What are the best practices to follow when using Live Chat? 

Last month we covered why implementing a live chat function on your website can be a beneficial tool to help communicate with customers and bring your customer service to the next level. As promised, this month explores the tawkto platform in a bit more detail as well as going over some Live Chat best practices. So, let’s jump right in with the free tool that is tawkto.

Why tawkto?

Just to be clear, this is by no means a blog associated with the tool. It’s just one of the stand outs when it comes to free services. Having used this tool personally over the years, it’s one of my go-to’s when the live chat question pop’s up. A big advantage in using tawkto is that it’s FREE. For beginners getting started, to smooth-operators, this live chat platform ticks a lot of boxes, especially if budgets are tight.

Alongside being free, tawkto is fairly straightforward to use and incorporate into your website. There are lots of guides covering each section from installation to set up, as well as handy tools such as creating character profiles, shortcut responses, traffic monitoring and flexibility with being ‘live’. We’ll go into some of these areas further down, but first, a great benefit is that tawkto’s branding can be removed, a nice touch compared to some other free versions which are strict with branding on free plans unless upgrading. Adding to this, the widget that appears in the bottom right of the screen is customizable so you can easily match it with your brand colours. 

So, back to the earlier perks, starting with creating characters – or aliases. Say it’s just you using the platform but don’t want your name out there or it look like it’s just one person replying to everyone. The solution is to create a number of profiles so when a chat happens you can pick who is going to answer it. This also helps with larger teams too. Every member of staff involved can pick an alias where you can keep track of chats. 

Creating shortcuts to predicted questions is another, if not the main, key tool with tawkto. When setting it up, spend time on creating list of responses to usually asked questions that your customer may ask. This helps respond to initial chats quickly and also helps iron out reply repetition across future chats too. These can be amended, added to, or deleted whenever you wish, so the flexibility is great. 

Tawkto also allows you to monitor activity on your website in real time if you have the dashboard open. You can see when a visitor is using your site, what page they landed on, where they are going and what page they may have clicked off on or started a chat. You can monitor chats too and create alerts when chats happen, as well as factor in an ‘opening time’ for live chat. For example, you may only wish to run the live chat between 10am and 4pm, and outside those hours you can preset chat tickets. So, when a user starts a chat when you are offline, this will be raised as a ticket and sent to your email as an alert. It means you never miss a chat and an opportunity to connect with your customers.

Similar to ticket creation, the tool also allows you to assign certain chats that come in to specific members of staff that have better knowledge in the area that has been questioned. For example, you could be the first to act on a chat regarding delivery but are unsure on what the immediate answer is. Instead of leaving them hanging, you can quickly forward this chat to someone from your delivery team that is live – obviously this only works if personnel in different departments have access to this. When planned and utilized effectively, this can work really well and can leave a customer feeling valued in the efficient way you have handled their query.

So, that’s just a very quick roundup on the some of the key tools tawkto offers to get started when implementing a live chat function. Now, we’ll look at five best practices to abide by when using a tool such as this.

1 – Online strategy

Put yourself in your customer’s screen. If you use a live chat platform you want quick and informative responses. You don’t want to be seeing the three dots or Jeff is typing for minutes on end. Having a strategy is paramount. It’s all good having a live chat but not using it properly will more likely harm your reputation than enhance it. So, the best strategy is to plan, plan and plan. Plan for what a customer might ask so you have ready made answers to get the balling rolling in a quick way, and create these as shortcuts as well as gathering any helpful resources that you can link your customers to on your website. Plan who is going to use the tool and when, so you always have someone online during your designated online live chat hours. Ensure that your support team’s systems and tools are up-to-date and integrated for speed.

2 – Offline strategy

As mentioned earlier, you may wish to have your live chat online during specific hours, so incorporating an offline strategy is a must. Most live chat solutions will allow you to turn the feature off outside of business hours. You can also send a canned response to let customers know they will receive support once the team is back online, creating a ticket and alert for you to see. Be clear about when your live chat is online and offline to avoid any confusion or frustration. Perhaps run a weekly evening live chat from 7pm to 9pm as ad hoc events, just to show your customers you are there when they are most likely browsing before bed. Furthermore, your offline strategy should integrate chatbot support to provide value to your customers while you are away/offline. You should create detailed responses to frequently asked questions and integrate your chatbot with self-service resources like your help hub or specific links to parts of your website.

3 – Need for speed

Speed is everything with live chat. So long as you respond quickly to your customers and remain engaged, they won’t mind hanging around if a query takes a little longer to answer than usual. Keeping your staff up-to-date and trained on the tool will help them reply quickly and effectively to customers. Finally, make sure that responses are clear, concise and provides a solution. 

4 – Learning curves

When providing a customer with an answer, try to teach your customer the reasoning behind your solution. It may not always be appropriate, but for some, it showcases your knowledge depth but also your willingness to go above and beyond. Sometimes being a told an answer can be a bit direct. Sometimes sharing the reasons why can provide a lasting impression on greater value. Plus, on the other side of the screen, you can analyse customer live chat interactions to help provide even better future responses.

5 – Closure

As highlighted earlier, providing clear and concise responses will help bring closure to the customer and your live chat. Make sure you close out the live chat experience on a positive note. Always get confirmation that you have answered their question and explain how you are here to help in future too. Then thank the customer for their time and bring the live chat conversation to a natural end. 

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