Social media has changed the game for customer support. Major brands like Southwest Airlines and AT&T host 24/7 live support on Twitter and other social platforms. Customers can voice their problems and immediately get a response.

While most brands aren’t trying to compete with brands the size of AT&T, they are looking into adding live online customer support features. This option can be quickly added to a website and monitored by one or two employees throughout the day.

You should consider adding a chat feature to your website if you want to easily help customers. Here’s what your brand needs to know when setting up live chat customer support.

Why Should You Consider Live Chat Customer Support?

Offering live chat customer support is a great way to show your commitment to customers while offering a real resource that they can use.

Consider a few of these statistics on customer service expectations in 2019:

  • 80% of customers expect brands to respond to social media posts within 24 hours (HubSpot).
  • 21% of customers expect a response to an email within an hour (Arise).
  • 81% of customers expect a response to an email within 24 hours (Arise).
  • 79% of customers say they prefer live chat over social media or email so they can get their questions answered faster (HubSpot).

Customers are growing increasingly impatient and are starting to demand immediate responses – even from local brands. If you can’t keep up with customer demand and respond to questions and complaints, then you risk losing customers, generating negative reviews online, and hurting your sales in the future.

Live chat meets your customers where they want to reach you. It allows your company to solve problems within minutes before customers can get angry or the situation can get out of hand.

Plus, live chat is another way to improve employee and customer calling experience. If more customers can find answers on your website, fewer customers will call your business, freeing up phone lines and the time of your on-site staff.

(Just remember, having live online chat doesn’t mean you can ignore your customer calling experience. Find out why in our post: 9 Stat-Backed Facts That Prove Customer Calling Experience Still Matters.)

When Should Your Brand Use Live Chat?

While many business owners don’t deny the benefits of using live chat customer support, they might not think that it is necessary for their business. Below are a few examples of companies that need a live chat in order to grow their brand:

  • Your website has a customer portal where they can manage appointments for services.
  • You use your website to generate leads.
  • Your internal team receives calls throughout the day with questions and customer complaints.
  • You have a customer-facing brick-and-mortar location.
  • You offer a complex product or service that requires a long sales process.

As you can see, this list will encompass most brands. This shows just how valuable live chat can be.

As Steve Olenski writes in an article for Forbes, “live chat provides consumers with the ability to speak with… wait for it… a real, live person.” This direct connection with your customers is invaluable. You can learn how they react to problems and prevent major issues through personalized content. (People are a lot more comfortable yelling at a faceless internet bot than a real person.)

It may be worth even testing live chat options for your brand to see if they are a good fit for you.

Who Will Manage Your Live Conversations?

There are multiple options to choose from when setting up your live support plan. You can install a widget for free (or for a small installation fee) and quickly add the service to your website. Then, it’s up to your team to determine who is the best fit to respond to questions.

You may decide to ask your sales team to keep a chat window open while they work, or the responsibility could fall to your customer care team. Some companies also ask their front desk staff to answer chats in the same way they answer phone calls. This all depends on the content of the chats and the makeup of your business.

There are also options for outsourcing your live chats. Some companies specialize in training customer care teams on your brand and will handle all chats for you. These are considerably more expensive, but they may be a better option if you don’t have a dedicated resource who can answer questions throughout the day.

On a smaller scale, some chat options will send an email out to your team, using the chat window as a communication icebreaker. This is also an option if you don’t have someone on your team who can respond to chats within seconds.

Look for More Advanced Options for Your Live Chat Features

While many widgets are free to install and use, most companies offer advanced or “freemium” features that you can upgrade to. These will make your chat features more efficient and help you manage the chat better.

A few of these useful features include:

  • Canned messages that pop-up for your customers. (Ex. how can I help you today?)
  • An offline mode that shuts off the chat feature when no one is there to answer any questions. This is ideal if your business operates on traditional business hours and no one would be available after a certain hour each night.
  • Saved chats that you can return to later. This is also valuable for quality assurance.
  • Artificial intelligence tools that will chat with customers and help them with what they need.

For some of these, you can even use a hybrid between AI and human interaction.

For example, an AI tool might ask “how can I help you?” and then alert your customer service team that a customer wants to cancel an appointment, learn about a product, or request a consultation. If you have multiple customer service team members responding to live chats, the AI tool can also learn who to send the query tool to be more effective.

Learn Other Ways to Improve Customer Experience

Offering live chat customer support is just one way you can improve your overall customer experience. At Spectrio, we specialize in helping brands improve their marketing and in-store experience to win customers over. For more tips on creating a branded experience that engages and impresses customers, check out our ebook on The Ultimate Guide to In-store Marketing.