The Truth Behind Some Common Live Chat Misconceptions
MYTH #1: Live chat is powered by robots.
We get this question a lot … “Are you a robot?” … and the answer is NO! In fact, sometimes we’re almost too human when communicating with our website visitors, often getting sidetracked about where they live, what their interests are, and even exchanging photos of pets. Now, we’re not saying we don’t like robots – I mean, that Wall-E character was pretty darn cute – we’re just saying that they’re no substitute for real human engagement.
People want to chat with people. If you can have a real, human interaction with one of your visitors, that emotionally-positive experience will almost certainly be transferred into good feelings toward the company or the brand in general.
MYTH #2: You need to have agents available to chat 24/7.
Although the true effectiveness behind live chat is the power to communicate with website visitors in real-time, this doesn’t mean that you have to staff agents for online availability around the clock. Most businesses don’t have the bandwidth to operate sales and support functions 24/7, and that’s OK! Don’t let this be a deal-breaker when you’re deciding if live chat is right for your business. Instead, focus on setting expectations with your visitors upfront.
Be sure to post your live chat hours in a highly visible area on your website so your visitors have a very clear understanding of when they can interact with your agents. Many visitors prefer live chat over phone or email communication and will return at the hours that you specify.
You can also configure offline messages to display when your agents are unavailable. This allows your team to continue collecting leads and support tickets outside of your designated live chat hours and follow up later.
MYTH #3: Live chat is too expensive.
Before we highlight some of the gains that live chat can bring to your business, we must first mention that the primary goal of live chat is to foster customer engagement. This new customer-centric approach to engagement focuses on the overall brand experience, and if you are able to create happy, loyal promoters of your brand, the bottom line will follow.
But beyond customer engagement… As is the case when evaluating and adopting any new tool for your business, it always come down to ROI. You need to be able to justify that the expense is worth the investment. The three major areas where we see consistent gains for our customers include:
- Increased conversion rates – being there to assist with friction in the sales funnel
- Increased efficiency – not only are sales and support teams able to handle multiple leads/cases simultaneously, but sales teams can focus their time on quality leads (they’re already on your website!)
- Increased customer satisfaction – allowing visitors yet another communication method to get their questions answered (SPOILER ALERT: People LOVE options!)
When used properly, live chat has proven time and again to not only increase conversion rates and revenue, but also bring significant savings to customer support teams, ultimately adding more to the bottom line. We’ve seen customers experience triple digit returns on their live chat investment within 30 days.
MYTH #4: Live chat is too impersonal.
Without question, face-to-face interaction is the most personal and effective method of communication, but we all know that in-person meetings and video conferences can be a time suck and not always the most efficient means for communicating, especially when it comes to interacting with your customers and prospects. So, when we look at the alternatives – phone, text, email, live chat – which is the best method for fostering customer engagement? Well, of course we’re biased, but in many ways, live chat is actually more personal (and efficient) than phone/text, and most certainly email.
Customer engagement really comes down to connection, and while phone calls offer an instant voice association, live chat offers a visual that is perhaps more powerful. One of the first tips that we always recommend to our clients is to use real agent photos in the chat window. You’d be surprised how a simple photo alongside the agent’s name can instantly forge a connection with your visitor. And we even have clients who have gotten creative with agent photos – one client in the pet industry has agents using images of their pets, rather than their own personal photos to represent themselves – talk about a conversation starter!
We also recommend using emojis and exclamation points (this of course depends on your brand’s voice). Even a highly professional discussion can be made more comfortable with a well-placed smiley.
MYTH #5: Live chat is only used by millennials.
While many recent studies have confirmed the popularity of live chat among younger generations, we continue to see an appreciation across all demographics for the immediacy that live chat brings. (Read more about How Demographics Impact Live Chat.) As older generations adapt to new technologies (even my grandmother can’t go a day without her iPad), and more mainstream brands offer live chat as a communication channel, usage of (and the expectation for) real-time communication will undoubtedly continue to climb among all audiences.
We can’t discount the importance of the millennials though. After all, they are the future of the marketplace. So regardless of what your audience currently looks like, at some point, you’ll have to conform to this generation’s preferred communication methods – we recommend sooner than later!
Canned Responses to Cut Down on Keystrokes
Agent response time is perhaps the most important contributor (or culprit) of live chat’s success (or failure), and every precious second counts! Shortcuts (a.k.a. canned responses) are an agent’s best friend, especially during high activity periods. Shortcuts reduce the amount of time your agents spend typing by allowing you to set up shorthand commands to populate common responses when chatting with visitors.
Here are 15 helpful shortcuts that the SnapEngage team uses every day to cut down on keystrokes. Feel free to copy or adapt these for your own usage, and we hope these examples spawn some other useful shortcuts for your team!
It may sound simple and an unnecessary at first – how difficult is it to type “Hello”, right? But seconds add up to minutes and hours, so every opportunity to save time typing is one that should be embraced.
1. h … “Hello there!”
2. morning … “Good morning!”
3. how … “How may I help you today?”
With incoming support inquiries, there’s typically a series of questions that must be asked in order to diagnose the issue, followed by leading the visitor to a solution, and then, when possible, asking for feedback. Why not streamline this process?
4. email … “Let me take a look into your account. What is your email address?”
5. guide … “I’d be happy to direct you to a guide that explains this in further detail. Mind if I change your screen?”
6. feedback … “Your opinion means everything to us, so please don’t hesitate to provide feedback about your experience! :-)”
When using chat as a sales tool, there can be a fine line between making yourself available to answer any questions your prospect might have and disruptively pushing your product on them. This is especially true with proactive chat, where visitors who may be unfamiliar with live chat technology could perceive your pop-up chat messages as intrusive. When visitors engage with those messages, it’s important to establish respect for their browsing experience and choose the appropriate times to interact.
7. okay … “Okay, great! Please take a look around and let me know if you have any questions or would like a quick tour of our live chat application.”
8. features … “Now let me show you an overview of our features…”
9. nonprofit … “We offer a 20% discount for education nonprofits and a 25% discount for all other nonprofits.
We service clients all around the globe and are lucky enough to have many languages represented by our SnapEngage team. While we have intelligent routing rules in place to match visitors with the appropriate members of our team, sometimes those agents may not be available. Hence, they get routed to somebody else on our team who may not speak the visitor’s language. This is where our language-specific shortcuts come in handy! (Note: we have these same shortcuts in several languages.)
10. esemail … “Nuestro agente quien habla español no esta disponible en este momento pero si me deja su email le responderá brevemente” (translation: “Our agent who speaks Spanish is not available at this time but if you leave your email we will respond shortly.”)
11. esenglishnow … “No hablo español pero le puedo ayudar en ingles si usted quiere. Pero si usted prefiere un agente que habla español por favor deje su email y le contactará brevemente.” (translation: “I do not speak Spanish but I can help in English if you want. But if you prefer an agent who speaks Spanish please leave your email and we will contact you shortly.”)
12. estransfer … “Yo no hablo Español, pero le puedo comunicar con un agente quien habla Español.” (translation: “I do not speak Spanish, but I can transfer you to an agent who speaks Spanish.”)
And these are just a few that we threw in for fun…
13. transferreceived … “Just a moment, let me check your previous conversation with my colleague.”
14. closechat … “This chat will close automatically shortly, but please don’t hesitate to come back and chat again if you have any further questions! :-)”
15. yw … “You’re welcome. :)”
Providing a safe environment to collect visitor data.
We live in an age where technology makes us so powerful, and yet so vulnerable at the same time. For most of us, our lives and businesses function by way of data points – credit cards, account numbers, personal identification numbers, passwords. Operationally speaking, we are identified more by our numbers than by our names. So when it comes to doing business, it’s important to be able to communicate that data instantly and securely.
In addition to the already secure infrastructure of the SnapEngage system (read more here), we have added a powerful new secure data transfer feature that allows your agents to safely collect confidential information from your visitors right in the chat window. This feature keeps your business compliant with the latest data security requirements and provides peace-of-mind for your visitors.
Agents are able to request credit card numbers, social security numbers and secure notes (free-form text fields) within the live chat window and portal.
How it works
When agents need to collect sensitive information from visitors, they can select the type of data they are requesting from the new Secure Data Transfer Request button within the chat portal menu.
The chat portal will display system messages to keep agents and visitors apprised of the transfer status of sensitive information:
[You have requested a Secure Data Transfer from the visitor (Credit Card)]
[Visitor has received the Secure Data Transfer request.]
[Visitor has cancelled the request.]
[Secure data has been received]
Based on the secure data type selected by the agent, the visitor receives a secure embedded form within the chat window where their inputted data is validated, encrypted and sent to the agent using the Submit button.
What the visitor sees:
What the agent sees:
Encryption & Compliance
All communications between web client and the servers are SSL encrypted as well as being encrypted with our own algorithms. All secure data is deleted when a chat is closed and/or transferred, as well as when the chat portal is reloaded by an agent. NO SECURE DATA IS SAVED IN CHAT TRANSCRIPTS.
The Secure Data Transfer feature is PCI and HIPAA Compliant. SnapEngage also meets U.S.-E.U. SafeHarbor requirements and is TRUSTe Certified.
How One SnapEngage Client is Using SMS-to-Chat
U.S. Patriot Tactical is the nation’s largest off post military retailer for boots, uniforms, bags and gear. Processing thousands of transactions every day through their retail and online stores, customer service is their highest priority. SnapEngage live chat enables them to communicate with their customers in real time to provide product details, sizing information, shipping timeframes and more.
Beyond the standard website (desktop and mobile) live chat channels, U.S. Patriot Tactical is using one of SnapEngage’s newest features, SMS-to-Chat, to facilitate returns, exchanges and other billing inquiries. By including their SMS number on invoices, receipts and packing slips, customers are able to quickly contact U.S. Patriot Tactical’s customer service team via text message on their mobile device. This reduces the delays associated with email and caters to the increasingly preferred communication method of text message.
SMS-to-Chat functionality also allows users to upload and send images from their mobile devices (MMS) when they need to better illustrate the nature of their communication, such as in the case of receiving defective or incorrect merchandise.
Want to get started with SMS-to-Chat? CHAT WITH US
The Why & How of Customer Engagement
The old days of customer service conjure up images of a dimly lit counter at the back of a store with an agent apathetically chomping gum while an enraged customer rants on about how the VCR that they bought yesterday has eaten their favorite VHS tape. Those days are long gone!
Today, customers hold the key to a business’ success or failure. Social media has forever changed the customer service landscape, allowing fans and haters alike to proclaim their experiences to the masses. In this cloud of peer reviews, businesses must rethink the way they interact with their audience and focus on transitioning from the old days of Customer Service to the new ways of Customer Engagement.
Customer Engagement is about more than simply changing how we think about our customers, it’s about finding and using tools that allow us to communicate with our customers effectively and efficiently. Live chat is one such tool that fosters customer engagement.
It’s All About Connection:
All cars have four wheels and an engine, so why do we buy (or aspire to buy) the cars that we do? Because there is an emotional connection – the way that car makes you feel, a representation of your personality or style, or maybe a reflection of your values (i.e. safety, modesty). Sure, features and price matter, but when it comes down to it, most purchasing decisions are based on perceived trust using gut instincts. In the online marketplace, where shoppers have all the control, live chat allows you to forge that personal connection and establish trust with your visitors.
Expand Your Reach:
The larger your audience, the greater your sales potential. In today’s omni-channel world, your customers are everywhere and so must you be (pardon the Yoda-ism). Think about extending your live chat presence beyond your company website, such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs, as well as across devices on mobile and tablets. Live chat allows you to engage with customers anywhere they can interact with your brand.
Proactively Engage with Your Audience:
One of the most powerful features of live chat is the proactive chat tool. This feature allows you to create intelligent, rules-based messages inviting your customers to engage with you before they have to ask for help. You choose when to engage your visitor, for instance after a certain amount of time or upon visiting a certain page, and what message to show them. You can even route proactive messages to specific agents within your organization.
Take Customers from Passive to Engaged:
Live Chat turns a casual website visit into a dynamic conversation between curious website visitors and virtual shopkeepers. Give customers the ability to engage in meaningful interactions and get answers quickly all while still browsing your website.
Close the Loop:
Live Chat sessions can take many different paths (including extended conversations on completely unrelated topics, but that’s an entirely different whitepaper – “How To Deal With Trolls.”). Looking beyond sales and conversion, perhaps one of the most overlooked benefits of live chat is its value as a customer feedback tool. When chatting with a prospect or customer, take the opportunity to try to gather important insights as to how people are using your products/services, what their pain points are, and what improvements they might like to see. You’ll be amazed at how listening to your customers can drive innovation and growth!