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10 Key Points to Consider When Looking at Live Chat

  • How to leverage live chat to improve customer service
  • Importance of knowing your users’ intent and using canned messages
  • Integrating live chat software with your CRM tool
  • Managing live chat queues
  • Analysing and measuring live chat data


Live chat has been around for more than a decade, but in recent years, use of the web chat software has increased dramatically as website owners and marketers become more aware of its benefits.

Live Chat

Recent studies have shown that live chat positively impacts website conversion rates, with more than 50% of customers who land on sites with live chat support likely to repurchase from that company.

How is live chat beneficial to e-commerce businesses?

It provides users with a personalised shopping experience, which helps establish an emotional connection between brand and consumer.

In fact, live chat has fast become the most preferred method of communication for most customers due to its real-time nature that allows website visitors to instantly gain a sense of reassurance. It’s all about that user experience!

Risk is one of the most prominent emotions present in the final stages of the buying cycle, and it’s difficult to reassure customers that you can’t physically see. Live chat bridges the communication gap by allowing agents to interact with customers and mitigate the sense of risk.

Also, unlike chatbots, the agent is a real human being. Although artificial intelligence (AI) has become highly advanced, robots are less capable of strategic thinking, empathy, and communication skills.

Live chat is an often overlooked and underappreciated feature. However, according to research, 45% of online consumers like to have a live chat feature available when conducting research online and before or during making a purchase. 

You can see why the feature has increased in popularity over the past few years. In most cases, a higher level of engagement between businesses and their customers creates a higher conversion rate and more sales.

But it’s not as easy as plugging in a premade live chat feature and popping out generic messages. There are differences in ‘smart’ and ‘generic’ approaches to live chat that will ultimately differentiate between a new sale and an abandoned cart.

Woman using chat assistant

Here are some key points to consider when implementing Live Chat into your eCommerce site:

Knowing your users’ intent

Being able to accurately and quickly assess the signals of intent for your visitors is key to conversion optimisation. Analysing your visitors and profiling them accordingly is vital if you really want your chat assistant to succeed. For example, rather than simply serving the same generic message to all of your visitors, you can tailor the experience based on their journey through the site, where they came from on the web and how often they have been to your website previously. You will see far better results by giving your visitors a much more personalised and relevant experience with your live chat feature.

Bear this in mind when looking for chat software; make sure it can harness real-time visitor data so that you can deliver a tailored and personal experience.

Talking to your visitors

Particularly in an e-commerce environment, high-value prospects must be handled by a live sales agent as quickly as possible. The agent in question needs to know how to overcome any of the customers’ objections and ultimately close the sale. In an ideal world, the ability to seamlessly transition from live text chat to telephone (based on the customer’s preference) should be available.

Use canned messages

Canned messages are predetermined responses to frequently asked questions that allow chat agents to identify customer issues quickly. 

When a customer opens up a chat app, they must be greeted professionally. However, typing out introductory messages each and every time a customer requests to chat is time-consuming.

To streamline the process, you could use carefully worded, automated canned responses to improve the customer experience. Now, when we say canned responses, we do not mean those commonplace phrases such as: “We received your request and will get back to you as soon as possible”.

It’s important to personalise your canned messages and use them sparingly; else, your customers will feel like they’re talking to a machine rather than a person, which could kill any rapport you had with them and cause them to exit your site.

When creating canned messages, make sure you train your agents on when, how and why to use them to avoid disappointing potential customers.

Configure a pre-chat survey

Pre-chat surveys are a great way to streamline the process of gathering vital information about your customers’ concerns and preventing queues.

When customers initiate a chat, they could fill in a pre-chat survey which will set the direction of the conversation before the discussion commences instead of having agents invest time into collecting this information during the session.

You may want to include the following fields in your pre-chat survey:

  • Name
  • Description of the product or service they’re interested in
  • Order ID if their query is about a product or service they have already purchased
  • Email so you can send them the chat transcript or follow-up after the session ends

The pre-chat survey also allows the most qualified agent to handle the conversation, which will help speed up the service and improve the experience for the customer.

Don’t include too many questions in your pre-chat survey, as this could irritate the customer. We also advise making no more than three fields mandatory as you don’t want to overburden the customer.

Integrate live chat with your CRM tool

Integrating live chat with your CRM software gathers and stores the information from your chat sessions, allowing agents to gain additional perspective into each customer’s history.

The more information you have on your audience in marketing and business, the better experience you can provide, hence the value in integrating live chat with your CRM tool.

Agents will be able to create customer profiles and check whether visitors that initiate chat are returning customers. They’ll also have the ability to verify previous chat transcripts and use that information to tailor their conversation, supporting sales.

Manage live chat queues

Have you ever dealt with a high volume of chat enquiries and struggled to manage the queue?

You might think it’s best to hide the chat widget to avoid dissatisfying customers in this situation. However, in most cases, when people see that they are in a queue, they use another channel to reach your company, e.g. telephone or email, which only puts strain on another part of your contact centre.

Some customers will even refresh the page until the chat widget appears, which could be perceived negatively by search engines.

Alternatively, you could configure your live chat software to show a queue number and even set a limit so that when the queue hits a specific threshold, the live chat widget hides and visitors trying to access the service see an “offline” message.

It’s best to assign customers a queue number rather than a wait time in case you cannot meet their expectations. Furthermore, suppose customers see that their wait time is increasing. In that case, they will more than likely abandon the queue and exit the site, meaning you have potentially lost out on a conversion opportunity.

To help manage queues, configure your live chat service with the following settings:

  • In-queue messaging that updates automatically based on time spent waiting
  • Assign customers a queue number and make it visible
  • Offer the customer an alternative option such as a callback or the opportunity to email their query

Some web chat software systems also allow you to broadcast messages to all active or queued chats, meaning you can offer real-time information to customers at one time.

Use standardised positioning of live chat buttons

To make your live chat experience as accessible as possible, feature the button strategically, so your customers know exactly where to go if they need help.

Live chat buttons are typically placed in the upper right corner of a page, although some more sophisticated sites might feature them as animated slide-out buttons in the left or right margin.

Wherever you decide to place the live chat button, ensure it is visible to generate the best results. If you choose to place it at the bottom of the page, have it as a sticky element to move with the user as they scroll to the top and bottom of the page.

Support multiple languages

Multi Lingual Chatt Assistance

If you cater to an international audience, it might be worth making your live chat service support multiple languages.

Most web chat software defaults to the English language. However, by loading different language files or scripts into the service, you could improve the experience for people that may not be native English speakers.

Some web chat software also offers built-in translation to allow agents to speak to foreign customers in real-time!

Hiring the right people

It’s not uncommon for a website to have a live chat feature that goes largely unmanned after the novelty wears off. For a live chat system to work effectively, you not only need agents to man it, but agents who have solid product knowledge. 93% of live chat users suggest that the product/service knowledge of the agent is what matters most. More importantly, you want good salespeople handling your live chat, not just agents who can answer questions. Hiring individuals with good sales experience will ultimately mean your live chat will secure more revenue.

Analysing, measuring and optimising

Your live chat shouldn’t be a ‘set and forget’ implementation. You should constantly be measuring its successes and downfalls and updating your approach accordingly. When choosing your live chat solution, it should give you the ability to track a multitude of data, including:

  • Number of visitors that respond to proactive chat invites
  • Which of your initial approaches are most well-received?
  • How do visitors react to generic messages vs contextual approaches?
  • How has your live chat affected the average order value?

These are among many other parameters that will allow you to constantly tweak and improve your live chat feature and effectively scale your activity.

To summarise, you shouldn’t adopt a live chat feature simply because there are readily available ‘plugins’ out there. Instead, it would be best to implement it if you have the resources available to manage a live chat solution successfully. If you think this is something your e-commerce business could benefit from, research which platform will best suit you whilst offering all the necessary data and reporting required to audit its performance.


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