5 Best Practices for Aligning Customer Service and Sales Teams

5 Best Practices for Aligning Customer Service and Sales Teams

Customers in a variety of fields now expect more personalized care than ever before when they interact with businesses. This means that sales and customer service teams must work together to create a seamless, unified customer experience and stay aligned.

If a customer has spoken with the sales team, it is possible that they will expect their history and information to be readily available to the customer service representatives as well, rather than lost in a separate documentation system.

It makes sense that teams often turn inward for help, becoming more and more reliant on each other rather than on other teams in the customer satisfaction process. However, your best resources might actually be on a team that is pre-sale or post-sale; the customer service team has incredible insight to assist the sales team in their work and vice versa. Your company will benefit because clients will feel the seamlessness of their experience, and your teams will also be more satisfied because they won’t feel isolated in their tasks.

Here are some great ways to align your customer service teams and sales teams.

Get Everyone Hooked on the Same Customer Journey Vision

Many of the most successful companies these days attribute their success to an overall vision: often it is a willingness to go the extra mile to make a customer happy, or a deliberate turn to enthusiasm in customer contact calls. Regardless of what you choose to be the hallmark of your buyer’s journey, pick something that can be consistently applied from marketing, through sales, and into the customer support teams.

When your customers notice that pleasant greetings, outstanding knowledge, and a willingness to go the extra mile are consistently available to them, their opinion of your company will only continue to grow. Company retreats can be great places to get everyone focused on the bigger vision and a great side effect is an opportunity for every team to learn more about what the other teams do and appreciate them.

Connect Teams Digitally For Easy Information Flow

Your company’s preferred CRM may be excellent, but if your company is using it in such a way that data isn’t flowing clearly from one team to the next, you are missing out on a great alignment opportunity. By combining all conversations, emails, and support requests into the same client data system that is shared with all necessary teams, you allow any representative to pick up the phone and talk knowledgeably about current and past client history.

Even the most polite sales rep may frustrate a customer if they don’t have access to the information they need to continue solving a problem. Invest the time in getting sales to document the process of getting the customer in the first place, and in exchange, get customer service to document any issues or positive feedback they offer down the road.

Meet to Discuss High-Profile, High-Volume Clients

When your company relies on a few large clients as opposed to many smaller ones, it is worthwhile to get the stakeholders on the sales and customer support team together to run down the basics of what those clients have been up to. Both teams can provide clarity for each other about what the pain points, use cases, and long-term goals are for your high-value clients. When much of your business comes from just a few clients, it’s important for everyone to work together as a combined team to proactively solve any issues they experience and provide a stellar experience.

Identify and Share Opportunities to Build Brand Loyalty

Sometimes, a support call will yield information that makes it clear that the client is interested in another one of your products. In other contexts, a sales representative might need to bring customer support into the conversation to solve a prior issue first and then land the next upgrade opportunity. Regardless, keeping that key information within a single team doesn’t benefit anyone. Building brand loyalty has to do with doing what other companies often cannot do, i.e., align their teams to offer exactly what the customer needs or wants in the moment. The best sales are the ones that help the client meet their specific needs fully and achieve their business goals, and opportunities to have those conversations often happen naturally when your clients are on the phone with customer service.

If you can upsell, cross-sell, or renew a client’s interest organically and get them to the right sales person to complete the process, they will feel cared for and you’ll be part of your company’s success. Facilitating these kinds of interactions also makes the members of individual teams feel supported and effective, which can go a long way to reducing employee turnover and increasing the longevity and experience of your employees.

Pass Along All Feedback For Iterative Improvement

Both customer support and sales teams keep data and analytics about what is working (and not working) along the buyer’s journey. This data is often most relevant inside the team, but another team might actually have a better or more interesting insight if they can get their hands on those numbers. This isn’t about a blame game – getting the teams in a room together and discussing analytics should always be about ‘what can we try next?‘ rather than ‘why didn’t we make that sale?‘ Excellent customer care requires sharing the insights you glean from customers all the way up the channel. Otherwise, the resources and time it takes to gather that data is truly underutilized.

Aligning these teams is worth the time and attention to detail that such an effort requires. Word-of-mouth advertising has amazing ROI, and aligning your teams might be the start of an excellent conversation about your company’s ability to satisfy your customers’ needs no matter how many team(s) are involved.

How Live Chat Helps Businesses Engage with B2B Buyers

How Live Chat Helps Businesses Engage with B2B Buyers

Business-to-business and business-to-consumer clients are different in many ways. With B2B, you are dealing with a well-informed and busy audience. These are professionals on a tight schedule who must justify all of their purchases based on demonstrated value and ROI. Finding effective ways to engage with B2B buyers can be challenging. One of the best tools for this purpose is live chat. Let’s look at how this technology can help you generate sales and improve your image with these unique clients.

How B2B clients are different

B2B clients are unique in a number of ways.

  • They are always concerned about the bottom line. Business owners and managers need to calculate the best ROI for every purchase. You can be sure they’ll be comparing your offer with others and analyze which is the better business decision.
  • They want details and specifics. Consumers often buy based on emotional decisions and on what’s trending. While B2B buyers aren’t immune to trends and emotions, they focus more on specs and details before they make decisions. You need to provide them with practical information that relates to their needs.
  • They are busy and time-challenged. B2B clients don’t want to waste time searching for information or sorting through fluff and filler. They want easy access to relevant information as quickly as possible. They also appreciate an omnichannel approach which lets them receive responses on whatever device or platform they’re using. As it stands, they don’t often receive the kind of support they desire. According to a survey by TimeTrade, a whopping 84% of B2B buyers frequently do not receive answers to their questions regarding a purchase.
  • They are more knowledgeable than the average consumer. With B2C marketing, it’s usually best to use everyday language and avoid industry jargon. With B2B clients, however, you can assume your audience is well-versed in the type of products or services you’re peddling. You can (and should) get more technical. In fact, you need to show that you respect their knowledge.
  • You may need to convince multiple decision-makers. With B2C, you’re typically selling to one person or, in some cases, a couple. With B2B, however, there are often several layers to penetrate. That’s why it’s so important to present a strong case with plenty of evidence.

Why live chat is the ideal way to reach B2B buyers

Engaging with B2B buyers requires a complete strategy that includes tactics such as content marketing, hiring knowledgeable sales and customer service reps, and maintaining a strong presence on social media, especially LinkedIn. One factor that can make a big difference is introducing live chat on your website. This single feature actually goes a long way in addressing many of the unique needs of B2B clients.

Provides efficient answers

As we noted, B2B buyers are busy and seek relevant information and answers to their questions. Live chat makes it possible for someone to get a prompt reply to any question. The chat agent can either answer questions directly, refer the visitor to the appropriate page, or forward the inquiry to someone who can answer it. This can save the prospect lots of time he or she might have otherwise spend searching your site (or, as the case may be, simply giving up and checking out your competitors).

Generates leads and sales

Every investment you make in your business must ultimately be justified by a positive ROI. There’s evidence that live chat helps you improve B2B sales. According to the American Marketing Association, live chat increases conversions by 20%. Just as impressively, adding this feature improves overall ROI by a whopping 305%. 

Helps you understand your customers

One of the most valuable aspects of live chat is that it provides you with a format that’s easy to study. By looking at chat histories, you can identify your customers’ needs and most pressing problems. You can also get a good sense of how effectively chat agents are addressing these concerns. It’s much harder to go back and listen to phone conversations. With chat logs, you can scan sessions and gather information you can use to improve all aspects of your business. The best chat providers also provide you with custom reports that let you perform analytics to help you track your results.

A powerful branding tool

One of the best reasons to implement live chat on your website is that it helps to strengthen your brand. This is valuable even if you don’t make an immediate sale. Potential clients who are able to interact with you via chat leave knowing more about your company and products than they did before. Browsing a website is a fairly impersonal process. When visitors actually talk to someone, they’re more likely to remember you as well as have a more positive view of your company. This is a feature that lets you differentiate yourself from the competition right away, the moment someone lands on your website.

Getting the most out of your chat software

Once you recognize how much chat can do to upgrade your engagement with B2B buyers, it’s a question of finding the right solution and learning how to use it to your advantage.

  • Find the right chat provider for your needs. You need to do your research to find the best chat provider. Consider features, customer service, cost, convenience, security requirements, and more.
  • Chat must be easy to use. The whole point of live chat is to allow visitors to get fast answers and solutions. For this to work, the chat window must be visible on every page and it must be easy for website visitors initiate conversations.
  • Make sure your chat agents are helpful and knowledgeable. While getting a quick response is a start, it’s also important that visitors get real value from live chat. In one survey, 94% of respondents said they are more likely to buy from a company when they have live interactions with knowledgeable employees.
  • Emphasize speed. Studies indicate that 60% of customers don’t want to wait more than a minute for a response. You can speed up interactions by providing agents with canned responses, including helpful links, for common questions. Another way to make interactions more efficient is to start by having visitors answer a pre-chat survey.

If you want to engage more effectively with your B2B clients, live chat is one of your best options. It gives you a way to offer fast and personalized service to busy professionals who don’t have time to waste. Quality chat software also lets you track valuable analytics so you can upgrade your customer service and provide even better solutions to your clients.

Announcing Approval Bot for GDPR Compliance and Chat Routing

Announcing Approval Bot for GDPR Compliance and Chat Routing

We’re thrilled to announce a new addition to our chatbot offering! The new Approval Bot is a customizable chatbot that helps businesses (especially businesses that adhere to GDPR-compliant practices) ask website visitors for data processing acceptance/consent before a chat session is initiated. The Approval Bot is also useful for automated chat routing and chat segmentation.

How does the GDPR affect businesses?

When the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) went into effect on May 25, 2018, many sweeping new data protection regulations were put into place for businesses that handle the personal data of EU citizens. This regulation signified the largest change in data privacy regulation history in over 20 years, and is comprised of a set of laws that aim to provide increased protection of EU citizens’ personal data. The GDPR applies to all organizations that handle, control, or process the data of EU citizens, regardless of where in the world those organizations are located.

Key changes to prior data protection regulations include increased territorial scope and applicability, changes to breach notification and penalties, and increased conditions for consent. Under the GDPR, EU citizens possess rights related to the following: data breach, right to access data, right to be forgotten, data portability, privacy by design, and more. You can read more about the GDPR here.

 

Using the Approval Bot to fulfill GDPR requirements

One of the key components of the GDPR centers upon increased conditions for data transfer/processing consent and increased transparency regarding situations where personal data will be transferred. A live chat conversation is a prime example of a situation in which this type of personal data transfer could occur (for example, a chat agent may request a visitor’s email address, name, phone number, etc for both sales and customer support scenarios).

The Approval Bot makes it easy for businesses using SnapEngage to ask website visitors for consent/acceptance prior to starting a chat conversation (even when proactive chat is used). When a website visitor first initiates a chat conversation or responds to a proactive invitation, the Approval Bot greets the visitor and a data processing consent clause will be displayed to the visitor. All language used by the Approval Bot is completely customizable (including the initial legal text/statement, accept/decline instructions, specific accept and decline word(s), post-decline text, and ‘response not recognized’ text). 

Here’s an example of the data consent terminology used currently on the SnapEngage website:

 

Please note: This is an example of the data consent terminology used by SnapEngage specifically. The data consent terminology for your business will be based on your unique business model and how your business handles personal data.

We strongly advise and recommend that you work closely with your organization’s legal department and Information Security Officer to craft a legally appropriate message for your business.

 

 

 

 

 

Once the Approval Bot is enabled via the Admin Dashboard, a website visitor will not be able to initiate a chat conversation with an agent until they clearly (in this case by typing ‘Yes’) acknowledge that they read and understand the statement and also provide consent for data transfer during the subsequent chat conversation. If the visitor declines and does not give their consent (in this case by typing ‘No’), then the chat session will automatically disconnect and all data from the chat will be automatically deleted.

The Approval Bot is further enhanced by location-based settings because SnapEngage automatically detects the website visitor’s location. Therefore, businesses have the ability to automatically launch the Approval Bot for website visitors from the following geographic locations: European Union (EU) only, EU and unknown locations, or for all geographic locations. SnapEngage uses the Approval Bot to adhere to the GDPR specifically, so we’ve set up our Approval Bot to launch only when visitors from EU countries initiate a chat.

Additional routing applications for the Approval Bot

Even though the Approval Bot’s primary application is for data consent purposes, the customizable nature of the bot makes it useful for additional scenarios that require automated chat routing and filtering/segmentation. For example, depending on your business model and industry vertical there may be two segments of customers or prospects that your team typically interacts with. Is there one segment that your business would like to offer live chat services to, and a second segment that your business would prefer to direct to a website form or other non-chat methods of assistance? This is a perfect example of a secondary use case for the Approval Bot!

Perhaps your company offers real estate services and you’d like home buyers and sellers to start live chat conversations with your team, but you’d prefer your second audience segment (real estate agents) to call your team directly. Using the fully-customizable Approval Bot, you can set up the initial automated greeting text to ask the website visitor to type in whether they are a Buyer, Seller, or Agent. You can then set up the Approval Bot settings so that ‘Buyer’ and ‘Seller’ text responses are routed to the ‘accept’ track, and ‘Agent’ responses are routed to the ‘decline’ track with appropriate messaging for each.

Any type of scenario where your organization would like to offer chat services to a particular segment(s) but not to other segment(s) makes a great secondary use case for the Approval Bot. Think of universities and colleges catering chat services to prospective students vs. current students, services for job-seekers vs. hiring companies, businesses differentiating between sales leads vs. support inquiries, or healthcare websites offering live chat services to patients vs. doctors/providers – the opportunities are endless. While this routing does depend on whatever text the visitor types in (meaning there is a chance the visitor could self-identify incorrectly), the Approval Bot still provides helpful chatbot automation to route inquiries more appropriately for businesses.

7 Tips for Generating Positive Client Testimonials

7 Tips for Generating Positive Client Testimonials

Reviews and testimonials are extremely important for promoting your business. As the internet and social media become even more saturated and competitive, prospective buyers are seeking social proof before they choose a product or service. Testimonials tell readers and viewers what other customers think, which is much more powerful than hearing this from the business alone. One survey found that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as their own friends. How can you motivate your customers to leave reviews? Here are some tips to help you generate more positive customer testimonials.

 

Ask For Testimonials

The first strategy for getting more testimonials is very simple – ask for them! Ask in as many ways as you can think of. Place buttons linking to review sites on your website and social media pages. Request reviews on any printed literature you hand out. If you have a store or office, place signs near the counter or register. Yelp, for example, makes signs for businesses to display.

It’s also perfectly acceptable to ask clients for reviews in person or on the phone. You or your customer representatives just have to do this in a polite manner and at the right time. It’s always best to ask for testimonials when the client is particularly satisfied and/or excited about your product/service. Make it clear you’re asking for a favor rather than making a demand, and make sure to highlight the benefits your client could experience as a result of giving the testimonial (such as possible increased brand awareness/marketing benefit).

 

Set Up Profiles on Several Review Sites

Not all of your customers necessarily use the same review sites. The more sites on which you’re listed, the easier it is to get reviews. If you’re only listed on Yelp, for example, then you’re missing out on people who prefer to leave reviews on Google, Yellow Pages, or another site. Some people aren’t registered with any review sites but might be glad to send you testimonials to post on your website. However, the goal is to make it as easy as possible to get reviews. For this, it’s best to claim your listing with any site that your customers are likely to use.

Also, don’t overlook sites that are specific to your industry. When you take time to set up profiles on review sites in your niche (such as software review sites for SaaS companies like SnapEngage), it’s more likely that visitors to those sites will be a better fit for your product.

 

Automate Requests For Feedback

Many people won’t take the time to provide testimonials without being prompted to do so. It’s not always possible to contact each customer individually to ask for feedback. It’s more efficient to automate the process. You can, for example, send out automated messages via email to all your customers requesting a review. Another great option is to ensure that your live chat software includes a Post-Chat Survey feature, which automatically surveys clients about their experience directly after a chat conversation. Admins will be able to view survey results and comments in real-time, and can use this data to follow-up with satisfied clients right away to identify additional opportunities to collaborate with the client on a testimonial quote, case study, and more.

There are also software programs with advanced features to automate feedback requests. With some of these, you can do more than just send out requests to every customer. You can set up parameters to increase the likelihood of getting positive reviews. For example, you can program the software to only send out requests for your most highly rated products. Or you can program it not to send out requests to people who had to contact customer service after their purpose as customers who’ve had problems are less likely to leave positive reviews.

Ask For Video Testimonials

Written reviews, whether on Yelp, Google, Facebook, or your own website, are great for building social proof. Video reviews, however, are better still. This gives your viewers a chance to see customers explain in their own words what they like about your products. Video testimonials are ideal for showcasing on your website. When making testimonial videos, keep these tips in mind.

  • Videos should be professional but don’t need to be Hollywood quality. If you’re a small or midsize business, your objective is to get across why your customers appreciate your products. You want to make sure they look professional and, even more importantly, that sound quality is good. But you don’t have to spend a fortune investing in technology or expensive production company services.
  • Keep videos short and focused. Anything longer than a couple of minutes is going to challenge your viewers’ attention spans. You can always make a longer video and edit it later.
  • Make sure customers appearing in videos identify themselves. Providing their names, location, and profession helps to establish them as real people.
  • Remember most customers aren’t professional actors. They need a little guidance on what to say. At the same time, don’t ask them to read a script as the whole point is to get someone’s authentic opinion. You can, however, guide them on what topics to cover (e.g. key features about your product).

Use Survey Data to Get More Positive Reviews

Surveys are useful for learning more about your customers. They help you identify what you’re doing well and areas that need attention. Net promoter score surveys are especially useful for helping you gauge customers’ overall satisfaction. These surveys ask how likely it is that someone will buy something from this company again. You can pair NPS surveys with your strategy for getting more online reviews. Target satisfied customers and invite them to write a product review. This strategy has helped SnapEngage increase user reviews on online software review sites.

Send Customers Samples

One way to get reviews for a new product is to send out free samples. The key to doing this successfully is to target the right audience. Sending samples to existing customers who have bought similar products is always a solid strategy. Another option is to target your offers to the appropriate demographic using Facebook ads or another advertising platform.

When sending out free products, you have to be careful about issues such as disclosure, laws, and TOS, especially if reviews appear on websites other than your own. Amazon, for example, specifically prohibits incentivized reviews. You have a lot more leeway when you’re selling from your own website. Even then, however, always ask for honest testimonials. Another thing to keep in mind is that FTC guidelines require that anyone who receives a free product discloses this when leaving a testimonial.

Caveats For Testimonials

In their eagerness to receive testimonials, some business owners make mistakes and engage in practices that do more harm than good. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Don’t argue with reviewers. It’s frustrating to receive negative feedback, especially when you feel it’s unjustified. However, there’s nothing to be gained by getting into public arguments on review sites (or on your own blog). Respond to all reviews politely, even if the reviewer is being rude or abusive. If you have reason to believe the review is fake or attacking you unfairly, contact the site.
  • Never ask for positive reviews. Obviously, you hope your customers will write favorable comments that you’ll be proud to display on your website. However, you never want to say (or even imply) that you expect your clients to write positive reviews.
  • Be careful about incentivized reviews. Until recently, the prevailing notion was that as long as you didn’t demand that customers write positive reviews there was nothing wrong with rewarding them with coupons, free items, or contest entries. However, with growing concerns about fake reviews, many companies, as well as the FTC, are cracking down on incentivized reviews. Google also penalizes businesses that incentivize reviews. As noted above, though, if you’re publishing testimonials on your own website, make sure reviewers disclose any rewards or incentives you’ve provided.

Reviews and testimonials make a big difference for growing your business and acquiring new customers. The number one tip for generating positive testimonials, of course, is to offer quality products and exceptional customer service. However, it’s also necessary to prime the pump and encourage users to tout the virtues of your products. Keep the above tips in mind and you’ll be able to attract more testimonials for your business.

How to Prevent Customer Service Burnout

How to Prevent Customer Service Burnout

Customer service leaders face demanding situations on a daily basis. Without the proper support and company culture, burnout can result. Fortunately, there are some simple measures that managers can take to help prevent burnout and retain top employees. Below is a look at some of the greatest challenges customer service agents face and five steps managers can take to keep customer support staff engaged and satisfied at work.

What are some of the top challenges facing the customer service industry?

“Global consulting firm Mercer’s 2016 U.S. Contact Center Survey results point to non-challenging work, lack of recognition, no career growth or development and inflexible working environment as key contributors to high turnover. Not surprisingly, the report found that turnover is highest among entry-level agents (27%)…”

 

– Susan Hash, Contact Center Pipeline

Working in the customer service arena can be challenging and overwhelming for online chat agents who also face a never-ending stream of calls, support requests, and service tickets. At the same time, life as a chat agent can be redundant, unfulfilling, and not challenging if proper preventative measures aren’t taken. Some problems may linger day after day and there is sometimes little recognition for a job well done. Here are three of the top challenges facing the customer service industry:

1) A high level of job dissatisfaction

Job satisfaction rates in the customer service arena are in need of improvement. There is no single reason for the high level of job dissatisfaction, making it challenging to develop a singular strategy to create a more palatable work environment for customer service employees. Here are just a few of the reasons why customer service agents are often dissatisfied with their jobs:

  • They deal with a steady stream of customers who are angry, frustrated, and sometimes verbally abusive
  • Balancing phone calls, online chat requests, and service tickets can become overwhelming, especially for new employees
  • They are often unable to take their regularly scheduled breaks or enjoy lunch because customer calls last longer than expected

2) Difficulty attracting top employees

Successfully handling customer service issues requires a combination of professionalism, resourcefulness, quick thinking, and time management skills. Unfortunately, the hourly rate of pay for customer service agents with 5-10 years of experience is just over $13 USD per hour. Wages for entry-level agents can be even lower, making it difficult to attract top prospects.

3) High employee turnover

Agent turnover remains the number one concern among managers of customer contact centers. The U.S. Contact Center Decision Makers’ Guide notes the 29 percent turnover rate among CSRs, highlighting a pronounced need to develop strategies to help retain employees – especially those who are models of excellence for their peers.

 

What are the symptoms of customer service burnout?

“Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.”

– Melinda Smith, M.A., Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Lawrence Robinson, and Robert Segal, M.A.

When job demands become too overwhelming to a customer support agent, burnout can result. Burnout is a constellation of symptoms that generally fall into one of the following three categories: physical exhaustion, feelings of failure, and detachment. Customer service agents who experience burnout may present with the following signs:

 

  • Insomnia or sleep disturbances
  • A decline in productivity or attention to their jobs
  • Anxiety or changes in mood at work and at home
  • Cynicism, or feeling as if there is no point in trying at their jobs anymore

What can managers do to help prevent employee burnout?

Burnout is a serious issue that can decimate your customer service teams if it is not addressed. However, there are many ways to treat and even prevent burnout to promote a positive, healthy environment. Preventing burnout begins with awareness of the symptoms and the creation of a pleasant, supportive work culture. We’ve compiled five specific strategies managers can take to help prevent burnout among chat agents.

1) Hire agents who are resilient

Not every person is suited to be an effective customer service agent (and that’s ok!). Customer service work requires a specific personality and skillset. Make sure the employees you hire are aware of the challenges of working as a customer service agent up front. Strive to hire employees who display a knack for working with and communicating well with all kinds of people and who also have effective time management skills, a level-headed demeanor, and excellent investigation and problem-solving skills.

2) Create a work environment that is pleasant and inviting

Creating an inviting, positive work environment can help reduce stress and can make coming to work more enjoyable. Here are some ways that you can create an inviting workspace for employees:

  • Allow employees to personalize their workspaces for a more welcoming office feel
  • Give employees a choice of a standard desk or a standup/adjustable desktop
  • Always make sure agents have the supplies and tools they need to complete their jobs
  • Display a leaderboard in your lobby or breakroom that recognizes top performers for the month

3) Involve agents in the decision-making process

Involving support agents in meetings and decisions helps them to feel valued and can help minimize cynicism. It’s important for agents to feel like their opinion matters and that it will be taken into consideration (even if individual employees does not have full control over the outcomes of certain high-level decisions). Even more importantly, feedback from front-line agents can be instrumental in finding effective solutions to prevent and minimize burnout.

4) Provide easy access to EAPs and other support services

Make sure all employees are aware of the signs of burnout and some strategies they can take to prevent burnout. Nearly 80 percent of companies offer an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP), which offers services to employees who are struggling with symptoms of burnout or other job-related problems. If your company offers an EAP, work with your HR team to make sure this is covered during the employee onboarding process and periodically during the year.

5) Make sure supervisors are available to assist with challenging situations 

Supervisors play a key role in helping to minimize stress among customer support agents. Make sure agents always have access to a supervisor who can intervene if a customer’s behavior becomes inappropriate or abusive. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to remove an agent from the challenging situation and let someone else take over to minimize the impact. It’s also extremely important to make sure that both individual contributors and their managers have access to specific training on techniques to handle demanding situations with grace.

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

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).

10 Reasons to Implement a Sales Chat Strategy

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.

 

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.

Use Labels for Enhanced Chat Segmentation

Use Labels for Enhanced Chat Segmentation

We’ve introduced Labels for enhanced chat segmentation and classification!

The Labels feature allows users to disposition chat conversations and map them easily into an integrated CRM or Help Desk (in addition to chat log CSV exports). This allows for enhanced data tracking, reporting, and better segmentation of SnapEngage conversations. Admins can use Labels to define workflows and integrate SnapEngage more seamlessly with existing processes for more efficient marketing, sales, and support operations. It’s also easy for agents to use Labels to categorize chat conversations during or after a conversation.

 

Labels make it easier to integrate SnapEngage with existing workflows

Label chats directly from the Conversations Hub during or after a chat to categorize and distribute conversations appropriately for optimal customer experiences and make it easy for your team to take proper follow-up actions. Both freeform and pre-defined label options are available – use whichever suits your workflow best. In addition, we also offer label requirements settings.

Existing clients should note that the Labels feature significantly improves upon and replaces the Operator Variables functionality. However, agents can still use Operator Variables with chat commands or shortcuts in the legacy Chat Portal. All users can now configure pre-existing Operator Variables in the new Hub tab of the Admin Dashboard.

If you’re an existing SnapEngage user that hasn’t migrated to the Conversations Hub yet, take a peek here to learn more. The Hub offers an updated, intuitive agent interface where users can manage all conversations with visitors in one central location – no matter the channel.

Omnichannel Expansion with Zalo + SnapEngage Integration

Omnichannel Expansion with Zalo + SnapEngage Integration

We’ve recently expanded our Channels offering with the SnapEngage + Zalo integration. Zalo is one of the fastest-growing mobile messaging applications in Vietnam and was launched by VNG Corporation. As of August 2017, Zalo had over 70 million users concentrated in Vietnam and other areas with large Vietnamese communities (including the United States, Cambodia, France, Australia, Japan, Canada, Taiwan, Germany, South Korea, and more).

 

Explosive growth continues in mobile messaging and online e-commerce

Omnichannel shopping, e-marketplaces, and the continual advancement of social networks have all led online and offline retail to grow at a rapid pace within Vietnam and throughout the world. In fact, the Vietnamese e-commerce market is expected to grow to $10 billion by 2022. Nguyễn Bạch Điệp, the general director of FPT Retail (an IT services company in Vietnam), summed up the evolving market well in a 2018 article and stated:

“The retail industry has seen a rapid change in its business model, from traditional retail to online retail, to serve higher demand from customers. Enterprises that are quick to employ the tools will significantly increase their sales efficiency.”

– Nguyễn Bạch Điệp, General Director, FPT Retail

Businesses with the ability to employ and optimize platforms like Zalo, WeChat, Facebook, Instagram, and e-marketplaces in addition to conventional store websites will be much better equipped to serve the changing needs of today’s shoppers. Modern shoppers now prefer the ability to browse and purchase via mobile or even gaming devices (in addition to the traditional desktop) and also prefer the flexibility to choose from multiple application options when making their purchases.

Reach buyers where they are with Zalo + SnapEngage

With the new Zalo + SnapEngage integration, messages sent to your Zalo account from visitors will be automatically directed to chat agents’ Conversations Hub within SnapEngage. All incoming messages to Zalo will be handled just like any other live chat coming from your traditional website. We’ve also made it easy to connect more than one Zalo account with each SnapEngage widget for a more flexible setup.

This new integration streamlines processes and increases efficiency for agent teams, who can now handle both Zalo and SnapEngage conversations directly inside SnapEngage. This means that sales and support agents don’t need to spend their limited time learning another system or switching constantly between two platforms.

The Zalo integration is another exciting expansion to our Omnichannel offering, which also includes a WeChat integration, Facebook Messenger integration, and SMS-to-Chat functionality.