Customers expect a more responsive shopping experience than ever before, and they’re quick to move on from companies that haven’t adapted their marketing tactics for 2019.
Omnichannel marketing allows you to build campaigns around the customer experience and create more seamless interactions with your audience.
You can implement live chat systems in any marketing campaign, but they work particularly well with an omnichannel marketing strategy. This article will help you use live chat to upgrade your customer service experience and respond to your audience’s needs.
What Is Omnichannel Marketing?
The words “omnichannel” and “multichannel” are sometimes used interchangeably, but they actually refer to two different kinds of marketing campaigns. Multichannel marketing simply describes approaches that take advantage of more than one channel—if you use both email and social media, for example, you’re running a multichannel marketing campaign.
Omnichannel is also used for campaigns that take place on multiple channels, but it specifies a more targeted approach that uses every platform to streamline the customer experience. Multichannel campaigns, on the other hand, are often nothing more than the same ads showing up on different platforms.
Omnichannel campaigns also depend on strong data gathering practices across every platform. Previous interactions, for example, are stored and used for targeting in future campaigns. It’s critical to learn as much as you can about each customer in order to provide the most personal experience possible.
Three Benefits of Live Chat
Brands use a variety of channels to offer customer support including phone, email, and text in addition to live chat.
Live chat provides a number of advantages compared to these other options, although many businesses offer help on multiple channels to make support more accessible and convenient for their audience. In fact, Inc. reports that 44% of online consumers say that live chat is an important website feature.
These are a few of the most important benefits of live chat.
#1. More Positive Touchpoints
Even a single negative interaction with your brand can end a customer relationship, so it’s critical to offer customer support that truly responds to your audience’s needs. Live chat is typically the quickest way to talk to support staff, so your customers can get their questions answered immediately.
A longer average waiting time will lead to substantially higher levels of site abandonment, and many of those customers won’t return to your store. Making these touchpoints easier turns support into a positive interaction for your audience and keeps them engaged with your brand, increasing both sales and lifetime customer value.
#2. Lower Costs
Customer support can be surprisingly expensive, and phone support requires each agent to focus on one customer at a time. Live chat, on the other hand, allows a single employee to work with several users and manage inquiries more quickly. You’ll spend much less on customer support after adding live chat.
#3. More Flexibility & Personalization
While phone and email support are limited to a back-and-forth discussion, live chat interactions offer a wider range of possibilities. Personalization becomes more instantaneous with live chat, as you can tailor your conversations to your customers in real time.
Co-browsing, for example, enables your employees to view and control a customer’s screen to help them resolve the issue more quickly. Live chat typically addresses more problems than other forms of customer support.
Live Chat and Omnichannel Marketing: Why They’re a Match Made in Heaven
Being transferred from one department to another is one of the most frustrating things about most customer support interactions. Combining live chat with a larger omnichannel marketing approach allows you to develop a more cohesive support experience and respond directly to customer inquiries.
“Live chat is a natural part of an omnichannel marketing strategy because omnichannel is about a completely personalized, relevant customer experience. It doesn’t get more personal than a one-on-one conversation between a support agent and a customer. We practice what we preach and that’s why live chat is definitely part of Omnisend’s customer support too.”
–Rytis Lauris, CEO & Co-Founder of Omnisend
While companies that use multichannel marketing start each customer support touchpoint from the beginning, omnichannel strategies allow your staff to view earlier interactions and stay updated with each user’s unique journey through your support system. For example, you can save the transcript of every live chat conversation for use in future interactions.
Setting up information sharing across channels removes the need for customers to continually repeat their question and leads to a much shorter turnaround on support inquiries. This makes it feel like they’re talking to the same person during every interaction rather than explaining the same background information each time.
11 Ways to Successfully Implement Live Chat in an Omnichannel Marketing Strategy
Simply adding live chat to your list of support channels will go a long way toward improving the customer experience, but there are a variety of ways to achieve even better results. These are a few of the most effective tactics for implementing live chat in an omnichannel marketing strategy.
#1. Make Support More Accessible
Customers are much more likely to interact with your support options if you make it easier for them, so you can increase utilization by providing as many links as possible. Live chat is especially popular among younger consumers: 60% say they regularly use live chat for customer service. There should be a live chat link in your social media profiles, email signature, website, and more.
Rather than requiring users to look for help, this puts support just a click away throughout your entire web presence. This streamlines the customer service experience, making it easy for customers to resolve problems quickly and get back to engaging with your brand.
#2. Filter Out Common Questions
The majority of your support inquiries are probably related to a few common issues with the user experience. You can address these situations more quickly and cost-effectively by directing them to other support resources. This strategy enables your live chat team to focus on more complicated questions.
FAQ sections are the most common way in which brands respond to common customer concerns. Some companies use chatbots to offer a more conversational support experience without paying for dedicated support staff. Your FAQ and chatbot pages should be just as easy to access as live chat.
#3. Gather Customer Feedback
Most companies simply offer the same support options without considering the alternatives, but it’s important to adapt your approach based on the needs of your audience. Your customers know your website and are familiar with friction in the shopping experience.
In addition to helping you improve your customer service, audience feedback can be an incredibly effective tool for nearly every aspect of your marketing and sales strategies. You should always be gathering customer data in order to identify strengths and weaknesses and develop better tactics.
#4. Visit Your Own Site
While audience feedback is crucial for the long-term success of any online store, you can often get the same result just by visiting your own website. Try to go through your product and checkout pages at least once every few months to make sure there aren’t any technical issues, typos, or other problems.
Don’t forget that a significant percentage of your audience accesses your website on a tablet or smartphone—a poorly optimized mobile site will have a negative impact on every sales metric. Dedicated mobile apps are usually even easier to use than a well-optimized website, although developing your own app can be expensive.
#5. Train Your Team
Live chat is an incredibly effective platform for support, but it’s critical to brief your team on all relevant information so that they’re prepared to deal with customer inquiries. They should know enough about your services and products to answer common questions without needing to ask another employee.
Again, effective training is all about increasing your first contact resolution and resolving each request as quickly as possible. Every additional employee that’s involved in a customer service interaction increases costs and makes your support team less efficient. This information can change quickly, so remember to keep your staff updated with the latest knowledge.
#6. Identify Key Performance Indicators
Key performance indicators, or KPIs, are an easy way to measure your progress as you make changes to your customer service tactics. An effective campaign looks at a number of metrics to determine how the new approach is performing in each area.
First Response Time
First response time, for example, is one of the most critical KPIs for customer support. It represents the average time it takes for an agent to reply to the user’s first inquiry. Decreasing your first response time will reduce site abandonment and lead to more successful support outcomes.
You can respond to inquiries more quickly by taking advantage of chatbots, FAQs, and other low-cost methods of answering some of the most common questions. Furthermore, live chat generally leads to a shorter first response time than other support options since agents can talk to several customers at once.
You might not think of customer support as a sales opportunity, but live chat is actually a great way to move users through the sales cycle. It’s a convenient way to answer questions about your product and respond to concerns that could keep them from making a purchase.
Live chat can have a positive effect on immediate sales, but it may also help you increase each user’s lifetime value and convert new leads into loyal customers.
First Contact Resolution
First contact resolution, on the other hand, measures the percentage of inquiries that are resolved after the first interaction. Fixing problems quickly is crucial for your customer support ROI—each additional touchpoint extends the touchpoint and makes users wait for another response.
Like first response time, improving your first contact resolution depends on connecting users to the right channel for their question. If your FAQ page isn’t accessible, for example, you’ll likely receive a high volume of chat requests for the same simple questions. Offering support on multiple channels allows customers to select the platform that makes the most sense for their situation.
Improving your support structure is all about making things easier for your audience, so asking them directly is the easiest way to measure your progress. You should ask for customer feedback at the end of each interaction and include a field for them to rate their overall experience.
Negative feedback can result from a variety of problems, so it’s important to follow-up and determine what contributed to their bad experience. Failing to ask for customer feedback makes it impossible to identify weaknesses and puts you behind the competition.
It’s hard to precisely measure the return on investment of live chat support, but you can keep track of how much you’re paying to resolve each issue. If your average live chat agent responds to more users than phone support employees, for example, live chat is likely saving you money relative to your phone support team.
In addition to comparing results from one channel to another, you can also monitor your performance over time to verify that you’re making consistent progress. Tracking ROI along with the other metrics mentioned in this list will make it easier to keep moving in the right direction.
#7. Offer Screen Sharing
Users often have trouble describing troubleshooting issues, and your support staff has much more experience navigating your unique site. With that in mind, allowing users to share their screen with a support employee makes each interaction faster and allows your team to walk customers through each step of the process.
Screen sharing functionality is available with a number of support tools, and it’s a great investment for businesses of all sizes. Users are more likely to remember the solution if they’ve already seen someone go through the process.
#8. Codify Support Processes
Your live chat team will hopefully resolve most customer issues on their own, but they won’t be able to fix every single problem. It’s critical for your business to have a clear support process that defines what happens when the first interaction isn’t enough. You’ll also need to prepare for a number of unpredictable events that can complicate support inquiries.
For example, your live chat team should know who to talk to if they don’t know the answer to a question or if a customer gets angry. Unclear processes make it much more difficult for users to get the help they’re looking for and lead to a higher cost per successful interaction.
#9. Find a Support Solution
Omnichannel marketing is all about integrating every channel, and there are a variety of applications available to help you connect customer service to the rest of your sales strategy. It’s important to find a solution that matches your approach to live chat support and provides the tools you need to create a cohesive experience.
It’s much easier to manage an omnichannel campaign with a single application, so look for an option that’s compatible with every channel you use. Keeping track of multiple marketing tools reduces your efficiency and defeats the purpose of omnichannel marketing.
#10. Implement Chatbots
As mentioned above, chatbots are an effective solution for nearly any approach to customer service. Users generally don’t choose the right channel for their issue on their own, and a chatbot is an easy way to help them find someone who can answer their questions.
Automation is key to limiting support costs, and chatbots substantially reduce the time your team spends directing customers to other support employees. Considering how inexpensive they are to create and manage, they’re one of the most cost-effective tools in digital marketing.
And contrary to how we might feel about how automation fits in with a personalized experience, segmentation truly makes all the difference here. 35% of consumers say that they want more chatbots for purchasing online.
Chatbots are no longer limited to a single channel, and you can set them up on a variety of platforms including Facebook and Twitter. Some brands trigger chatbot messages after certain steps in the customer journey—after onboarding, for example, you might have your chatbot follow up and ask if there’s anything else they can help with.
#11. Consider the Customer Journey
Live chat is a valuable tool for a variety of situations, and the best marketers tailor their live chat strategies to each stage of the customer journey. Your live chat should move customers through the sales funnel and play a major role in increasing conversions.
If a customer accesses live chat from a product page, for example, use that information to retarget them with additional ads for that item. Similarly, you can use live chat interactions late in the sales cycle as chances to upsell or cross-sell and increase the value of each order. Remember to measure the success of each type of interaction to identify weaknesses in your approach.
The best ways to apply live chat are different for each business, so it’s important to create audience personae and consider things from the customer’s perspective. Combining omnichannel marketing with live chat support allows you to turn customer service touchpoints into sales opportunities.
More and more businesses are moving to an omnichannel marketing approach that puts customers at the center of every campaign, and live chat support perfectly complements the benefits of omnichannel marketing. These tips will facilitate more positive customer service interactions and increase both short-term sales and long-term engagement.
Whitney is the Content Marketing Manager for Omnisend. Obsessed with customer experience and innovative marketing tactics, she’s always keeping up on the latest ecommerce trends.
This article originally appeared in the Gorgias blog and has been published here with permission.