What are the benefits of live chat?

Live chat customer support is an investment into the user experience of consumers engaging with your business online. If you’re new to the concept, using a live chat function on your own website might seem daunting, but there are a range of advantages to doing so.

Why use live chat?

If you’re not sure what live chat is, it’s a back and forth messaging function hosted on your website. It allows visitors to your site to communicate with your customer service team without having to send an email or make a call. Live chat is similar to telephone or email-based customer support. However, there are a few key differences that make it a worthwhile addition to your customer service package.

How effective are live chats?

The vital attraction of live chat is the immediacy of receiving help. Customers don’t need to search for a telephone number or email contact details or look up the company’s nearest physical address. They can simply click on the live chat icon and be matched with a customer service representative to assist them. This technique answers queries promptly and keeps the user on your website. This way, there is less of a risk of them ending up on a competitor’s website. 

However, this isn’t always how live chat works in the real world. While many businesses recognise the benefits of live chat, they don’t always take the time to do it properly. This can result in declining customer relations. For example, live chats with long waiting times can leave customers feeling frustrated.

It’s important to note that this applies largely to the time spent waiting to speak to a live chat agent, rather than the time it takes to resolve their issue. Generally speaking, customers don’t mind if the chat takes a while – so long as their problem is solved. 
For this reason, live chat can be difficult to manage in-house for small businesses and freelancers. Without a team of dedicated live chat agents, long waiting times can cause customers to choose a different company. Outsourced live chat can be a cost-effective solution to this problem.

Does live chat increase conversions?

One of the biggest advantages to shopping online is being able to learn more about a product or service before you make a decision. Product descriptions are vital to this, but if a customer has a question that isn’t answered by the information provided, what should they do? 

Calling or emailing customer service is time-consuming and inconvenient for the customer. It might even put them off buying your product. After all, it’s far easier to just go back to a search engine and find another company that does answer their question on the website. This is where live chat comes in. 

With live chat, customers can ask their question and get an answer quickly, without having to leave the product page. Better still, they can use live chat while doing other things – riding the bus home, taking their lunch break or visiting a library, for example. And once they get their answer, they’re still right where they need to be on your website to make their purchase.

Is live chat a real person?

Nobody likes talking to an automated agent, whether it’s on the phone or over a live chat service. Some live chats are ‘manned’ by chatbots, which are cheaper than hiring human live chat agents. However, these robotic responses often make the customer feel unvalued and unhelped – as though they’re talking to a brick wall. 

Even when live chats are carried out by human agents, they can sometimes feel automated all the same. Canned responses save company time, but they lack a personal touch. This also has a demoralising effect on customers. 
Therefore, the best option is to have a team of live chat agents using organic responses to help customers get what they need. An outsourced call centre for live chat and other forms of customer support can help with this. You won’t have to worry about training up personable customer service representatives yourself.

How many live chats can an agent handle?

While telephone handling services require agents to address one customer at a time, live chat is more flexible. With the proper training, a live chat agent can usually handle between three and five simultaneous conversations. Most importantly, they can do so without a decrease in the quality of support. 

This helps to keep those waiting times down as well as ensuring your live chat agents are making the most of their time. It’s not productive to only answer one chat at a time, especially when there’s a queue of customers waiting to be helped.

It’s also important not to heap too many chats on one agent – which is where an outsourced team can help. If one agent is splitting their focus between six or more chats, the quality of customer support will decline. The best option is to maintain an efficient balance between too many and too few simultaneous chats.