Live Chat – Lots to Love, But How to Choose?

July 22nd, 2015 | Kevin Gao | Live Chat | Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes
how to choose live chat software

Live Chat: A Must-Have Addition to Your Digital Toolbox

Live chat is a technology that is all about making customers happy. Far from being a “backroom” application, live chat should be front and center as a powerful customer touch point for your business. According to McKinsey, “Done well, it can represent a paradigm shift in customer satisfaction.”

According to Zendesk, In the last 5 years, the number of U.S. online shoppers who used live chat increased from 38% to 58%. And amazingly, “Live chat drives the highest customer satisfaction” – bar none. Better than phone, better than email, better than web forms.

And that’s not a surprise. Why?
  1. Customers Love Live Chat Because It’s:
    • An immediate experience. In a world where people want instant gratification, live chat enables a response time within seconds. With advanced staffing algorithms that keep customer volume in sync with the number of chat agents, customers don’t wait long for their question or issue to be addressed.
    • A personalized experience. With customer information and history at their fingertips, chat agents can treat customers as the specific people they are, not as part of some demographic.
    • A richer experience. Chat allows customers to see pictures or follow links, in addition to speaking with someone. This increases satisfaction and improves the accuracy with which requests are handled.
    • More effective at resolving issues. A live chat agent can answer their specific questions. Customers don’t have to spend time browsing through FAQs or listening to a phone menu in hopes of hearing what they need.
    • More rewarding. Have you ever been a loyal customer to a business that changes hands – and suddenly you’re a “new” customer? It’s a jolt to be treated as a newcomer when you’ve been on a first name basis. With live chat, your agents can always be on a first name basis with your customers.

    Happy customers come back. And they tell their friends about your company.

  2. Chat Agents Love Live Chat Because:
    • It empowers them with a lot more information. They are not blind-sided by unknown callers, because there is a treasure trove of information at their fingertips. The customer’s name, address, previous contact history, order history, and other specific information enable agents to be “knowledge workers” in a real sense of the word. They get all this in advance or within seconds of opening a chat.
    • They can proactively start chats with customers if a customer seems lost on a website. That makes a great impression on the customer, and allows agents to close more sales in real-time.
    • They receive the “right” chats. With today’s advanced chat routing software, agents will chat with customers that they are able to help, rather than handling customers at random.
    • They can multitask. Agents don’t have to wait while a customer scrambles for a credit card or an order number. As they become more seasoned, agents can seamlessly switch away to a different live chat that is “active.” It keeps them working, and customers won’t know the difference.
    • It makes their work more satisfying. Most customer service people want to be of service. Live chat enables agents to be real customer advocates, helping customers get what they want quickly and easily.
    • They can work remotely. Many agents prefer spending their time on activities other than commuting.

    Happy employees tend to do a better job.

  3. Businesses Love Live Chat Because:
    • Customers are happier, as mentioned above. The data back this up. In McKinsey’s study, customers who used digital channels to resolve their service problems “reported that their satisfaction was 19 percentage points higher” than those using phone or email.
    • Live chat drives more sales. While there is no “average” sales increase because business are so different, every sale that live chat helps close adds to the bottom line.
    • It deepens your customer insight. Because live chats can be integrated with a company’s key information systems, each live chat can add to the customer database. Companies gain new insights and find new opportunities to reach and satisfy their customers.
    • Customer service costs decline due to:
      • Higher efficiency. Agents who multitask with live chat are more efficient than phone agents who can only handle one customer at a time.
      • Lower hiring costs. Attrition slows because chat agents feel more empowered and that can reduce hiring costs.
      • Lower operating costs. Live chat costs a fraction of a phone line. And because agents can work remotely, companies can tap lower-cost labor pools and still deliver an exceptional customer experience.
      • Lower phone costs. McKinsey cites one company that “reduced their total call center volume by 20 percent in just 8 months.”
    • It’s a differentiator. The combination of robust live chat and well-trained chat agents can make your business stand out in the realm of customer experience.

    The return on investment (ROI) on live chat is fast.

With so much to love about live chat, what should you look for in a live chat solution?

Live chat adoption is growing by leaps and bounds. If your company isn’t using live chat yet, now is the time to explore.

Because live chat is a direct customer touch point, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of live chat solutions. In these days of social media, one customer’s unhappy interaction can be amplified far beyond a single person.

Finding the Right Live Chat Vendor for Your Business

Choosing the right solution requires evaluating a number of factors. Here’s what to expect from the best solutions out there.

A robust live chat system should:
  1. Install easily.

    Easy to get up and running. Minimum system requirements.

  2. Integrate easily with key company systems.

    Live chat should never be a stand-alone system – its power comes from synthesizing and making available key information that chat agents can share with customers when they need it. From your Customer Relationship Management system to your social media platforms, integration should be fast and easy. See how Comm100’s integration and plugins help you in this regard.

  3. Be easy to brand.

    As a customer touch point, a live chat solution should reinforce your company’s branding. Make sure it’s easy to get the look and feel you want in your chat windows and messages.

  4. Offer mobile capabilities.

    According to Mobile Commerce Daily, 51% of visits to retail websites in 2014 were made on mobile devices, and that percentage is growing. Live chat needs to work where your customers are.

  5. Offer foreign language translation.

    If your business is global, or perhaps multilingual, it saves time and reduces errors to speak the same language. See how Comm100’s built-in auto chat translation helps you in this regard.

  6. Enable multiple channels for information display.

    Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Your live chat should enable agents to share pictures and links, or provide remote desktop access as appropriate.

  7. Intelligently route chats to the right agents.

    A great customer experience is more likely when a customer is sent to the right agent. Live chat has the smarts to make this happen. See how comm100’s chat routing makes it painless for customers to find the right agent.

  8. Intelligently optimize your agent staffing.

    Peaks and valleys in chat volume should be appropriately staffed. This ensures that customers don’t wait, your agents can handle the chats in the queue, and you don’t bust your budget.

  9. Provide real-time supervision of your agents.

    Live chat should allow managers to see, moment to moment, what the workload, queue length, agent status, and so on are. It also should allow supervisors to monitor individual chats and intervene – whether for training purposes or to de-escalate a customer situation. See how Comm100’s Real Time Report helps your management monitor the live chat performance..

  10. Accommodate chat volume spikes.

    No company has a crystal ball, and predicting chat volume is an inexact science. Live chat solutions should offer lots of options for backup servers to kick in and for back-up chat agents to be tapped as needed.

  11. Flexibly customize live chat to your agents’ capabilities.

    Senior agents can handle multiple chats, while a new agent may handle one at a time. Research shows that agents who handle fewer chats at once receive higher customer satisfaction scores.

  12. Generate actionable reports for the business.

    You want data that is both detailed enough and aggregated enough to inform decision-making. The specific reports vary by business, but typically you’ll look for reports on:

  13. Maintain very high uptime.

    Your customers never sleep, so your live chat shouldn’t either. Industry standard uptime is 99.9%.The following table shows how a seemingly small difference in uptime can make a big difference to your users and customers.

    Availability Total Annual Downtime
    99% 15 hours, 36 minutes
    99.9% 8 hours, 45 minutes, 36 seconds
    99.99% 52 minutes, 33 seconds
    99.999% 5 minutes, 15 seconds

    Also ask if their downtime includes scheduled maintenance time. If it isn’t included, you can expect longer downtime than what is listed in the table.

    Recommended: Comm100’s High Availability Technology MaximumOn: Achieves 100% Uptime

  14. Control costs.

    It goes without saying that the system should be a good value. Live chat scales up and down easily in sync with your business. And most live chat systems pay for themselves within months.

  15. Provide state-of-the-art security.

    Live chat captures customer data, and that data should be protected from both external hacks and inappropriate staff access. See how Comm100’s security technology helps you in this regard.

  16. Come with training and a knowledge base.

    Live chat is different from phone support. They are overlapping skillsets, but live chat agents need knowledge, plus fast typing skills, plus proper “etiquette” online to have a truly great customer interaction. Invest in your chat agents with training. A good live chat vendor will help you make that transition successfully.

  17. Offer 24/7 support.

    Live chat is a key “face” of your business to a customer. If it goes down, you want fast answers and a quick return to service. Know the vendor’s service level agreement (SLA) on this, and check with existing customers to verify that the vendor keeps its commitments.

  18. Provide continuous innovation.

    All software needs to change over time. Whether your business needs a new interface, or a new feature suddenly becomes a “must-have”, your live chat software needs to grow and evolve with the business. Talk to your vendor about their product plans.

Live Chat: Lots to Love, but Choose Carefully

Live chat can’t solve all your business challenges. But it can raise customer satisfaction dramatically while reducing customer service costs and empowering your people. How many other systems can say that?

As one small business CEO said, when asked about his return on investment (ROI) for live chat, “I wish I could say we even thought about it; we didn’t. It’s an absolute necessity.

He went on to say, “Customers are like family to us. With live chat, they can always get through easily. When they click on the chat icon, they are talking to us immediately.”

If those imperatives drive your business as well, then live chat offers “a lot to love” for your company and your customers!

live chat buyer's guide

[Free Download] How to Choose the Best Live Chat Software: A Buyer’s Guide

The buyer’s guide teaches you exactly how to choose the live chat software that is right for your business. The guide contains 50 frequently asked questions that you can ask any live chat provider and a list of 144 features advanced live chat solutions usually provide.

Download Now


Kevin Gao is the founder and CEO of Comm100. With over 10 years' hands-on experience as an entrepreneur, he's always ambitious to revolutionize the way of online customer service and communication. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.

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