Live chat poor practice: let’s make live chat great again

Live chat has long been a bastion of great customer service.  The channel flourished at meeting customer needs quickly, in a space and style they’re comfortable with.

Ever since the advent of instant messaging, the live chat dream has thrived.

But the once-great channel is under threat. Poor practices have been earning the popular service channel an undeserved bad reputation.

Sloppy deployments and bad brand habits are compromising the quality of live chat experiences, turning users off and causing customer dissatisfaction.

It’s time to MLCGA (make live chat great again.) So, we’ve outlined the common mistakes that are dragging down the reputation of chat, bots and brands alike.

By avoiding live chat poor practice, you’ll boost your customer service quality, and help make live chat great again.

Bizarre branding

Branding is important. Consistent, quality branding is a signal that customers can trust your brand, making it an integral part of the user experience.

This need for consistent branding also extends to your live chat software – right down to the style of your chat window and the colour of your font.

Incorporating your branding into your live chat channel encourages customer trust, and demonstrates a dependability that’ll keep customers satisfied with your service. Stuffing an inconsistently branded chat channel onto your website, on the other hand, is jarring.

With the push to an omnichannel approach, consistent brand identity provides seamlessness for customers as they switch from email, to social media, to live chat.

The live chat poor practice of bizarre branding won’t just bring the name of live chat down, but drag you down with it. So, be sure to adhere to your brand guidelines when you deploy chat.

Irritating invites

Overusing proactive chat invitations is another common live chat poor practice. Proactive chat invitations are great for offering attentive service, for guiding customers through the checkout process and for reducing cart abandonment.

But proactive chat invitations are not an equivalent to pop-ups, and shouldn’t be used as such.

That means no poorly timed intrusions, no repetitive invitations (especially if the visitor has already said no) and – where possible – no generic messaging.

To make live chat great again, use proactive chat invitations as a friendly wave to struggling website visitors, not a pushy attack on your visitor’s senses.

Avoid distracting from your content and demanding attention from unwilling customers.

Robotic responses

Excessive use of canned responses is a particularly irritating live chat poor practice dragging down the channel’s reputation.

Canned responses are useful for quick-fire answers to frequently asked questions, and aiding in long process support chats to keep the conversation flowing smoothly. What canned responses are not good for is holding entire conversations with customers.

Customers chatting to a human agent expect that human touch. Overuse of canned responses comes across as humourless and inflexible at best, and uninterested in helping customers at worst.

So, personalise your canned responses where possible, and don’t rely on them. Remember that canned responses are there to help you help the customer — not cut corners to get rid of them as quickly as possible.

Bad bots

Speaking of robotic responses, a careless chatbot deployment is a live chat poor practice that can send customers running.

Chatbots can be a massive boon to your chat channel. They’re great for extending your service hours, helping with simple questions and reducing the strain on your customer support team.

Used wisely, chatbots streamline your service. Used poorly, chatbots are just another instance where an over-reliance on robotic support damages the reputation of live chat.

Chatbots simply can’t do it all, and trying to use them to replace your customer service team will hinder, rather than help your support efforts.

Instead, be sure to integrate chatbots with your human service team. Use them as a tool to support your support team. Chatbots can make great use of the conversational interface your live chat channel provides to offer help until the customer needs human intelligence and flexibility.

Just make sure you avoid the various sins and pitfalls that result in a bad chatbot deployment.

Perplexing presence

Why advertise your chat channel if no one is on the other side to reply? Not bothering to display an offline message or remove the chat option when no one is available is a live chat poor practice that frustrates your customers by wasting their time.

No one wants to expect an instant reply and instead find they’ve sent their message into the void to maybe be answered in several hours. (Besides, customers have email for that.)

So, always configure your chat solution to react to your open hours and agent availability. It could be a wording switch to ask the customer to “Leave a message” rather than chat, it could be a queue length display, or it could be removing the chat button altogether.

Either way, make sure you manage the user’s expectations if you can’t live up to the ‘live’ promise.

Putting an end to live chat poor practice

Live chat never stopped being a great channel for customer support. But as with any great tool, if it isn’t used effectively or correctly, it can acquire an inaccurate bad reputation.

Your customers are looking for instant support now more than ever. By avoiding live chat poor practice, you can use your chat channel to provide those sought-after real-time responses and boost your customer service.

Let’s make live chat great again.

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