Introduction/ (Customer is the King)
Whether a business conducts its dealings online or offline, whether it is a startup in its nascent phase or an established business, the customer is the king of the business. In addition to providing great products and services at competitive prices, customer support is also an important part of wooing your customers as well as strengthening your customer base. All successful companies spend a considerable amount of their funds in taking good care of their customers.
Need of customer support for an online business
Being in constant contact with your customer becomes even more important for an online business because in most cases, there is no real contact between the customer and the company. A dedicated and efficient customer support system helps an online business owner gain the trust of the buyers. It also helps in building credibility with the customers. Their faith in the company increases as the company resolves all their queries and issues. The existing customers soon turn into vocal advertisers when every purchase on the website becomes a worthwhile experience.
The right way to do customer support
Spending lavishly on the provision of customer support is not enough. Choosing the right way of providing customer support and executing it properly is important too. An all inclusive customer support involves addressing the needs of the customer pre and post purchase. The convenience of a friendly and open dialogue is provided to the customer so that all their concerns, comments and grievances can be attended to without any delay.
Telephonic conversations and emails are two most common ways of establishing contact with the customer. However, in today’s scenario a third option is available for online business owners too. This is the use of live chat software on the website.
Live Chat Software
A live chat software is the provision of a real-time communication between the company representative and the customer via a computer. Such live chat customer support is usually in the form of a pop up live chat window when a visitor accesses webpage of the company’s website. Prospective buyers can talk to customer service agents via the chat software and ask them any questions related to the product or service offered by the website.
The style of the conversation between the service agent and the customer is not very formal. It is common to use short, simple statements, emoticons and abbreviations during the chat. This kind of chat service is also known as click-to-chat, pro-active chat, online chat, integrated chat by many people.
Live chat software are suitable for businesses that have low to medium technicality. It will be difficult for highly technical services to resolve issues through quick live chat agents.
Such customer support works for full time e-commerce businesses as well as for those businesses that have both online and offline dealings. However, the benefits of a live chat customer support are seen largely for online businesses.
There are various reasons because of which web chat support can become a great way to perk up your online business. Here are a few of the additional advantages of live chat support for an online business:
• Convenience: Who does not love a shopping partner that offers valuable advice when there are confusions while shopping? As far as online shopping is concerned live chat agents become very good virtual substitutes for the need of a shopping partner. The immediate response in a live chat is what contributes to the convenience for customers. They do not need to move from their webpage to any other device or even another web page to seek assistance. The effort to work their way through a maze of robotic options in order to reach the customer care executive is non-existent too.
Clients are not wholly engaged in the job and they can very conveniently multi task while talking to a live chat agent. Live chat services not only resolve issues or queries, but also provide knowledgeable inputs and sound advice about the product or service. The knowledge that all kinds of assistance is available so conveniently works wonders for increasing the confidence of the customers in your business.
• Time saving: The twenty first century online buyer is known for making quick purchases. In such a fast world, an immediate response becomes one of the most important aspects of customer support. Live chat service is the most effective tool for utilizing the maximum time of both the buyers and the live chat agents. Prospective customers do not have to wait on unending call queues to have a conversation with a customer service executive. There is no need to wait for call transfers or engaged network lines.
Instead, it is possible for both clients and service providers to handle two or more jobs while chatting with each other. Efficient chat agents are also able to assist many people at the same time. Immediate help is provided regarding any of the issues that the customer would be facing. Happy customers are more often than not, the ones who will return to your website.
• Cost saving: Live chat services significantly reduce the cost incurred on customer service. The possibility of one efficient chat agent of handling numerous customers at a time reduces the number of agents required. Slowly but steadily, the need for the services of a large number of chat agents decreases. The average interaction cost is lower than other forms of customer support.
The entire process of implementing a live chat support for your business will not burn a hole in your pocket. Numerous service providers and software provide a host of affordable service options. If funding is a constraint, live chat service is the best option, probably after the age-old support email service. As a business gradually moves towards a live chat oriented customer service base, the cost on equipment is reduced too. Unlike a phone based customer helpline, live chat support does not require any extra equipment. The overall cost on customer service is reduced significantly. In addition, of course, a penny saved is always a penny earned for your online business.
• Better company-customer relationship: It has been proven through surveys that returning customers are the ones who stick the longest with an online business. Customers who are buying form you for the second or third time are shown to spend more as their price sensitivity decreases in comparison to their first purchase. Therefore, retaining old customers is as important as ensuring newer sales. As the realm of the entire online business is virtual, gaining the confidence of the customer becomes very important for the business owner.
Until video calls between customers and customer service agents becomes the norm, live chat is the closest an online business can get to the customer. The support of a real person who can walk your customer through a purchase adds up a lot of confidence. The increased confidence helps in building a healthy relationship between the customer and the company, which is ultimately beneficial to both parties.
• Increase of sales and conversions: Timing is an essential aspect of providing customer support to increase sales. It is not simply enough to have a dedicated customer executive agent waiting at the other end of a phone line. It is also about reaching out to the customer exactly when he or she is wavering between an I-should-take-it and No-I-should-not. This is where a live chat support wins over all other customer support means.
Customer agents can immediately approach prospective customers and clarify doubts about the product or service offered for sale. This intervention can become the decisive factor between a sale and a bounce from the website. As online businesses are still in their developing phase, the chance to have someone form the company clarify all their doubts and apprehensions works wonders for a first-time customer. The chances of upselling a product, discount or an additional service increases once a chat agent has gained the trust and confidence of a customer.
All these ultimately lead to a higher conversion rate and an increased average order value on the website, thus ensuring that live chat services work positively for your business revenue.
• Flexibility: The world of an online business is based on the internet. In addition to the official website of a company, there is a wide variety of platforms on the internet that are invariably connected to the website of the online business. Live chat services provide flexibility for expansion onto these mediums and platforms too. A live chat service can be integrated to a company’s e-commerce website via numerous mediums such as social media sites and mobile phone apps. This facility is not available on any of the traditional means of customer support.
• Use of transcripts: Transcripts are a wonderful benefit of a live chat service. Transcripts provide a word-by-word detail of all the live chats in a particular period. These transcripts can be used to get vital inputs form current and prospective customers. The analysis of these transcripts replaces the need of a customer survey. Everything that the visitors say on your website becomes valuable information for you. All this data needs to be sorted under various heads and analyzed to understand what is working for the business and what is not. Trends in sales, opinions and customer migration can be monitored and analyzed on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis.
The transcripts of live chats can also be essentially utilized to identify pain points and resolve them. Pain points are aspects of a customers need or expectation form an e-commerce website that has not been fulfilled. These points can be used for creating advertisements that are more effective, blog posts or discounts, schemes and offers.
Service agents can also be trained to get feedback and reviews of the services. There is a greater possibility of getting true feedback on a live chat than through an e-mail. These reviews will ultimately be very helpful in improving your online business. Moreover, the efficiency of the chat service can also be improved by having a thorough understanding of frequently asked questions and problems. Responses can be constructed and written beforehand to address common customer issues.
• Use of records: The chats with customers can be utilized in creating various records and archives for the business. These chats can be utilized in creating customer profiles for the website. They can be monitored to understand shopping habits and tailoring services and products. The records can also be used for identifying the frequency with which purchases are made and factors that decide whether a sale is made or not. Interesting and attractive testimonials can also be extracted from chat transcripts. These can be used for promotions and advertisements after taking due permission from the customer.
• Advantage over competition: While you are looking for different ways to gain an edge over the rising number of competitors in your online business that was once unique, why miss this obvious option? Live chat service is still a relatively new medium in the online business arena. Surveys have indicated that even today only less than half of the e-commerce platforms have opted for live chat support on their websites. Until live chat becomes an almost compulsory feature on e-commerce websites, using such a service can give your online business an edge over competition.
The numerous benefits of a live chat service will work positively for your business and be helpful in diverting customers from competitors to your website. It is obvious that once a prospective buyer has gotten a taste of the conveniences of an online portal with a live chat agent, they will never want to go back to their previous seller that does not have an online chat service.
Common live chat service mistakes to avoid
As the above mentioned points indicate, live chat services provide benefits for both the customer and the company. The multi-faceted advantages of such a service are slowly making it very popular among online businesses. However, just like any other service, it is important to do live chat support right in order to make it most effective for your online business. Companies who are using the service for the first time commit various mistakes. Some of them are as follows:
Many websites locate service pages only on customer service or FAQ pages and not on the actual product page. This shows that the prime focus of selling a product or service is not targeted by the provision of a live chat service.
The response to the customer’s query is not quick enough in many cases. A delay of even 30 seconds is enough to shift the short attention span of a new customer to one of your competitors.
Surveys also show that almost 50 % of chat situations wherein there could have been a possible sale were not taken advantage of. In such situations, it is seen that the live chat agent either did not grasp the situation properly or did not provide sufficient motivation to the prospective buyer. The chat agent is also seen to not offer possible alternatives in case they see the customer swaying away from the decision to purchase.
These are just a few of the most common mistakes made by online business owners while using live chat agent services. Numerous instances of poor implementations render this wonderful means of customer support ineffective. Online business owners can minimize these mistakes and use live chat services to have a stronger positive impact on their businesses in various ways.
Making live chats more effective
Tips gathered from reliable customer reviews and surveys can be helpful in making live chats effective. It is essential to have properly trained representatives for live chats. A live chat service should have the characteristics of both a sales agent and customer service. They should have knowledge about the product or service as well as the authority to offer schemes and discounts to prospective but hesitant customers. Make sure that you have the required number of efficient and well-equipped live chat agents to handle larger number of customers.
It is also important to ensure that the responses are not robotic. That would have a negative effect and diminish the whole idea of having another human being to assist a prospective buyer. It is always advisable to have the facility of transfer live chat agents to phone calls in case the need arises.
Therefore, do not hesitate before opting for a live chat customer service for your website based business. It is not advisable to use a live chat service as a complete alternative to service calls. Instead, add it as a part of your customer service strategy and use it in collaboration with other traditional customer service methods. In addition to this, follow the above mentioned tips to make the live chat service on your website effective and see your online business grow by leaps and bounds.