January 14, 2022
By Chantel Hall, Marketing Content Specialist
The option to talk to a customer service agent (real or robotic) through a website chat function is growing in popularity with both businesses and buyers. But do they work? Or are they just a fad?
The answer depends heavily on how you implement it. Chat has the second-highest satisfaction rate of any customer service channel (85%), beat out only by phone (91%). However, unhelpful customer service agents and long response times can be detrimental to customer satisfaction.
Here, we’ll discuss what makes chat flows effective, how they can help grow your business, and how to implement an effective chat flow.
The key to a successful chat function is creating a flow that successfully answers the user’s questions. Live agents or an automated chat can accomplish this by answering the right questions and providing responses tailored to your users.
Time is also an essential factor. The average wait time for a chat response was 35 seconds in 2020, down from 50 seconds in 2019, and shorter wait times positively impacted customer experience. Additionally, 24% of customers say that long wait times are their biggest frustration when using chat, so you should always strive for a quick response time.
However, when it comes to time spent chatting with a customer, the opposite is true. Companies with chat satisfaction ratings above 90% have an average chat duration of 11 minutes and 47 seconds, while companies with a sub-90% rating have an average chat length of 8 minutes and 42 seconds. A longer chat time means your agents are more likely to be providing thorough, helpful responses. Trying to move a customer along as quickly as possible to shorten your chat time will negatively affect your customer satisfaction rates.
The key with chat flows is to provide thorough, timely assistance and support; high-quality service is more important than speed when answering questions.
Chat flows can be an effective customer support tool and positively impact your bottom line through higher sales and lower overhead. Seventy-nine percent of businesses say chat has positively impacted sales, revenue, and customer loyalty.
Unlike phone agents, chat agents can handle several chats at once, especially when they have tools like pre-chat surveys, templated responses, and automated flows to connect website visitors to the right person at the right time. A team of chat agents can handle more communication with a smaller team - just make sure you aren’t overloading your agents to the point that customers are left waiting for a response.
Finally, offering high-quality chat support enhances customer loyalty and increases spending. Customers who spend between $250 and $500 a month online are more likely to be loyal to a business that provides live chat, and 51% of customers say they will buy from a company again if they have a live chat option.
Decide when to offer chat: If you’re new to offering chat, you don’t have to start off providing it 24/7. It might make more sense for your business to offer it only during regular business hours or when your customers are likely to be using your website. Just make sure that it’s clear to customers during your “off hours” when they can expect an answer or if they need to contact you through another channel.
Determine where automated flows will help: For many businesses, a combination of automated responses and chats with a live agent is the most effective way to handle chat. Questions like “What is your return policy” and “Can I schedule a meeting with a salesperson” don’t necessarily need to be handled by a live agent. With a well-written automated flow, customers can get quick answers, and chat agents can focus on answering more complex questions.
Determine which questions and topics lend themselves to automated responses and at what point in the conversation users will be transferred from an automated chat flow to a live agent.
Build a chat team: Not every business will need a team of dedicated customer service agents. For example, certain businesses might find it more effective to connect customers directly to a salesperson or technical support in some instances. However, you must make sure that the people handling your chat clearly understand when they are responsible for responding to messages so that response times can be as low as possible.
Provide user information to chat agents: Your chat agents should have access to any information you already have about leads or customers contacting them through chat so they can provide a customized, efficient experience. For example, if a current customer contacts you through your chat function, information about their account and past interactions will help your agents provide a positive experience. The same goes for a lead that may already have communications with other chat agents or salespeople; they shouldn’t have to rehash information they’ve already provided to get a simple question answered.
Train agents to customize templated chat responses: Finally, your customer service agents should not just copy and paste messages to users without customizing them. Canned responses with no personalization are frustrating for customers. While pre-written responses can help guide conversations and ensure chat agents communicate any critical information, customers should be able to tell that a real person is sending the messages they’re seeing.
Chat flows can either be an opportunity to engage with and educate leads or a frustrating roadblock to conversion. The outcome depends on how you execute your chat flow and what tools you give your chat agents.
Zendesk, Zendesk research: customer satisfaction
Kayako, Live Chat Statistics
Comm100, Live Chat Benchmark Report 2021, 2021
HubSpot, 4 Advantages to Adding Live Chat to Your Website, August 2020
Forrester, Online Self Service Dominates Yet Again. Why? Its An Effortless Way To Get To Your Answers, January 2016
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