The 3 stages of chalking out the optimal live chat strategy

It’s not enough to plug live chat software into your website and press go. If you want to unlock the benefits that real-time chat support has to offer, you need to optimise the way you use the channel.

Which means making an effective live chat strategy. But that’s easier said than done.

So, to help, we’ve broken the process down. Here’s how to create the optimal live chat strategy for your business in three manageable stages.

Stage 1: Getting ready

The first stage of your live chat strategy concerns getting your business ready and chalking out exactly what you want from your chat. Without this step, it’s much harder to define the best strategy for your business.

So, before anything else, consider the bigger picture. Get clear on your live chat use case, the goals you’re looking to achieve, and your core requirements from a solution.

Then, familiarise yourself with available options. (The live chat features and uses that are on offer.) This will help you choose and optimise a solution that best suits your live chat strategy. So, you’re setting off with your best foot forward.

Questions to ask:
  • What is your chat channel for?

Live chat software is a tool of many uses. It can just as easily work for your sales team as it does for your customer service team. So, clarify what you want to get from your chat. Sales, service, both?

  • What are your live chat goals?

Common aims include factors such as:

    • Meeting SLAs
    • Improving NPS
    • Reducing agent handling times
    • Deflecting calls
    • Cutting contact centre costs
  • Who is your target audience?

If you’re having a hard time outlining what you want your optimal live chat strategy to achieve, think about your target customer base. What would an effective chat service look like for them?

  • What features are must-haves?

When you know your goals and your audience, you can think about the functionality your chat channel must have. For example, if you have a global or multi-national audience, live chat translation might be a must-have.

Stage 2: Deploying your chat

The next stage of outlining your optimal live chat strategy is to plan how you’ll deploy your live chat channel. That is, how you’ll incorporate chat into your everyday operations and ensure its success.

Here, you should think about both internal and customer-facing deployment. For example, how you’ll train your agents on chat usage, and how you’ll encourage customers to make use of your new channel.

This part of your strategy deals with the accessibility and availability of your chat. It means planning where, when and how your online visitors use your chat channel. It involves planning how you will manage chats, and when customers can and can’t access your chat.

Questions to ask
  • How will you prepare your live chat agents?

Let your agents get used to chat and its features before you make the channel available to customers. If they aren’t confident using the new tool, your deployment will suffer.

  • How will you advertise your chat channel?

If you don’t make your live chat functionality clear, your customers won’t know to use it. And that renders the rest of your live chat strategy useless. So, you need to plan how you’ll advertise your new chat. For instance, posting about it on social, inviting chats from your emails, and mentioning chat availability in your telephone hold messages.

  • Where can visitors access your chat service?

Once on your site, where will your visitors find your chat button? Will it be site-wide, or page specific? Will the chat window be inline, or launch as an independent pop-out? (We recommend inline chat, placed in the bottom right-hand corner of every page.)

  • When and how will you use chat invitations?

Analyse which pages have higher bounce rates, and which pages suggest the customer is looking for help. These are good candidates for chat invitations.

Stage 3: Using your live chat channel

The next stage of chalking out your live chat strategy involves focusing on the active use of the channel. It means having a clear idea of the experience you want your live chat to embody.

From there, you can start to plan the strategy you’ll use to create, maintain and monitor that experience.

Questions to ask
  • What is your chat tone of voice going to be?

Tone of voice is incredibly important in chat. It should match your brand tone of voice, but also suit a conversational context. Think about things like whether your agents can use emojis, or whether you’ll use live chat scripts.

  • How many concurrent chats can one agent take?

Concurrent chats help you ensure that your chat queues stay down. Your agents can handle anywhere between one and seven chats at any one time. Too few concurrent chats, and you’re not using your chat channel efficiently. Too many, and you can negatively impact service quality.

  • How will you measure success?

You also need to plan how you’ll measure the success of your agents. This will help you identify weak points and recognise when you need to tweak your strategy. Common metrics include average chat wait times, sentiment analysis scores, or increased sales, and so on.

The optimal live chat strategy

When it comes to optimising your live chat strategy, there’s no cut-and-paste answer. The optimal strategy is one that’s tailored to your business, your goals, and your customers.

This is, of course, only an overview. When we work with customers on a live chat implementation, we provide a full consultation service that goes through strategy and various options in close detail.

So, if you’re investigating your live chat options, why not start by exploring what WhosOn has to offer?

Useful links

Using chat as a sales tool: the complete guide

How to improve live chat usability: a quick-start guide

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