What is customer support live chat? We break down definitions, benefits, and best practices of this important support channel.
Published on: Nov 30, 2023
Last updated: Feb 26, 2024

What Is Customer Support Live Chat?

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For a lot of your customers, calling in or waiting for a lengthy email response isn’t always preferable. They’re looking for the fastest, most frictionless solution to their issues. What’s the best way to provide that?

Live chat is a longstanding form of customer service and has become a favorite for many call-shy or time constrained consumers. With that in mind, this is something your business should focus on implementing to its fullest potential.

But what exactly is live chat customer support, and what are the keys things to know when setting up a live chat service?

Read on to find out more.

If you’re interested in finding out how live chat compares to phone support, which live chat apps are best for customer support, or some examples of quality live chat scripts for your customer support agents, check out some of our other blogs.

What is live chat customer support?

To begin, we need to define exactly what live chat customer support entails.

Live chat customer support is essentially an instant messaging function embedded into your website, web app or social media. Through this, customers are able to send messages to customer support agents to request support and receive (relatively) instant responses.

Compared to other means of customer support, live chat offers the benefits of allowing customers to multi-task whilst waiting for a response, reducing elaborate back and forth over extended periods of time, and eliminating anxiety for any call-shy customers.

Live chat best practices

If you’re looking to implement a live chat feature into your customer service offering, it’s important to know the best practices to achieve maximum results.

Even if you already have an established live chat feature, you might find some tips and tricks here that help you take your service to new heights.

Read on to find out more about live chat best practices.

Place your chat window in a subtle location

The details matter when developing a frictionless, user-friendly live chat experience. One of these details is exactly where your live chat window is positioned within your website.

Many consumers opt for live chat support when they are preoccupied with work or other daily activities, so by placing your chat window in a subtle location they are able to continue their browsing experience whilst waiting for responses.

If your chat window dominates the webpage, you are limiting your customers’ ability to continue browsing your website whilst they await your next response. As your customers are already on your site for support, giving them the option to browse your other products or services is a surefire way to increase up and cross sell opportunities.

Offer 24/7 support

Unfortunately, customer issues don’t solely arise from nine to five. Product-breaking technical faults or service interruptions can happen at any time, which is why offering round-the-clock support can provide a huge boost for your customers.

Customers who encounter issues outside of standard working hours are still looking for support, and if they can’t find it right away, they may look elsewhere. Offering 24/7 support and technical solutions can help to reduce customer churn by keeping their service in full working order, keeping them happy and satisfied.

However, offering round-the-clock support doesn’t come without its cost. Staffing your customer support channels with live agents can be a big expense, so consider using AI or chatbots in combination to provide wider-spanning support.

Make use of AI and chatbots

Speaking of AI and chatbots, these are two tools which can greatly improve your live chat service without putting additional strain on your customer support team.

Chatbots can handle the initial stage of a customer support query by taking the necessary personal information, providing simple troubleshooting information, and assigning the customer to a suitable agent based on the nature of their enquiry.

However, not all chatbots are created equal. There are five main types of chatbots, each of which provides its own advantages and functionalities. Consider these five options and select the one which suits your business and its customers best.

  1. Button-based – these chatbots provide a list of potential options for customers to choose from. This continues until a solution is reached, or a customer needs to be passed on to a human agent.
  2. Rule-based – this form of chatbot essentially functions as an interactive FAQ, using keyword detection to identify the nature of the enquiry.
  3. AI-powered – backed by next-generation Artificial Intelligence, these chatbots can understand messages and queries in a much deeper sense.
  4. Voice – as you might expect, these chatbots include voice-to-text functionality, allowing customers to communicate with it just as they would with a human agent on the phone.
  5. Generative AI – this is the most advanced form of chatbot. With extensive fluency in language and sentiment analysis, these chatbots can provide empathetic responses and true-to-life conversations.

Train support agents

In order to deliver great service, your agents need to be comprehensively trained.

From setting response time KPIs and learning effective scripts to dealing with frustrated customers and potential conflict situations, you need to prepare your agents for anything your customers might need.

If you’re looking to bolster your live chat scripts, you can view a wide range of them in our blog, here.

Analyze your live chat data

Data can tell you almost everything you need to know about your live chat experience.

By digging into the data, you can uncover how many of your customers received effective resolutions, how long the average chat takes, and how many customers leave unresolved or frustrated.

Consider evaluating your live chat data against industry benchmarks to ensure you are delivering the levels of service your customers expect.

Determine your live chat staffing requirements

As a customer, there’s nothing worse than sitting in a long live chat queue with no defined wait time. However, as a business owner, there’s nothing worse than spending thousands on live chat staffing, only to have them twiddling their thumbs as they wait for customers to get in touch.

Identifying how many customer support representatives you need can be a challenge, so read our other blog on this topic to help you determine your live chat staffing requirements.

Consider offering live chat in different languages

Accessibility is key when providing customer support and one of the simplest ways to make your service more useable is to offer it in different languages.

Whether you operate in one country or welcome customers from around the world, implementing multiple language support into your live chat can help your customers feel more comfortable approaching you for support.

Furthermore, offering support in different languages can also expedite the resolution process as this limits miscommunication caused by a language barrier.

Make use of multi-channel support software

As live chat software can be implemented into more than just your website, you need to be fully prepared to handle incoming queries from other platforms, such as social media.

However, keeping track of these enquiries when they’re coming in from all angles can be a challenge.

Thankfully, there is an extensive range of multichannel support software available to help combine all of your customer support tickets into one manageable place, ensuring no customers fall by the wayside.

Follow these links to find out more about multichannel customer support and the best software options on the market.

Conclusion

There’s no denying it, live chat customer support is one of the most effective customer resolution tools available to your business.

However, it’s not always as simple as a ‘plug and play’ when you’re looking for the best results and customer experience, so consider our points above to begin developing a robust, frictionless service for your customers.

Get it right and watch those customer satisfaction numbers skyrocket in no time.

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