ll ensure both accuracy and speed when dealing with queries.
7. Send dynamic chat invites
You wouldn’t ignore a customer who entered your shop. So don’t ignore one who enters your site – say hi and ask if you can help.
8. Don’t neglect grammar
You can be sociable without being sloppy. It’s important to keep live chats as personable as possible, but don’t forget to be professional, too.
9. Route chats to the relevant agent
Customers want immediate expertise – live chat is live, after all. So, use automatic skill-based routing to send the chat to the agent best equipped to respond.
10. Use live chat translation
Language barriers can be removed with auto-translation, so your agents can speak to customers quickly and clearly – wherever in the world they are.
11. Enable file transfer
The ability to send documents back and forth in real-time prevents channel disruption, letting you continue your chat in the same place.
12. Send pre-chat surveys
Acquiring key preliminary information like name and required department is not only great for gathering data – it also helps you give quicker, more relevant service.
13. Send post-chat surveys, too
Be sure to assess customer satisfaction after the chat is completed. That way, you can continuously improve your online support.
14. But don’t go overboard with the questions
You don’t need to know the user’s telephone number, marriage status or job title to give them great live service. Stick to the essentials only.
15 . Use alongside live web analytics
If you can see precisely what the visitor is doing (and viewing) on your site, you can then reach out with timely, specific live chat service.
16. Suggest co-browsing sessions
Some customers may need in-depth support. So, launch a co-browsing session and take a more hands-on approach with their web session.
17. Monitor chat sessions
By giving managers the opportunity to monitor all chat sessions in real-time, you create huge opportunities for internal training and employee support.
18. Check chat history
Return customers don’t want to reintroduce and repeat themselves time and again. So, check chat history to ensure you have their details to hand.
19. Place live chat buttons up front
Don’t bury your live chat button deep within a contact page. Make it immediately available – that’s the whole point!
20. Integrate with your CRM
Valuable customer exchanges take place within live chat sessions. So, integrate your solution with your CRM to store that data where it belongs.
21. Enable ‘whisper’ messages
With private messages only visible between managers and agents, employees can receive live support during more difficult chat sessions.
22. Keep a consistent chat tone
For a streamlined customer journey, the tone of voice used in chat sessions should match the tone you use on your website, social channels, emails, and all your branded materials.
23. Offer video chat
Don’t just tell: show. A live chat solution that also offers video lets you offer face to face service online – going the extra mile to support your customers.
24. Remove chat options out of office hours
To manage customer expectations, you should always show your live chat availability. If you don’t have live chat manned during certain times, make it immediately clear.
25. Set agent chat schedules
During peak times, you need to ensure you have sufficient coverage to handle all chat requests. Give managers the option to set agent schedules and cover your bases.
26. Respond within 60 seconds
Customers use live chat for its immediacy. If you’re not responding within the minute mark, you’re giving your customers a false promise.
27. Avoid jokes or sarcasm
Humour often gets lost in translation during chat sessions – the participants don’t know each other and don’t have visual cues to rely on.
28. Customise your chat box
Your chat box should be noticeable, but it shouldn’t be so conspicuous that it clashes with the look and feel of your site.
29. Offer customers a transcript
With email trails, customers have a clear record of information shared. Mirror that service within chat sessions by offering transcripts of the conversation.
30. And keep transcripts for yourself
Your live chat transcripts hold solutions, exemplary customer service examples, and reusable content. So, use them to populate your knowledge base and FAQ.
31. Be engaging
Chat is ultimately just that: chat. So, treat this less like a formal pitch or training session and more like a two-way conversation.
32. Don’t launch the chat in a new web window
If the customer clicks on a chat button, they want to talk where they are, as they’re there. They don’t want to be redirected to a new tab away from what they were browsing.
33. Use (real) images of agents
A display picture of the agent can help add a personal touch to the chat session. But make sure it’s not a stock photo – you’ll immediately lose credibility.
34. Automatically accept chats
A live chat user doesn’t expect to wait. All chat requests should be accepted automatically, before the customer loses interest and exits your site.
35. Use a KPI dashboard
KPI dashboards will show you things like number of active sessions, average reply times, and most responsive agents. You need those insights to optimise.
36. Train your agents
You wouldn’t give a telephone operator zero training on how to handle customers. So don’t make that mistake with your live chat agents.
37. Use relevant website triggers to launch chats
Customer been on a pricing page for 20 seconds? Ask them if they’d like a pricing break-down. Are they spending time on your FAQ page? Pop up and ask if they need help.
38. Be accessible, but not intrusive
Don’t make your chat buttons huge, don’t make them hover around the page, and don’t interrupt the user’s session the very second they land on your site. It’s aggressive.
39. Make it enticing
Again, you don’t want your live chat button to be intrusive. But adding subtle features such as a slight wiggle or small bounce will attract attention and encourage engagement.
40. Use standardised placement
People look for live chat at the bottom right hand side of web pages – it’s the expected norm. Adhere to that so the user doesn’t have to look around for help.
41. Keep the customer informed
If you need 2 minutes to find out some information – let the customer know that there’ll be a slight wait. It’s courteous and prevents frustration.
42. Add a chat button to marketing emails
Sending out comms about a new offer? Include a live chat button so that customers can immediately enquire – without the pressure of a phone call.
43. Don't use custom fonts, text sizes and colours
Honestly: that size 20, cursive font in a bright shade of pink doesn’t look good. And it’s difficult to read, too. Stick to the norm.
44. Give the user a heads-up
If you’re sending a file or a link, let them know precisely what you’re doing beforehand. With so much online malware, customers won’t appreciate anything unexpected.
45. Upsell and cross-sell
Any live chat is an opportunity to convert a web visitor. So, make sure your agents have had basic sales training so they can upsell or cross-sell whenever possible.
46. Don’t be curt
Replying “OK” or “fine” to a customer sounds brusque. If the visitor feels like you’re disinterested or rushing them, they’re not going to convert.
47. Give people time to respond
Don’t be a “machine gun” messenger. Sending multiple questions to a user before they’ve had to answer feels like an interrogation – not a chat.
48. Manage your status
Dealing with 5-6 chats at once? Set your status to ‘busy’. At lunch? Set it to ‘away’. You don’t want to be receiving chats that you can’t respond to.
49. Close with something sincere and specific
End the chat on a high by thanking the visitor for their time and making them feel appreciated. Happy customers are loyal customers.
50. Promote your live chat
Last but not least: broadcast the fact that you offer live chat support. Direct social enquiries to live chat, add it to email footers and let callers know it’s available as a quicker option.
Done well, live chat is a powerful tool to delight your digital customers. Done badly, it’s little more than a false promise splashed up-front on your website.
So, get it right.