SEMA eNews Vol. 13, No. 10, March 11, 2010

Live Chat: Boost Customer Service Without Spending a Fortune

  Tracie Nunez
  Advanced Clutch Technology CEO Tracie Nuñez (shown with KTC Media's Kipp Kington, right) says live chat software is a natural extension of her company's website and encourages direct communication with customers.

Are you looking for a way to increase website sales and boost customer service satisfaction without spending a tremendous amount of money? You might want to take a look at live chat software.

For the past decade, online retailers have been looking for ways to compete with traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Price, convenience and 24-hour operation have worked to the e-tailer's advantage, but the one area lacking is live human interaction. This is where live chat shines.

Live chat software is generally regarded as any instant-messaging application designed to provide online assistance to a website visitor. Website administrators and webmasters can use it to instantly respond to a visitor’s questions or concerns.

This technology is especially useful when webmasters are increasing interactivity and trust with site visitors, and also, if an e-commerce site, building sales leads and conversions.

Subject:
"Mazda3 and the 2.0 also?"

  SPC Logo
   

Introduction:
"Welcome Tony! Your request has been directed to the Technical Support department. Please wait for our operator to answer your call."

Chat Acceptance:
"Call accepted by operator Rich W. Currently in room: Rich W."

Rich W: "Thank you for visiting the ACT website. The ZM3 kits will work for '04–'07 2.0L-equipped models as well as the '04–'06 2.3L-equipped models."
Tony: "Awesome. Thank you."
Rich W.:"Anytime!"

Sign-off:
"Tony is now offline and may not reply. Currently in room: Rich W."

Chat Termination:
"Rich W. has left the conversation. Currently in room: room is empty"

There are many advantages to live chat. One person can handle multiple chat sessions simultaneously. This is possible due to the time delay that takes place as two people communicate via typing. Cost savings can be realized through more efficient use of human resources.

Live chat software is the one tool that helps your sales team be proactive by inviting the customer to chat. A message is usually sent inviting them to chat, which they may choose to accept or decline. How many of your website clients abandon their shopping carts when they cannot get the help they need? Up-selling and add-on sales can be increased at this time, as well.

Live chat can also be a handy tool for inter-company communication. It can be used for assistance when the need arises, including when two employees are working with a single customer to solve a single issue. Think conference call.

Some live chat software includes a file transfer feature. Warranties, instruction manual and directions can be sent while chatting. In many cases, the maximum size of the file transfer is larger than typically permitted with e-mail attachments. The actual transfer time may be quicker, too.

"We are always striving to enhance our customer's ability to speak with us directly,” says Tracie Nuñez, CEO of Advanced Clutch Technology, whose company uses live chat software. “The live chat software seemed a natural extension of our website and a cost-effective means to communicate immediately with the consumer.

“The software installation was easy and required less than two hours of IT time including user training. The software code needed to be set up on the website, but that was provided by the software company and took less than an hour of time to enable the function. In the first week, we had about 35 chats, and this week's highlight was opening an international jobber account by using this communication portal."

"Some may argue that their sales staff cannot have anything more added to their workload,” Nuñez added. “I would say that the customer will find their answers somehow. They will search your website, make phone calls, send an e-mail, search forums and look at your competitors. Can you afford to let someone else answer for you?" — Regis Finn, B&M Racing and Performance, SEMA Street Performance Council (SPC).

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