In this article, we’re going to take a look at how important live chat services are for your business in the mobile era.
We will look at the increasing popularity of smartphones and analyse the ways in which customer expectations have evolved (and continue to evolve) in response to new digital technologies.
We’ll also explore how businesses can use live chat services to meet the growing demand for rapid response and real-time communication as smartphones become the preferred way to access the internet.
The growth of mobile use.
In the next 3 years, global mobile usage is expected to hit 3.8 billion.
That's a lot of smartphone owners.
While tablets, desktops and laptops are still very much in the game now, the key trend we’re heading towards is the dominance of mobile.
The table below (taken from Ofcom's 2018 communication report) shows the steady growth in the popularity of smartphones as the preferred way to access the internet from 2013 to 2018.
This growing trend towards mobile use certainly hasn't gone unnoticed in the business world. If your mobile experience isn't up to scratch, it’s highly likely that you’re going to miss out to your more mobile-savvy competitors.
This growth in mobile use has had a profound impact on customer expectations. Customers, particularly millennials, want to be able to contact your business anytime, day or night, and get a rapid response.
This means businesses that want to succeed in the modern world should be doing everything they can to reduce their response times.
Implementing live chat services is an obvious solution to the problem of how to meet the growing demand for immediate communication.
Understanding customer expectations.
To be successful, businesses need to meet (and preferably exceed) customer expectations.
As Neil Patel rightly points out “Great customer service and poor customer service are the two extremes that get talked about. Good customer service doesn't.”
If you want to avoid complaints, you must meet your customers' basic expectations, and these expectations will vary across different industries. The good news is, fast and effective communication is something that is highly valued across the board.
If the majority of your competitors are using slow or antiquated methods of communication, implementing live chat services can give you a major advantage.
Exceed your customers' expectations in this area and you can be sure that they will reward you by returning time and time again. Not only that, but they will also eagerly spread the word and share their experience.
Did you know that messaging is the number one way that customers want to connect with businesses and brands? Check out the data from a study published by communications experts Twilio below:
This same study shows that 90% of consumers expect to be able to talk to businesses and brands via live chat services.
Customers prefer live chat services because they are fast and simple. The average response time with emails is 107 minutes, which may not sound like a lot.
But, even the slowest live chat response times beat that by an enormous margin:
Live chat services make it easier and quicker for customers to get the information they need or the solution to their problem.
Consumers also prefer live chat services because of their convenience.
Live chat fits well into our modern busy lives because it allows us to multitask. Many people use live chat services whilst also checking emails, working or even eating (something that can't be done on the telephone).
Live chat services are also private which means they are great to use in public areas without disturbing anyone (no more awkward and annoying calls on the train).
Given its ease, speed and convenience, It's no wonder so many people expect to be given the option to contact businesses via live chat.
It's not just customers that benefit from live chat services. Businesses do too. Live chat services can boost sales, increase revenue and positively impact conversion rates.
How to meet customer expectations with live chat.
Access to digital technologies has made customers more demanding than ever before. This is one of the side effects of living in an age where any information we need is always at our fingertips. Literally.
Live chat services allow you to be available to your customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This means you can easily meet the demand for the immediacy of communication.
Let's take a closer look at some of the most important demands associated with live chat communication and explore how companies can deal with them to meet and exceed customer expectations.
The top 3 demands are:
- Quickly resolving the issue.
- Resolving the issue on the first try.
- Dealing with someone who's friendly.
Quickly resolving the issue.
Start off on the right foot by minimising your initial response time. This is the time it takes for the live chat agent to first acknowledge the customer's chat request.
According to Boldchat’s Whitepaper companies should aim for an initial live chat response time of 10 seconds. Anything longer than 30 seconds is likely to result in abandonment.
The quicker you can resolve a customer's issue, the better. Time is a valuable commodity, and no-one wants to spend any longer than necessary troubleshooting with you.
In order to meet this need for speed, it's essential that you have a system in place to connect your customer to the right person to deal with their issue.
One way to achieve this is to create and incorporate a pre-chat survey into the live chat experience.
However, while this can certainly help you to connect customers to the right staff member, some people may see them as a barrier, so its best to keep them as short as possible.
If you're dealing with high live chat volumes, it’s a good idea to set up your live chat software to give customers an estimated waiting time and to keep them constantly updated on it. That way, they are fully informed and have the option to contact you at another time.
You may also want to take advantage of live chat service features such as the type indicator (allows agents to see what the customer is typing before they hit send and begin formulating their response) to improve speed.
A further advantage to having live chat software is that it gives businesses access to useful analytics that can help improve customer service. You can easily track changes in chat volume, check the average chat length, monitor response times and analyse abandonment data.
Resolving the issue on the first try.
We've established that it's really important to answer live chat requests quickly. But that's only half of the battle.
Not only do your customers expect you to be quick on the draw, but they also expect you to get it right the first time.
First call resolution, or FCR, is one of the most important metrics any contact centre can measure and it is a great indicator of efficiency.
So how do you keep your FCR rates high?
The trick is to train your live chat agents well. In a nutshell, what you want to do is equip them with all of the information (and authority) they need to quickly resolve any issue.
Not only should your agents have an in-depth knowledge of your products, but they should also be cross-trained wherever possible.
Obviously, you can't expect your agents to know everything about every single aspect of your business.
However, having some basic knowledge of how the various departments operate can help live chat agents to do their job well.
Any information that your agents might need should be made easily accessible. This includes any relevant data on the customer's history with the company, as well as information relating to company policy, billing or tech support.
What have we learned? Customers expect businesses to deliver competent service the first time around.
If customers are forced to make several attempts to get to the bottom of an issue they're having with your product or service, you will lose credibility faster than you can answer a live chat call.
If you want your business to be known for its excellent customer service, make sure that your live chat agents have all of the tools they need at their disposal to deliver a first class service the first time around.
Dealing with someone who's friendly.
Friendliness is not something that's easy to get across during a live chat call, but it is very important to consumers. So as business owners, we must try our best to deliver on this expectation.
Here are a couple of top tips for coming across in a friendly way during a live chat call:
Start with a friendly greeting that uses the person's name.
Neuroscientists have proven that using a person's name not only makes them feel good but it also increases their level of attention.
But what do you put before the name? Well, “Hi” or “hey” are the most acceptable salutations, with the latter being the more casual and friendly option.
Avoid more formal greetings such as “hello” or “dear” as these are not considered friendly.
Over the last few years, the use of emojis in business communications has become widely accepted. Using emojis during a live chat can help agents to compensate for the lack of tone of voice to ensure that they come across as friendly.
How you use emojis will also depend on your target market. If you're dealing with millennials, then any and all emojis are probably going to be fair game, but they may not go down as well, or even be fully understood if your customer base is a lot older.
Also, before you start putting raised hand emojis or winking faces everywhere, consider whether the use of emojis is appropriate for your type of business.
What are the must-have live chat features in the mobile and app era?
As we’ve talked about, there's a growing expectation for businesses to be available to their customers 24/7.
Mobile live chat apps allow you to meet this expectation head-on.
Live chat apps allow you to answer your customers' queries quickly and efficiently.
Away from your desk? No problem. With a live chat app, you can connect with your customers wherever you are and whenever they want.
So what features should you look for?
Here are the top 5:
1. Proactive chat.
You’ve probably come across many websites using this feature. Basically, proactive chat allows you to reach out to website visitors by automatically initiating a live-chat invitation.
This is great from a customer service point of view, as it gives the impression that you are always on hand to help answer any questions your prospects might have.
2. Ability to monitor chats.
This is a feature that allows you to see which agents are chatting and when. A live chat solution with good monitoring capabilities should allow you full access to conversations as they occur in real time.
3. Mobile optimisation.
This allows live chat agents to instantly connect with customers who are visiting your website via a smartphone (or tablet) regardless of which operating system they are using.
This feature can also enable you or your agents to connect with customers via Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.
4. Visitor tracking.
This advanced feature of live chat software allows you to gather important data which will provide useful insights into your visitors' behaviour.
The measured analytics may include things like the amount of time each visitor spends in live chat, or how many chats lead to conversions. With this feature you can also generate reports.
5. Message rerouting (during offline periods).
If your live chat agents operate within office hours only, then message rerouting is a useful feature to have.
This creates a virtual ticket for each out-of-hours message you receive via the chat software, allowing your agents to respond at the earliest possible opportunity.
The normal way to do this is to change the live chat window into a simple contact form during those periods when agents are unavailable.
Izaak Crook is the Content Marketing Manager at AppInstitute, a SaaS App Builder platform that allows anyone to create their own iOS and Android app without writing a single line of code.