Automated live chat: do it in moderation
We told you about what proactive live chat is and that the automation of live chat is important. As a sort of sequel to this article, we are now writing a “counter article”, so we can show you the other side of automating live chat. Where we first focused on how you should approach it, we now look at how you should not. And then we will focus purely and solely on automating it.
If you do not use live chat in your customer service mix yet, we recommend that you first read this article. Here you can find what the benefits are for you as a company and what it has to offer the customer. Some advantages for companies: it is fast and therefore cheaper. And the customer likes to use it; who comes into more and more online contact with companies because it is fast and anonymous. Incidentally, we have already written an article about the dos and don’ts of live chat implementation, but the topic we are talking about in this article was missing from it because it deserves its own article.
Live chat in the communication mix
Okay, let’s talk business. Live chat, it’s an up-and-coming communication channel in terms of customer contact. It’s fast, it’s personal, and we expect that it will not be long before it, just like e-mail and telephone, will become indispensable within our communication mix. And that very personal aspect, that’s what we’re talking about now.
Live chat = personal
What customers like about live chat is that it is personal, and at the same time extremely anonymous. Sounds contradictory? It does indeed seem so, but we’ll explain it. When you call a customer service, you are dealing with a real person. You hear their voice and they hear yours. You can’t see each other’s face, but the conversation is personal. You know that you are calling with a real person and not with a computer.
Live chat = anonymous
Live chat is just a step further. The voice disappears, but you still know that you’re talking to a real person through the personalised messages you get back. But because you as a customer (and your face) does not have to show, and sometimes you don’t even have to give your name, and you do not hear each other’s voice, you get an entirely anonymous experience. So personal, but at the same time anonymous.
Automating live chat
Okay, so now that we’ve talked about what might be the most important features of live chat, we can continue with the story. Live chat is always cheaper than calling. Chatting in fact takes less time, and the information exchanged is handled more efficiently from both sides. But in addition to this, there is more to automate in live chat than in telephony.
To danger of automating chats
There is also danger in automating chats. Namely, that you automate too much. This is something that is strongly inadvisable because it takes away from the personal aspect, which is so important. With a view to cost savings, it is always important to automate what you can automate, but only the most important things, and not anything that may take away from the customer’s experience. In this case, the personal experience.
I remember when live chat first came into being, companies were experimenting a bit with this new way of customer contact. They tried to automate whole conversations. Of course anyone could see through that immediately so it became clear that you were talking to a chatbot. Not such a nice feeling, seen from the customer’s perspective. Because talking to a robot is not the same as talking to a person. The personal aspect, the feeling that someone on the other side is listening to you and thinking along with you, was not there, so you would then prefer to just pick up the phone.
Aspects of live chat that you can automate
So how can you automate your live chat as much as possible without losing the personal experience for the customer? First of all, there is the proactive approach that we told you about earlier (see the first link at the top of this article). There are also frequently asked questions with answers that you can put into a database and use quickly, and the integration of your CRM system with your live chat software.
Sometimes people may first have look around your website for a long time because they might not be able to find what they are looking for right away. It is then important to take the initiative and open the chat. Because it will take a lot of time to speak to each visitor personally, it’s a good idea to use a chatbot for the first contact. Set up a general, but personal, message for this, in which you can offer your help after a certain number of minutes.
It can also be useful to focus your message a bit more on the behaviour of the customer. For example, refer to the type of products that he or she looks at. A message like this is more personal, because it shows that you focus on what the customer is specifically looking for. So open the conversation yourself, before they do, and save your customers the effort.
You have to set up proactive chat first, so do it right the first time. Analyse the behaviour of your visitors, find out what settings you want, and where you want the live chat software to put the focus towards. Adjust the messages accordingly, and you are ready to put the system into operation.
It is also important to always continue to analyse the behaviour of your visitors. Perhaps there is a trend you need to respond to to make it easier for your customers and yourself. Think, for example, of what they all type in the search bar on your website.
We should also not forget to mention keeping a knowledge base with answers to frequently asked questions. MyAnswers is an example of software to set up this type of knowledge base. It should be noted, however, that the excessive use of standard answers reduces the personal experience for the customer. It is therefore important to use this only for long or very technical answers where it is essential that the information is correct – so not for every question that the customer asks.
If a conversation only consists of standard, impersonal answers, then you might as well use a chatbot for your live chat. So be careful, and adjust textual responses where necessary to fit in the conversation before you send it. It might be a better idea to add an extensive FAQ section to your website. You can then refer to specific questions and questions that are not directly involved with the personal situation of the visitor.
inally, we have another great opportunity to tell you about in order to automate your live chat in the best way possible. With some chat software, it is possible to integrate them into your CRM system. For example, forms can automatically be sent to the visitor to have them immediately filled in by the customer. These can then immediately be forwarded to the right department. We could write a separate article on this, but for now we are happy to let you know here about the advantages of live chat and CRM integration.
One last tip: you can also use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help you make your live chat more efficient and faster. Have you already read our previous article about how to deal with unhappy clients in chatsessions?