We wanted to share some insight with you on how we make sure every live chat implementation is a success...and thought who better to do it than an Account Manager like myself?
There’s many important steps involved in getting live chat and live chat agents set up on a new website. Agents need to have the right knowledge to handle visitor enquiries. Key metrics must be set to gauge the success of live chat. Quality assurance and training processes must be in place to ensure that visitors receive a consistent, high quality service.
So this post gives you a sneak peek behind the scenes of how we implement live chat. Hopefully it will show you how thorough our process is (basically how much hard work I do!) and give you a few tips for successfully implementing live chat in-house...if you’ve chosen to go it alone.
1. Know your stuff
“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” Albert Einstein
You can’t launch live chat on a website until all of your agents fully understand the business, website, products/services and visitor needs. Our agents take on a lot of knowledge before they start chatting for each of our customers; without the right knowledge, how can you expect agents to answer questions correctly?
That’s not the only understanding that we need before going live. Account Managers and Team Leaders need to understand the overarching strategy of live chat, how visitors interact with the website, what promotions need to be pushed, what are the key values of the client, what tone do they use when speaking to customers...and much much more. To convert website visitors, deliver 98% customer satisfaction and receive glowing feedback, your service really needs to shine. You have to go far beyond customer expectations.
Gaining knowledge about a client isn’t just a case of compiling a massive list of FAQs for our agents to fire off. We train our agents (more on training later) to have real conversations. Your agents (like ours) need to understand how to solve problems, how to provide awesome product recommendations and how to convert visitors.
How do you do this? Compile information from a vast number of channels and disseminate it to your team through thorough training. Easy peasy...right?
Here’s just some of the steps involved in our Knowledge Transfer Process with customers - have you considered the breadth of information required to implement live chat effectively?
- Introduction call: understanding the key goals of what live chat will achieve on the website
- Collecting important documents: receiving internal training documents, brand guidelines, analytics access and any previous live chat transcripts to help shape our strategy and agent knowledge
- Extensive website research: we say extensive because we’re not just looking at how the website and its pages are designed, we thoroughly analyse how the website performs and how visitors behave
- Branding conversation: we discuss the tone that our client uses in communications and their design guidelines
- Training session with the client: we take on the role of a new member of the client’s team and receive the same product and company training that they would
- And more.
Building each individual client Knowledge Base takes us around 15 hours; each Knowledge Base includes over 200 different information points.
2. Nail the live chat design
Live chat software straight-out-of-the-box often isn’t very visually appealing. We adapt the way in which we chat for every client, so why wouldn’t we customise what the website visitor sees? You might think of this as a minor detail but it is still an important one.
If your live chat window and tab (maybe even eye-catcher) look alien to the rest of your website, then you are going to alienate your website visitors. A chat window that looks nothing like the website it is on will discourage visitors from chatting.
A basic step in making live chat work is customising it to fit in with your brand. We discuss our customers’ existing brands with them during the onboarding process to not only understand the basics of the fonts, colours and imagery but also the values and messages behind them.
In some situations live chat should be designed to stand out on a web page and draw user attention (particularly if you are relying on a reactive strategy or only use chat on a few pages). Even if chat is designed to stand out on the page though, it shouldn’t be a complete contrast to existing brand colours. Your live chat window must always remain visually appealing and encourage users to click-to-chat.
It of course must also be easy to use. If the button to close chat is too small or the agent’s messages are not clearly visible, these result in a poor user experience. A poor user experience results in a poorer overall customer experience. And importantly, an increase in conversion is symptomatic of visitors having a better experience on your website.
3. Understand the strategy of proactive live chat
Although I’ve already briefly mentioned the overarching strategy of live chat, I won’t be discussing it in great detail in this post...I think I’ll save that for another day (something for you to look forward to!). Once the overall strategy has been decided however, you must decide how this strategy will be played out with each and every chat. It’s important to consider how you will achieve your overarching live chat goals at every stage of the implementation process.
How and when will Live Chat Agents engage with website visitors? What goals will Agents be driving visitors to?
Our strategy for proactive live chat (or 'live chat greetings' if you prefer) shapes the way in which we engage with website visitors. We often hear people saying that reactive live chat isn’t enough anymore, and they’re right! Our proactive strategies increase engagement but also make sure that we’re only engaging with relevant website visitors.
The section of the onboarding process entitled ‘Extensive website research’ feeds this strategy. We look for key areas of the website where the user experience (UX) and usability are currently lacking, where we can help the customer with their experience or where we can help achieve a client goal.
When do people abandon their basket? What landing pages are used to convert customers? What marketing channel do the most valuable prospects come from? These are questions that you should be answering with your website analytics data. Answering these questions will help you to decide when to interact with individuals at the right time to reduce basket abandonment, increase conversions and increase the ROI of live chat.
I do this on a regular basis for our customers as we’re always looking for ways in which we can improve our service and results. There is no use in you just setting up one or two generic greetings. Proactive live chat greetings should be personalised to the website visitor’s needs, their browsing history and even their geographic location. We create as many proactive greetings as each strategy needs to succeed, whether that’s 3, 13 or 30+ different greetings per website.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are important for understanding the goals and performance of live chat. At The Chat Shop they help Account Managers, Team Leaders and Live Chat Agents to understand the needs and expectations of our customers - the proactive strategy, the way chats are structured and many other elements of our service will adapt to the KPIs that we are striving to overachieve on.
KPIs will help you to succeed with live chat too. Are you achieving your targets or is there a specific performance metric that must be improved?
Our Team Leaders and Live Chat Agents assess over 20 quantitative and qualitative metrics to understand how well each Agent is performing and how each chat could be improved.
Our weekly Quality Assurance Process helps us to decide if we are meeting our live chat targets.
Establish which metrics you are going to measure before you go live with live chat. This will help you to decide which elements of live chat are important for its success, for you! For example, as a live chat outsourcing provider we find tone of voice a pretty important metric. We want our Live Chat Agents’ tone of voice to match that of the brand they are chatting for.
There are plenty of metrics that can be measured of course, which ones you track is up to you. Two core performance indicators that definitely should be measured though are Response Times and Customer Satisfaction. Live chat is supposed to be a quick and efficient support channel, and should of course be used to make customers happy.
Another good metric? The number of high quality leads that are generated by chat (i.e. chat-to-lead rate). High quality leads specifically as at The Chat Shop we don’t believe a name and an email address is a real lead. A real lead is someone that has a relationship with you, has been qualified and is ready to speak to your sales team.
5. Never stop training
Our customers are always growing and adapting in their markets, so we must adapt and grow with them too. We change our strategy in line with new products and promotions to make the most of their marketing budgets and build outstanding experiences for their customers. After we implement live chat, we never stop optimising.
As a company, we’re also continuously looking for ways to improve...asking ourselves how else we can help our customers to achieve their goals. These constant changes and new ways of doing things mean that training never stops for agents.
Our Live Chat Agents have an intense training routine when they first start working with us but they also have top up training frequently. Initial training takes at least 3 weeks to complete; Live Chat Agents are paid during the training process and must score 100% in multiple tests before going live on each client’s website.
Setting up thorough training routines is a key step to live chat implementation success. Agents should be able to provide the most up to date and helpful information possible. Even if your marketing team isn’t constantly developing new promotions or your product information is static, regular training is important to keep Live Chat Agents performing at their best.
Our Quality Assurance Process feeds into this kaizen technique of self-improvement. We believe that we can always do better - being the best isn’t good enough. Consider how your agents can learn from each other and trial new techniques for helping and converting more visitors through live chat. We encourage our Live Chat Agents to share good chat transcripts with their Team Leaders so that approaches and ideas can be shared with the rest of the team.
6. Site and agent tests
After all of the hard work that you’ve put into preparing your Live Chat Agents, strategy, training, design and everything else...you don’t want to fall at the final hurdle.
Testing before you go live is crucial. Even if you think you are very well prepared, there could be a technical problem that you can’t control, that could ruin your customers’ first experiences of live chat. We make sure that never happens for our customers.
Before launching live chat on a new client’s website we do a technical test run. We momentarily switch live chat on (not viewable by regular website visitors) and make sure that it looks and behaves the way it is supposed to. We want the design to be perfect, fitting with the client’s brand and not blocking any other important elements on the page. The live chat window has to open and closed when clicked, and stay open during a conversation even when a visitor moves to another page.
The technology isn’t the only thing that you should be testing. You may have given agents plenty of training but that doesn’t mean they will definitely provide quick responses and customer satisfaction when live.
As well as our agents having to score 100% in multiple written tests, they are also tested with simulated chats. Agents must be able to progress conversations, overachieve on visitor needs and fulfill client goals, as well as simply providing the right answers to visitor questions.
We give members of the client’s team an opportunity to test our Live Chat Agents’ knowledge. They can ask us anything that they want and try out a number of personas to see how well our agents can assist their needs.
So before you begin with live chat, there’s a lot of different areas that must be considered to ensure that live chat implementation is a success.
You need a wealth of knowledge about products, services and website visitors. You need to create a central resource for agents...a resource center that basically acts as their bible. Reactive and proactive live chat strategies have to be optimised for higher engagement. And finally, knowledge and techniques must be disseminated to agents through intelligent training and quality assurance.
For us, outsourcing means becoming a part of our customers business. To do that we have to understand their business the way that they understand it, taking on their goals as our own. So the outsourcing process revolves around in-depth knowledge transfer and deep training to pass that knowledge to our onshore Chatters. We then look at how we can continuously improve on the service that we deliver to our customers and their customers, as we strive to overachieve on the targets that we set in partnership with customers.
Looking to take advantage of the benefits that live chat can bring to your business? Partner with the people that are shaping the future of live chat. We outperform the global averages of live chat with a 98% customer satisfaction and an average first response time of 29 seconds.
Looking for an expert to help you implement live chat? Check out our live chat implementation, training and strategy options on our live chat consulting page.