Retail Chatter: 5 'Net Tactics to Master Live Chat

Businesses use a variety of methods to provide support to customers, from social media and email to forums and any number of custom software solutions. Despite years of being seen as a second-tier support tactic however, there is one method that has stood the test of virtual time and continues to be adopted by the digital savvy - live chat. 


Live chat software solutions provide a valid support mechanism as it is a proven, personal way to earn shoppers' trust and loyalty. When done really well, though, it can also be leveraged to increase sales and average order values. While predominantly used by Internet retailers, any site can use live chat, including information publishers and even service providers. Here you'll find five 'Net tactics (considerations, really) for using live chat solutions to improve the customer experience and your company's bottom line. 


Managing Expectations:

While the benefits are not difficult to comprehend, the expectations of those that invest in a live chat solution can be. Often the promises are so grand that it can be quite the letdown to learn that much strategy and work must be put in on live chat initiatives to make it an effective tool for digital retailers today. Managing expectations and realizing where live chat solutions fit within your enterprise and the actual benefit that can be gained, should be the first step. To do that, understand what actual value these platforms can provide, the challenges they can help to resolve and the resources that are necessary to make the investment pay off. Marketing, technology and other departments must all contribute to the live chat strategy and solution that will be put in place in order to provide a structure for personnel who ultimately leverage the system to maximize value for users.


Power of Training

One of the many challenges with implementing live chat on a website is that it is all but a wasted investment of time and money unless those using the system (employees) know how to use the platform selected and use it well. Most live chat providers offer training and that is something that every business must engage in. Familiarity with the underlying ecommerce business strategy, an understanding of key techniques that can be used to convert shoppers to a predetermined actions, as well as the methods and information that empower those employees to help satisfy the needs, the wants and the demands of users, is imperative.


The Rules of Live Chat

In the live chat software industry, actual software "rules" are what determines the information that's shown to users and shared by chat support personnel when engaging shoppers. Many of these rules are "baked-in" to the software itself, but others can be developed by the business on its own. For example, if a website visitor is "idle" on a page, a rule could be developed or established that would initiate a chat with the user to provide them with subtle reminders of why they are visiting an ecommerce storefront in the first place. Integrate your CRM with your live chat system, and support personnel will be able to know who bought what and when, and provide even more incentives to keep them interested and moving, once again, through the conversion funnel.


Conversion Techniques

Not everyone is well suited to customer support and even fewer are suited to providing live chat on the Web. It takes special people to convert visitors using live chatinto full-on, high-value customers. Consider creating guidelines to help support personnel lead users to the information they want and direct users closer to the point of conversion. Trust is the element that always makes a sale, so finding unique and creative ways to establish that is a fundamental to conversion through live chat. 


Live Chat Analytics

The leading platforms offering live chat today nearly always integrate (or simply provide) some means of measurement - at least the best ones do. Having the ability to compare visitors sessions that did or did not have live chat enables you to compare the conversion rate of each approach, as well as the average order value. Whatever "goal" that is established must have an associated value to the business and the top live chat providers today do just that.