For many eCommerce merchants, their website’s live chat function is one of their primary means of communication with customers. This can be attributed to the fact that most people prefer chat over other means of communication, such as calling or email. With 65% of millennials and Gen X using chat as the main mode of communication, brands that offer this means of communication on their website appear more attractive. As technology advances, “chatbots are now becoming a norm.”  In fact, it is estimated that chatbots will be capable of replacing the customer support clerk within a decade. This is attributed to their capability of answering common customer queries and directing customers to relevant web pages for more information.

Although chatbots are designed to complement live staff, understanding the qualities of effective customer services is critical. The following live chat tactics will help eCommerce merchants provide customers with a great online experience. The tips are applicable to both websites using live support staff and those using chatbots to improve customer experience.

 Visibility is Key

One of the most important aspects of live chat is its visibility. If customers can’t immediately see this feature while they are shopping, chances are they won’t search it out. In order to be easily detected, the window should be in the bottom right corner of the page with some sort of bright icon that is easy on the eyes yet readily seen. Even better, reach out to the customer first!

Automate the first message to communicate with the customer before they run into an issue – that way they immediately have a helpful resource at their disposal. Visibility also means that live chat should be available on every page in the same spot. However, make sure you have clearly indicated whether the customer is chatting with a bot or human.

Respond Quickly

Replying promptly is the most important function an eCommerce site’s live chat can serve. Quick response times showcase a businesses’ ability to be attentive and professional in handling customer issues. An easy way to ensure that your live chat is speedy is to set up an automated response for initial contact. To ensure that this is followed by a swift follow up from a real representative build in push notifications that will notify your customer representative staff whenever a new chat has been initiated. This way, shoppers will be engaged immediately and be attended to as quickly as possible.

The natural language processing (NLP) capability helps in automating the chat processes. Even when your customer service agents are busy elsewhere, the bots ensure that the customer gets the same satisfaction they would when chatting with a real person.

Ask Questions

Understanding exactly what information a shopper is searching for via the live chat feature is the key to properly solving and answering their question. Usually, issues like product finder, offer notification, order status check, and simple customer service queries can be handled by a chatbot. But for customers and questions that a more personalized service, a human representative will be needed. To get a full scope of the issue, instruct your live chat representatives to ask plenty of detailed, pointed questions at the beginning of the interaction to understand exactly what the issue is. Being thorough at the start of a conversation will help save time for both the representative and the customer later on.

It is always important to be transparent with you clients by letting them know whom they are interacting with in the live chat. Provide a way they can reach a human agent if they do not want to chat with a bot. This could be a button where the customer can press and start a conversation with a human agent. When the customer transitions from a bot chat to human chat, it provides closure and builds more trust.

Avoid Robotic Responses

An eCommerce merchant should sound professional, but also like a human being. Sounding too robotic will give the impression that there isn’t a person on the end of the line, which will leave the customer feeling isolated. Even a chatbot should be friendly and have human appeal. Greet the customer warmly as they sign on and consider personalizing it with their name. Ask how they’re doing and how you can help them. Maintain a friendly tone throughout the interaction to keep that personal touch.

Any chatbot must have access to adequate customer data. Remember a chatbot is as smart as the data you feed it. For more advanced conversation abilities, the chatbot must have access to  data about your customers and your brand. Be sure to maintain a tone of voice that properly reflects your brand. If you sell high tech gadgets and tools, you may be slightly more professional than an eCommerce store selling makeup or jewelry. The more personalized a customer finds the conversation to be, the more satisfied they will be.

Know When to Escalate

A customer will usually seek the help of live support when they cannot get the ‘answers’ they are searching for on your site or from the bot. When they do, the live chat representative should do everything in their power and capability to fix the customer’s issue. However, it is important to know when to escalate to a supervisor, IT professional, or alternative department. Have customer service policies in place that encourage employees to communicate this to the customer and assure them that help is on the way – if you take too long or leave them hanging, they are more likely to abandon their cart or seek out a different merchant altogether.

“Is There Anything Else I Can Help You With?”

A good chatbot will perform all the basic customer service tasks of an e-commerce website. They include collecting customer data, handling online transactions, upselling products, and providing access information. Other tasks include providing user feedback, offering quizzes, and giving personalized recommendations. However, getting more information from the customer is equally important and may require the intervention of a human representative.

 Every time a customer seeks service from a live chat representative, they should confirm that they have solved the customer’s problem. Once this is complete, they should ask, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” The customer may have additional issues to discuss and it should be the live chat representative’s goal to provide a comprehensive customer service experience. Even if the customer doesn’t have additional questions, it highlights the eCommerce merchant’s commitment to superior customer service.

Ask for Feedback

Once the customer confirms they have no other concerns, an eCommerce merchant should present them with a poll or request comments on the interaction. This type of direct request is a great way for an eCommerce site to gain valuable feedback and continue improving their live chat service. The process can be automated using a good chatbot with a conversational user interface. The data collected will be useful in improving customer experience and the overall service provided on your e-commerce website.

For more tips on how to create the optimal live chat experience for online customers, contact our team of experienced eCommerce professionals today.