From small businesses with relatively low website traffic all the way up to enterprise companies with millions of site visitors, many of our customers approach us with a similar problem—a sales team that is spending too much time in chat dealing with support inquiries and not enough time, well, selling.
Live chat is an incredible tool that can help sales teams connect with good sales opportunities in real-time, but if you’re serious about generating revenue with live chat, the quality of those engagements matters. If your sales team is getting overwhelmed with too many support requests through live chat, here are six best practices you can follow in order to minimize live chat support requests all while maximizing value.
(Note: Not all websites and chat tools will allow you to pursue each of these options, but we suggest enabling as many as possible for the biggest impact towards your sales goals.)
Be more selective
It is more strategic to feature live chat on some of your website pages than others. If your chat tool allows, evaluate which of your pages currently have a high percentage of support chats. If there is little or no risk of losing sales chats by removing live chat from the page, do it to save your sales team time and stress. Or, if the numbers show that there is significant risk of losing sales opportunities, consider using a bot or pre-chat tool to qualify each visitor’s needs before routing to a sales rep.
Split your chat strategies
Depending on how you currently identify visitors (through tagging, campaign management tools, login processes, etc.), you may have a way to identify visitors that are existing or “known” customers. Use this information to your advantage by creating two separate live chat strategies: one for existing customers with possible support issues and one for new customers that represent better sales opportunities. Your existing customer strategy should include more pre-qualification tactics that stays tightly aligned to your support processes and bandwidth.
Leverage visitors’ navigation history
Customers looking for support often go to the FAQ or self-serve support pages. If they don’t find an answer, they will turn to other pages to find live assistance. Some chat tools allow you to exclude visitors that have visited specific pages or URLs. This can reduce the number of support chats you receive, but we recommend conducting a split test to avoid unintentionally suppressing good sales opportunities. Depending on your website, visitor behavioral patterns, and FAQ page content, you may need to be very specific in your exclusions to find the right balance.
Use a “Propensity to Buy” model
A “Propensity to Buy” model can help you identify the visitors on your site with a higher probability to buy. By targeting these valuable visitors and weeding out unqualified chats, you can give your team more time to focus on sales. Depending on your resources, adjust your targeting threshold up or down to target more or less site visitors and keep your team focused on the best opportunities first.
Clearly communicate the purpose of chat
The messaging in your chat invitation makes a major difference in both the response rate and the quality of the engagement. By letting visitors know upfront that chat is meant for sales, you will attract more qualified visitors. If a visitor with a support request still accepts the chat, this transparency will help ease any frustration when they are directed elsewhere to get the help they need. This sort of clear communication helps qualify your visitors and provides a better brand experience for your customers—a win-win.
Use pre-chat tools or chatbots
While all of the above mechanisms can help reduce the issue, the reality is that support chats may still end up in your flow. Pre-chat mechanisms or chatbots can help qualify the customers’ goal for chatting and redirect them to the appropriate resources before a live agent gets involved—but be careful with your approach. Some chatbots and pre-chat scripts can overburden your visitors and make them feel like they are interviewing for their right to receive help. This can turn visitors away, resulting in high abandonment rate and lost sales. Sales chat should facilitate site visitors that are making a buying decision, not just those who have already made it.