By Dean Shaw, Global Chat Program Manager at SAS and
Tony Medrano, CEO of RapportBoost
Countless articles tout the benefits online chat brings to the sales process. The question for many organizations now centers on how to combine the customer service aspect of live chat with conversational selling.
Companies can get lost in the vast array of strategies and approaches for integrating online chat into the sales process. When implementing a chat initiative, keeping true to the basics is central to your success.
Here are the four steps you need to follow to sell with online chat.
1. Pick the Right Metrics
Online chat that focuses on customer service often also opens the opportunity for software sales. However, without appropriate metrics in place, it’s difficult to know when success is being achieved.
KPIs for live chat sales conversations must include the following:
· Engagement to lead
· Lead to qualified lead
· Pipeline amount (quantity and dollar amount)
· Sales (quantity and dollar amount)
Similarly, chat agents must strive to provide a great experience for everyone, be they customers or prospects. Therefore, customer service teams need to measure customer response during and after the conversion process.
Important online chat metrics regarding customer experience include:
· Customer Satisfaction Scores (CSAT)
· Customer Effort Score (CES)
· Net Promoter Score (NPS)
· Response time
· Agent Availability measurements
Be aware that customer success metrics like Average Handle Time (AHT) might fall lower in the ranks of importance. Companies should not put much stock in the total length of chat discussions.
Customer service agents need to strive to make visitors happier when they leave than they were when they arrived. If customer success agents can do that in 30 seconds, great. However, if it takes eight hours, that’s fine too, as long as issues are solved, and the level of customer satisfaction opens the way to further transactions.
Train live chat agents not to dwell on non-business-related conversations but to spend all the time they need to solve the problem. That way, they will complete the chat session in a timely manner and to the visitors’ satisfaction.
2. Extend Your Online Chat Agents’ Duties
Limiting live chat agents’ roles in directing visitors to the content they need can result in your business leaving money on the table. Customer success agents must seek out potential lead opportunities in addition to providing assistance.
Chat agents could offer to pass prospects to an inside sales person for more in-depth discussion. Alternatively, they could find a means to collect prospects’ contact information, for example by directing the customer to a video that requires registration.
Chat agents should be given the opportunity to train and partner the sales team to better understand the product and solutions they are supporting. Often, the first interaction a prospect will have with a company is with the customer support team, so it’s essential that they can effectively triage product related questions and recognize lead opportunities.
Empowering customer service agents with the metrics that focus more around empathy and customer satisfaction rather than chat length is the key to live chat lead generation. Again, it comes back to fostering directed dialogue rather than focusing on how quickly customer care agents complete an online chat session. From training to performance review to the behavior of leaders, organizations can nurture an environment that uses empathy and understanding to drive toward success.
3. Demonstrate Commitment to Live Chat
The pitfalls to employing chat usually center on taking an uninspired approach to the medium where the code is thrown up but then not adequately staffed and aligned with appropriate goals.
For true success, implement personalized, interactive, data-driven training programs and provide updated education at regular intervals. Additionally, integrate the management structure into this initiative by having agents give themselves a quality score that they can share with coaches on a weekly basis. Self-evaluation can be a great way to create the opportunity for constructive critique and conversations about improvement.
4. Don’t Rely on Chatbots To Be Your Brand Ambassador
Chatbots certainly have their place, especially when it comes to directing customers to content that can answer high-level, basic questions. At the same time, chatbots in no way replace the human touch once questions get a little deeper.
Converting visitors into loyal, high margin customers requires a host of conversational skills. A strong live chat agent needs to read between the lines, assess the bigger picture of the sales opportunity at hand, hold multiple parallel discussions at once, and respond to their conversation partner with timing, wit, and emotional intuition.
Moreover, people do business with people they know, like, and trust. The best way to get someone to connect with your customer support agents is for them to develop a relationship with one another.
When salespeople have rapport with clients, they create a mutual base from which to partner and support each other’s goals. Although IBM Watson has drafted ads for Toyota that helped them close some business, chatbots are often inadequate for complex sales applications. Unlike writing copy, customer care requires the dynamic art of two-way conversation.
Chat strategies that leverage artificial intelligence (AI) can serve customer service agents well, but only by augmenting human agents. Through deep learning, natural language processing, and multivariate analysis, organizations can analyze more variables and more extensive data sets than is humanly possible to help customer care agents perform better. Thus, the goal of these systems should focus on arming humans with information they can use to engage the customer more effectively.
Creating the Most Successful Online Chat Scenarios
The very best live chat agents aren’t the ones who are naturally gifted at charming the customer. They’re the ones who record metrics for constant improvement, possess superior situational awareness, and use AI to supplement their instincts and experience as needed. The combination of these traits will pave your way to successful customer care.
About the Authors
Dean Shaw is the Global Chat Program Manager for SAS, Through innovative software and services, SAS empowers and inspires customers around the world to transform data into intelligence. Dean leads SAS’ Chat Program that focuses on enhancing the customer experience, drive leads, and generates robust Voice of Customer analytics.
Tony Medrano is CEO and Co-Founder of RapportBoost, the leader in applying artificial intelligence to optimize live chat conversations in order to drive dramatic and sustained improvements in conversion rate, order size, customer satisfaction, renewal rate, average handle time, first contact resolution rate, agent retention and happiness and other critical contact center metrics. He can be reached at tony (at) rapportboost.ai.