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How to Leverage Live Chat as a Sales Tool

Posted by IndustrySelect on Tuesday, March 16, 2021



Thanks to AI, machine learning and chatbots, successful companies are learning how to leverage live chat as a sales tool. Unsuccessful companies install out-of-the-box solutions that are the computerized versions of calling a company and, after an endless series of menu choices, listening to elevator music for an hour.

On the contrary, the main advantage of live chat is that it provides an instant response to your customers’ questions. Your customers may not always be able to contact you during regular business hours. Live chat provides them the opportunity to get their basic questions answered and a time frame as to when you can address more complex issues.

Live chat is best when it is truly live, staffed by human beings. But depending on your company’s size, you may want to choose a blended version of humans and a robotic interface. But even if you choose an entirely virtual assistant, machine learning makes it a highly successful sales tool.

Human-Staffed Chat

Companies with a dedicated sales force and/or 24/7 customer service can benefit from a full live chat interface. However, in order to fully benefit, you must train both sales and customer service to the same standard.

While not every member of your team carries the same degree of product knowledge, each team member should convey your company’s tone and have enough basic information on-hand to know how to direct the customer to the correct person.

To help your team achieve consistency and an overall level of helpfulness, create a list of the most commonly asked questions and their answers. Both your sales force and your customer service personnel can use this list as a guide.

Equally important, provide “voice” training for all live chat agents. While live chats generally involve typing between the agent and the customer, your company’s voice should be the same from agent to agent. For example, if your company sells balloons and other party goods, your voice is bright and cheerful. If you sell parts to manufacturers, use a more professional yet friendly tone.

Blended Live Chat

Not all companies remain staffed after hours. However, your company’s website is live even when you turn off the lights for the evening. Additionally, if your customers are spread throughout the U.S., the difference in time zones may make it more difficult for them to reach your company during your regular hours.

Blended live chat offers your customers the convenience of working with a live agent during regular business hours and having many of their questions answered through a chatbot after hours.

While customers are already browsing your website, leverage live chat as a sales tool. According to a recent survey, live chat can increase online sales by as much as 35%!

In fact, there are few main reasons why chatbots increase online sales. Chat increases the customer's confidence level with the product, answering buying objections. Also, the immediacy of answers leaves customers feeling more confident in your company overall.

When using blended live chat, take advantage of the advances in AI and machine learning. The same scripted questions and answers used to train your on-hours employees can also train your off-hours chatbot. Even your company’s voice will be heard loud and clear through the keyboard, just as it would with a live agent.

This voice consistency is vital to your company's reputation. Imagine if your company designed a professional-looking website, complete with a chatbot, but the chatbot answered customer questions sarcastically. You would reprimand a human employee who didn't treat your customers with courtesy. You certainly expect the same from your chatbot employees.

For questions requiring a more in-depth answer, the chatbot can ensure that the question is directed to the appropriate department. It can also provide an accurate timeframe during which the question will be answered. Your customers are usually willing to wait for a thorough answer if they know when they can expect to be contacted.

Customers value their time. They expect you to value it as well. In fact, according to a recent Forrester survey, 55% of customers will leave your site if they can't find an answer to their question quickly enough. Live chat will enable your sales team to support your leads at one of the most critical points. When these leads see that you have the capacity and the knowledge to help them, they will be more likely to convert.

Virtual Live Chat

For many smaller companies, providing a live chat agent simply isn’t possible. With only a handful of employees on duty at any given time, your company may not have the resources to devote one person solely to answering live chats.

Luckily, many of the same benefits of a live agent can be programmed into a chatbot. During normal business hours, the bot-version of live chat can ask a few simple questions to automatically and seamlessly hand the transaction to sales, parts, billing or other appropriate employees.

After hours, the virtual live agent still provides the main benefits that most customers want when researching online:

1. These real-time answers transfer to a higher customer satisfaction rate than other methods. Chat customers rate satisfaction at 73% as opposed to only 61% who communicate only through email and 44% who can only contact through telephone.

2. More than 63% of chat customers are likely to return to a website with live chat than customers of sites that do not offer chat.

3. Chat allows your customers to multi-task if they experience a short wait. In fact, 51% of customers appreciated the ability to multi-task while waiting.

Take Advantage of this Sales Tool

Whether your company is large or small, you can leverage live chat as a sales tool through the use of live agents, a combination of live agents and chatbots, or all chatbots.

Properly preparing your key questions and answers, setting your company’s voice and training the chatbot to mimic your live agents place your company head and shoulders above any competitor without a chat tool on their website.

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