What Is Live Chat Support?
Live chat is a tool for online communication that is embedded into your company’s website. It allows users of your website to engage with your business by asking questions, whether they require assistance navigating your site or finding company information.
This engagement takes place through text-based conversations between customers and your support team. Your support team can be made up of humans, AI chatbots, or both. These conversations take place in a live chat widget that is accessible from any page on your website.
Live chat is becoming increasingly popular for businesses around the world. With live chat, your company can answer customer questions in real-time, giving your customers the immediate satisfaction they desire.
In addition, live chat allows you to respond to customer questions more quickly than other communication channels such as email. When a customer emails a question to a company, it can often take hours or even days for them to receive a response.
Not only does live chat provide real-time conversations, but it allows you to share links, collect customer information, and save transcripts of conversations for later reference. When it comes to offering immediate help to your customers, live chat is the ideal tool for getting the job done.
Some live chat tools combine real-time chat with traditional messaging in a hybrid approach. This allows synchronous and asynchronous conversations to occur within the same tool, organizing short and long-term support in one central location.
While offering live chat support to your customers is easy, successfully integrating live chat into your company’s customer service strategy requires thoughtful planning and implementation. Ensuring your company provides your customers with a great live chat experience will make it an effective tool in your support mix.
Live chat can be used for purposes other than support, such as generating sales leads. However, the main purpose of live chat software is providing effective support, and it often contains advanced support features such as knowledge base integration and shared inbox tools.
The Benefits of Live Chat Support As a Channel
Today’s customers love live chat support, which is why more and more companies are offering it as a support tool. Studies have shown that many customers prefer live chat, delivering a higher customer satisfaction (CSAT) score than any other support channel.
Still not sure if live chat support is the right choice for you? Here are some of the key benefits of using live chat support as a channel.
Live chat support is accessible
Your customers desire support that is simple, quick, and efficient. By integrating live chat software directly into your website’s customer experience, customers are more likely to engage with your brand and make a purchase.
Customers don’t want to put the time and effort into searching for a specific contact page or support email. With live chat software, customers know exactly where they need to go to get help. The live chat widget is always available on your website or app, waiting to provide support when required.
Accessible live chat support reduces customer effort, which increases customer satisfaction and loyalty to your brand. Providing a seamless and intuitive experience will make customers stick around and makes it less likely that they will look to competitors in the future.
Live chat support delivers useful context
By embedding live chat into the customer experience, you give your customers the perfect outlet for explaining any issues they have and what assistance they need. Live chat software will often display what the customer was doing on your website when they asked for help.
This information gives your agents more insight into the situation and how to come to a solution. For example, if a customer is having trouble creating an account for your website, the agent can see what step the customer was able to reach in the account creation process.
Live chat support is timely
If a customer receives a response to an email inquiry within an hour or two, they are likely to be satisfied with the support. However, if that customer received the same answer through live chat in real-time, it's guaranteed that they will be much happier.
This benefits both parties as the customer can continue what they were doing immediately, and your company is more likely to receive their business as a result. Whether they were looking to make a purchase, renew their account, or ask for a refund, offering real-time support will lead to more desirable outcomes for your company.
Live chat support is conversational
Chat-based conversation has become the primary mode of communication for many people across the globe. As a result, people have become more comfortable communicating through real-time chat than formal writing methods like email.
This is where live chat provides many benefits over email-based support. When customers send an inquiry through email, they must explain their issue clearly and fully, something not everyone can do effectively.
Live chat breaks down these inquiries into smaller chunks, allowing support agents to ask questions that guide the customer through their issue in a step-by-step fashion. This can turn an email thread lasting several days into a 10-minute live chat, resulting in less frustrated and happier customers.
With that said, email-based support can still be effective and should not be entirely replaced with live chat. Some issues cannot be resolved quickly in real-time, and this should be taken into consideration when designing your live chat platform.
Adding Live Chat Support to Your Customer Experience
Adding a new channel like live chat to your support mix is not a decision to be taken lightly. In the beginning, this often involves stretching your existing resources to provide help in more locations. There are a few things you’ll want to consider before adding live chat to your customer support experience.
First, you will want to decide who to offer live chat support to. While many companies offer live chat to every user visiting their website, this is often not necessary or even possible for some. For example, you could offer live chat to high-value clients or new customers and provide an email or web form for everyone else.
Next, determine where live chat will be the most valuable. Customer feedback can help you find pinch points where people get stuck on your website or app. Focusing on these pinch points when rolling out live chat will provide the most value early on without overwhelming your team.
You will also want to look at where live chat fits in with the rest of your support channels. This involves looking at the resources you have available and determining the amount needed to cover live chat support. You will need to find a balance between live chat and your other channels in order to cover your incoming support volume.
Consider choosing a support tool that integrates with your existing help desk or customer relationship management (CRM) tool. Connecting your chat conversations with contextual information you already have will lead to better customer service, both now and in the future.
Proper training is crucial when making significant changes to your support system. Providing training and resources for your live chat team will give them the tools they need to excel. Delivering great service through live chat requires different skills than email or phone support. Teaching your team best practices beforehand will ensure that things go smoothly from the beginning.
Finally, collect data and feedback for your live chat support channel as soon as it goes live. This will help you understand what works best for your customers and if your agents need more training to provide the best possible experience.
Adding Live Chat Support to Your Automated Customer Experience
In today’s world, live chat support does not require human agents. Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) technology have led to the rise of chatbots and automation for providing customer support.
Automated customer experience (ACX) involves technology that assists customers and improves customer interactions, often replacing human involvement. ACX can improve many aspects of customer service, including improved efficiency, faster response times, and other valuable features.
ACX works best when it is personalized to each customer and minimizes potential redundancies. For example, if an AI chatbot asks a customer for their account number, this should be sent to the human agent when transferred, so the customer doesn’t have to repeat themselves.
Ada is the market leader in automated customer service, with customers around the world achieving great results with their software. Ada is the only chatbot platform designed for an automation-first support strategy, turning your customer support from a cost center into a profit center.
Based in Toronto, Ada works with hundreds of brands worldwide to create personalized interactions with today’s customers, providing long-term value and boosting their bottom line. Their award-winning chatbot platform is capable of automating more than 80% of customer support inquiries, reducing customer churn and increasing CSAT in the process.
Ada doesn’t view automation and AI as an add-on for a human-first support structure. They focus on making AI the front line of your customer experience, freeing up your human agents for more high-value interactions.
By partnering with Ada, you can effectively launch an ACX strategy that is customized to your specific business goals. Their ACX consultants provide hands-on training for launching your AI chatbot and improving it over time.
Ada also offers powerful analytics that highlight what is working and where things can be optimized. By partnering with Ada’s ACX consultants, you can plan and execute improvements to your conversational AI and track the results in real-time.
In addition, Ada integrates with many popular tools that your company may already use. This allows you to take advantage of customer histories and other contextual information to make your support experience as effective as possible.
Here is a look at some of the most popular integrations:
Ada’s integration with Salesforce brings the power of chatbot AI to companies looking for an automation-first approach to customer service. It allows Ada’s automation to be synchronized with services such as Salesforce Live Agent, Service Cloud, and Sales Cloud.
Pairing Ada’s conversational AI with Salesforce results in personalized, automated interactions that encourage self-service and quick resolutions. When a live agent is required, Ada seamlessly hands off interactions to Salesforce via Live Agent while creating a case or lead.
Ada’s chatbot acts as the first line of support by solving more than 80% of customer inquiries, freeing up your Zendesk agents for high-value interactions that drive sales and CSAT. When Joe Wang, Senior Director of Customer Experience at Upwork, integrated Ada with their Zendesk solution, live agent attrition was lowered to 3%, and CSAT improved as well.
Many companies are combining Ada with Zendesk to deliver the perfect mix of automation and live agents. These companies range across a variety of industries, from eCommerce to FinTech and SaaS, all over the world.
Ada offers some unique features when integrated with Oracle Service Cloud. Its ticket automation capabilities automatically generate emails and tickets that capture inquiry details with no manual effort.
Ada can also turn your Oracle knowledge base into automated answers for your customers. This helps take some of the service load off your Oracle agents, freeing them up to focus on more complex customer inquiries.
Intercom users can configure their automated customer experience with Ada’s chatbot, so only the highest-touch inquiries get passed along to live agents. This saves time and space in your Intercom Inbox so that your team can be as efficient as possible.
It also sends conversation transcripts to agents, providing a seamless experience where customers don’t have to repeat themselves. Intercom agents can take advantage of Ada’s automated, personalized conversations and intuitive analytics to take their support experience to the next level.
Benefits of an Automated Customer Experience
While introducing automation to your support strategy may be intimidating, it is here to stay. The sooner you adapt, the more likely you are to stand out from your competition. Here are some of the many benefits of automating your customer experience approach.
Seamlessly handoff from Ada to your help desk or CRM
One of the major benefits of an ACX approach is a seamless handoff from Ada to your help desk or CRM. The Ada Glass feature provides a customer handoff from Ada’s AI-powered chatbot to your live chat platform of choice, whether it’s Zendesk, Salesforce, or Nuance.
Ada Glass allows companies to connect their customers with support agents instantly, all within Ada’s chatbot interface. It also allows your agents to escalate customers to the right agent for their specific needs and interests.
This feature is useful for prioritizing the needs of high-value customers, connecting them with the most experienced agents, and providing them with immediate assistance. When agents are busy, customers can interact with Ada’s chatbot while waiting in the support queue.
Proactively engage with customers
Proactive customer engagement is a powerful tool for increasing the number of high-value customer conversations with your brand. A study from Nuance found that 85% of consumers are interested in proactive conversations, and 90% are likely to purchase from a company that sends them reminders.
It’s time to let go of the idea that customers are turned off by proactive messaging. Embracing proactive engagement will help your company stand out from competitors, acquiring and retaining valuable customers for what could be a lifetime.
By proactively targeting current and potential customers at different points of the customer journey, you are more likely to increase conversion rates, sales leads, high-value conversations, and overall revenue. Proactive engagement allows you to target individual customers with personalized messages while increasing engagement and conversion along the way.
Gain greater insight into customer requests
An automated customer experience allows you to gather customer insights through quantitative and qualitative data. Data is gathered from customer feedback and analytics, and when analyzed, can lead to more well-informed business decisions.
When you better understand customer behavior, preferences, and overall psychology, you can engage with your customers more effectively, improving their experience and increasing revenue in the process. Data can also be used to optimize your customer touchpoints, determining where users get stuck and solving these issues to boost conversion.
When your AI chatbot receives hundreds or thousands of inquiries each month, you can use this valuable data to strengthen your chatbot’s performance. This can carry over into improving your overall support platform, service offerings, and other processes across your entire business.
Build stronger relationships with customers with analytics
Whenever Ada’s AI chatbot has an automated conversation, it collects data and insights to enhance chatbot performance, improve your business strategy, and deliver a more meaningful customer experience. Hundreds of thousands of conversations are automated with Ada’s chatbot on a daily basis, providing useful data on customer trends and support needs.
Ada also uses predictive analytics to categorize unresolved inquiries, matching unanswered questions with suggested responses for agents to review. These analytics ensure that high-value inquiries are properly answered so that customers are left satisfied.
You can use data collected by Ada to build better, stronger responses for your customers. You can also train Ada’s chatbot with “easy” questions that reassure customers and simplify complicated situations.
Integrate with social channels so that customers can reach out whenever and wherever they want
Ada’s Social Channels feature enables you to build and implement automated experiences across multiple social channels such as Facebook and WhatsApp. Your team only has to design a highly personalized and automated experience once, which is then deployed seamlessly across your most important channels.
In today’s digital world, the more customer conversations you have, the better outcomes you will have and the more satisfied your customers will be. When combined with its no-code platform, Ada’s social channel integration allows you to design and launch cost-effective digital experiences at scale.
Live Chat Support Best Practices for Agents
While Ada’s AI-powered chatbot can automate more than 80% of customer inquiries, you will still need live agents to handle more complex issues. Agents should follow best practices for live chat support so they can provide your customers with a seamless and enjoyable experience.
Manage the conversation
Get on the same page, set expectations, prepare responses
Increase your speed
Send answers in parts, increase typing speed, optimize support articles
Focus on essential information, refer to knowledge base articles
Ask short simple questions, work through solutions step-by-step
Review contextual information
Use customer information at your disposal, don’t make customers repeat themselves
Teach your customers
Be proactive, go beyond the questions being asked
Close it out
Gain agreement, provide next steps, thank and reassure customer
Manage the conversation
Many customer conversations tend to spin out of control. This is especially common when customers are dealing with stressful situations, providing unnecessary context which derails the conversation.
The first thing agents should do in these situations is make sure they’re on the same page as the customer. Sometimes agents think they understand the customer’s issue, but after more probing realize the problem is something else entirely.
It’s also important that agents set expectations with the customer early on. For example, if an agent may need to step away or the customer will need to be placed on hold, expressing this clearly beforehand will reduce the chance of customers becoming upset.
On the other hand, if customers are escalated to the point of being abusive, agents should have prepared responses for handling these situations. This helps set boundaries between customers and agents and prevents agents from being treated disrespectfully.
Increase your speed
Compared to other channels, speed and responsiveness are key when it comes to live chat. If a customer’s inquiry has a long or complicated answer, it’s better to send the first part of the answer and build from there, providing the customer with information quickly, so they’re not left reading a large block of text.
Successful live agents need to have a relatively fast typing speed. This can make or break a live chat experience for customers, so consider including a typing test in the screening process when hiring support agents.
Take the time to review your company’s support processes to make sure it is optimized for speed and efficiency. For example, support articles for common customer inquiries can be bookmarked for your agents so that they don’t have to search for the answer every time.
In some situations, customers may not even have to chat with an agent, as long as your knowledge base is thorough and easily searchable. Customers can use text articles and videos to solve their concerns, freeing up your agents to focus on more complicated situations.
Live chat is not the place to dump essays on your customers. Conversations should resemble text or instant messages, keeping things concise so that customers are not overwhelmed with information.
When your agents have a strong knowledge of your company’s products and service offerings, they can easily decide what the customer needs to know and what can be left unsaid. This can differ from customer to customer depending on their personality and technical knowledge.
If a customer’s inquiry does require a complex answer, agents can refer them to knowledge base articles where customers can work through steps on their own. This way, customers don’t have to wait for agents to go through each step individually, and agents can move on to other conversations more quickly.
Email support agents are used to including as much relevant information as possible to avoid long, back-and-forth email chains. However, this approach does not work well with live chat, where back-and-forth conversations are beneficial.
The best way to resolve customer issues quickly is to ask short, simple questions that reveal information piece by piece. This way, your agents can introduce ideas one at a time, providing useful information without overwhelming customers.
By working through solutions in steps, agents can recognize if their customer is on track or if a different approach is required. This is much more efficient than realizing things went wrong at the end and having to start over again.
Review contextual information
Modern help desk and CRM solutions provide contextual information for each customer, giving your support agents a broader understanding of their customers. With the right contextual information available, your agents will be faster, more effective, and less repetitive.
If your agents understand your customer’s background and goals, they can provide answers in ways that fit their particular needs instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach. Contextual information reduces the likelihood that customers need to repeat themselves, reducing customer effort and stress.
Teach your customers
Agents should not restrict themselves to only answering the questions that customers ask. They should proactively look for opportunities to educate customers wherever possible.
For example, if there is an alternative method for resolving their problem or tips that can help the customer after the conversation is over, these should be relayed to the customer whenever possible. If agents fully understand what customers need and why, they’ll be able to share relevant knowledge that can enrich the customer experience.
Close it out
No one likes to be ghosted, and neither do your customers. Make sure that each chat is brought to a clear and agreed-upon closing point. Customers should feel like their issue has been resolved or will be in the near future.
It is good practice to confirm that customers have what they need at the end of a chat conversation. Make sure that they have received clear direction for any steps they need to take on their own. Agents should let customers know that they can always get further help if they need it.