One of the most defining characteristics of any company into a direct customer contact ecosystem is the efficiency at which it handles customer queries and more importantly, complaints. On one hand, it helps prospective customers to make a more informed choice and make the interaction a tad more personalised, on the other hand, it gives the businesses the opportune customer attention to try and sell their product and make a sales pitch. It certainly is a win-win for both. The problem, however, is that first, the sheer logistics of providing each customer with a dedicated customer service personnel at all times is expensive, impractical in a globalised market and can cause unpredictable delays in addressing issues and queries.
Since efficient and proactive customer care is emerging as the single most important differentiator between how the various companies are perceived, the companies, on their hand had to come up with a solution that was cost-effective, proactive and provided quick resolutions to the customer’s queries, complaints and suggestions. The solution came in the form of a unique customer interface, the Live Chat option. This option where the customer visiting a website is proactively offered support and assistance in real time through a chat window and was engaged in a knowledgeable and decisive conversation that can be beneficial to both the parties and save time and effort too. In its most basic form, a live chat software is a SaaS medium that engages the website visitors and provides them with suggestions and solutions in real time and with great precision.
Over the last many years, the online customer has become more and more discerning and there is a general increase in the level of awareness and expectations from a brand in terms of active customer service. According to a survey by American Express, more than 3/4th of customers end up not making a purchase because of poor customer service experience. That probably sums up just how important the customer handling process is becoming. Due to the ever increasing competition in the online sales space and due to the fact that many businesses are now operating in a virtual atmosphere and engaged clients from across the world, more and more businesses are now opting for the live chat support function to give that slight edge to their customer service and to satisfy the existing customers while making new ones. The phenomenon of increasing demand of the online chat has a set of strong data points in support of the fact. According to US-based ICMI (International Customer Management Institute), chat volumes are projected to grow at a rate of 24% from 2014 to 2018. Another data pointer points to the direction of the increasing popularity of the live chat as a medium of customer interaction with 42% customers using chat as compared to 23% for email. Also, live chat has the highest satisfaction levels with 73% as compared to 61% of email and only 44% of phone communication.
What makes Live Chat Software ‘different’
It was not very long back that the only way to receive post sale customer care was either to physically visit the sales outlet or to just be dependent on the inefficient and unpredictable telephone call centres that were notorious for long hold times, inconsistent information and had customer dissatisfaction ratings shooting through the roof. The live chat software, although not perfect, have been able to tackle many of those predicaments with great success. Apart from being an out of the box alternative that is refreshing, personalised and real time, it also gave the customer the chance to keep browsing the web or referring to the chat at the same time. Also, it gave an opportunity to the customer to be able to receive help at any time of the day or night, from any corner of the world and it also gave the businesses an opportunity to increase their website footfalls and try and upsell their products and showcase their innovations. In that sense, the live chat software can prove to be an extremely effective and practical sales strategy with a minimum customer acquisition cost, a long duration of customer attention and instant feedback.
An Effective Sales Strategy
Live chat software can be utilised as an extremely useful sales strategy. The following pointers can be considered towards explaining the positive impact of the live chat on the overall sales strategy:
- Live chat provides convenience to the Customer: There is no denying the fact that in today’s market, the customer is the king. To that end more and more businesses want to engage the customers before their competition does and the live chat software does a brilliant job out of that. It is extremely convenient for a customer to access immediate help and have their problems or queries sorted out before they make a purchase decision, the absence of which would have probably resulted in the decision being postponed or abandoned. According to a survey by Forrester Research, 44% of online customers responded by saying that online chat is among the most important features that they look out for while making a purchase decision.
- Increases Sales: There is enough data available that points out that companies have been able to drive their sales effectively and efficiently by leveraging the features of the online live chat platforms. First, by offering immediate and proactive help in product selections and explanation of features the businesses have been able to tap the potential of up selling their products. Secondly, through improved customer experience and satisfaction, the customer loyalty has also seen a noticeable uptick. According to happyfoxchat.com, 62% of online shoppers were more inclined to shop if live chat service was available and 38% said that they bought the products online due to a helpful live chat session.
- Improved Competency: According to various data available, customers are more likely to come back to a website that has been able to offer a productive live chat experience. In data published by happyfoxchat.com, more than 60% of the customers have responded by saying so. It gives the business a definite edge and advantage over its competition and makes them more competitive, competent and efficient, hence driving sales.
One of the bellwethers of any sales data is the conversion ratio of the prospective customers to the completed sales. With the help of a web chat session, companies can dramatically improve their conversion rates which generally are between a dismal 1-5 % of total leads. There are many tools to effect that strategy such as:
Personalised chat greetings: Providing a personalised, proactive and pleasant chat greeting puts the customer at ease and helps him/ her ask more questions and suggestions. This can be effectively used by smart salespeople towards converting the leads into real sales.
Providing customised real-time options: One of the most effective strategies to convert leads is to customize the product or service as per the specification of the customer. An online chat support system provides the sales personnel with the resources and opportunity to do just that and clench the sales more effectively.
Access to customer data: Many online chat software captures visitor data and the sales personnel can have a head start in trying and convincing the customer for a sales consideration since they are already aware of the customer preferences and personal data that can help them understand the customer requirements better.
Vital Points You Can’t Afford to Miss
Although it is a definite no brainer that an effective live chat support strategy will be immensely helpful in increasing the sales of any organisation, there certainly are certain points that must be kept in mind to derive most benefit out of this useful resource. Some of these points are:
Know your business: A customer is looking for a particular product on your website. He also has multiple other options. How effectively you can convince him/her to choose your products over others will depend on how well you know your own product and offerings at the same time understanding how the products can be best customised for the individual customer.
Empathy: The chat support personnel should try and put themselves in the shoes of the customer and try and completely understand the needs, requirements and the expectations of the customer before trying to offer any product or service. It is crucially important that the customer’s expectations are met and bettered in order to be able to complete successful sales and to have a returning customer.
Don’t be pushy: Being proactive is one thing, but often these days one finds a continuous bombardment of pushy messages which are a turn-off and can irritate the customer. It must be understood that whereas the customer might be interested in a product you want to sell or pitch, essentially he has visited your site for something he already wants. This should be respected and in the absence of non-verbal communication, an enhanced polite approach should be adhered to.
As is evident from the detailed discussion above, the live chat software offers best customer support initiatives that an organisation can offer to its customers. It can help the business in creating happier customers, reduce the query handling times and certainly provide an opportunity to improve the sales through up-selling and out of the box sales strategies. At the same time, however, it must be appreciated that a live chat is essentially non-verbal communication and proper training and guidelines must be formulated and adhered to while interacting with the prospective or present customers through a live chat medium.