5 Things to Consider Before Selecting a Chat Provider (From a Former Chat Agent)

Written by guest author Jordan Wahl (G2 Crowd).

In recent years, the use of live chat software has become commonplace in many industries – not just the customer service space. Historically, companies started using live chat to offer the company’s end-users a portal to get their questions answered quickly. But as live chat providers continue to add more capabilities to their tools, businesses have started using chat as an integral part of marketing, sales, and customer service strategies.

Consider lead generation. You can use live chat as a lead generation tool to fuel your inbound marketing strategy! How? Every website visitor has the opportunity to interact with your live chat agents. So, why not take advantage of that? With live chat, you can connect to your visitors, understand their needs, provide them with information, and guide them through the site to help them fulfill their needs.

Think of live chat as a bridge connecting your inbound marketing work with your sales team. In the end, it can help your business convert more and sell more. Pretty neat. It doesn’t stop there, though. Businesses are learning to work smarter, not harder by using live chat to benefit their businesses.

I’m here to share five things you should consider before selecting a live chat provider for your business. As a former live chat agent, I’ve experienced both client-facing chat and the vendor decision-making process firsthand.

1. What are you trying to accomplish?

Are you an e-commerce business looking to increase conversions and improve customer experience? Looking for a new way to decrease the customer support request emails flooding your inbox? Trying to generate new marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) for your inbound sales team?

All of the above are practical ways to integrate live chat into your business. But in order to choose the right tool with the features you need, you’ll need to understand what you’re trying to accomplish in the first place. Once you understand which problem(s) you’re trying to solve with the tool, you’ll be able to narrow down providers based on your company’s needs in a product.

Speaking of product needs, it’s a good idea to gather critical business requirements right off the bat before you begin the search. Are there any non-negotiable requirements you’re aware of? For example, if your organization handles sensitive patient information, your search will automatically be restricted to HIPAA-compliant chat vendors only.

 

2. Quality customer support and client success

When it comes to onboarding a new tool, there’s a big chance you will need support along the way. New tools can be complex and it may take some time for your staff to be fully comfortable and explore all of the tool’s capabilities. That being said, it’s important to consider the quality of customer service you’ll receive along the way.

For starters, understand the hours that the live chat provider’s customer support will be available. Is it based in a different country? If so, does its business hours align with your business hours? Is there a language barrier? (I’d advise steering clear of any providers whose hours and language don’t overlap with yours).

Secondly, is the company easy to get ahold of if needed? Does the provider offer any additional support in the initial onboarding phase of the product? Does the provider offer training services for admins and chat agents? What about ongoing success reviews?

These are all important questions to investigate before deciding on a chat provider. The better a chat vendor can demonstrate their commitment to quality customer support, onboarding and training services, and overall client education – the more successful your chat program will be.

 

3. The product pricing model

This may seem like a no-brainer, but be sure to understand all of the fees associated with each product you’re considering. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) generally has two pricing models: a concurrent user license or a per-seat license.

When it comes to deciding which is best for you and your business, one major piece that should be taken into consideration is the size of the team that will be using the product. For example, a per-seat license model might work well for smaller and midsize companies. But if you’re an enterprise company with hundreds of employees that will need access to the product, you might be better off budget-wise with a concurrent user license.

It’s not only important to understand the pricing model of the product as a whole but to also be aware of any extra fees that are associated with the product at the time of purchase and during your contract phase with the provider. For example, are there specific features you need that are considered add-ons to the base price? Be sure to clarify this question while you research pricing to avoid surprises later on.

 

 

4. Simple user interface

In the digital world we live in, it’s incredibly easy to become overwhelmed by the complexity of some products. If something is complicated or hard to use (even if it just seems difficult to use at first glance) the experience can be stressful.

To avoid a less-than-stellar experience for anyone involved, choose a provider whose product is not only easy to use for the end-user (website visitors), but also for your chat agents that will be operating the chat on the backend.

This starts with choosing a simple, intuitive user interface. Is the chat box appealing to the end-user and easy to customize to match your unique branding? Is the backend easy to navigate for your agents? If the chat box is inviting, the consumer will be more compelled to engage. And if the product is easy to use, the faster your team will be able to become fully trained in the product (resulting in more efficient agents and happier customers).

 

5. Useful reporting and analytics

This goes hand-in-hand with #1. Depending on what you’re using the product for and what you’re looking to measure, you might require different types of reporting and analytics.

For example, if you’re using the live chat tool mainly for customer support, you might want to generate a report on agent response times and customer wait times. Let’s face it, we live in a world where people hate waiting. In order to keep visitors happy, you’ll want to keep response times quick and wait times low, so being able to analyze these will allow you to improve your team’s performance.

Or say you’re using the tool for lead generation. You might want to look at chat conversion rates to better optimize your agents’ responses, which keeps prospects moving through the inbound marketing and sales funnel.

No matter what it may be, consider what reporting and analytics you want in an ideal live chat tool to make sure you will have access to the analytics you need to improve your ongoing chat strategies and make data-driven decisions.

 

Bonus tip: Read product reviews

I said I’d give you five, but here’s a little bonus tip: don’t forget to read product reviews! Finding the right live chat solution for your business can be a challenge, but reading real, unbiased reviews about products to see what other professionals liked and didn’t like about a product is very helpful. Spend time researching your options and understanding what will be the best investment for you in the long run.

The use of live chat is on the rise for good reason. It’s a great opportunity to answer questions quickly and give the end-user a positive experience, all while providing countless other sales and support benefits to your business. Researching these initial questions will provide you with a great start to your vendor search. 

Happy searching!

About the Author

Jordan Wahl is a content marketing specialist for G2 Crowd’s Learn hub, a B2B software review site with over 450,000 user-verified reviews. You can find Jordan on Twitter (@jordwahl).

Release Notes Oct. 15: HIPAA Security updates, Permissions, Hub improvements, Bug Fixes

 

Hello SnapEngagers,

here is some of what our dev team has been working on in the last weeks:

Updates:

  • We have added the Hub tab (including the Labels feature) to the Permissions settings, so this page can now be excluded/included with custom permission roles.
  • We improved the UI for adding new administrators in the Permissions tab.
  • We made several backend improvements for the Hub to improve the performance, speed and reliability.
  • We added a setting to restrict file upload for individually restricting the file upload for visitors and agents. Restricting file upload for agents will be the default for HIPAA accounts

Resolved Issues:

  • Fixed an issue with the Hubspot integration where cases were temporarily not sent through to Hubspot.
  • Fixed an issue with the Zendesk integration where the agent mapping option in the Chat Agents configuration was not visible for newly connected widgets.
  • Fixed an issue with the Proactive Chat where the ‘re-engagement delay’ timer was not working as expected.
  • Fixed an issue with the StartLink() API call which caused the button to be displayed on top of the chat box.
  • Fixed an issue on the visitor chat box with the auto-responder: When the visitor clicks the auto-responder link after the agent sent a reply it will now no longer close the chat.
  • Hub:
    • Fixed an issue with the chat transfer, where the chat was not disappearing for unassigned agents.
    • Fixed an issue where an agent was redirected from an ongoing chat to the home screen and loosing what they typed in the chat input field, if a second broadcasted chat was picked up by another agent.
    • Fixed an issue where the sneak peek disappeared if the visitor stopped typing.

10 Reasons to Implement a Sales Chat Strategy

For most sales directors, sales success hinges in part on your SDR team’s ability to respond promptly and professionally to incoming inquiries during the buying process. In addition to being many website visitors’ and consumers’ preferred mode of communicating with a company today, live chat can be used throughout the sales cycle to increase sales conversions. Most importantly, live chat is the preferred mode of communication for consumers, exceeding voice, email, and social messaging in popularity. Below are ten ways to use live chat to enhance your sales strategy (and most importantly, your sales results).

1) Bring authenticity to your business

“Authenticity is crucial to continued loyalty from fickle audiences. This poses a challenge for marketers: They must navigate the latest and greatest means of meeting the customer where they are and ensure the messages they put out are both genuine and in alignment with their brand principles.”

– Ashley Diebert, Vice President of Marketing at iQ Media

Interacting with a company representative via chat helps to establish your business as a legitimate force within your industry. Introducing chat shows your target audience the following:

  • You understand their desire for a fast response
  • You have the tools and resources to address their concerns quickly
  • You are serious about wanting to do business with them

2) Gather valuable customer data

 

Chat transcripts provide valuable Voice of Customer (VOC) data that can be instrumental in helping you shape your sales and marketing plans. For instance, you can review questions, words, and key phrases that prospects use when inquiring about your products. The data you retrieve can help you identify the following:

  • Which of your products or services are in the highest demand
  • The keywords that your customers use to discuss products and services they need
  • Customer opinions and suggestions related to your products, website, and content

3) Add a human element to the sales process

“Most savvy merchants understand the importance of human interaction, no matter how strong the investment in multichannel selling and digital customer service. In fact, a recent global study of more than 24,000 consumers and 1,000 businesses confirms the fact in no uncertain terms: consumers everywhere highly value the human element in their interactions with businesses.”

– Anne Patton, Vice President of Marketing for Verint Systems

As automation gains popularity across the globe, a growing number of consumers are craving the personalized approach that accompanies interaction with a human. Offering customers the option to chat about your products and services provides this necessary personalization and humanizes your business.

4) Keep your customers engaged

The typical website visitor will leave your website after only 10 to 20 seconds, highlighting the need to keep visitors engaged. Customers who interact with chat agents are more likely to stay on your website longer, which will ultimately increase the likelihood of conversions.

 

5) Reinforce your brand to customers

“Agents should draw on corporate identity, sales chat purpose and audience expectations to shape the voice and tone of their chat sessions… Agents should be trained on, and expected to convey, the official voice and tone of the company they’re representing (e.g. informative, professional and innovative).”

 

– TELUS International

As a business professional, you already know that many of your customers make choices based on company branding. Chat sessions provide a prime opportunity for sales agents to promote your brand and allow customers to connect with your brand and learn more about your products and services. Furthermore, it’s easy to make your chat solution act as a seamless extension of your company branding by incorporating custom fonts, brand colors, and backgrounds into your chat boxes and buttons.

6) Upsell and cross-sell

Once a chat is initiated and the lead is fully engaged, you have the exciting opportunity to educate the buyer and provide product recommendations using a consultative sales approach. In some cases, this means introducing the customer to a new or superior product that better meets his or her needs. The end result is often a higher rate of customer satisfaction — and a healthier bottom line for your business.

7) Shorten the sales cycle

“People are making decisions faster than ever before, and they expect to be able to act on those decisions instantly. People want help in these decision-making moments. For marketers, this means shifting their strategies to keep pace with these impatient consumers.”

 

– Think with Google

Customers who use live chat to inquire about products typically receive responses to their questions in a matter of seconds. By receiving key product details more quickly, customers are able to expedite their purchasing decisions, thereby shortening the overall sales cycle and delighting sales professionals.

8) Set yourself apart from your competitors

“True story that relates to sales. Someone was visiting our site and asked me to tell him what we did better than our competitors. I asked in return, ‘Were you able to chat with any of them today online?’ He said, ‘no :)’, signed up, and paid for our service that day.”

– Josh Ledgard, Founder of KickoffLabs

In spite of the fact that consumer demand for live chat grew 8.3% in 2017, there are still many businesses that are not offering chat to their customers. Live chat enables your business to be competitive and effectively stand out in a sea of similar offerings.

9) Post-sale customer support

Post-sale support is vital to a successful customer journey. Customers can use the chat feature to quickly reach out to manufacturers and service providers to ask product-related questions and relay the following:

  • Inquiries regarding product assembly, setup, etc
  • General technical support questions about a product or service
  • Requests for operators manuals, service manuals, additional training, etc

10) Resolve questions and problems quickly

“Live chat isn’t just good for communication, it’s good for saving time. In fact, statistics show that most problems get resolved in 42 seconds – meaning you can help more customers, while your customers get the answers they need in the fashion they want.”

– Daniel James, Business2Community

Speed is King for a growing number of busy consumers. Questions and problems seem to crop up at the most unpredictable times, sometimes arising on the weekends or in the middle of the night. Companies that feature 24/7 chat (supplemented with the assistance of chatbot technology) are able to offer an unparalleled level of responsiveness by providing customers with a fast, convenient way to access support.

 

Download Now  


Recent Posts

Blog Categories


Sign up to receive our latest research, updates and success stories.
Live Chat Newsletter

Where Does Chat Fit Into Your Sales Funnel?

Where Does Chat Fit Into Your Sales Funnel?

Your company’s website is, in almost all circumstances, your most important online asset. It is the universal landing page for successful SEO, it is what your customers are familiar with and what guides leads to conversion. No doubt you and your web developer have done a lot of thinking about what features to include and how the website is arranged.

Implementing a chat solution on your business website provides a clear competitive advantage. Chat is great for quickly dealing with customer service issues, increasing customer satisfaction, and reducing cost-per-interaction. However, what about your sales funnel? If used correctly, website chat can maximize inbound leads and increase conversion rates.

Clarify shopper questions

The first and most direct interaction that website chat has with the sales funnel is the ability for customers to simply ask a question (as they might in a real store), and receive an answer from a live customer service agent. Anyone who has ever worked in retail can understand the value of quickly and easily answering customer questions, especially when chat agents are able to handle two to five conversations concurrently on average.

This allows website visitors to continue their research of your products and services with the help of a sales or support rep. Prospective buyers can start a chat conversation to ask if you carry shoes in their size or offer service in their zip code and one of your helpful customer service agents can give them the answer in seconds — rather than waiting hours or days as they might after sending an email. The buying process accelerates as picky and cautious customers can make up their minds faster with immediate online help.

Concierge personal shopping

Of course, you don’t have to treat your website chat solution like a completely passive service. Just as many high-end shops have concierge service in which a single host will show buyers around and help them choose items, businesses can offer a personal shopping experience to all or select customers through the convenience of integrated website chat. Agents can politely introduce themselves and offer assistance when a visitor or lead first lands on your website and then they can choose whether or not to shop with the help of a personal chat concierge service.

Needless to say, for certain target audiences and for those who simply enjoy the attention and personalized interaction of shopping with a knowledgeable guide, this kind of service could earn you loyal customers (and perhaps even a delighted social media share) for a unique online experience.

Pre-scheduling consultations

For many businesses, it’s important that the client know exactly what they want before they make an order. From doctor’s offices to custom construction services, it may be helpful for you to have every customer talk to an agent for a few minutes before they schedule an appointment or service. If you have been relying on phone calls, you may have been losing business from people who don’t care to or can’t talk over the phone. Even if you have a fairly functional survey system, a live chat agent is better equipped to handle unusual situations that online forms simply can’t, and may earn you a few extra sales from people who would have struggled to manage the survey.

In many ways, having an integrated website chat feature is like having a helpful, personal greeter for your website that every customer can interact with.

Lead qualification

Not all leads are good leads. This is one of the first lessons of almost any marketing or sales training. Just because someone has clicked on your ad or looked at your website doesn’t mean they are automatically ready to purchase your product or services (or are even looking for them in the first place). What signifies a qualified lead is often a complex combination of factors and often, human interactions are required to fully qualify a website visitor’s current position along the sales funnel.

A live chat feature in your website can proactively reach out to leads based on specific triggers like time on page, page URL, location, language, and more. Putting a custom chat button on your business website also makes it easy for website visitors to start a chat with a sales development representative, who can qualify the lead during the conversation.

Catch-all customer service

The customer journey is not always a straightforward path for every prospective customer or even for current customers. Some people need help finding what they want, others know exactly what they want and need it specially ordered. Some have account trouble, others order packages and then change locations. The better your team can handle every single one of these potential obstacles, the easier it will be to build a loyal customer base. Providing chat solutions on your website ensures that leads and customers who come looking for answers online will have an easy way to speak with a human and get their issue or questions sorted out.