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Don't Be #Basic: 3 Live Chat Tips for Online Retailers

Posted on 3.31.2015

By Allison Howen, Associate Editor

With myriad solutions available, live chat is not only a very accessible functionality for e-commerce businesses, but it’s also a feature savvy shoppers have come to expect when buying products on the Web.

Despite live chat’s popularity, many merchants are only leveraging it at its most basic level – even though more can be done to increase conversion and average order values, as well as improve operations. To take your site’s customer service to the next level, check out the three live chat tips below.

1. Create strategic proactive chat triggers

Typically used as a prompt to engage with a live chat operator, proactive chat gives merchants the ability to initiate communication at critical moments in the buying process (see image).

The majority of digital consumers actually welcome proactive chats, with a 2014 Moxie Software study finding that 72 percent of respondents want brands to proactively engage with them online, especially when they are struggling on a website. Setting up the “right” triggers, however, is important, according to Jeff Mason, VP of marketing at Velaro.

“The real key is understanding when and where a proactive trigger should be used,” said Mason. “For instance, if you have a product page with a lot of products on it you could set a proactive chat trigger based on time spent on a page. If someone spends a lot of time on a specific page – maybe they can’t find what they are looking for or maybe the copy on that page is confusing – that is a great opportunity to launch a proactive chat.”

In addition to common proactive chat triggers (discover three instances to launch a proactive chat at wsm.co/triggerchat), merchants can set triggers based on specific visitor personas, a feature that Velaro is releasing later this year.

Visitor personas collect customer data such as what pages the customer has visited previously or where the customer is located. Merchants can use this data to set proactive chat triggers and deliver a personalized customer service experience to their shoppers.

Aside from creating strategic proactive chat triggers, merchants should also focus on making it easier for their customer service agents to increase order values.

2. Help agents upsell

Perhaps the best way merchants can increase upsell opportunities is by integrating their CRM systems with their live chat software.

“Without leaving the chat agent interface, (agents) can take a look at a site visitor’s record in the CRM system if the visitor has been to the site before,” said Mason. “Then, agents have the opportunity to have greater knowledge about that individual and offer them products or upsell opportunities that are specific and targeted to that (customer).”

In addition to CRM integration, merchants can leverage “canned” chats to instill performance consistency in the upsell process. Canned chats, which are pre-made responses for common customer inquiries, can continuously be improved upon so that when visitors match a specific profile, agents have the ability to choose from a set of chat messages proven to be the most effective. To further improve upon live chat performance, however, merchants must also take time to analyze, evaluate and optimize the initiative.

3. Evaluate performance

The initial implementation of live chat is never perfect according to Mason.

“It’s an ongoing assessment of what is working and what is not working and then determining strategically and thoughtfully how to make tweaks to your implementation in order to continuously improve,” said Mason.

When evaluating performance, merchants should look at everything from the placement of their live chat CTA to the impact of their proactive chat triggers. This is why it is important merchants choose live chat software that offers reporting and/or a support team, as these features make it easier for merchants to analyze the success and failures of live chat on their site.

Moving Beyond Basic

By taking a strategic approach and analyzing performance, merchants can quickly move their live chat functionality beyond basic to a holistic approach to customer service.

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