Live chat software is the It-Girl of the contemporary customer service world. Businesses want it, customers love it, and CS software companies are eager to get their winning live chat solution into the hands of end-users.
Surveys indicate that over half of all consumers prefer a text-based method of communication when speaking to service reps. And 41% of customers actually expect businesses to offer a live chat service option. A formal phone call to customer support may soon be a thing of the past.
Live chat is a modern must-have that e commerce companies should be using to communicate with their customers. Utilizing a solution in such high demand will demonstrate to your audience that you’re on the cutting edge of customer support. In this article, we’ll go over the basics of free live chat, and which live chat software is the best option for you (spoiler alert: it’s Gladly.)
What is free live chat?
Think of it like an instant messenger for your website. Just like facebook messenger, AIM (remember AIM?), or any other direct messaging system, it allows your customer support representatives to communicate with your customers in real time, and vice versa. Business messengers can be highly personalized and may come loaded with special features, or integrate seamlessly into a greater customer relationship management system.
And “free” live chat means that it exists as an inherent piece of your larger customer support solution. Some live chat solutions are their own beast, or featured as purchasable add-ons. The best live chat solutions are ones which are included freely in your customer service software, as the creators understand that live chat is a burgeoning necessity rather than a tech novelty.
Live chat is advantageous for customer support processes as it allows you to walk away briefly without the awkwardness of phone silence or a clunky hold mechanism. Your reps can remain in a chat with their customer while in service. They can even serve multiple customers at once, without sacrificing efficiency or quality of care.
Additionally, live chat offers better and easier methods of record keeping, so that you can maintain a more detailed consumer history. Your live chat inboxes can serve as a convenient data collection point while will help you to better serve repeat customers in the future.
Other advantages of live chat include:
- Reduced expenses.
- Better customer retention.
- Faster problem resolution.
- Expanded market reach.
- And more.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of live chat, we’ll move on to specifics in the next section.
Types of Live Chat Software Tools
The first two categories of live chat software are stand-alone, and all-in-one.
- Stand-alone live chat allows you to send and receive communications with customers, and not much else. There may be integrated features which can optimize the user experience, but they will be isolated within the program and won’t be able to interact with other aspects of your solution.
- All-in-one live chat solutions are more inclusive, featuring the live chat function as just one aspect of a larger CRM system. This type of tool seamlessly integrates with other channels of communication including email and voice calls. All-in-one may also offer aspects such as an integrated knowledge base, social media, ticketing, and more.
Other common tools you’ll find in customer communication solutions include:
Automatic messaging. Sometimes customers need you to reach out first. Proactive customer assistance is one of the great advantages of live chat. Think of it like a “hello!” from a friendly shopkeeper in a brick-and-mortar establishment. An auto-message serves as a greeting to every customer who might be browsing your site, and lets them know you’re available if they have questions.
Canned responses. Canned responses sometimes come at the cost of a unique and personalized customer experience. However, they can be incredibly useful when answering common questions or giving a customer supportive instructions. This feature allows you to create shortcuts to pre-written responses for faster and more efficient service. To learn more about how to get this feature right, check out our other article: Canned Response.
Auto reply. If you want to keep your live chat feature up and running 24/7, auto responses can help keep your customers informed even when you’re not there. Sometimes run by bots, an auto reply will let an inquiring customer know that your reps are currently away from their desk, and can either take a message or point them to relevant self service materials. This tool also provides a “missed-call” functionality for your reps, letting them know what customers had to say while they were gone.
Not all customer service chats are created equal.
Would you believe that there are chats in the world not optimized to the customer experience? Basic live chat solutions disallow customer service reps from being able to learn about and provide personal service for your consumers. And some of the most tricked-out products on the market prioritize tech over the people they serve, viewing each inquiry as a faceless ticket.
Enter Gladly, the radically-personal omnichannel customer service solution for the digital age. Our product strives to put the customer first, ensuring they feel seen and heard at every point in their journey.
Gladly’s live chat experience is natively-built, allowing seamless communication between this and other aspects of our product. Features include:
Concurrent messaging. Agents handle multiple conversations at once, across multiple communication channels, for more efficient service.
Self-service. The live chat widget gives customers the initial opportunity to solve their issue themselves. If the issue proves too complex, customers can contact a live representative on any channel they choose. Info from the live chat is transferred to the agent, so customers never have to repeat themselves.
Prioritize based on the landing page. Customers are routed to specialized agents based on where on their website they are. Customers in their cart are given higher priority and connected to a sales-specific agent. Consumers browsing a contact page may wait a little longer.
No Gladly logo. We’re all about brand at Gladly, and for us that means supporting your brand. Our logo won’t feature anywhere in the live chat, allowing your customers an experience which is unique to your business.
Chat attachments. Reps can send and receive photo or documents attachments for enhanced visual communications.
Gladly’s live chat solution is designed for accessibility and personalization. Our live chat is the next best thing to face-to-face customer service and support.
How Gladly Can Help.
Our live chat tool is just the tip of the Gladly iceberg. If you’d like to sign up for a radically personal CS solution that keeps the customers returning for more, see a free demo today