Live chat is an increasingly popular online communication channel. Research carried out by eDigitalResearch has shown that live chat has the highest customer satisfaction levels with 73%.
Organisations which decide to implement this solution in order to meet customer expectations and increase customer satisfaction vary from small businesses to global companies including associations and NGOs. But they all have a common global aim which is to ensure their live chat project is a success with a return on the investment. So what are the key success factors of a live chat project?
The first way to ensure the success of a project is to set out with clear objectives. When organisations take that decision to invest in a real-time online communication channel like live chat or click-to-call, they are most likely to get a return on this type of investment if they have a precise idea of what they expect from the investment in the first place. When implementing live chat on a website, organisations have generally identified one or several of the following objectives:
- improve the online customer experience and satisfaction
- increase sales by reducing basket abandonment and increasing conversion rates
- reduce cost-per-contact
No matter which of these objectives has been identified as a priority, there are common factors which will determine whether these objectives are met or not. The support the project receives from your management, the skills of your live chat agents, the look and feel of the chat widgets, the behavioural targeting strategy which is implemented and the integration of the live chat solution with your CRM are key to determining the success or failure of your real-time online customer service project.
Management which endorses the solution
As an e-commerce manager or a customer service manager, you may have decided that it is high time live chat be offered as a communication channel on your website. Maybe your competitors have already implemented chat or maybe you want to be ahead of the game in your sector. However, for this project to happen in the first place, you need approval from your management so you are allocated the budget and human resources necessary to implement the solution and handle the live chat contacts. Gaining the support of the people you work with will make the difference. As project manager, the more you define clear objectives, show how performance is matching objectives and get people on board by providing them with the training and information they need, the more likely you are to get your management to endorse the project. A key success facotr of any project is support from within.
Teams which are well prepared
For your live chat project to be successful, you also need to make sure that the people who will be using the solution are equipped with the right skills. One of your choices will be deciding whether you want to externalise live chat contacts to a call centre or manage them internally. Either way, you’ll need to ensure that these teams are aware of the global project and objectives, that they are familiar with the different features of the solution and that they know the dos and don’ts of providing customer service via live chat. Give them training sessions, the opportunity to try the out the solution and ask any questions they may have. The quality of the answers and the speed at which they provide them will be key to improving customer experience.
Chat buttons which match the look and feel of your website
To provide online visitors with a positive customer experience, it is essential to make their journey on your website smooth and easy. The aesthetics of your website have an important part to play in this which is why your live chat solution needs to match the look and feel of your site. This communication channel should be visually coherent with the rest. You might decide to design the live chat buttons, widgets and windows yourself or call upon the expertise of a graphic designer. The colours, the shape and the size of these elements must come together to make this reactive or proactive chat engagement feel like an integral part of the website, thereby facilitating the visitor’s experience, not interfering.
A behavioural targeting strategy which matches your website
You may want to embed a permanent live chat button on your Contact us page but behavioural targeting rules are what will enable you to engage with those visitors who really need your support or advice at strategic stages in their website journey. Maybe you want to make sure you connect with those visitors who are, for example, struggling to fill out a subscription form, hesitating to confirm their checkout or facing errors. This is how you can really add value to how you use live chat by strategically using the resources you have to interact with the right visitors. Depending on your website traffic and general objectives, you may choose a combination of reactive and proactive chat buttons. The latter option which is slightly more intrusive is ideally reserved to the most critical situations in which you want to ensure that the visitor does not miss this opportunity to get support.
A solution which is connected
Customers increasingly expect a personalised and unified experience which is why it is essential to connect your live chat solution with your other tools. A live chat solution with an API will enable you to connect it with your CRM, your data warehouse, your support ticket system and even your automatic call distributor in the case of web callback. For example, when the visitor has logged in to your website and starts a live chat conversation, being connected with your CRM will enable your agents to access all the information about the customer and thereby improve the quality of the information provided and the global customer experience.
To conclude, this is not an exhaustive list of success factors when implementing a live chat project but if you get these right, you’ll go a long way. Define clear objectives, get your management and team on board, prepare and train your live chat teams, make sure the chat looks good on your site, engage with the right visitors and connect your customer service tools!
 eDigitalResearch – Customer Service Benchmark, Wave 1, November 2013
This post originally appeared on IMRG.