The Live Chat Guide

This is an extensive guide to live chat & customer experience
The comprehensive study will help you learn:

• How live chat is revolutionizing CX
• How live chat is different from other tools
• Which live chat solution is best for your business

So if you want to revolutionize CX instantly and have a personalized connection with customers, read this guide.
Let’s get started.

Chapter 1

What is Live Chat?

Mr . Jones wants to know his order’s status with company X. He is not very comfortable expressing himself over the phone. He also doesn’t want to have email customer support due to long wait times. Instead, he initiates a conversation through the company’s live chat tool – InfiBOT:

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Compare this meaningful interaction with this automated email that Mr. X once received from Company Y’s customer support:

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More importantly, which one will your customers prefer?

Until a few years ago, live chat used to be horrible. In fact, live chat messages used to resemble the above auto-email notice. Since it involved no live interactions and simply directed customers to another medium, it yielded little or no value. As a result, it failed to impact customer satisfaction or customer experiences (CX).

Today live Chat is a whole new story. ,Today, live chat is one of the most powerful tools for lead generation and nurturing, customer support and CX improvement.

This guide will cover everything about live chat – the benefits of live chat, why you need it for your organization, and many more.

But first, we will cover the basics: What is live chat?

What is live chat?

Did you know that the technology behind online chat has been around since the 1970s?
However, it’s taken over three decades for this medium to really rise through the ranks. And now:

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Unsurprisingly, between 2015 and 2018, the use of live chat grew by nearly 400%. And by 2023, the global live chat software market is expected to grow to $987 million.

In simplest terms, live chat is instant messenger with a professional flavor.

Live chat technology enables companies to have text-based conversations with their customers via a messaging interface. Here, “live” refers to real-time, two-way interactions between the organization and a customer, as opposed to email support where there is little or no expectation of immediate responses (much less immediate solutions).

With features like live assistance, co-browsing and video chat, you can guide customers in the right direction and deliver a meaningful in-person experience. Some tools also provide a hybrid messaging option, which allows for both synchronous and asynchronous conversations to happen within the same chat interface.

When live chat software is embedded on a company’s website, customers can send their questions to an Artificial Intelligence-powered chatbot, who can quickly reply in the same window. If the bot cannot provide a suitable answer, say, because it is not already available in its knowledge base, or because the customer query requires human judgment or decision-making capability, it can redirect the Customer to a live agent. This person can then continue the conversation seamlessly, and guide it towards a desirable conclusion.

Although live hat is most commonly used for customer support, its utility extends to many other areas (use cases), including lead generation and customer engagement.

Chapter 2

Live Chat Software Trends & Stats

Where in-store footfall is decreasing, customers are looking forward to online business support. And live chat software is the magic trick a business needs to increase lead capture and website conversion by 3X. Below-mentioned few stats on the success of live hat back the fact that it’s imperative to have live chat solution for your business.

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Chapter 3

Types of Live Chat Solutions

Today’s live chat solutions have come a long way from the “Talkomatic” of 1973, widely considered the world’s first chat room app. But before you invest in one, it might be useful to be more aware of the different types that are currently available.

I. Types of Live Chat Solutions by Feature set

i. Standalone solution
A standalone live chat solution offers only live chat and its associated primary features to initiate live text conversations with website visitors. It is not usually integrated with the organization’s helpdesk software or CRM platform, so its utility is fairly limited, especially in the long term.

ii. All-in-one solution
In omnichannel settings where contact centers need close integration between multiple customer support channels, as well as integration with helpdesk and CRM platforms, an all-in-one solution is an obvious choice. It works alongside support ticketing tools and self-service customer portals and seamlessly integrates with the organization’s social media channels.
It also provides:

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II. Types of Live Chat Solutions by Function or Use Case

i. Chatbot
For common questions that require no human intervention, chatbots are a great solution. Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology simulates and processes human conversation, so visitors often feel that they interact with a real person.

A chatbot can be a basic program that only delivers single-line responses to simple queries. It can be a sophisticated digital assistant that gathers and processes information and “learns” to improve its conversational abilities.

Chatbots are frequently used to support self-service and automation for routine IT service management tasks like password updates, outage alerts, etc., as well as HR-related tasks like employee onboarding, training, leave scheduling, etc. In contact centers, they provide direct answers to common questions or redirect customers to the appropriate resource. They are also frequently used in consumer settings within the banking, retail and other sectors for ticket booking, product comparisons, bill payments, etc.

ii. Live Chat for Sales
With a sales-specific live chat solution, organizations can add another channel for lead capture, qualification, nurturing and conversions. Sales teams can design proactive and tailored sales campaigns, connect with customers at critical moments based on business rules such as purchasing history or agent availability, and send smart, intent-driven messages to convert new sign-ups into active, engaged users. They can also ask for feedback, reduce churn, increase product adoption, and increase revenue via direct sales, cross-sells or upsells.

By building forms and integrating them right into the chat window, customers can quickly provide their details, which is a great way to move them closer to conversion. In fact, live chat can increase conversion rates by 40%.

And if they need to move the chat to another channel, they can start a screen-share session or escalate to a phone call to keep the conversation going towards the desired outcome.

iii. Customer Support Live Chat
With live chat, omnichannel contact centers can provide real-time support through an easy-to-use browser-based interface. Most communication happens via popup text boxes, but they can also include screen-sharing, as well as voice and video conversations.

To ensure that it delivers maximum value for both customers and the organization, it should not be a standalone website function but part of a CRM solution that makes contextual interactions possible. It should also include helpdesk and ticketing features, help customers self-serve (if they choose to), and ensure customer data and privacy. For contact centers that serve customers in different geographies, the tool should support multiple languages.

Chapter 4

Why do You Need Live Chat Software?

Some businesses still haven’t started with a compelling live chat solution. Here’s what will make you understand the real need for having a live chat software for your contact center

  • Live chat is a fast-paced communication channel that works on the primary KPI of a business i.e., the response rate
  • It allows you to track your customer’s journey and guide them throughout to close sales
  • Live chat resolution time is excellent and canned response do wonders here
  • Integration with CRM and other application assures personalized conversation
  • It grows the loyalty and trust of customers in the brand since the business is always there to assist the visitors.
  • Live chat empowers agents to engage with customers on the website proactively
  • Allows both chatbots and agents to handle customer queries
  • Audio/video chat options work as a cherry on the cake when it comes to a personalized experience

Chapter 5

What Features to Look for in a Live Chat Tool?

Regardless of your specific use case, your live chat solution must incorporate these essential features.

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Chapter 6

The Benefits of Live Chat

The #1 factor in delivering a great CX is not delighting customers, but reducing their efforts.
–Harvard Business Review

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Today’s customers expect fast responses from the brands they engage with. They don’t appreciate long hold times, and they get seriously annoyed when they are transferred to multiple agents or departments. In a 433 sales team study, it was found that they lost nearly all their potential leads when response times were longer than 15 minutes. Even companies that responded in ten minutes compared to five minutes experienced a 400% decrease in their odds of qualifying leads.

Live chat effectively eliminates (or at least minimizes these issues). You can respond faster to customers (or leads) with relevant information that addresses their specific pain points or need. This speed – not to mention comfort and convenience – leave a good impression on them, and improves their CX. And for your organization, it can have a positive, long-term impact on conversions, sales and profits.

Here are some more powerful benefits of live chat, and why you need to implement it in your omnichannel contact center.

i. 24×7 Availability
Live chatbots provide an easy and effective way to support customers even when live agents are not available. This is a huge advantage in a post-COVID world where many support teams are either curtailed in size, working remotely, or both. Bots can be customized based on common questions. Scripts with user-friendly phrases and appropriate responses generate engaging conversations and can lead to useful results for customers – even in the absence of human support. Bots can also be used to measure CX and gather critical customer feedback that can then be analyzed to initiate improvements.

ii. Contextual, conversational and accessible support
Live chat can be easily integrated in the customer’s support workflow so they know exactly where to go to get the help they need. It is more conversational and real-time than email support. It enables agents to systematically lead the customer through the process by asking pertinent questions in the right order and quickly present solutions without long waits or unnecessary back-and-forth email dialogs.

Moreover, the right solution will let the agent know more about the customer, e.g., their purchase history, demographics or contact details. It will also show them where the customer is in their journey, so they have the right context to provide the most tailored and useful responses.

iii. Answer specific questions not covered in the FAQs
For common questions, FAQs and website support sections are usually adequate. However, when customers have unique, specific or complex needs, a chatbot can help fill key gaps. It can also anticipate the Customer’s needs and quickly address their concerns before they lose interest (or patience).

For customers on the fence, say, about a purchase, live chat can provide the right information at just the right time to eliminate conversion roadblocks and boost sales.

iv. Capture more leads
A live chatbot is a great way to capture leads and qualify them to move them down the sales funnel. Website forms don’t always work, especially now, when customers are more impatient and less brand-loyal. But with a simple bot and a few strategically-placed buttons, you can mitigate this issue. If your script is engaging and user-focused and uses direct “are you” and “do you want to”-type questions, you can easily capture and qualify leads without making site visitors fill out tedious forms.

v. Get a lead on the competition
The Drift study found that only 14% of companies had a live chat system in place. Extrapolating to the wider world, if your organization has implemented live chat, you are in a great position to improve your CX outcomes in a cost-effective, measurable and user-friendly way. This puts you several steps ahead of your competition. Live chat on your website is also a proven and more human way to show customers that you are “open for business” and that you care about them.

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Chapter 7

Buying factors of live chat software

It can be a bit overwhelming to choose the best live chat software for your business. However, as with any other enterprise software, the best way to start is by first defining your requirements and key use case(s) to guide your research and decision-making. Then you can begin to evaluate different options based on these must-have factors:

i. Features
The feature set you require will depend on your use case. For instance, features like automated campaigns, chatbots, and event-based messaging may be essential for your marketing team. Your sales team may need a lead-capturing mechanism. Your support team may demand intelligent chat routing co-browsing and screen-sharing.

ii. Cloud-based deployment
As far as possible, avoid a vendor that hosts their solution on-premise. A reliable cloud-based solution will be easier to set up and deploy. It will also integrate well with other tools in your enterprise (e.g., your CRM platform), and support data-driven decision-making for your omnichannel contact center.

iii. Omnichannel capabilities
Select a solution that seamlessly integrates with your omnichannel customer support software stack and provides cross-channel capabilities like mobile-readiness and social media support. Something that does empowers your agent to switch channels without switching screen

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iv. Cost
Avoid vendors and solutions with confusing or non-transparent pricing structures. Always select a tool with clear pricing and a vendor willing to clarify your doubts before finalizing the purchase.

v. User interface
Since the live chat tool can directly affect customer opinions and experiences, it’s essential to pick one with a user-friendly interface. For example, your AI-powered chatbot should understand intent, offer relevant answers, carry on engaging conversations, and offer a tremendous self-service experience.

The interface should also be easy to use at the agent end. The dashboard should show a comprehensive view of all conversations to prioritize responses and improve their efficiency. A tool that can be customized as per your brand’s design guidelines is an added bonus.

vi. Built-in analytics and reporting
What insights do you need from the chat tool? Are you looking for standard reports like agent performance and chat volume, or more specialized reports like geolocation, conversation trends or CSAT ratings? Choose the solution that offers measurable and actionable analytics that can improve your process and enhance CX.

In addition to the above factors, keep in mind these general minimum requirements related to:

• Server: If the solution is cloud-based, you won’t have to worry about your organization’s specific server requirements
• System: Make sure it supports the tool’s audio and video capabilities
• Visitors/customers: The application should be compatible with popular operating systems and Internet browsers (including mobile Internet browsers)
• Agents: Agents also need updated Internet and mobile browsers to ensure they can access the tool and dashboard

Chapter 8

Human agent chat vs. Virtual agent chat

So if your contact center is still stuck on old-fashioned voice and email support, or worse – website forms – you should consider expanding your omnichannel framework by adding a live chat feature to your business website.
Here, you have two options: live chat through chatbots and human agents.
Q: So which one should you choose?
A: BOTH!
Here’s why both are effective.

The Advantages of Virtual agent over Human agent

A chatbot is an Artificial Intelligence-powered robot that can carry on a textual conversation with customers. It relies on contextual and language cues to respond with the right answers from the organization’s knowledgebase. This knowledgebase must be updated regularly with new queries and answers. This allows the chatbot to remain current and continue to provide timely support without human intervention.

Since they can’t give answers beyond what they have specifically been taught to say, customer support chatbots are usually best for FAQs and simple queries. For more complex queries, they can route the chat to a live agent so the conversation can keep going towards a desired conclusion. Certain chatbots (e.g. digital assistants) can be very sophisticated in responding to queries in a very human-like manner.

Despite their limitations, there are also many advantages to implementing chatbots. They provide quick resolutions with almost zero waiting time. They can operate 24×7, so the organization can still provide support during off-hours. Moreover, they can simultaneously handle multiple chats, thus taking some pressure off human agents and removing bottlenecks in customer traffic flow.

Modern chatbots can be “trained” to initiate and then modify conversations based on the visitor’s profile and relevant cues such as interaction or shopping history, demographics, etc. This one-to-one pairing enables brands to customize entire interactions and deliver enhanced customer experiences. They also use AI to “learn” and improve the quality of their support over time.

And last but definitely not least, a chatbot is a cost-effective and scalable option compared to live agents. It just needs to be deployed once and regularly trained to handle an increasing number of queries. If the knowledgebase is sufficiently comprehensive, the contact center may even be able to reduce the number of human agents, further lowering their personnel costs.

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When a virtual agent is ideal

• To provide 24/7/365 support, even outside working hours or during holidays
• To quickly answer common or repetitive questions with canned responses
• To prequalify leads, collect basic customer information and drive conversions
• To initiate proactive interactions when customers get stuck on a specific page
• To manage traffic surges with multi-tasking for non-complex queries
• When cost is a major factor in an omnichannel and/or multi-lingual setting

The Advantages of Human agent over Virtual agent
Human inputs or qualities such as judgment or perspectives are required, a live chat with a human agent is an absolute necessity. A real person can provide hyper-personalized support, whereas a chatbot provides canned responses from a limited set. This makes it ideal for interactions where quick resolutions are not as important as a human approach, something that simple chatbots just cannot provide. Even the most advanced bots cannot understand complex contextual cues, unpack human emotions or show empathy.

If a bot doesn’t understand the question (say, due to a spelling error or because the conversation is happening in the customer’s second language), it won’t give the right response. This can frustrate customers and negatively impact their satisfaction and CX. However, human agents can handle complex interactions with empathy and use the right linguistic flourishes and tone. They can also read between the lines, understand the issue even with spelling or grammatical errors, and make judgment calls about the conversation’s right direction. In such cases, the quality of customer service is always better than that of a bot-to-human one. Consequently, it can help improve key support metrics such as FCR, AHT and CSAT.

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When human agents are ideal

• To handle complex interactions with a personalized human touch
• When customers are not very time-sensitive but require more detailed explanations
• To respond contextually while sensing the customers’ emotions, moods and unexpressed needs
• When judgment and decision-making are required to move the conversation forward

What Should your business Implement: Virtual agent or Live Chat with Humans?
It is best to include both bots and human agents in your live chat setup. Both methods have their pros and cons, so combining the two can yield better results than implementing only one or the other. With a combined live chat channel, you can leave the simple queries to chatbots while human agents handle the more high-value interactions. When required, they can even route conversations to humans so the customer is almost always assured of a resolution. Chatbots drastically reduce wait times, but human agents provide detailed and more personalized responses that some customers need.

It’s best to start with a chatbot when a customer begins a chat session. This bot can give instant canned responses such as “thank you for contacting us”, and gather preliminary information about the customer and their inquiry. If it is a repetitive FAQ, they can handle the interaction. If not, they can engage the customer until a real representative becomes available. In this case, the bot will route the query to the best-qualified agent to ensure a seamless handover and a successful interaction.

Chapter 9

Live Chat vs Messaging

Live Chat vs Messaging

Live Chat Messaging App
Examples Human-agent/Chatbot WhatsApp, Social media DM
Types Session-based & Synchronous where customer chat history disappears after a session/resolution Asynchronous communication where customer has all the messaging whenever the message opens
Messaging type Video, audio, text messaging along with rich-media support Same as Live Chat

Chapter 10

Best Practices to Get The Most Value from Live Chat

As we have already seen, live chat offers numerous benefits that can strengthen your omnichannel contact center. Here are some best practices that can help you extract the maximum ROI from your live chat implementation.

i. Make the language warm and human

Canned, impersonal messages are adequate (and a huge time-saver) for simple questions like “what’s your address?” and “do you deliver on weekends?” But for more complex problems, canned responses are a no-no. Also, make sure that the language you use for both canned and non-canned responses sounds human-like and not machine-like. The personal touch helps build rapport and generates loyalty.

ii. Maintain professionalism
Live chat is less formal than email, but it still needs to be completely professional. Putting customers at ease is great but an overly informal tone is not. Every conversation should reflect brand stewardship and consistency with its values. Agents should always be trained to use correct grammar and spellings, even if the customer doesn’t.

iii. Read before replying
Try to keep chats short and to the point. A shorter chat session never lets your customers get board or dragged. A longer chat might drift a customer to a different channel for further conversation. And, chat sessions can be shorter only when you are a keen reader. Don’t jump to a resolution until you read the conversation carefully. Ask a question in case you are not clear of the context.

iv. Reduce your response times
Earlier we spoke about how companies lose customers due to long response times. Don’t let this be you. Customers are drawn to live chat due to its rapid-fire nature, so aim for a response time that’s as low as possible. Ideally, it shouldn’t go over 30 seconds per response. Otherwise, they will lose interest and leave.

v. State your availability – clearly
Your chat application should clearly state your business hours, especially if you’re not open 24/7, or if your human agents are not available at certain times of the day or week. When the business closes, state that chats is unavailable and will re-open later. Also, state if agents are busy so customers don’t waste time waiting.

vi. Integrate live chat with your existing CRM
The more you know about your customers, the better service and support you can offer. Implement a live chat tool that integrates with your existing CRM platform so your agents get the valuable context they need to initiate meaningful interactions with each customer.

Chapter 11

The Right Words to Use in Live Chat

When your live chat script includes the right words and phrases, you can move past simply resolving your customer’s queries. You can even close more sales, boost profits, deliver memorable customer experiences, and create happy customers and loyal fans.

Here are some common affirmative phrases that you should include in your live chat scripts:

• Assure
• Certainly
• Definitely
• Absolutely
• Excellent
• Great
• Awesome
• Superb
• Wonderful

And these are some negative phrases that you should always avoid:

• Never
• No way
• Not at all
• No, unfortunately
• Forget it
• Bad
• Awful
• Terrible

In general, all “No” types of words should be left out. If you can’t avoid saying No entirely, make sure you couch all negative responses using positive words or affirmative phrases. Give alternative suggestions or provide other resources so the customer doesn’t feel frustrated or that their time was wasted. This way, you can still ensure a good CX and maintain your reputation as a customer-friendly organization.

Chapter 12

Cost-effective, Easy-to-deploy Live Chat Solution

Over the years, live chat has evolved into time-tested customer support, lead generation and sales tool. It provides a wonderful way to communicate with customers, nurture meaningful, long-term relationships with them, and improve their user experiences with your brand. Live chat is also beneficial for your organization since it can help you qualify leads faster, boost your conversions, and generate more revenues. We hope this guide has convinced you that live chat can add immense value to your omnichannel contact center!

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Ready to get started with live chat for your Cisco UCCE, UCCX or PCCE contact center? Explore our live chat solution by CXInfinity with features such as

Agent sneak peek

Agent can view customer’s intent while he is still typing. Prepares agent with possible solution to the query

Canned messages

Save agent’s time lost in typing similar messages numerous times a day with predetermined responses

Self & Team notes

Add notes to a live conversation for future reference and direction

Tagging & wrap-up codes

Saved tags to classify conversation and quick call closing with wrap up codes.

Pre-chat & offline forms

Don’t miss a lead even when your agents are not present to attend visitor on the website

360° interaction history

Empower agents with customer’s interaction history on a unified screen

Page-specific Chat

Rule-based greetings/ conversations for more relevant web experience

Branded chat widget

Define your brand theme to this important touchpoint.

Video/Audio Chat

Level up text conversation with in-person support through audio/video chat