Small Business Guide to Live Chat in 2021

There are many digital customer service tools for small businesses to choose from, but there’s only one that stands out with real-time, accessible, and cost-effective support – and that’s live chat.

Live chat has quickly become the most popular digital customer service channel for small businesses and large – and it shouldn’t come as a surprise. How many channels offer as many benefits as live chat does for both the customer and business? (We’ll get into this later).

In 2016 the global live chat software market was valued at US$590 million – a conversative estimate says that by 2023 this will rise to almost US$1bn.

Small businesses around the world are adopting live chat to offer customer support at home, in the office, or even on-the-go. If 2021 is the year that you want to find the best live chat software for your small business, then read on to find out everything you need to know about small business live chat software.

1. What is live chat

Live chat software is a tool used to offer real-time support to website visitors. If a customer has a question, they simply click the chat button (typically positioned in the bottom right corner of the web page) and a chat window pops open. From here, they connect with an agent and exchange typed messages (and even talk over audio and video chat, but we’ll get on to this later on).

Live chat is typically used by sales, marketing, and customer support. The best live chat software will be able to integrate with the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) system so the live chat agent can easily access the visitor’s details, helping them to provide more personalized service. Which leads us on to how live chat can benefit your small business.

2. How can live chat benefit my small business?

Live chat has many benefits, both for the customer and the business. This is what makes it such a popular support channel for companies of all industries. Let’s dig in.

• Cut down costs

Traditionally, phone support was the number one customer service channel favored by many companies. However, this can be very costly for both person-per hour costs and toll charges. Live chat, on the other hand, is a lot cheaper than phone support. A study by Forrester Research found that live chat customer service is 17-30% cheaper than phone support. 

The reasons for this are simple. While an agent on the phone can only handle one customer query at a time, a live chat agent can handle two or three conversations simultaneously (while still providing attentive support). This is called chat concurrency, and it can save businesses lot of money because they can hire less agents. 

Recommended reading: Live Chat ROI Calculator  

• Increase sales

Imagine a customer is on your site. They’re thinking about ordering the dining table and chair set, but they  are unsure of their return options. Unable to find the information they need, and not wanting to wait hours or even days for a response via email, they leave without buying. If this website had live chat, the customer could have asked these questions, gotten an immediate answer, and completed their order.  

Live chat doesn’t just help increase sales. If your marketing goal is to generate leads or sign-ups, then live chat is a great tool to help too throughout the customer journey. Using live chat analytical tools, you can learn about a visitor’s interaction with your site (time on site, entrance information, pages visited, and more). This helps to narrow down the follow-up category of your lead. Using pre-chat surveys you can also categorize leads and save contact information, and when a conversation ends, use the wrap-up feature to tag hot leads for follow-up. 

Recommended reading: Improve your Lead Generation Cycle with Live Chat 

• Boost customer loyalty

In 2020, 84% of customers were satisfied with their live chat experience. In contrast, it’s been found that just 61% of email users were satisfied, and only 44% of phone users. In other words, live chat is by far the most popular channel for customers, and this has real benefits for businesses – including loyalty. 

We all know how important loyalty is to a business. It drives repeat custom, and repeat custom is far less expensive than acquiring new custom – anywhere from 5 to 25 times cheaper. By providing your customers with a positive experience through live chat, you boost the likelihood of this repeat custom and considerably cut down your marketing budget. 

• Discover customer pain points

No business is perfect. Customers will always have issues or dislikes, from navigating the website to thinking delivery costs are too high. What makes a business stand apart however, is how they deal with these customer pain points. Do they actively listen to their customers and try to resolve their problems, or do they hope the problem will go away? (Hopefully the former!) 

Live chat is the perfect tool to understand what your customers are thinking. Every time a customer chats with an agent about their problem, the chat transcript is saved within the system. Administrators and supervisors can access it any time to discover the problem or need of the customer and work to improve it.  

3. Key features you need to know about 

The best live chat software for small businesses typically shares the same basic features – but there are a lot of differences that are often overlooked. It is these differences that distinguish an ok live chat solution from a great one. 

Here are the key live chat features that will take your live chat customer support up a level and what you should look out for when searching for customer service tools for your small business. 

• Audio & Video chat

Audio & video chat  has played a major role in digital customer support in 2020. In fact, “55 percent of consumers have now used video to connect with businesses.” This is because it allows agents to deliver more personalized experiences, as well as help solve issues that benefit from face-to-face communication. This has become all the more important during the COVID-19 pandemic and will likely remain that way. 

Not all live chat solutions offer video chat, so look closely at the feature list. Also check if it is browser-based (many aren’t) so that customers and agents can launch the video chat with just one click, without the need of any additional plug-ins or other software. 

• Pre- and post-chat surveys

As we mentioned earlier in this blog, understanding what your customers pain points are is job #1. Collecting live chat transcripts can help. Another way you can learn what your customers are thinking is through post-chat surveys within the live chat window. 

Post-chat surveys give your visitors the chance to comment on the quality of service they received at the end of the conversation, as well as sharing any other general feedback. It’s a great tool to learn how well your agents are performing and what your customers are thinking. 

Pre-chat surveys serve a different, but equally important, purpose. These are forms that your visitors complete before they begin a live chat with an agent. They let you collect information about your visitors and find out what their queries are about so you can help them more quickly and smoothly. It may seem like a simple feature, but it’s key to providing efficient support. 

• Agent management

It doesn’t matter if you have two or two hundred agents to manage. You need to be in control of your live chat operations. The level of agent management varies a lot between live chat tools, so here are the key features you should look out for to make sure that you can keep a watchful eye while getting the most out of your agents:  Automated chat distribution for efficient queue management

– Automated chat distribution for efficient queue management 
– Real-time chat monitoring for quality assurance and training purposes  
– Join chats to lend a hand  
– Remove agents or set status as away  
– Chat with agents  

• Security and privacy

Security and privacy are critical for any customer communication channel. You can’t afford your customer data getting into the wrong hands because your live chat software didn’t have the most up-to-date and thorough security measures. The level of security does vary a lot between the different live chat solutions, so be careful to check what security measures they have in place. The key compliances to look out for include SOC 2 Type II, ISO 27001, PCI DSS, and GDPR

4. How much does it cost? 

Now here comes the best bit. Live chat software for small business costs nothing (yes, you heard that right.). Comm100 Live Chat is completely free for small businesses – with unlimited agents and chats for your website and mobile-app. 

We believe that every business should be able to provide their customers with the best support and service possible, no matter their size. Comm100 has been helping large companies connect with their customers through live chat for more than 11 years – now it’s time to make sure small businesses can do this too.  

Our award-winning platform gives you more capabilities, more flexibility, and more security than any other on the market. And yes, it is completely free. From pre-chat surveys, file sharing, canned messages, and so much more – Comm100 Live Chat lets you support every visitor, even when you’re on the go. Sign up free today!

About Kate Rogerson

Kate is the Content Marketing Specialist at Comm100. She has extensive experience in content creation for technology companies across the world, including the UK, Australia and Canada. She specializes in B2B messaging, branding and soccer trivia.