Like any piece of software, online chat solutions are only as effective as the people who implement them. Installing and running one and expecting it to drive sales would be as foolish as expecting Twitter to automatically follow the ten most interesting people for your business. Personalising when and how chat is offered has never been more important.
The most obvious value of chat software is that it empowers businesses to make customers feel valued and to provide a good customer experience. While it may be easy to underestimate the impact of this in an environment in which customers are not physically present, experience shows that providing a chat option can be very persuasive. However, the key to making chat more effective lies in behavioural targeting.
A behavioural targeting strategy should start by understanding the customer journey and by looking for the points at which chat could improve the customer experience. For instance, maybe you want to improve the rate of people who open an online chat because it can then convert into increased sales or less abandoned carts. By knowing where and when the customer needs to be prompted, you will start to define your chat strategy.
Defining your target audience and determining which of them could best be helped by an online chat is crucial. You also need to understand what your customer’s expectations are around advice and support. And more importantly, are you meeting them? Understanding your target audience will help you decide on which pages of your website the chat facility should appear and whether the chat button should appear proactively or reactively.
Most websites will have chat buttons appear reactively. A proactive chat invitation is generally adapted to critical decision-making moments where you have already identified customers abandoning your site and walking away. The percentage of people who accept and engage in chat invites should be between 3 and 10 per cent. If this is not the case, you may have to rethink at what stage chat is displayed.
When all of these steps have been thought about, planned and then implemented, you can start looking at the results.
A chat solution will often ask users for feedback following a chat session. This feedback will allow you to identify weak points and understand customer expectations. It will also give you insight into the usability of the website and the perception of the chat solution. This will allow you to modify your chat strategy and website design accordingly.
One mistake some e-tailers make is to assume that once the chat solution is implemented, the work is done. However, to ensure you are getting the most out of the solution, you should work with your provider to check performance on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Decide on which performance indicators are important for you early on, such as average basket value or customer satisfaction rate and they will give you a useful way of measuring your success and provide goals for continuous improvement.
When you have the performance figures, make sure you don’t just put them in a drawer. Analyse and think about how they can help you optimise and shape your business, with regard to staffing levels, your website and how you manage demand. Installing chat software and optimising it is not a one-off process, but something that needs to be regularly checked and tweaked in order to give visitors browsing on your web site a top-rate service. In time, you could be turning more of them into customers.
This post originally appeared on MyCustomer.