More franchise businesses are using live chat than ever before because – when used correctly – it is an excellent way of increasing customer engagement and boosting website conversions. Live chat services enable brands to offer excellent customer support, save time and money and increase their bottom line. In this article, Tim Morris, the MD of Cymphony, gives his advice on the benefits live chat can have on your franchise and how to ensure you deliver a quality service.
What are the benefits of live chat?
Live chat used to be something that was ‘nice to have’. However, it has quickly become a ‘must have’ tool for all franchise businesses in 2023. For 41% of consumers, it is the preferred way for someone to contact a business. Yet many franchise brands still are not convinced with how effective it is and how it enhances customer service and generates quality leads.
These days, providing a live chat service can be the deciding factor on whether a consumer buys your products or services, especially for people under the age of 45. In fact, Cymphony statistics show that over half of consumers (51%) are more likely to use a company if they provide live chat support. So, with all the economic uncertainty, can you really afford to miss out on all this potential business? Plus, with 63% of millennials already using live chat, it is set to become a mainstay in customer communication over the next few years. Here are three tips on what you should be doing to offer a quality live chat experience:
Establish what you want from your live chat experience
There are many uses for live chat, whether it be to boost your lead generation or to enhance customer support. So, before implementing it onto your website, you first need to decide what you want from it. This is important to know because it will determine how you train staff and operate your service. For example, if you use live chat on your site for lead generation, you will need your chat operators to get the customers’ information at source by asking what they are looking for and if they would like to be contacted by one of your specialists. You will need a different approach if you want to use live chat to purely offer great customer service. You will want your operators to know more about the products and services on offer so they can talk customers through the buying process.
Train staff in operating live chat
Once you establish your desired outcome, having professionally trained staff looking after your chat inbox will prove invaluable to your franchise business. Trained operators will be able to guide clients to understand your business and ask those all-important questions that prompt customers to follow up. Previously, a business’s only form of communication with a visitor to its website would be reliant on them filling in a form or calling your business directly. Nowadays, having a trained, proactive live chat operator to message your website visitors directly massively boosts your customer engagement.
If your company has just set up a live chat feature with your own team of operators, you must be mindful that you will need to undergo a rigorous training process to get them up to speed. The first important feature for chat operators is the ability to type fast so that they respond in under a minute. They must also understand the spelling and grammar of the language in which they will be helping the customer. If they possess these skills, a starting point is for them to get to know everything about your products and service. Then, make sure they understand how the software is used, what it is capable of doing and what kind of information can be viewed on it. One of the most important things is to show new employees how to change their status to “not available”, so that there are no unanswered chats, but also show them how to transfer a chat to another employee.
Ensure you provide a 24/7 service
Last but by no means least, when it comes to providing great live chat support, responding to customers between 9 and 5 is simply not good enough. Nowadays, customers want responses there and then – no matter the time they message your business. In fact, most live chat interactions occur outside of office hours because that is when people are free to make enquiries outside of their work commitments. Limiting your response times to working hours will have a negative effect on your business as it can leave customers waiting hours, if not days, for a response, leaving them feeling frustrated. And when a customer gets frustrated, they will not stick around.
Many sites are resorting to offering live chat widgets. However, these widgets can cause your clients to move on from your site if there is no one to respond to an inquiry – so, it is important to note that these tools need to be active 24/7 for your business to reap the benefits. However, this often is not possible for smaller franchise businesses or one-man bands, which is why franchisees should consider outsourcing to fully benefit from live chat. This is the only way to truly provide 24/7 support to your customers whilst simultaneously allowing you and your staff to switch off after work. The benefits of always having someone available to talk to are that you will have more satisfied customers, convert more and get rid of lost sales opportunities.