Having relationships with your website visitors, leads, and customers is more important than you think.
A relationship can provide a website visitor with the trust needed to become a lead. It can create the emotional connection that nudges a lead into becoming a valued customer.
And a relationship with your customers? Well, that can be beneficial for a couple of reasons (as well as the warm fuzzy feeling it gives you inside):
- Relationships increase loyalty. Loyalty keeps customers spending their money with you. In fact, on average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.
- Relationships make for open communication. Open communication means that you get real, actionable feedback which allows you to turn negatives around (and increase the positives) and sell more of your products and services to more people.
- Relationships encourage word of mouth marketing. And 74% of consumers identify word-of-mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decision… making customer testimonials a great addition to any landing page.
In theory, your customers should be benefiting from the relationship, too… that’s why they’re in the relationship.
It could be that you provide something that other companies don’t, because being loyal to you means they get to take advantage of early releases or because they enjoy the fact that you treat them like a friend!
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work to maintain your relationship. However, the word of mouth, repeat purchases, and insightful feedback of existing customers is priceless.
So why use live chat to maintain relationships? For one, customer satisfaction rates are far higher than phone and email and super fast response times mean that any bad experience can be quickly turned around. Just try chatting to Instapage’s live chat agents or accessing their expanded knowledge base and see how helpful it can be!
In fact, you can proactively support customers on your website before their problem really materializes.
Second, live chat can be a channel for speaking to customers personally — for creating an interaction to remember. And if customers feel loyal to you, it’s likely that they’ve had some emotional connection or personal interaction to remember along the way.
And that’s an experience that agents have the ability to create every time a prospect, lead, or customer visits your website and needs a helping hand.
So, how exactly do you go about maintaining customer relationships with live chat?
I’m here to give you four awesome, actionable tips for you to use with your current online live chat service.
1. A marriage of digital and people (part 1)
Live chat works so well at keeping customers happy because it brings together the best aspects of digital service and traditional service.
You get the efficiency of digital interactions and the warm, personal interactions of real people. Customers get quick help, but they don’t have the anguish of talking to a robot. That’s the kind of marriage that you know will go the distance — as long as you use them in the right balance.
Take a look at the example below showing a combination of a chat system but operated by a real human being (John Powers):
To make proper use of digital efficiency, use proactive live chat to interact with customers as soon as they come looking for help or even before they realize they need it. A couple of suggestions when it’s appropriate to send a customer a live chat invite:
- They’ve viewed multiple help pages on the same topic
- They’ve taken longer than the average visitor to complete a checkout page
- They’re clicking between product options (clearly unsure on which is right for them)
These proactive invites are easy to set up in most live chat softwares and allow you to personalize that first programmed invite to the customer’s specific situation, like this one from LiveChat:
Their great advantage is the ability to cut down the time it takes for a valued customer, that has encountered a problem, to get a resolution that will keep them happy. Don’t overdo proactive live chat though (an invite, say, every 3 seconds is a big no-no), sometimes reactive live chat is the most suitable solution.
2. A marriage of digital and people (part 2)
Quick customer service responses make most people happy. The efficiency of digital isn’t much use if the interaction that follows is unproductive or a little soulless.
That’s where the human element of live chat comes in.
Robots never actually seem like real people because they aren’t. We’re still trying to crack Artificial Intelligence for instance (Microsoft’s Tay fell a little flat), and it certainly isn’t close to providing conversations full of personality, charm, and human intuition.
And sadly, customer service agents often don’t seem like real people either, because they are forced to follow a rigid script. Customers want to feel appreciated and generic, robotic responses don’t instill this feeling. That’s why those proactive invites should be personalized to a specific scenario not served up like a canned response.
Encourage your agents to let their personalities shine through the keyboard. To keep a relationship, customers want more than a solution to their problem. They don’t want you to come across as, “here’s the answer, now be gone”. They want to know that you care.
Take this chat excerpt from one of our engagement ring designer clients as an example:
You need your live chat agents to be chatty and personable but don’t go wasting your customer’s time with irrelevant conversation. Match the customer’s tone and if it suits your brand, don’t be afraid to joke around with them a little. After all, these are the brand experiences that keep them coming back.
Live chat is so great at keeping customers happy (and maintaining those important relationships) because of the marriage between digital and people. Don’t fail at offering a human touch after you’ve reached out just when they need you.
3. Accuracy as well as speed
So far you’ve nailed speed of response and friendliness with live chat, but now for the most important element of any customer service channel: providing useful answers to customer questions.
This should be the primary requirement of any channel. Customers shouldn’t have to jump through hoops or do any extra work just to get your help or a useful solution to their problem. Keep customers happy and that relationship strong with the first contact problem resolution.
If you ever need to reach out to Instapage for support (through phone, chat or email) they’ll do everything they can to solve your problem in a pain-free manner. They offer live chat 18 hours per day Monday through Friday and available to answer help tickets 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
They value their customers — it’s just common sense to do all they can to help.
Chat does come with the advantage of being able to rewrite before you hit send (so you can perfect your response) but agents still need to be armed with the knowledge and resources to provide helpful support.
Put your live chat agents in a strong position with a thorough (and well organized) internal knowledge base. Make sure they can answer almost any question under the sun about your product or service… and make sure they have a clear escalation process for providing a solution if the day arrives when they don’t have an answer.
Don’t just throw new live chat agents into the fire without some initial training on your knowledge base, though. Make sure that agents can use the resource efficiently and are relaying knowledge correctly (test chats with a manager are a great way of doing this).
In fact, don’t forget to regularly check agents’ abilities to use the knowledge base efficiently. At The Chat Shop, we carry out a quality assurance process each week, where we get agents to score chats on metrics such as the ability to correctly apply knowledge, friendliness, and speed of response.
Your customers won’t be happy if something goes wrong, but you should be able to keep them satisfied with quick, friendly, and accurate responses.
4. Customer openness: your advantage
Loyal customers are pretty responsive. Unlike customers who have only just started buying from you, they are more than likely to speak up when they aren’t happy. If you’ve underperformed their expectations, get ready to hear about it.
Although a disappointed customer is never a good thing, that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of a bad situation. If an unhappy customer comes to chat, solve their problem, but then use their openness to your advantage.
In fact, customers (old and new) are usually far more open on live chat compared to other customer service channels. It’s a little informal, and although they are speaking to someone directly, the sense of anonymity lets them tell you the truth.
So... get encouraging customers to open up. Ask them for details on their experiences, why these turn of events occurred and what you could have done better. Don’t just ask them these questions, listen to what they have to say.
There could be some real gems in their responses that could be used to tweak your product or service to make loyal customers even happier and to attract more new customers.
Give your live chat agents a clear channel for recording this feedback (hint: a CRM integration is perfect for this, but you can also use tagging in your live chat software). Take this one step further and make sure that managers understand the importance of actioning customer feedback.
Above all else, keep customers happy
Not surprising, the best method for maintaining relationships with customers is keeping them happy. Go figure.
If you’re using live chat (or considering using live chat), then you have a secret weapon at your disposal. Keeping customers happy means providing quick, friendly, and accurate responses — something that live chat happens to do fantastically (as long as you deploy it correctly using the tips above).
To maintain that loyalty customers have with you, you’ve got to make sure they still love the products and services you provide. Enter the openness of customers on live chat and you put what they say into action.
That all sounds like a pretty awesome customer experience in return for that relationship. I’ve got a feeling that they’ll stick around for a long time.
About the author
Miles is Content Manager at The Chat Shop, producing insightful content that allows companies in an array of industries to increase their sales and make customers happy. Find out more about real conversations and live chat at The Chat Shop.