This is Chapter 3 of the Definitive Guide to Live Chat – you can start at the beginning of the guide here.

We’ve discussed the basics of using Live Chat effectively. If you’re already using Live Chat you may have skipped that chapter since you already know the basics, right?

However, most of our customers who hire us to run their Live Chat system for them originally ran it themselves. They can attest to the many mistakes that they made before, and how much more effective their Live Chat is now that they have our help.

Here are the main mistakes we see businesses make with live chat that you should avoid.

Slow Response Times

This is the most common situation we see:

  • You have the chat system on your website
  • You stay signed in throughout the business day
  • You get busy with others things. When a chat comes in, you may be on a phone call or in a meeting, and you can’t reply within just a few seconds.

Or worse:

  • You configure an automatic invitation to chat for website visitors that pops up
  • But then when the visitor replies to the invite, you’re not available to reply within seconds. This is like having someone call you on the phone, ask you a question, you reply, and then they hang up on you. Extremely unprofessional.

If you do decide to run your own Live Chat system, be sure to set up “first response time” tracking and aim for 4-6 seconds. Or at the very most, 20 seconds maximum.

If you come in at any longer than 20 seconds, this will turn Chat into a negative experience for visitors- ultimately damaging the performance of your website.

Not Inviting People to Chat

If you only allow visitors to use Live Chat by clicking the chat box themselves, you are missing out on many visitors who have questions. Take the initiative by inviting a visitor to chat.

You can base this invitation on their web activity, which can be extremely powerful if done properly. You can see detailed examples in the chapter on Advanced Tactics.

  • In general, you should invite visitors to chat if they start the checkout process but then leave,
  • Or if they click back and forth between multiple products which indicates they’re trying to compare features.

The goal is to invite visitors to chat at the “perfect time” when they have a question, and to make the invite low pressure and personal – not salesy or robotic. We’ve tested a lot of greetings and found the below to be effective.

guide-to-live-chat_greeting-example

Manually Inviting People to Chat

If you are already inviting people to chat, that’s great. But if you are doing it manually, it’s an incredibly bad use of your time. Manual invitations to chat are time consuming and can cause you to miss out on many potential customers.

  • Yes, you can observe visitors browsing your website and then manually click a button to invite them to chat.
  • But this takes a lot of time and can be easily configured into your chat system. Why waste time doing something manually that can be done for you automatically.

By making certain configurations in your Live Chat software, you can invite people to chat automatically. This ensures that you are making the invitation at the perfect time, every time. And you won’t miss any opportunities. We’ll go into more detail of how to do this in the chapter on Advanced Tactics.

Inviting People to Chat More than Once

Automatic invites are great, but it is important that you don’t overuse them or you’ll end up with visitors who are annoyed.

  • Wait- don’t configure an immediate invitation to chat right when visitors arrive on your site. Visitors need some time to browse your site and get an idea of what is on your site. If you seem too eager, you’ll come off as annoying or automated. Wait until a visitor has done something that indicates they may have a question, such as clicking back and forth between products or hitting the FAQ page.
  • Configure only ONE chat invitation per visit. If a person doesn’t respond to your first invitation, that means they don’t have a question or they don’t have to chat. If they do eventually have a question, they know where to find you (i.e. they can click the chat box).

Sounding Like a Robot with Templates

If you’ve chatted on a large corporate website, you’ve probably had the experience of feeling like you’re chatting with a robot. This is almost always a negative experience. The responses are obviously “canned” and typically don’t actually solve your problem.

Templates have many complex issues, but here are some basic guidelines for scripting templates:

  • Don’t try to script human emotions – It’s a dead giveaway that it’s a pre-written message when someone reads: “I’m sorry about this. It’s our goal to make sure you’re satisfied. Please allow me to address this concern for you”. This is immediately identified as a script, rather than an actual person actually feeling sorry. This causes the visitor to bristle and believe that there may not be a human behind the interaction or that the Agent is simply using templates from their corporate leadership.
  • Keep it professional but casual – Type the way that you would talk to someone in person. Make it personal and professional, but definitely not robotic. Use conjunctions and other signs of humanity. For example, instead of, “How may I be of service to you today?”, go with, “Hi. How can I help you?”. This gives a more conversational tone. Or try, “It’s going to take me some time to get that information for you. What’s your email address? I can respond within an hour,” instead of, “We are not able to provide that information to you at this time. Please enter your email address.”

We’ll go into more details on how to create effective templates, but if you’re already using templates make sure they are worded similarly to what you would say in person.

Avoiding the Question to “Get the Sale”

Always remember that the main function of the chat box is to answer questions. If a visitor asks a question that can be answered via chat, then answer it right away. Don’t procrastinate giving the answer just so you can coerce them to give you contact information. The visitor is likely to feel tricked and you may have just lost a sale.

If you can frame the answer in a format that leads to further discussion, and eventually a sale, that’s great. But never leave the customer dangling by avoiding the answer to a question, simply to get their contact information. This feels annoying and betrays trust for the visitor. We’ll share examples of how to use this directly in chats in the Advanced Tactics section.

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