Considering offering live chat support to your company’s channels? Knowing where to start can be tough, especially when there are so many promising providers to choose from. We’ve trawled the Internet to bring together five of the most desirable features that your next chat tool service must have.
Whether it’s reading providers’ sales pages to check the latest and greatest technology on offer, or fine-tooth combing reviews and threads to see what companies aren’t doing so well, we’ve gathered all the data to form this 5-step buying guide.
1. Management for all communications
Taking a small business or self-employed enterprise to the next level can be a particularly daunting task, and as your company grows, so do its requirements for all sorts of software and services. Organization is key, and the earlier you establish processes, the better.
We think that using dedicated help desk software to centralize communications can be priceless, particularly for customer-facing organizations who may receive tens or even hundreds of queries in a day. This will allow you to track key targets like leads, and secondary (but no less important) targets like satisfaction, all in one place.
The best communication management platforms will allow you to label messages according to their query type (such as sales or support), as well as their urgency and whether they can be considered completed and closed.
For larger teams, being able to share this information and make internal notes can help ensure a good level of quality even when agents may be away from their desks and another member of staff needs to step in. This can be just as helpful when you need to transfer a customer from one department to another - such as from product enquiries to aftercare.
2. Data gathering and performance tracking
In order to grow a company, a whole host of figures are needed, and many of these can be collected through analytics channels. Whether that’s understanding your spending, or a more granular look into employee productivity, the best live chat tools should be able to break these down for you.
You may want to consider things like the number of tickets you receive in a typical day, and the first response time or how long it takes for a ticket to be marked as completed.
More advanced users may want to consider tools that offer third-party integrations, such as Google Analytics and any other dashboards that they may use more widely across their operations.
3. Rich conversations
Real-time communication is both efficient, and unpredictable. Sometimes a customer may need to leave the chat, or an agent may be logging off for the day. The best live chat tools should be able to keep a history of previous conversations so that both ends can refer back to any historic messages to avoid unnecessary duplication.
Early live chat tools were reserved solely for text input, however if you’re looking to upgrade, or even to commit to your first provider, the time has come to support more content from within the chat window. Users and agents should be able to send and receive common file types like documents and media, which can help keep things like returns information in one place.
A certain degree of automation can also enhance a user’s experience. The collection of preliminary information, such as contact details, along with notes about the issue or query, can be handled by a chat bot, helping to save agents time and find a solution more quickly.
4. Streamlined approach to easy communications
As you scale your business, you’ll want to make sure that you are maintaining consistency and being as efficient as you can. Some companies allow agents to create canned responses for frequently used messages, such as for providing seasonal discount codes or simple information like opening hours and contact details.
For less commonly asked questions, you’ll want to make sure that your staff have the information at hand. This could be via some sort of knowledge hub and/or easy communication links with different teams that hold the relevant information.
5. More platforms and enhanced accessibility
Chat pop-up windows in the corner of e-commerce websites have been with us for many years, however customers have started to expect a higher level of service and it’s our duty as businesses to enhance their experience.
It has been proven that most web users are now accessing pages from smaller devices like smartphones and tablets, meaning that a mobile-friendly version of your site is being accessed. The live chat tool should be able to handle this and remain just as effective.
There are plenty of other, third-party tools that customers may find more appealing. Platforms like WhatsApp, Messenger, and Apple Business Chat allow customers to remain in touch without losing a conversation by accidentally closing a tab. It shouldn’t be hard to find a live chat provider that can support these types of channels.
A certain amount of emphasis should also be placed on a live chat’s visual appeal and ease of use, which could mean being able to apply a personalized color palette to remain consistent with your branding, embed company logos, and create staff profiles to add an extra personal touch.
We couldn’t help ourselves but give security a mention, because the rise in Internet-based transactions has meant that some malicious actors want to get access to sensitive information like bank card details. You’ll want to make sure that any service you use is as secure as it can be.
Sharing information about its security protocols and that it has invested in different types of protection are all green flags for a company. This could range from encryption and regulation compliance like GDPR, to two-factor authentication and managing access for trusted IP addresses.
Customers also like to see that their data is being held securely. Some chat tools may automatically hide sensitive information like payment details, or offer a secure form for customers to share such information.
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With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!