Had a good chat lately? 4 best practice steps to excellence in live chat online

Had a good chat lately? 4 best practice steps to excellence in live chat onlineManagement and measurement are at the heart of any successful customer engagement strategy, regardless of the channel or channels used. There seems to be a widely held perception that implementing live chat is as simple as sticking a chat button on a website and getting agents to start chatting. It isn’t.

Efficient chat demands best practice guidelines and tried and tested methodologies. Only then will businesses deploying chat reap the benefits of minimising cost per contact and maximising resolutions or sales per agent hour. How the chat conversation is conducted has a major impact on this.

LivePerson employs a clear framework to train agents in the use of chat, harnessing and adapting skills already acquired from familiar service and sales channels such as email and telephone to the unique chat environment. Developed in collaboration with major clients, the SURA process has been proven to deliver excellence in online sales and service in four steps:

1. Set the Tone

The first step is to ensure that the customer feels comfortable in the chat setting. Building rapport and conveying empathy make it clear that the customer is involved in the conversation and builds the foundations of a trusted advisory relationship. An agent may ask “What brings you to our website today?” or assure with “I am happy to help you with that.”

2. Understand the Customer

Next, the agent determines the needs of the customer, displaying interest and encouraging the customer to explain their situation by asking open-ended questions, such as “What do you look for in a…?”. Based on the answers given, agents can summarise the client’s situation and verify with a closed question, such as “The easiest way to find your answer is to….”. This forms the basis of the recommendation in step 3.

3. Relay the Solution

Having listened to the customer and clarified what they need, agents can now offer advice. This goes along the lines of: “Based on what you’ve just told me…”. and is the logical progression of the customer agreeing that the summary is correct.

4. Achieve the Sale/Resolution

This is the closing stage. The customer now has all the information they need to either place an order, or have their query resolved. In a sales scenario, this can range from directly asking for an order to sending a link to the relevant order page. For service agents, this step ensures that the client is fully satisfied with the chat outcome, either with a direct resolution or a mutually agreed plan of action.

Time and again, we find that structuring chats properly with the SURA process makes it easier to benchmark chats against an agreed standard. Through continuous monitoring, coaching and improvement it is possible to link long-term chat activity back to a standard working practice and, in so doing, to drive efficiencies.

We can also apply SURA to help companies with specific objectives such as reducing the chat length, driving customer satisfaction levels or increasing conversions. To learn more about how the SURA process could help your business achieve its individual goals, contact us here

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