Those of us at BoldChat are, not surprisingly, big fans of live chat. We love this technology not just because we make it, but because we know how powerful it can be for businesses. Put simply, live chat works. As consumers, we love it for the same reason – it’s efficient while simultaneously putting the chatter in the driver’s seat of the conversation. I personally prefer live chat above any other method for communicating with Internet merchants. We describe “live chat fans” in our annual Live Chat Effectiveness research and, without a doubt, I am one.
Except when I’m not.
Despite my love of the technology – how easy and fast it is to get my questions answered – even I know that the technology is the easy part. Without a properly trained and empowered agent on the other end the experience is almost not worth having.
Here’s proof – an actual chat I had just a few days ago. Note the date and time of the chat – it’s Saturday at around ten in the morning.
So here’s 7 minutes I can’t get back. Oh, and there’s a new membership this merchant didn’t get. Why this particular chat software didn’t auto-correct the spelling error is beyond me, but I actually don’t mind it. That error is about the only thing that tells me I was speaking to an actual person. Given the way this chat was going I half-expected that I was chatting with a bot.
These types of interactions depress me. While I applaud this merchant for deciding chat is a channel they want to offer, they must be scolded for not providing their agents with what they need to succeed. This wasn’t, thankfully, my first chat experience. If it had been, I doubt I’d ever try it again.
How many of your chats lead to a sale? How many visitors download your newest piece of collateral? Which of your operators have the highest close rates?
If you’re using BoldChat, you can easily find out the answers to these questions through our proprietary conversion tracking. Find out more about conversion tracking and the edition it’s available in here, on our website.
Conversion tracking is HTML-based and allows you to set up a wide variety of desired website actions and track them in relation to your live chat or click-to-call implementation. Two views of conversion data are provided – a grid view which allows at-a-glance performance analysis, and the inclusion of the metrics into the reporting engine. Conversion tracking passes value information and shared operator data enabling accurate commissioning of agents.
Earlier this month, we released our Live Chat Performance Benchmarks report. An updated version of our 2009 report, it queried the anonymized data of our customer base, including tens of millions of chat records, hundreds of millions of website visit records and billions of unique page URL recorded visits. BoldChat has access to one of the largest live chat communities in existence. This massive base of real-world data allowed us to extract the findings presented in the document.
A sample of the results featured in the report:
Chatters are 7.5 times more likely to convert than visitors who don’t chat. Up from 4.1 in 2009.
Chatters that engage via proactive invitation are 8 times more likely to convert than visitors who don’t chat. Up from 6.3 in 2009.
Chatters spend about 55% more per purchase than non-chatters.
Proactive invitations appear to be critical for higher traffic websites. Among these sites, proactive invitations had an average acceptance rate of 9.7%.
Websites in the top 20% for post-chat survey satisfaction scores had a 266% greater change to convert a chatter than an average site.
We originally published this piece in January 27, 2009, but it still rings true today.
There might be a temptation to run some reports on your live chat implementation and hand those out, showing who has had the most conversions, who types the fastest, who took the most chats, etc. But quantity of interaction is only one of the benefits you can garner from using live chat.
You probably ignore that voice that says “calls may be recorded for quality purposes” – that’s because call centers have been working on quality for years. Live chat should be no different.
Creating a Chat Quality Assurance program isn’t hard or overly time-consuming. I’ve done it several times over the years. Done well, it not only improves the quality of your interactions with your customers, it can give you a chance to salute your high performers and use incentive systems to boost morale. It’s a win, win, win.
The best part about implementing a program is how much easier it is with live chat than in a call center. In a call center you either have to listen realtime and score the call or you have to have recording and playback capability. Then, if you provide feedback, if you don’t have the call recorded, it can easily be a he-said/she-said about what happened on the call. In live chat the entire interaction is all there and you can coach on tone, timing, inquisitiveness, accuracy, professionalism, closing skills – or any other elements critical to organization. You will find that providing feedback to your agents on their chat performance is faster, easier, more accurate, and less prone to misinterpretation.
To get started, follow these easy steps.
Create a matrix of the 10-20 elements you really want your agents to get right. Include some simple-yet-essential elements such as greeting and closing as well as some subjective elements that will help you mold the voice your want your agents to represent you with.
Assign a number of points possible for each element. (Hint: if you make the total equal 100, the paradigm will be easier for agents to connect to).
Decide how many chats you will review per agent and how frequently you will review them. (Hint: 2-3 chats per day is not too much feedback; 2-3 per month isn’t really a program – shoot for something in the middle).
Create a simple recognition program in which everyone one who achieves gets rewarded. You want all your customers to have a great experience, so don’t dis-incent all the non-top-agent by only rewarding one prize.
Make the incentives fun, inexpensive, and quickly rewarded. Certificates, coupons, mugs, food, etc.
Review the program with the agents so they understand how the program works and what matters to you.
Salute excellence weekly or monthly for all who qualify and also with a quarterly award that gets lunch paid for by the boss. You can also try to get an executive to agree to take your annual star to lunch. One of the best ways I ever got the corner office to understand the value of what agents were doing was when they took one to lunch!
Quality was important years ago when call centers started recording and scoring calls for training – in today’s ecommerce world of many available options, quality can be the single biggest difference and the one you have the most control over.
Make sure your live chat tool keeps chat histories and allows your supervisors to make notes to the agent about them within the chat record – enabling you to focus on the quality critical to your success with your customers and prospects.
Get started now, it will only take a couple of hours to craft and short period of time each day or week.
It makes sense that a company who’s been helping individuals organize their personal spaces since 1997 would be interested in live chat.
Organize-It, an online retailer of storage and organization products, now offers customer service support via live chat in addition to their 24/7 phone support. Like BoldChat, Organize-It is committed to making customer service more accessible and to continuously increasing the quality of service offered.
“Within hours of implementing live chat we were receiving questions from customers and effortlessly addressing their issues,” said Catherine Parent, Senior Customer Service Representative at Organize-It.
Organize-It General Manager Chris Nylen is also excited about the expanded hours and the new communication channel. “Live chat offers an immediate and personal connection with our customers,” said Nylen.
“Having live chat is a sign that a business is genuinely dedicated to the highest levels of service both before and after the sale,” said Ross Haskell, Director of Marketing for BoldChat. “Our research shows that once a consumer uses the technology, they start looking for it everywhere they shop. We are pleased that Organizeit.com has embraced our live chat solution as a way to actively engage their website visitors.”
In the fast-paced and ever-changing world of ecommerce, meeting the demands of consumers is a key to success. Organize-It is one ecommerce company that gets it!
Embrace rejection? No, thanks. She sums it up well by making this point: if you embrace rejection as a part of the job and quickly move on to make the next call, you’re doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over.
As the author points out, when you learn from your interaction, your approach will change and your results will change. So, let’s take a look at that underlying lesson. If you were to contact customers who canceled your service, returned your company’s product or otherwise dealt you a hearty serving of rejection, what do you think they would say to you? What would they say about your product or service?
On a regular basis, I call customers who cancel service. I ask them about their experience as a customer, how chat is/was used at their company. I ask them if there were any specific experiences that made them cancel service. We learn a lot about our customers from these conversations.
But, just as important, we recently surveyed our active customers. Because if customer experience is important (and it is) there are really two sides to the story: how former customers say we did and how current customers say we are doing! For a peek at the results of our annual Customer Satisfaction Survey, visit our Customer Support page.
When Blue Soda Promo spun off from its parent company, they took BoldChat with them. The brand was launched in 2010 and though still in beta stage, the website is live and they are taking orders for more than a million promotional products. Based on revenue, Blue Soda Promo is already ranked as one of the top 50 distributors of promotional products in the United States.
Blue Soda Promo focuses on small to medium sized businesses who want to order with a few clicks of the mouse. This behavior is a great match for live chat.
Before live chat software, customers would call the company or use a “contact us” form. Now, at www.BlueSodaPromo.com, 85% of leads are from chat. In fact, something as simple as adding proactive chat has increased the company’s total chat volume by about 45%.
According to Tej Shah, Director of eCommerce at Blue Soda Promo, “Customers who bought from us starting with proactive chat, convert at almost 11 times the rate of those who don’t chat with us. There are a variety of factors that need to be considered when weighing reactive chat vs. proactive chat, but I would say we’ve seen an approximate 20% increase in our conversion rate.”
And the way Tej sees it, they’ve been using it for a few years and haven’t yet used all the capabilities that are offered to them. This will allow them to continue to increase their engagement rate without spending additional dollars. And looking forward, there’s plenty of opportunity to expand their capabilities, like taking advantage of BoldChat’s integration with SalesForce or using the built-in email management functionality.
This “not your typical promotional products company” has been described as having ridiculously good customer service. We like the sound of that and hope you do to. In fact, why not try them out? Place an order through their site using the code: BOLDCHAT and experience it yourself!
For most businesses, the holiday season means more than untangling that bundle of twinkle lights and stringing them up in a display of holiday cheer.
I listened to a webinar recently on preparing your retail business for the holidays. It featured a great case study by a big box retailer and had a lot of valuable information… on how you should have started months ago. There were some great pointers, but I wondered if it left anyone else wondering, “But what about this year? What can we do NOW?”
There should always be something you can do now. In a recent survey conducted by BoldChat, our customers indicated the following website changes in support of the upcoming holiday season:
1. Moderate Design Changes
2. Site Navigation
3. Landing Pages
4. Optimization of live chat / Site search (tie)
5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts.
It is true, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the biggest shopping days of the year and there is no doubt that it pays to plan far in advance and have a strong sales period leading into the holiday season. But we’re delighted to see live chat top of mind in preparing for the holidays, even ahead of SEO.
Looking specifically at live chat optimization, among companies that use live chat, these areas are where they focus their attention in preparing for the holidays:
And if you haven’t added live chat to your site, focus your attention there to start. A live chat implementation takes minutes to install and gives you instant access to customers who are on your site now.
An inspiring story for any marketer is the oft-cited, and still partially utilized Avis tagline, “We’re #2 – We Try Harder,” the first incarnation of which was introduced in the 1960s. The idea was to portray the company as delivering superior service in comparison to its competitors – especially its #1 competitor, Hertz. The successful campaign worked and remains today a solid example of “positioning.”
I’m unsure if anybody ever tried the “We’re #3 – We Try Hardest” approach or even the “We’re #4 – Bordering on Desperation” angle, but it makes a nice blog headline so perhaps we’re #1 in the #3 game. In any case though, it’s also true. Internet Retailer Magazine has listed us among the top three live chat/click-to-call vendors based on the number of Top 500 Retailers we serve. This is a proud accomplishment for us for two reasons. In just one year, the number of Top 500 e-retailers that decided to place their trust in us went up by over 100%. That’s right; we more than doubled it. You don’t do that by trying hard. Or even harder. You’ve got to try hardest to do that.
The second reason we think this news is momentous is because at the same time we grew, we’ve been able to maintain a superlative level of high-touch customer care. We’ve increased our staff, made technology investments, and recently launched a new support portal on our website all aimed at delivering tailored, hands-on care to all of our customers.
The best accomplishment of all isn’t that we doubled our Internet Retailer Top 500 customers, it’s that one of them recently told us, “I love working with the people at BoldChat – it’s just a pleasure.”
It’s comments like that that make us work so hard. The hardest, actually.
In the past, when asked about a live chat solution for Mac users, the most we could offer was the possibility of using BootCamp with Windows or running a program like Parallels. With the availability of the new BoldChat Web Client, new possibilities are opening up.
With the BoldChat Web Client, the operating system is not a problem. Access to the Internet and a standard web browser like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome or Safari give live chat agents everything they need to log in to their account and begin taking chats. A PC will still be required to perform most set-up functions, but the basics of taking chats and monitoring visits are possible from any computer.
Being cross-platform is just part of the beauty of the Web Client. With a look and feel similar to our desktop client, it’s designed to reduce training costs. Agents have all the in-chat tools they’ve come to rely on like auto-spell checking and push page. To access the Web Client, existing users can simply go to the BoldChat website, click the link to Web Interface Login in the page header and then use their existing login credentials.
The web client is available immediately to all BoldChat customers using any edition of the live chat product. To learn more, visit the BoldChat website and engage in a live chat with a product specialist 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.