Live chat is a great way for companies to provide a convenient channel for support and sales inquiries. According to research from Inc.com, 51 percent of customers expect businesses to be available 24/7 to assist and answer questions. Chat boxes provide a low-stakes way for consumers who are researching your product or customers looking for support to contact the company. The promise (and expectation) of live chat can pose a problem, though, because for many companies, they’re staffed from 9-5 by support agents or sales reps. While some companies schedule staff to accommodate different time zones in the U.S., few have their chat feature manned 24/7.
People love live chat for its speed and the ability to do other things while chatting. It is an easy and fast way to get answers to common questions that promotes an open dialogue between companies and customers. It’s a happy medium between email and phone, providing customers the flexibility and written record of email and the speed of a person-to-person conversation found through phone support.
But if chat is only staffed for a third of the day per time zone, businesses are missing out on a chance to engage customers. So after encountering an offline chat feature and then taking the time to go through the website, which most often fails to contain the right answer, the customer is now a) forced to wait until the next business day (unlikely), b) try another channel like phone support (somewhat likely, but they’re loathe to do it), or c) find the answer or buy the product somewhere else (more likely).
Instead of turning customers off to the brand, take these often-missed opportunities to turn customers on to communicating through live chat. Let’s be honest, for most companies it is impractical to staff live chat 24/7, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave customers in the lurch when they need off-hours assistance while making purchasing decisions or attempting to solve a problem.
Live chat needs self-service content
With a robust self-service content engine backing up your live chat, you can achieve the dual goals of customer engagement and ticket deflection. Rather than shutting down live chat outside of business hours, MindTouch content can fuel automated chat. That way, rather than “Sorry, try again later,” you can give your customers a friendly “How may I help you?” backed up with high-quality answers even when the lights are off at the office.
When customers ask a question via chat during off hours, MindTouch can help deliver contextual content that leads to customer satisfaction with the brand. If a customer asks a question, the odds are that another customer has had or will have the same question. Top companies capture these questions and turn them into SEO-friendly articles. With this content powering your live chat on nights and weekends, you can still provide customers the answer they need. (Besides, Gartner expects 85% of customer interactions with the enterprise to be automated by 2020, so you’ll need this content to be machine-friendly in the future. Why wait?)
Off-hours isn’t the only time when live chat can be a letdown to customers if self-service content is missing. High volumes of live chat traffic can leave some customers unattended. Or, the person manning the chat may not be equipped to answer the question (a sales rep may not be able to answer a support question, or vice versa). Both scenarios ruin the illusion of instantaneous support provided by live chat.
These situations make it difficult for companies to justify the expenditure of a chat service, whether it sits unattended because of scheduling or chat volume. But by approaching off-hours chat time as a chance to provide customers a casual, low-effort entry point into your self-service content, you’re not only getting more value out of the chat client but you can promote brand engagement.
Whether you consider your chat client to be for support or lead generation, from the customer’s perspective live chat is an easy way to get help with minimal effort wherever they are in the journey. Integrating your product and help content into the chat experience will benefit your customers because they will have access to information at all times, as well as benefit the employees who are staffing it during business hours.
MindTouch-powered automated chat helps ensure that chat clients remain a customer-friendly space to learn and connect, and not the business equivalent of the Missed Connections page.
Want some more chat about chat? Check out our webinar with SnapEngage!