When I talk to our clients – especially those in the luxury retail space – about live chat, I get really excited. I can’t help it. Live chat is one way to provide what customers value most: high touch, personal service in a digital environment. Using live chat, business owners can provide the type of experience online that was previously available only face-to-face. Shoppers have a demonstrated preference for this type of direct, instant communication – so much so that demand for live chat rose 43% over a two year period.
That being said, live chat does come with some challenges, particularly for smaller businesses. I recently talked to Spectrum Business Insights about this and would like to share and expand on some highlights of that conversation with you here now.
Providing Personal Attention Makes Sense
One of the key reasons people choose small businesses is because they expect to receive a greater level of personal attention. When you’re dealing with Amazon, you know you’re one of a hundred plus individuals that have made a purchase in that second. People don’t shop Amazon for memorable, unique experiences or personal attention: that’s your job. Live chat is an easy to implement, affordable way to provide personal attention.
Make Live Chat Available During Your Busiest Times
You can use your website data to control customer service costs. Staffing live chat appropriately does involve making one or more employees available to answer inquiries; for many small businesses, doing so 24/7 is simply unaffordable. Delve into your analytics to identify peak shopping times, and make live chat available during those times. It’s a good idea to let customers know via social media when live chat is open – that way, if they have a question, they can get an immediate answer.
Understand the Role of Chatbots
Chatbots have a role to play in making live chat manageable for the small business owner. Many of the inquiries that come in via a live chat window don’t actually require a person to answer them. Chatbots can field simple questions about store hours, stock availability and the like; the best chatbots can identify when a human response is needed and seamlessly bring a staffer into the conversation.
Review Your Data Regularly
In addition to serving as a customer service channel, live chat efficiently harvests a great deal of customer data. By regularly analyzing the type, timing, and nature of live chat inquiries, it’s possible to identify trends, recurring customer service issues, and anything else that may be impacting your customers’ experience. Regularly reviewing live chat data enables small companies to achieve competitive levels of responsiveness and personal service while maintaining reasonable cost controls.