If you’re getting ready to set up a live chat service for your website take a look at these seven steps to live chat implementation. They will help to ensure that you start with the right foundations and then build on the lessons learned from live data, which will go a long way to ensuring that your engagements are targeted to where they can create real value for you and your customers.
Step 1 – Configure your chat software/admin settings
Before you get started you need to think about how you (or your live chat operators) will use your chosen live chat software to receive and handle chat requests. This will depend on how many chat operators you will have – possibly at different times – and on what level of traffic you expect to receive to your live chat service.
The settings that you choose are important because they are the foundations for your live chat customer experience. Think about what your customers will expect from your live chat service and ensure that your settings are configured appropriately.
As a rule the questions you should consider are:
- How many chats do you want to handle at any one time?
- Do you want to manually assign chats to operators? Or do you want chats to be automatically assigned to the next ‘available’ operator?
- Do you want to show or hide your live chat service when you or your operators are not available to chat?
- If you choose to show the service when operators are not available to chat, do you want to send your visitors to a form where you can capture their details? (Or do you want to put your visitors into a queue?)
- If you put your visitors into a queue, do you want to limit the size of the queue and then hide the live chat service?
- Do you want to give visitors the option to exit the queue and give you their details?
Step 2 – Create your operator account/s
Now that you’ve configured your main settings you can set up your live chat operator account/s. Think about how you want your live chat operators to be recognised. Will they use first name only or will they use first and second name? You might feel it more appropriate to give your operators nicknames. Do you want a photo to be displayed when one of your live chat operators answers a question?
If you sell a range of products do you need to assign different operators to different areas of expertise? Think about how you will ensure that the right questions will be allocated to the right operators.
How many operators will you need? If you need lots, what roles will you assign to the team? Will you for example allocate the role of supervisor to one operator who can keep an eye on all the chats coming in, and ensure that chats are being assigned to the right people?
Putting the right structure in place is important because without it you won’t be able to deliver a first class live chat service, and this is essential if you are to engender confidence in your brand. Remember, your live chat service is a key aspect of your customer service offering.
Step 3 – Set up your “canned messages”
Canned messages are predefined responses to previously anticipated questions. They help your live chat operators to become more productive and better informed. They form the start of a knowledge base, which can grow over time as you learn more about what types of questions your customers will ask you when they use the live chat service on your website.
Live chat software solutions have varying capabilities in this area. Our software for example gives you the option to use an algorithm, which automatically searches your canned message repository based on the real-time conversation occurring between the operator and the website visitor. Productivity is maximised because the most appropriate responses appear right where the operator needs them.
There is also the ability to manually search for appropriate canned messages using key words or key phrases from the customer’s question.
Canned messages are extremely useful in providing for efficiency, consistency and learning. However, your customers are unique. Standardised responses, which canned messages inevitably capture, will likely need tailoring to the question that is being asked if you are not to appear too robotic in your communication.
For sales-focused canned messages, create two versions and split test them.
Step 4 – Design your chat button and chat window
Now you’ve laid the foundations for your live chat offering, structured your team so that they are able to handle the level and types of enquiries you expect to receive, and developed a healthy bank of canned answers to facilitate efficiency and consistency in your service proposition you can start to think about what live chat will actually look like on your website.
Whether you decide to use a discreet chat button that sits somewhere on the edge of your page ie to the left or at the top, or whether you decide to provide access to the service via an image somewhere prominent on your homepage and other pages will depend on a range of factors primarily around when and why customers will want to use your service – and much of this will become apparent to you once you have been using it for a while so that you can capture and analyse usage data.
Chat windows are fairly standard, but again think about your customers and what their expectations are likely to be. The important is to ensure your chat window is intuitive for customers to understand and use.
Step 5 – Live service and monitoring
Once your service is live you should monitor it closely to find out why visitors are using your live chat service and how well they are responding to it. This way you’ll gain really useful insights into how you the service can be developed and improved.
At Yomdel we have a testing process that is focussed on achieving continuous improvement in live chat capability. You can read more about this in my series of blogs on testing your live chat service. In essence the questions you need to answer are around what works and what doesn’t? You need to know when people use your live chat service. What time? What pages? Why? In what context do they use the service? What questions do they ask?
During this process you will very quickly gain insight into where live chat adds real value to the customer experience on your website. Now you can start to think about when, where, how you should proactively target live chat engagements on your website, thus ensuring that your live chat service is targeted where it will create value for you and your customers.
Step 6 – Configure auto-invite rules
It is difficult for me to say what auto-invites will work for you and which won’t. Simply put, proactive chat done right can be a powerful way of meeting customer needs and increasing your online sales, but done wrong it will irritate your customers – and potentially send them shopping elsewhere.
Everything you need to know for a productive proactive chat campaign is in your analytics and chat reports. Hence to deliver positive results it is wise to establish a foundation with reactive chat using the first five steps in this process before you implement proactive chat. However, the types of rules that you will need to think about when configuring your proactive chat invite rule sets might be:
- After how long – in minutes/seconds – should a proactive invite be triggered?
- Should there be a minimum number of pages that a user clicks on/views before seeing a proactive invite?
- After how many invite declines should you stop inviting?
- After how many invite ignores should you stop inviting?
- Should there be any exceptions to the above rules and if so how many – and what should those exceptions be?
- Should you tailor your invites to different user groups ie depending on where they are based and/or what products they have been looking at?
- Should you use chat invites to achieve certain campaign objectives if for example visitors came to your website via certain sources/referrers?
- If you are going to serve more than one proactive invite how long should you leave it since the last ignored or rejected invite before serving a second invite and so on?
Step 7 – Custom chat invite/s creation
By now you’ve had live chat up and running for long enough to gain some insight into what works and what doesn’t. You’ve used that information to iterate your live chat service and you’ve developed some rules that enable you to target live chat to where you know it will add real value to the customer experience.
Now you’re ready to customise the type, style and behaviour of chat invitations so that they can be displayed to your visitors based on the rules you configured at step six above.
Different live chat software platforms offer varying levels of capability in this area. Our platform enables you to target different designs at different behaviours and user groups (or even users if you want to get really granular!). In this way you can be sure that you are targeting the right person with the right message in the right place at the right time.
Executed in this way live chat is a powerful tool.
Use the capability within your chosen live chat software platform to monitor user behaviour and you’ll deliver genuine value for your customers.