Customer Service
Live Chat Best Practices: The Ultimate List of Dos and Don’ts

Deliver 24/7 customer support with Chatbots

Request a Demo

Table of contents

Live Chat Best Practices: The Ultimate List of Dos and Don’ts

Jul 15, 2024
6 min read

Table of contents

Great customer service is fast customer service. And that’s what live chat helps you achieve. But live chat support isn’t just a boon for support agents. Customers love it too!

According to a Forrester report, 42% of consumers want brands to have a live chat window on their websites. This figure is up by 15% from a mere 27% in 2019.

But keeping customers happy isn’t as simple as setting up chat on your company’s site. Many other companies offer this communication channel, so live chat alone isn’t enough to stand out. 

Instead, wow your customers by embracing these live chat best practices – like using a standard chat widget, giving speedy responses, and offering self-service options!

Table of Contents

Live Chat Dos and Don’ts

Do: Know Your Must-Have Live Chat Tool Features

Look out for these key features when exploring live chat tools, so you can pick a platform that works well for your support team.

  • Email capture: This live chat feature will help you collect site visitor contact information, so you can reach out or follow up if they dropped off a chat session.
  • Chat transcripts: With a software that saves previous chat transcripts, you can review past interactions to provide helpful support and send customers conversation records for future reference.
  • Unavailability: The tool you choose should let support agents update their official live chat business hours and inform customers when they’re unavailable. Ideally, the platform can also redirect clients to other customer support solutions, like a chatbot or knowledge base, during off-hours.
  • Mobile app: Empower your support reps with a live chat software that lets them talk to customers on the go via mobile. Make sure the app enables push notifications for new messages, so agents don’t unknowingly leave customers hanging.
  • Customer surveys: Use a live chat app with a survey feature to learn how customers feel about your brand, gauge agent productivity, and find areas for improvement.
  • Data security: Keep company and customer data safe by using a live chat software that uses two-factor authentication, runs security audits, emphasizes data encryption, and more. Find companies’ data protection measures on their website home page or security page.
  • Integrations: Don’t use a live chat app that silos customer information. Go with a solution that enables a seamless workflow with easy integration with a CRM or project management tool.
  • Insights: Look for a live chat solution that tracks live chat metrics and KPIs – like chat volume, average response times, and CSAT.

A live chat widget that’s easy to use and functional will boost agent productivity – and, by default, customer happiness. The happier your agents are, the better they’ll treat clients!

Don’t: Choose a Live Chat Tool Without Checking for Key Features

Whether you’re adding a chat button to your website for the first time or replacing your old software, the last thing you want is a tool that complicates your work. 

But if you pick a tool before investigating its features or trying it out, you could end up with complex chat software that may not fit your needs.

Do: Speed Up Responses with Templates and Missed Alerts

To respond to customers quickly and keep them happy, set up chat templates and use missed chat alerts.

Chat templates — pre-written responses to common questions — will save agents time and effort because they won’t have to consistently write out responses to frequent queries. For example, you can have welcome message templates for site visitors and new users. Or create preset answers to common questions about account creation, demo scheduling, and password reset.

Agents can easily access these templates through chat macros — simple text commands that trigger auto-replies — in your live chat software. Say you set up “hey” as a macro to trigger a welcome message. Every time you type “hey” in a chat, your saved greeting will automatically appear — reducing typing time.

Along with templates, set up missed chat alerts in your live chat tool to catch pending customer messages that haven’t been addressed within a set period of time. These reminders will make sure agents respond to customers quickly.

Don’t: Leave Customer Messages Unanswered for Too Long

Customers get frustrated when they experience long wait times just to get support. Our recent survey found that over 50% of customers see timely issue resolutions as a key part of good service. And Emplifi reports that about one out of five customers would stop doing business with a company because of a poor support experience

With chat templates and missed chat alert functions, your team can respond to customer queries faster and boost customer satisfaction (CSAT)and retention.

Do: Use Role-Playing to Train Agents for Chat Scenarios

Prepare agents for less typical live chat conversations by role-playing different scenarios.

Review chat transcripts and come up with a list of scenarios. If you work from the office, set up a projector to make the training session more interactive. And if your team is remote, host a video chat with screen-sharing. 

Encourage agents to use the HEARD technique — hear, empathize, apologize, resolve, and diagnose. Ask for a volunteer or two. Then you — or another agent – can play the customer while the volunteer holds a practical chat session with you on the screen.

Once the session is over, ask other agents to judge the customer support delivered and discuss areas for improvement. The goal of this live chat best practice is to teach support reps that customers may not always be right, but your service should make them feel that they are.

Don’t: Overuse FAQs and Scripts

While chat scripts and canned responses help your agents answer customers quickly, they don’t account for every situation. Some live chat support requests are more nuanced than others, and anticipating non-generic customer needs will allow your team to prepare accordingly.

Do: Qualify Site Visitors with a Live Chat Survey

Along with answering customer questions, your support agents can use live chat to give the sales team a hand. Set up your live chat software to send site visitors a pre-chat survey that filters potential and existing customers and helps agents identify leads for sales.  

In the example below, Hiver’s chatbot engages with a website visitor to confirm whether they’re an existing customer before moving the conversation forward.

How Hiver engages with customers through its chatbot | Hiver

You can ask site visitors a question like, “Which of these describes you best?” and then give them options:

  • I am a current customer.
  • I am looking to learn more about your product
  • I want to book a demo.

If they say they’re current customers, ask them what they need help with – login issues, profile editing, payment, and more.

And if they’re looking to learn more about your product, confirm what exactly they’d like to know and either:

  • Assign them to a sales rep.
  • Send them auto-replies that link them to relevant blog posts, product pages, or FAQs.

Are they looking to book a demo? Collect their contact information to reach out to them later or link them to a calendar where they can schedule a call.

Don’t: Use Generic Chat Templates for Both Potential and Existing Customers

Research shows that 59% of consumers say personalized engagement based on past interactions is very important to winning their business..

Instead of using generic chat templates for all site visitors, personalize chat conversations by differentiating potential customers from existing ones with live chat surveys. 

Do: Provide 24/7 Chat Support (If You Can)

Offering real-time 24/7 chat support shows customers that you appreciate their business and are always willing to help them.

So if your team has the capacity, consider offering round-the-clock live chat support. But schedule work shifts to make sure no customer service agent is overworked.

And if you run a small customer service team with limited availability, you can still offer 24/7 support with an AI bot, like Hiver’s Harvey. This chatbot solution lets you: 

  • Automate replies for easy-fix customer issues.
  • Connect customers to live chat agents if needed.
  • Give a seamless customer experience even when support reps are offline.

Don’t: Limit Chat Business Hours

As we mentioned earlier, customers want timely resolutions. But if you limit your chat business hours, customers who send support requests when live agents are offline won’t get speedy replies. This lack of instant support can frustrate customers and affect their loyalty to your brand.

Pair Live Chat Best Practices with KPI Tracking

Say your organization chooses to set up a chat window and start implementing these live chat tips – great! As your company grows and chat volume increases, tracking key customer support metrics and live chat performance shifts from being a nice-to-have to a necessity.

Boost your chat experience (and guage agent productivity) by keeping a keen eye on metrics like CSAT, average response times, and resolution periods.

With our Gmail-based tool, you can build or restructure your team’s live chat system within minutes – and track performance metrics seamlessly. Try our 7-day free trial to start chatting with your customers today.

SaaS enthusiast who also happens to rap, play football, binge watch Nordic TV shows, and indulge in conversations about burgers and existentialism.

Deliver stellar customer support right from Gmail

* 7-day free trial | No credit card required
CTA image