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!
Coming Soon to Plus (and higher) Plans.
We’re putting the finishing touches on this exciting new feature and will make an official announcement as soon as it’s released.
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 will soon be adding 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 will be 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.
What I Learned From My First Week On Chat
We’ve all been there… When you walk up to the edge and are presented with the choice – Sink or Swim? As one of the newest members of the SnapEngage Team, my ceremonial initiation took place last week when I took the plunge into the live chat world as a real live agent!
That first day, as I cursored my mouse over the toggle to switch myself to ‘online’ status, I felt an uptick in my heartbeat and a flutter in my stomach. Acting in both sales and support roles, I knew that visitors were going to look to me as their go-to expert on the SnapEngage product, and I by no means had all the answers on my own. So, I did what any resourceful person would do – I used every tool at my disposal to find the answers. What I found was that the chat portal tools armed me with a magic cape that gave me super-agent status!
Here are some of the helpful tools that got me through my first week on chat:
Use the visitor information to your advantage
The chat portal (depending on your settings) contains a lot of powerful information that gives you immediate insight into your visitors, including geo-location, preferred language, the page from which they started the chat, and in some cases the email address (among other robust visitor information). This helps determine the best communication approach and style, along with diagnosing the nature of their inquiry prior to them telling you.
Respond quickly, even when you may not have immediate answers
Response time is paramount in the live chat world! Visitors are looking for immediacy and as live chat agents, it’s our job to provide that prompt service. When I am notified of an incoming visitor chat (relying on my desktop and sound notifications), I immediately jump over to the chat portal and respond with a simple greeting – my standards are “Hello” and “Hi there”. This immediately lets your visitors know that you are available to chat. I also like to set expectations during a chat. When I need a little time to explore an issue or find a solution, I’ll often say something like, “One moment while I pull up your account information.”; and if it’s taking me longer than anticipated to find what I need, I’ll jump back in the chat and say, “I’m still researching this. Thanks for your patience.” (TIP: You can also use time-saving shortcuts for these canned messages – see below.)
Shortcuts are an agent’s best friend
Regardless of how many WPM your agents can type, when you’re juggling multiple conversations simultaneously, time is hard to come by! Shortcuts allow me to quickly answer chats, as well as post responses to common questions or topics without having to spend precious time typing out messages. I also use shortcut commands to navigate visitors around the SnapEngage website using the handy co-browsing feature, as well as electing to save select transcripts into our Help Desk and CRM systems even when an email address isn’t provided.
Use your knowledge base
The SnapEngage knowledge base is the lifeline and secret sauce that took me from intimidated newbie to superstar agent. My go-to solution when trying to explain a feature or troubleshoot an issue is to first run a search query in our knowledge base, which just so happens to be conveniently located right in the chat portal! I owe a lot of kudos to the SnapEngage team for consistent contributions and updates to our documentation – nine times out of ten, I am able to provide answers to visitors’ questions with the simple click of a button. (The knowledge base integration feature allows you to quickly view, paste the link or co-browse your visitors to an article with one click.)
Lean on your team
I’m lucky to have an awesome team surrounding me, so when our knowledge base falls short or I am presented with a very specific inquiry, I rely on my teammates for answers. With SnapEngage’s team chat solution, you can quickly post a question to your team (one-on-one or to a group) – chances are, somebody has an answer!
Be your (friendly) self
With SnapEngage, live chat is a human interaction, and we like to make our visitors feel that way. I like to take a conversational tone that fosters honest communication while delivering on our customer service value proposition. I use emojis and the occasional “haha” or “lol” when appropriate because sometimes, tone just doesn’t convey the same way in chat.
When I reflect back on my first week on chat, I’m amazed at how far I’ve come in just one week! Sometimes the only way to learn is to hold your breath, dive in and SWIM!
Live chat offers immediacy and builds trust.
When disaster strikes, businesses trust Agility Recovery to get them back up and running. Agility Recovery helps organizations recover operations after a disaster like a hurricane, flood, fire, or even a burst water pipe. Agility is dedicated to getting your businesses back up and running within 24 hours. “With Agility Recovery, when your company is at its most vulnerable, you’re working with a partner who has done this a thousand times and never failed,” says Scott Teel, Agility’s marketing director.
Agility has helped over 20,000 businesses across the U.S. and Canada develop and maintain a disaster recovery plan. At a few hundred dollars a month, Agility’s membership model makes recovery planning affordable for businesses of any size. “When it comes to physically responding to disasters, and helping people literally put their employees back at their desks, no other organization on the planet does more than we do.” Teel says.
During a recovery, Agility is on-site within hours. They wanted to extend that immediate response to their website, and to move beyond passive customer engagement like contact requests and FAQs.
“We were limited to folks just picking up the phone or sending us an e-mail,” Teel said. “We wanted to take what was already award-winning customer service, and be more proactive with website visitors.” The goal, at first, was to give their sales team the ability to start conversations with those visitors. “Chat was an obvious next step. It allows us to engage people directly and immediately. We can give them fast and easy access to the tools they need, or connect them to individuals in our company who can serve them more quickly.”
“Not everybody understands right away what we do and who we are,” says Teel. Agility wanted to help business owners better understand their services. Using live chat gave prospective customers the ability to navigate the site with a friendly guide who could help them find the information they needed and answer any questions.
Initially, two or three of Agility’s marketing supervisors served as chat agents because they could answer a wide range of questions about almost every department. “We were really kind of catch-all people,” Teel said.
Not surprisingly, in addition to being a great sales tool, live chat quickly became an asset to Agility’s customer service team as well. As a member organization, Agility puts a premium on customer service that reinforces client trust.
It didn’t take long for Agility’s marketing leaders to notice that many of their chats were coming from existing clients requesting support or more information. So Agility trained two senior staffers in its Member Services Department as second-tier agents. Incoming chats from existing clients are easily transferred to these subject experts for in-depth answers.
“It’s remarkable, the amount of positive feedback we get from both prospective and current members about our live chat,” Teel says. “We were hesitant at the beginning that it would be burdensome to some people, but by and large, it is extremely positive feedback.”
“When you combine being able to serve existing customers better with a higher conversion rate on prospective clients, that’s a no-brainer.”
Agility’s trust in SnapEngage has built over time.
“Using live chat on our website was something we considered for a quite a while, but hadn’t found a tool that completely fit our needs. SnapEngage felt like something that we could test for a while, to find out whether we could manage it internally to the benefit of the business without shooting ourselves in the foot,” Teel laughs. “It was a great success. Now, we’re even beginning to learn new ways to use the tool as it has matured in our little tool belt of assets we use to market our company, and serve existing clients.”
One new trick is Team Chat, which is built into the platform. Team chat lets an agent who’s chatting with a customer open a second, internal chat with one or more colleagues to quickly get information from several internal sources. Team chat allows for seamless customer service, and it saves time for both customers and internal staff.
Agility has also started tracking chat events to analyze how visitors come to the site, how long they stay, and how they interact with the site.
SnapEngage is easy to install on most websites and popular website platforms. The tool is robust and highly configurable, but basic implementation is simple: Just copy & paste a small code snippet into the website. Once the service is installed, all the in-depth configuration is handled inside the SnapEngage Admin Dashboard.
Agility relied on its third-party Webmaster to set up live chat on its site. “It was like a couple of point-andclick type actions for them to get things integrated,” Teel says. “It wasn’t a difficult thing to implement. In hindsight, I wish we’d done it much, much earlier.”
Live chat has measurably improved Agility’s sales and customer service. “It has become a very high conversion rate tool for us,” Teel says. “Of all the marketing efforts we conduct, SnapEngage has the second-highest conversion rate.” That outperforms requests for information on the site (which requires visitors to submit their name, address and phone number to get more information about Agility).
Phone leads convert the highest for Agility. “If you’re going to pick up the telephone, you’re pretty darn interested in us,” Teel explains.
Agility’s strongest close rate combines live chat with telephone follow-up. “If you visit our website and chat with us, and that leads to a telephone conversation and we end up submitting a proposal, those proposals close at the highest rate across the board,” Teel says.
“From a customer service point of view, we feel like we’ve been able to serve people more quickly and efficiently,” says Teel. “When you have the ability to better serve existing customers and a higher conversation rate on prospective clients, that’s a no-brainer.”
4 Tips for using chat to build trust.
1. Think like a storefront.
You’d greet shoppers who came into your store, wouldn’t you? You should extend that same human touch to visitors on your website. Live chat lets you reach out to passive browsers with friendly, attentive customer service.
2. Let customers direct the conversation.
The immediacy of chat helps customers hone in on exactly the information they want with a trustworthy guide.
3. Follow up.
Agility Recovery’s customers often ask for a transcript of their live chat conversation. Teel and his team like the automatic email that is generated for every live chat after it closes; they can share this immediately with customers, who like that attention to detail.
4. Conversation is the key to conversion.
Live chat allows you to start the conversation rather than waiting for the phone to ring. Plus, it puts fewer hurdles in front of prospects. “People don’t have to give their email address or fill out a long form just to have a conversation.” says Chris Vieville, SnapEngage Director of Sales & Marketing. “Talking is a more natural approach to engagement. Live chat allows people to gather more information without obligation. They can ask questions, build rapport – and by the time they provide their contact information, they’re a very interested lead.”