Customer Experience News & Trends

What customers want from live chat – and 5 ways to deliver

Customers insisted live chat would make their online experience better. So you delivered — and now they have higher expectations. Here’s what they want and how you can make them happy.

When asked about their top priorities when using live chat, this is what customers said in an Aberdeen Group study:

  • 86% want to be able to share their screens with other(s) in the chat
  • 75% want to be able to give permission so their screen can be remotely controlled by service pro, and
  • 75% want to start a chat “on the fly” without a reservation.

Much of this involves chats for IT troubleshooting and problem-solving. But the expectations hold true for product or service browsing and inquiries. Customers expect fast, full-service help when they click that “chat” button on your website, researchers said.

Be fully available

The first rule of live chat is to offer it only if and when you can give immediate answers. Live chat is the online equivalent to a phone call. When customers click chat, it’s like dialing a toll-free number. They expect someone to answer immediately — not put them on hold.

Smaller customer service operations that don’t have the staff (yet, at least) to handle chat around the clock have found success posting “chat hours” on their sites. They show when service reps and in-house experts like engineers are available to chat. And place of the chat icon during “closed” hours, some companies post their “open” hours.

Best practices for today

As more customers accept and embrace live chat as an effective customer service solution, you’ll want to follow these five best practices cited by the experts at the American Marketing Association:

  1. Offer a in-depth, customized experience. Customers no longer just want fast answers to easy questions. They crave more detail, which you want to deliver via subject matter experts, click-to-call or screen-sharing options and video offered within the conversation box.
  2. Be careful with scripted responses. It’s OK to send some canned or scripted messages — as long as they specifically answer the question asked. It saves time for both reps and customers.
  3. Mind your customers’ needs. The first priority of any live chat session is to respond to the customer’s top needs — just as it is in any other customer service channel. Reps must avoid pushing a certain agenda, solution or idea that doesn’t fit the customer’s stated needs.
  4. Stay focused. Be prepared for chatters who will fill your chat line with non-urgent needs and irrelevant information. Politely refer them to other areas of self-help so you can focus on issues from customers with true, immediate needs.
  5. Support your brand. Deliver the same level of service you do in other channels. Champion your products in the same ways you do in all customer correspondence.

Source: “How B2B Marketers are Leveraging Live Chat to Increase Sales,” by Nancy Pekala,

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