Did you know that more than half of consumers consider 24/7 communication a necessity for businesses and that consumer satisfaction with live customer service chat has been on the rise in recent years? At 83.1% as recently as 2018, it is the highest it’s ever been. Then there’s the fact that 42% of consumers prefer web chat to other modes of communication.
Most statistics show that web chat use is consistently growing in popularity so if it’s customer engagement you’re after, implementing web chat for your home services business is a must. But be aware without a plan in place to manage web chat communications, you won’t reap the rewards. Here’s what you’ll need to know before diving headfirst into the live chat website model for your business.
What Is Web Chat?
Out of the dozens of options available, web chat is just another means of exchanging messages over the internet. Web chat in a business context, however, is a way of directly interacting with current and potential clients through a web-based platform. Typically, the platform is used to provide customer service and support.
Let’s say you’ve set up web chat for support services on your website. Much like with a traditional phone support line, customers will use it to seek answers to any questions or technical problems they may be having involving your product or service.
Today web chat for customers isn’t limited to just technical support. You can incorporate it for other forms of customer service, such as a tool for building brand awareness or even as a means of boosting sales.
In fact, having a clear goal in mind, whatever that may be, when you implement web chat is what really helps net results. Before we delve too deeply into the “hows” of the matter, let’s take a closer look at why web chat has become so important.
Why Web Chat Matters
The current statistics on web chat should be enough to catch anyone’s attention. You already know that consumers who interact with live chats are generally pleased by the experience and the ability to contact your company at any time — day or night — is something consumers increasingly expect.
Beyond these intriguing details though, it’s also true that 44% of customers online have stated that live chat with a real person is one of the most important features a site can offer. 77% of customers refuse to make a purchase if they can’t use live chat on a site and 63% are more likely to make repeat visits to a site that has live chat options over than one that doesn’t.
Web Chat Benefits Customers
So what is it about web chat that has made it so popular? For starters, when customers have access to web chat features, they end up saving precious time. Emails can take days to answer, and with a phone call, customers run the risk of being put on hold. The average web chat response time, however, is about 46 seconds, according to the 2020 Live Chat Benchmark Report.
In addition to the time savings, customers also feel their time is more highly valued over chat, which, according to data from Forrester Research, is a factor that 73% of customers believe is the most essential element of customer service.
Live chat also allows customers to multitask while they’re interacting with customer support, giving them a greater degree of freedom than they’d enjoy with a phone call.
Web Chat Benefits Businesses
Web chat doesn’t just make the lives of your customers easier. Implementing web chat can also have clear benefits for your business — if you use it right.
By adopting web chat features, you’ll be reducing the number of phone calls and emails you have to field from customers. You reap the same time savings as your customers do, as you’re able to conduct support at a more rapid pace. This in turn frees up time for your employees to concentrate on other matters.
If you implement your web chat primarily for customer support, it can also help improve your brand image. On your website, chat features give customers an outlet for interacting with your brand and you get a chance to impress them with your brand’s voice and personality. To make the most of this opportunity, you’ll want to make sure those responding to customers are up to speed on essential chat etiquette and know how to represent your business in a consistent way.
Ultimately, as they work to provide speedy customer support and prompt answers to questions, your web chat agents will help you make more sales. Web chat engages users and users who are engaged stick around. If you’re prepared, you can retain these potential customers and direct them to whatever they might be interested in purchasing.
Implementing Chat Features for Your Business
There’s more to implementation than slapping up a chat box and hoping for the best. If you’re ready to take the plunge, you’ll need to do so with a plan for success.
In addition to designing your chat window to match the design and overall theme of your site, you’ll want to work out how your chat options will factor into your business’s sales funnel.
The sales funnel represents your customers’ journey from the discovery of your product or service to the end goal of making a purchase. Tuning your web chat for sales can make all the difference in moving leads further down that funnel and converting them into customers.
Of course, to make an impact like that via web chat, you’ll need to make sure employees are properly trained. Your live representatives’ personalities can make or break a customer’s perception of your brand, so ensuring they can maintain the right tone through text is an essential component to your success. Training for chat should be thorough and cover the importance of attitude.
Once everything is up and running, you’ll want to make sure you’re tracking the right metrics to improve the performance of your live chat services. There’s a whole host of KPIs out there, but generally speaking, you’ll want to keep track of some of the most important stats, including:
- Total number of chats per day
- Average wait time for customers
- Average chat duration
- First contact resolution rate
- Conversion rates
- Missed chats
- Customer satisfaction
Improving Your Engagements with Quality and Speed
Now, for the big question: how can you improve those chat engagements? Perhaps more than anything else, you’ll want to keep your response times quick while still providing value with every interaction. Customers don’t want to wait and in today’s on-demand economy, they don’t have to. While the average chat response time is about 46 seconds, a 30 second response time or less is a good goal.
While rushing responses, it’s also important to ensure that you’re delivering meaningful experiences with every exchange. While prioritizing values that satisfy customers, it’s important to understand the balance between quality and speed. Both are important and both must be used when conversing with a customer, no matter the communication channel. Be sure that one quality isn’t sacrificed for the other.
24/7 Availability and Coverage
Another way to make sure your customers are getting what they need is to ensure that your web chat has availability at all hours of the day. The longer a customer has to wait to hear from you, the more their interest will fade.
Imagine you’ve got a web chat for home services inquiries running on your website. You’ve opted not to provide 24/7 support for your chat, so there are large portions of the day when inquiries go unanswered. Eventually, those customers will get frustrated to the point where they take their business to a competitor who can provide a response.
If you implement live web chat, you’ll want to offer it for as long as possible throughout the day. However, that’s not practical for every business. It’s not easy to staff a 24/7 response team, even if it is just for web chat.
One option is to supplement your chat with bots when your employees aren’t available. Bots won’t be able to provide the breadth of service a live human can, but they’re still useful in predictable situations — providing answers to frequently asked questions and offering your customers a basic level of interaction.
Most customers loathe robotic, impersonal responses, however. They much prefer interacting with another human when the option is available — especially for more complicated issues.
So, a better solution for achieving 24/7 web chat availability might be to turn your live web chat services over to a third party who specializes in your industry and knows about your business needs. Using a third-party contact center provides the additional benefit of freeing up your internal resources to focus on your core business challenges.
If you want to catch every query and never miss a lead, you should check out Slingshot. We provide around the clock coverage for live web chat and other communication channels so you can enjoy the benefits of being a 24/7 business. After all, your customers never sleep, so why should your customer service?