Before You Add Live Chat to Your Website, Read This Guide
Pretty much CMO at Charm
Ah, the live chat ding. 🔔
You can almost hear it, can’t you?
It’s supposed to alert you the moment your support rep is ready to help you… that is, unless you forgot to unmute your sound, oops!
It’s easy to see why nearly every company has hopped on the live chat support bandwagon.
Live chat promises huge benefits:
- Faster response times
- 24/7 support
- … and Customer Love!
But that’s not all!
Live chat is even purported to reduce cart abandonment, increase customer satisfaction, and lower employee fatigue, according to a guy who runs a CRO agency.
So it’s no wonder you might be considering adding live chat support to your website. But hold on.
Before you install a Live Chat support app, here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself:
- Does live chat support really deliver the benefits promised?
- Are there negatives to using live chat on my website?
- What are some live chat alternatives?
To answer these questions let’s first look at the pros and cons of using live chat for support in general.
The Pros and Cons of Live Chat Support
👍 PRO – Installing Live Chat Software IS Easy
The complexity can vary slightly based on the specific software – but for the most part it’s as simple as:
- Hit refresh and within seconds your chat widget starts working and showing up for customers.
- Have your support team usually logs in to the dashboard and starts interacting with customers from there.
In fact, this easy setup isn’t unique to live chat software.
MOST customer support software works this way, whether or not it’s chat-based. For example, our new email-based customer support app, Charm, takes about 15 seconds to get up and running, following a very similar process.
👍 PRO – Some Customers Expect Live Chat
A lot has been written about todays consumer’s desire for instant gratification. (Yuck.)
Live chat definitely plays into this. Certain customers will choose live chat over other options due to the perception that they will receive faster service.
Call centers, social media, and even email may have the stigma of being slower in some customers minds.
As such, live chat (especially with the use of bots to send automatic responses) positions itself as a faster solution for customers in need of support.
Beware, however, live chat messages are expected to be answered in less than a minute, which requires sufficient staffing to deliver.
👎 CON – Harder to Actually Deliver Faster, High-Quality Service
According to Kayako, 47% of consumers haven’t had a positive live chat experience in the past month.
… And that’s coming from research done by a live chat software company!
There’s no getting around it. Businesses are struggling to provide great customer service. Not only are new live chat support tools not helping, they’re probably the biggest reason why.
Be aware that it is extremely difficult to scale up a live chat support system when growing your business.
No amount of bots or auto-responses will help. In fact these features often make it easier for vital details to slip through the cracks, all under the guise of automation.
The result is customers receive lackluster service, where they need to repeat themselves over and over as live chat increases the chance of error. Like getting disconnected, or forgetting they have the *ding* sound off, or millions of other live chat possibilities.
That’s a big flaw in live chat’s core design. It promises instant communication to customers that might be impossible for your organization to deliver.
You are fulfilling a genuine promise to the customer; so be sure to only offer products or services that can realistically be delivered. – Disney Institute
This alone is enough to give me pause about recommending live chat support, especially if you’re a small operation.
👎 CON – Live Chat Automation Feels Fake
Perhaps an even more concerning downside comes with the presence of bots and scripted responses. Customers are well in-tune with what’s genuine and what isn’t. So even if your pre-written replies are awesome, your customers will likely still notice they’re fake.
Once that veil has been lifted, it’s hard to put the genie back in the bottle. (See, you can’t script that.)
It’s hard to offset the expectancy of immediate responses and give every message a personal touch. You also have to be ready at any moment for bursts of user activity.
And if your customer demographic skews older, then it’s very likely they’d prefer contacting you via phone or email.
Your business might not be right for Live Chat Support
A few more negatives to live chat support:
- More difficult to identify customers
- More likely to ask for and therefore expose personal and private data
- More support staff required
Systems and automation definitely have a role to play in customer service but they can’t feel automated. Not when it comes to service. That’s why for most businesses I recommend something else.
What is the Best Alternative to Live Chat Support as a Main Support Channel?
If live chat’s biggest pro is that it’s perceived as being fast, you should know that Kayako found the following data to be true:
95% of customers value thorough, high-quality support more than speed
That means that “traditional” customer service channels, like phone, email, social networks, and self-service knowledge bases are just as capable of providing a great experience.
Our favorite, and the one we chose to focus our software around is email.
We find email can save time and simplify the process by cutting out unnecessary paths and bringing everything to your inbox.
This has several benefits, including:
- Increased productivity
- Workflow transparency
- Better team collaboration
- One platform for everything
This is nothing new as thousands of businesses rely on email to run their customer support. Why do you think that is?
It’s always going to be important to ensure a real support person enters the picture quickly. But email is the only solution that actually helps you create a sane process that allows that to happen.
How You Can Make Email Support Beat Live Chat
So how can you ensure customers don’t have to wait when using email ticketing for your business? Think about how you can give your employees more authority.
At Disney Institute, when it comes to delivering quality customer service, we believe speed is critical to recovery, and is best achieved by the maximum possible delegation of authority.
To get more out of email based support here are some tips:
- Use autoresponders and canned replies when appropriate. Similar to using bots in live chat, you can get back to your customers immediately when they send an email. This lets them know that their request has been received and that a real person will be with them in due course.
- Like always, be genuine and transparent when automating your replies. Thank the customer for their message, tell them how long they can expect to wait and link to any relevant FAQs or guides when appropriate.
- Use time-based email alerts to keep service reps from leaving messages behind. Templates and text shortcuts go a long way, too. Again, you need to keep it human and personalized. Use names instead of “madam/sir” sentiments and be sure to give your agents a name and face as well.
There will inevitably be situations where your support breaks down, that’s why recovering and building review process is ultimately more important than what software you use.
But that one’s easy too.