Customer Management Articles

Do Your Customers a Favor With Live Chat Support

by Niamh Lynch
Published on 27 June 2014


Do you offer your customers a live chat support option? If you don't, you might be missing out. It's easy, quick and more flexible than traditional help desk options, but it's also cheap and low on resources. It keeps customers happy, and meets their needs immediately, which is imperative in our "I want it yesterday" culture.

I'd go as far as saying that if you offer any customer support at all, you'd be mad not to include some kind of live support chat. Why? It gives customers a sense of immediacy, efficiency and, ultimately, satisfaction. As you know, satisfied customers come back and, even more importantly, bring others with them.

If you're still not convinced that live support is an essential investment, bear this in mind:

  • It's easy for your customer - they simply click a chat box, and they're through
  • It's quick - no automated telephone systems or email waiting times
  • It's cheaper for you - one customer service operator can handle multiple incoming chats
  • It helps increase sales - in a sales-oriented environment, live chat helps retain sales that might otherwise bump when roadblocks appear
  • It gives you an edge - if you have live support and your competitor doesn't, it could be the winning card
  • It helps detect problems early - not all users will send an email or call, but if a problem occurs to them while they're chatting, they will mention it on the spot

If you've never actually checked out live chat support, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it was a bit like a fancy version of Facebook Messenger. Well, I can assure you that it's a much more refined beast. For a start, your chat module will allow you to offer either broadcast or proactive chat. The broadcast option requires your customer to initiate the query, while the proactive option "offers" itself to customers after a set number of requirements have been met, for example, time on site, accessing the FAQ or looking for a contact option.

Give customers alternative ways of contacting youThere's surprisingly little information about live chats out there. If you're taking your first steps in the area, there's one point to bear in mind. Live chat support is known by various names, including live chat, live help, help chat, chat support and more. Be aware, however, that LiveChat is a brand name of chat software and API that integrates with other software, such as Zendesk and Zoho CRM. This can be confusing at first, as it's not always clear that authors are talking about the concept, and not the software.

So, how do you go about implementing live help? You have 2 basic options - either live support will be a part of your existing CRM system, or you can seek out a stand-alone app. For the former option, Kayako is a perfect example. Kayako is already a fully-fledged help desk system, and by including integrated live chat, the whole support process is smooth and efficient. If a ticket needs to be raised from the chat, it's only a click away, while chats are recorded alongside calls and emails, so everything can be monitored as one customer service offering. Other major CRMs and helpdesk software, like HappyFox , Zendesk and , all offer similar live chat options that you should explore.

Another option is a stand-alone live help app. Although the former option - a built in live chat module - is usually preferable, there are some situations where you'll want to try a standalone one. The most likely will be that if you have a CRM that you already use and love, but it doesn't offer live chat, you might not be willing to change the whole system simply to incorporate chat. In this instance, you'll want to check out options like Zopim or Olark.

Regardless of what applications you end up using for your live chat, there are some points you should bear in mind.

  1. Watch out for bland canned responses. Most apps will allow you to set up automated responses and replies. Since the whole point of chat help is immediacy and personalization, though, it can annoy customers if these messages feel too generic or give the impression of a "hold" message.

  2. Remind your operators that "casual" doesn't mean "careless". There's a good chance that you customer service agents are seasoned chat participants, but don't let them forget that they are dealing with your customers, and not their friends. Correct grammar and spelling are essential, and most live help modules have built-in spellcheck. Make sure they use it!

  3. Keep your visitor metrics in mind. Depending on your business, your peak visitor hours may or may not coincide with standard customer support. Live chat help is built on a foundation of immediacy, but if your operators are always offline or there are long hold times, the whole concept will be undermined.

If you have doubts about integrating live chat support into your customer service, feel free to ask more questions in the comments. Alternatively, check out our live chat software listing to see what's on offer.


Apps mentioned in this article