There’s no arguing that customer service is critical in the online world and more and more often, having a multi-channel base to assist customers is the way to go. Live chat is an important piece of the multi-channel puzzle that can help you boost sales conversions. Watch for these upcoming webinars to learn more.
First, to work on improving engagement with a multi-channel strategy, register for this LogMeIn/AberdeenGroup webinar, with Sumair Dutta, Vice President and Principal Analyst for the Aberdeen Group and Ross Haskell, Director of Chat Products for LogMeIn. The free webinar will be presented from 2:00-3:00 p.m. Eastern US time on Wednesday, March 6, 2013. You’ll learn about trends in customer preferences, what you can do to establish a competitive differentiator, tips for driving the multi-channel strategy and more.
A good multi-channel strategy includes an effective live chat implementation. On Thursday, March 7, BoldChat and the e-tailing group will present a webinar all about boosting conversions with live chat. Find out how to maximize its effectiveness and turn prospects into buyers. This webinar delves into the research on Live Chat Effectiveness (now in its 5th year) to help you gain a better understanding of how Internet shoppers think. (A second webinar on Live Chat Effectiveness will also be held on March 27, watch this space for details when available.)
You may have read last month that Best Buy chose to ditch email support in favor of live chat. A brave move and, according to the article (on the STELLAService blog), it’s part of a strategy to overcome customer service problems that plagued the electronics retailer in the past.
So, as a live chat company we should be completely on board with a decision of this kind, right? Not necessarily. There are many factors at play that determine whether or not this would be a good idea. Consider the following.
What is your website visitors preferred way to contact you? It’s important to note a large percentage of consumers still choose email as their preferred method of contacting customer service. (Even if etailers aren’t particularly good at answering them.) Find out how your visitors want to contact you and then do it! And maybe add live chat as a compliment to email.
Do you have an email problem? For this instance, an email problem would mean a backlog of emails making it impossible to answer customer support inquiries in 24 hours or less. If so, removing it as a channel of communication only promises to transfer the problem to another channel – a channel that may require a more immediate response. In this scenario, the best way to solve an email problem is to manage email, not to ditch it altogether. When our customer, Vornado, mentioned delaying a case study with us because they needed to catch up on emails, we wouldn’t have dreamed of recommending that they get rid of email, but we did ask them to try out our email management tool.
Are you willing to commit resources to it? Simply adding live chat isn’t enough. Committing necessary resources to build the right tools and create an effective live chat implementation is imperative. There’s no shortage of live chat providers. You wouldn’t search for a phone system by finding out who was cheapest and you shouldn’t search for live chat that way either. Consider using a buyer’s guide or making a list of all the features you want. Make sure you find all the features you need, and then don’t buy on features alone. Honestly, there’s not much product differentiation among reputable live chat providers. Consider things like how the features are provided, the support, the focus on research within the chat industry and the value you get for the money. These things may cost a little more, but live chat is not a commodity. It’s a service.
Are you chat operators empowered? There’s no reason to offer live chat if you’re not going to give your agents the power to help customers. Nothing is more frustrating than having a company make chat available for a specific problem only to be told that the agent can’t help you with your problem. Or having a chat available after a tedious login, only to be told that the agent can’t access your account. Be sure your agents are empowered to actually solve problems for customers.
All of these points have one thing in common, they illustrate that when it comes to live chat, do your research, choose wisely, and listen to your customers. What communication channels do you make available on your website, and why?
In the US, people have begun the practice of writing daily during the month of November about something that they are thankful for – Thirty Days of Thanks, as it’s called. I’m not sure where it started, but I see it all over the place, in blogs, on Facebook, on Twitter and it can be a good practice. Of course, we have a day set aside a day on the fourth Thursday in November to give thanks and gather with friends and family, and we were glad to be home with ours, but it’s nice to truly acknowledge that we have a lot to be thankful for each and every day, not just one day of the year.
Being thankful in business is a good practice too, but I thought 30 days of thankfulness on a business blog was a bit much! Nevertheless, at BoldChat, we do have much to be thankful for. We’re thankful every day for the customers all over the world who give us the honor of serving them. This year, we’ve been especially happy to be part of LogMeIn (since January) and thankful that the transition has been amazingly headache free.
But November brought even one more reason to be thankful – BoldChat is an award recipient in the 2012 MarCom Awards competition. The MarCom Awards is an international creative competition that recognizes outstanding achievement by marketing and communication professionals and is administered by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals. BoldChat won platinum awards, the highest honor, in three categories: Research Study, for the 2012 Live Chat Effectiveness Study; Business-to-Business Websites, for the site among other B2B sites; and in Website Design for the BoldChat website as a whole. We received an additional gold award for the design of the home page of the BoldChat site.
The BoldChat Web Client, as we call it, allows BoldChat customers to login and take chats from any computer with an Internet connection. (Yes, even a Mac.) It’s not a replication of the original .NET client, but it is a great alternative for users with chat agents on computers that are not PC compatible. It’s been around for awhile and we’ve been gradually adding features to improve the functionality. If you’re a BoldChat customer and have never tried it, or if it has simply been awhile – give it a shot, login to your BoldChat account here. And, as always, if you have questions, simply click the “Chat Live Now” link on the HomeTab, in the upper right side.
These are only the most recent enhancements to the BoldChat Web Client:
Search Canned Messages functionality
Row Formatting Rules – Give yourself visual cues on chats depending on their status. For example, turn an entire row a yellow when a chat is unanswered.
Salesforce – The same functionality that’s been available in our PC client is now available in the web-based client. Agents can push BoldChat data into any type of Salesforce object.
Real-Time Spell Checking in 17 Languages
Email Chat Transcript - Visitors will often request that you send them a copy of the chat transcript, and while the visitor can do this themselves from the chat window itself, agents can also do it with the “Email this chat” button.
Pre & Post Chat Field View + View My Inactive – Using the Column Chooser, you can now add data captured in the pre-chat and post-chat fields to the data grid. Select the “my inactive chats” in the grid and you can get an at-a-glance view of how chatters are rating their experience with you.
Chat Assignment Tracking – In practice, chats are often escalated to another agent, transferred to another department, or auto-reassigned based on queuing rules. With the “Assignment History” button you can see the complete assignment history of a chat.
Version 7.3 adds several exciting features to the PC-based client too. If you’re a BoldChat user, expect enhancements that will add functionality to your chat search capability, allowing broader searching across pre-chat and post-chat fields. A new permissions section has been added that controls which operator names and department names appear and are selectable in certain areas. Chat assignment tracking, like in the web client, allows you to see the complete assignment history of a chat and a “Show My Inactive Chats” is now available in the grid drop down.
In BoldChat for Twitter Management, some changes were made to comply with Twitter’s new display requirements. Now, in BoldChat’s Twitter tool, clicking a hashtag will open the search sandbox and create a new search. The Twitter user avatar, name and @username references all link to open the user’s Twitter profile. Tweet timestamps are linked to a Tweet permalink. The “View in Browser” button icon (within a tweet) changed to display a standard Twitter logo icon.
These new features and enhancements are available immediately. To update to version 7.30 of BoldChat, go to Help > Check for Updates, this will open a browser window that tells you if it is time to update. (Or, simply go to our Downloads page and download the most current version.) Updates in the web client are available simply by logging in to the BoldChat web client.
Thanks to Jennifer Cline at Core3 Solutions for today’s guest post. When she’s not busy writing blog posts, chatting with customers, managing social media, or assisting in the marketing department at Core 3, Jennifer is a journalism student at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. We think she’s going places! Please enjoy her take on why BoldChat is the right choice at Core 3 Solutions and Quotegine.
Working at a technology agency, my coworkers and I are always researching the latest digital trends that can make Internet use easier for us and our clients. So, when we stumbled upon BoldChat, we decided to give it a try. We questioned if BoldChat would outperform the chat system that we were using for our two websites, Core3 Solutions and Quotegine, but we decided that the free trial was worth a shot.
At both of our companies, we pride ourselves on having great customer service. So, we were looking for a service that not only increased our customer service skills, but one that had the same passion for helping customers. We found that and more with BoldChat, so we have since started paying for its services. When a company begins using new software, there’s a certain learning curve involved. But we’re pleased that the BoldChat gang has been accessible anytime we have questions. We now utilize BoldChat for both companies on a daily basis and we’ve found that it’s an invaluable addition to the websites.
Here are just a few things that BoldChat’s system has done to make our business a happier place:
Multitasking at Ease
We are busy people with long to-do lists and not enough time in the day. While some companies can employ people for single duty of helping customers, around here we must multitask and perform our daily duties while operating the live chat. BoldChat is great for this. While we’re working on other tasks, BoldChat is always hanging out in the background. Both of our websites can be plugged into the same system, so it’s easy to manage. If a client utilizes the chat feature, we get a pop-up window and a sound to notify us. Additionally, the typing notification allows everyone in the chat to know when the other person is typing. So clients see when we’re working on a response for them.
One of our favorite features is idle detection. BoldChat knows when computers have gone idle. Chat managers can set the service to go offline if the computer has been idle for a particular amount of time. This is great for busy bodies who simply forget that their chat service is operating underneath their busy desktop. If you walk away from the computer, the chat system goes offline until you let it know you have returned.
A Better Understanding of our Customers
Understanding the behavior of website visitors can give us an improved understanding of how we can better serve them. Even if a visitor never initiates a chat, BoldChat can track and log a variety of analytics. Data can be seen in real time and is stored to create monthly reports. Some of the awesome things that BoldChat can track include: return customer vs. new, time on site, location of visitor and origin of visitors.
Every business has its own way of tracking things. Two of our favorite tracking systems are Google Analytics and Salesforce. We love that BoldChat embraces the usefulness of these systems, allowing customers to integrate the chat software into both. This makes tracking even easier! Combining BoldChat with Google Analytics and Salesforce gives us a real understanding of how well our websites are operating. If a customer stays on a certain page for a long time, we evaluate if it’s hard for them to utilize. When customers return frequently after entering on a particular page, we see that the page is effective. BoldChat can indicate which chat operators get the most conversions. This allows us to configure ways to improve conversion rates for less efficient operators. BoldChat’s analytics provide insights that help us to make improvements to our products and customer service practices.
With both of our companies, we let our personality shine in the online presence. It’s important that a company’s online representation is consistent. We love that there are so many customizable elements to BoldChat’s system. Because BoldChat windows are HTML-based, managers can create chat boxes that completely meet the brand’s personality. For people looking for a simpler approach, BoldChat offers hundreds of designs for chat buttons and windows that are ready to use. The color, size and font of text can also be changed to further complement the chat.
One way that BoldChat saves us time is with the canned messages feature. Chat managers can create answers to commonly asked questions. Then, agents can quickly deploy those responses to chatters when necessary. These canned messages can be completely customized to include any text, links, images required to provide a full answer to our clients. And to further ease the chatting process, BoldChat offers adaptive messaging, which will proactively identify appropriate canned messages based on the progression of the chat. BoldChat’s custom features allow us to add our personality to our chats and save us time in the process.
To remain competitive in our fast-paced, digital world, it’s imperative that companies constantly evolve to meet the needs of customers. In order to do that, businesses must tune in to what customers are saying. BoldChat is great at both of these things; just check out their Twitter or Facebook feed or blog comments. They proactively monitor and respond to customer comments. If a problem is mentioned, BoldChat’s team immediately gets to work to fix it. If a customer makes a suggestion for a tutorial, new feature or improvement, BoldChat notifies the appropriate team members and works to implement the suggestion. Nowadays, it’s not enough to simply create a great product. That product must grow with its customer base and embrace changes happening in the digital world.
There are countless chat services out there. They each offer a unique system for your company’s customer service. BoldChat has worked wonderfully for our companies and we couldn’t be happier.
Yesterday’s post and video related some of the success that the Orlando Magic has had with their live chat implementation, but if you’re still shopping around for a provider, you may be wondering, “But WHY did you pick BoldChat?”
What these businesses all have in common is they know that live chat works. When we talked to Joe Andrade, the senior director of ticket sales for the Orlando Magic, he shared information about the percentage of website visitors who buy after chatting with them (it’s more than you think), which big ticket items they’re buying, and why their sales reps like BoldChat!
But you don’t have to take our word for it, let him tell you all about it:
Proactive Chat, or the practice of inviting your website visitors to interact with you via chat, rather than waiting for them to act on the chat button themselves, isn’t a new practice, but some websites still shy away from it. But statistically, proactive chatters are six times as likely to buy than an average website visitor – SIX times!
Many liken a poorly done proactive invitation to the overeager retail sales clerk who immediately bombards you with “May I help you?” as soon as you enter the store.
But if that’s not the approach, how do you do it? What are the rules when it comes to inviting website visitors to chat? The truth is, there are no tried and true rules. Every website is different. Some don’t proactively chat at all, others seem to have a knack for it! But there are a few best practices that stand out:
Manual or Automatic? Within the realm of proactive chat there are choices to make. Manual or automatic is the first. For smaller websites with less traffic, sending invitations manually has several advantages, including the ability to track progress in real-time and make immediate changes based on that feedback. Websites with larger number of visitors generally benefit from the use of rules that will automatically send invitations to chat based on predefined website visitor behavior.
Timing – find the sweet spot for timing the invitation. You may benefit from a simple time on site invitation, or as mentioned above, you may need a combination of time plus visitor behavior, such as number of page views or previous site visits. Consider what you already know about the page that you’re placing the invitation on. Do visitors spend more time here or do they bounce away? Is this a natural area, such as a shopping cart page, where the visitor might have questions?
Don’t over-invite – In our study on Live Chat Effectiveness, receiving multiple invitations to chat on a single visit was one reason that consumers gave us that they’d left a website. Be sure to do your own testing and make sure the timing between invitations make sense. We do have customers who send multiple invitations during one visit, we wouldn’t go as far as saying that doing so is wrong, but it does require knowing your visitors and having a goal in mind for the proactive chat. If you’re inviting multiple times, do so with careful consideration of your audience.
Accept or decline – One of the things consumers love about chat is the feeling of control, that the experience is on their terms. Consider a chat invitation that has an option to accept or decline the invitation. No one wants to feel obligated to chat!
Don’t interrupt the shopping experience – Don’t use features that defeat the benefits of live chat. Another finding from Live Chat Effectiveness was that invitation behavior that “takes over the page” or otherwise interrupts their shopping experience is bad. So, an invitation that comes up, gets their attention and allows them to continue their business? Fine! But an invitation that forces them to click something before they can proceed and even greys out the page? We don’t recommend it.
Testing, testing, testing! As a best practice, we tell our customers that there is no place more important for testing than proactive invitations. With tools like BoldChat, you can even accomplish split-testing and reporting on your invitations right inside the interface. Be sure your chat tool allows you the flexibility to make changes to your implementation in real-time.
Hold the phone. Back that truck up. Did he say live chat was a bad idea for small business owners?
I read the article and immediately reached out to him on Twitter, with a series of three tweets. (One hundred forty characters is so hard when you’re passionate about something!) He responded, kindly disagreeing and holding firm. His position in the blog post is that live chat should be avoided by small business owners for two reasons:
Someone has to be behind a computer at all times lest you appear understaffed, and
You could easily forget that you have it activated, walk away and then no one answers the chats.
The answer, which was so very difficult to give in 140 characters, is that these problems can be fixed in two steps.
Deploy a chat button that simply disappears when you are offline. Or alternately, deploy a chat button that is replaced with an “email us” button when you are offline.
If you’re likely to forget you’re online and walk away, your chat implementation should have a setting that allows you to go offline if your computer is idle. (With BoldChat you can set the time in minutes that you’d like to go inactive after.) And when you go offline, rule #1 that your chat button disappears or turns into something else goes into effect.
These are both features that reputable live chat services should have, even at the lowest price points. So, if the live chat service you’re using isn’t able to do this, now is a good time to go shopping for live chat.
Sure, those are reasons to fix the problems he mentioned, but why have live chat in the first place? Business owners have to decide if having live chat on their website makes sense for themselves. But if your site has enough traffic to justify it, not having live chat can actually be detrimental.
What if we told you that 1 in 5 website shoppers prefers live chat over all other communication methods? That’s where the math comes in. If you’re counting, that’s 20% of website shoppers who would rather chat with you than call you or email you. And that 20% (we call them Live Chat Fans) are appealing shoppers. They’re more likely to be college-educated and they are 43% more likely to have spent $2,000 or more in a single transaction. They’re so appealing, we did a study to find out who they are.
We’ll leave the, “How to Run Customer Service for a Small Shop” part to Steve C. but the second part? Let’s make that “and Why Doing Live Chat Wrong is a Bad Idea.”
At BoldChat we follow online searches for our brand’s name and for terms like “live chat software.” Google is a handy tool for this. These terms come up on Twitter all the time too. At some point, I noticed the great number of people calling out either their love of, or their disdain for a live chat experience. So much that I started a folder on my desktop that I named, “Live Chat Fail,” and another, “Live Chat Win” with the intent of screen capturing these nuggets and revisiting their mistakes (or celebrating their win) with an occasional blog post — in fact, I still plan on doing that. But more recently, I started to notice a trend, the great number of people complaining that chatting with customer service was like talking to a robot. Case in point:
There are countless other examples, but you get the point. One culprit of this less than par experience? A feature present in most live chat providers – canned messaging. At BoldChat, we also boast a canned messaging tool. In some of our editions it’s even an “intelligent” feature that suggests messaging based on the current chat conversation. The point is, the feature is not to blame, the problem with these robotic responses is the approach. Canned messaging, whether it is for chat, as in the above example, or for a response in Twitter, should be used as a tool to get the job done, not a crutch to move you task to task. In the BoldChat UI, canned messages can be inserted, and then edited, shortened or expanded upon. The best practice around canned messaging is to use them to cut your response time, but before hitting send, be sure your message is relevant and makes sense considering the context of the conversation.
Nowhere is the ability to personalize each and every message more apparent than in social media. Social consumers tend to have an expectation for human interaction. Just a few short weeks ago, Progressive, the insurance company known for their amiable agent, Flo, came under fire when a family member of one of their insured criticized them via a blog post which then went viral, leading to hundreds, if not thousands of angry tweets. The company responded via Twitter, which at first seemed genuine, unless you took at look at their page, which looked something like this:
So, the lesson to take away here is not only about the way that Progressive handled such as emotional issue, but also in how they responded to the countless people who communicated to them.
If there’s a message that you are constantly sending, step back and take a look. Are you doing the robot?