Live chat is one of the most popular support channels in 2018. With the ability to provide quick and simple solutions, 79% of customers say they prefer to use live chat for their inquiries. With this increase in popularity, live chat support is no longer being seen as a differentiator. Customers expect your company to provide it.
If you're not offering this kind of support, then you're missing out on the opportunity to make your team more accessible to the customer.
Reasons customers prefer live chat via eConsultancy.
Any urgent issues that would previously have required a phone call can be handled quickly and simply via live chat. Customers will appreciate this efficiency boost and ease of use.
So where do you get started?
If you're thinking about rolling out live chat to your customers, here is a checklist that can guide you through the live chat implementation process. Just follow these 14 steps:
1. Find out if your customers want to use live chat
Live chat is one of the most popular support channels, but when you're thinking about offering it to your customers, it's essential to know if they'll use it. Do some preliminary research via customer surveys to find out how your customers feel.
This can help you learn more about your customers as well as justify the expense of implementing a new tool. The offer of live chat support should enhance the customer experience and help your customers better interact with your team.
Do my customers want to use live chat?
2. Make sure your team has the capacity to provide live chat support
Staffing an entirely new support channel requires a lot of additional work from your agents. It might not be feasible to provide live chat support if the team isn't able to handle the increase of inbound volume at this time.
One way to measure the potential volume is through your website visitors. Take a look at this breakdown from Zendesk. It will be a ballpark number but gives you a way to project what kind of changes you might need to make to the team to accommodate this new channel.
Is my team large enough to handle more inbound volume?
3. Research the live chat solutions that are available
Once you've surveyed your customers and calculated any new staffing requirements, it's time to familiarize your team with the live chat tools that are available. It's important to know the features and integrations, e.g. CRM integrations that are available and nail down exactly what your team needs to be successful.
This is a great time to check out marketing and product feature pages. Each platform will offer something different and you'll need to know how that affects your team. If live chat is a part of the company's larger customer experience platform, this is a good time to update your other channels as well.
What live chat providers are available in my market?
4. Narrow down a list of platforms that fit your needs
The customer service technology landscape is immense. You'll need to create a short list of companies that provide the kind of features your team requires before moving further. This will make it easier to cross-reference each one and do a benefits analysis.
As you're reviewing different providers, it is a good idea to categorize features into two buckets:
- Must-haves— Features your team needs in order to be successful
- Nice-to-haves—Features that are beneficial but not required to be successful
This will give your team a quick way to talk about each provider in reference to the others.
What are my top three to five providers so far?
5. Reach out to each platform for more information
With your short list created, it's time to reach out to each provider directly. You'll want to formulate a set of questions ahead of time to ensure that you're getting the same information from each company. This is your opportunity to dive deeper into how each platform will integrate with your existing infrastructure.
Find out if the company offers a live demo or webinar where you can take a look at their product in a guided experience. Talking to sales is always helpful but it's better to take a look at the product in use. This is also your opportunity to check out how their support team is able to help you.
What does the company tell me about how their product can help my team?
6. Start a free trial and test, test, test
Nothing is better than hands-on experience. Here's your team's opportunity to get involved. Working with leadership and senior members of the team, use your free trial to test out the tool directly. Those in a leadership position will want to test out the analytics and reporting, and senior team members will want to test the product interface.
It's important to get as much feedback at this point as possible. Get your design and engineering teams involved. Share the pros and cons with the rest of your team and get their input as well. Even if someone hasn't tested the platform directly, they can still provide valuable insights into potential customer use cases.
What does the team think about the new platform?
7. Decide which platform is the best fit
You've done the research and run the tests, now it's time to lock down which of these platforms is going to be the most useful for your team. As you're making this decision, it's important to keep in mind the following questions:
- How will this change the customer experience for the better?
- Is the tool easy to use for both customers and my team?
- How will this integrate into our existing support offers?
These are just to help you get started. It's crucial to consider the impact, on your customers and your team, of moving forward with a new tool.
Which platform is the best choice for our team and our customers?
8. Work with engineering and design teams to integrate the chat platform with your website
Now that you've decided on a platform to use for live chat support it's time to integrate it with your website. Work with the engineering team to make sure all the back end processes line up correctly and work with design to ensure the chat window matches the aesthetics of the rest of your website.
This is also your opportunity to test out the platform as it will be used by the customer. As each team works to make the live chat experience as seamless as possible, you can open it up for internal testing. Don't make the platform live until you're sure it is a great customer experience.
Is the new platform working seamlessly with the rest of my website?
9. Test internally
Once live chat has been integrated into your website, it's time to give your team the ability to test the integration. This is your opportunity to interact with the chat window in the same way as the customer and gather feedback on the experience.
You can also choose a beta pool of customers who've previously expressed interest in interacting via live chat. This will give them a chance to feel included in the decision making process and surface valuable feedback. It's also a great customer experience.
Have we tested it?
10. Train your team on the new platform
As with any other new tool or new feature, it's important to train your whole team on usage and best practices. Set up training to ensure that every member of the team understands how the new live chat option will affect the customer.
Even if they won't be supporting the queue directly, every team member will need to know how to communicate it's value to the customer. This is a great opportunity to get your senior team members involved again. They'll have more experience with the tool after testing out the other options.
Does my team know how to use the live chat platform?
11. Select employees to start out as the live chat team
Staffing a live chat queue is different than both email and phone. It's important to find the right kind of person for this channel. After training, you can find the team members that are best suited to spearhead the live chat support team.
These agents will be your customers' first introduction to live chat, so it's important that they feel comfortable in this support channel as well. Make sure you consider more people than will actually be on the team just in case one of your agents doesn't work out.
Have I formed the live chat support team?
12. Roll live chat out to customers on specific pages
Even though you've tested live chat internally, it's important to introduce it on your site slowly. When you take your time, it can help identify any potential bugs before affecting a large number of customers.
If you're not sure which pages to start out with, take a look at your website traffic. This is a great gauge for which pages experience the most incoming customer traffic. Your contact page and landing pages are a good place to start.
Which pages should I use to offer the opportunity for a live chat?
13. Announce the update via your blog and social media
Customers may be able to find the chat box on your website on their own, but it's important that you let them know directly as well. This is a great opportunity to show that you care about their customer experience and implement feedback they've given in the past.
Write up a blog post to announce the new chat support channel and promote it on social media. You can also send out an email to the customer email list; just be prepared for the potential influx of customers who are interested in testing it out.
Have you told customers about our live chat option?
14. Give customers a way to leave feedback on their experience
Customers love being heard. Give them a way to provide feedback on their experience outside of satisfaction scores. This is a great way to optimize your live chat support over time.
This is another opportunity to make your customers feel more invested in the company as well. Ask them to tell you how this new support channel affects their interactions with your company and how it helps them in their daily lives.
Did you ask customers how they feel?
Live chat gives customers immediate access to your team
While the idea of opening up another support channel might sound scary, it's important to show your customers that you want to hear from them. Being more accessible to the customer will spark more conversations that lead to valuable feedback and stronger relationships.
When you're able to support customers in the channel that best suits their question, it's a better overall experience.When you're able to support customers in the channel that best suits their question, it's a better overall experience.