Perfecting the Art of Live Chat

Live chat customer service

If you attended ABCN’s WorldView Forum 2014 in Budapest, you may recall John Milhado’s marketing presentation in which he discussed the effectiveness of live chat systems.

In this sense, ‘live chat’ refers to the little pop-up box website users and shoppers see on their screens, in which they are invited to ask an agent a question online. As John discussed during the WorldView Forum, this function is particularly popular in business centre circles.

“One-third of people who use the pop-up chat function on a business centre website go on to make an enquiry,” he said. “It’s a great conversion tool. But you must make sure it is staffed – it’s no use talking to an automated messaging system. The trick is not the technology – it’s about having the right people at the other end of the line.”

Indeed, in the culmination of a five-year research report released by BoldChat on Live Chat Effectiveness, released in 2013, the study found that a steady percentage (17%) of regular shoppers prefer live chat as their communication method with Internet retailers.

What do chatters want?

Dig deeper into the report and you’ll find that respondents are more likely to be satisfied with a customer service experience that was conducted via live chat than over the phone.

Furthermore, 47% of live chat ‘fans’ are more likely to purchase from a site that has live chat against one that doesn’t.

In terms of what ‘chatters’ rate as important during their online experience, a whopping 92% valued chatting with a real person as opposed to an automated system.

In addition, 88% value speed of response and 92% value detailed product knowledge of the agent.

As John highlighted, live chat is an effective conversion tool. But it also has the power to enhance a visitor’s experience of your business centre which, when landing on your website from a search engine, could be their very first contact with you.

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Alliance Virtual Offices live chatAlliance Virtual Offices uses a live chat facility, as does Clarendon Business Centres – which they say handles everything from simple questions to meeting room bookings.

In a press release, Clarendon revealed that one customer had successfully booked a meeting room through their facility before other rival vendors had even responded to the customer’s initial question.

Best practice

That shows just how important it is to answer questions swiftly. Indeed, speed and knowledge ranked highly in BoldChat’s survey, which indicates two of the most vital elements for a successful live chat approach.

Implementing your own live chat system could be a boon for your business centre or flexible workspace, particularly if you have a knowledgeable customer service team who are able to react efficiently.

However, live chat isn’t a complete solution. We are living in a multi-channel communication world, and website users will choose the format that they feel best serves their need – be it live chat, telephone, email, Twitter, or even Facebook. Use this to your advantage. Monitor your conversion rates across each channel, and set out priorities based on which channel consistently turns in the best performance.

Above all speed is essential, but as we learned from John Milhado, the key lies in having the right people at the other end of the line. It’s not just the early bird that catches the worm – it’s knowing how to catch it, too.