How to Use Live Chat Throughout Your Customer Journey

How do you connect with customers throughout their purchase journey? Are you using live chat at every touchpoint?

Many businesses see live chat, also known as web chat, as just another tool for your customer support center. Leaders may see it as a necessary expense in order to connect with today’s online customers.

But live chat is so much more than that.

Let’s take a look at how you can use live chat at every stage of the customer journey.

What is customer journey mapping, anyway?

Customer journey mapping is the exercise of laying out how customers engage with your business before, during, and after they make a purchase.

Traditionally, it consists of five stages.

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Decision/acquisition
  4. Retention
  5. Advocacy

In the stone age—that is, back before the age of the internet—consumers would identify a problem, see an advertisement, compare prices, walk into a store, and make a purchase. If they liked the product or the store, they would make frequent trips back and tell their friends about it.

Things are a little more complicated these days. While today’s customers follow a similar path, a few things have changed. Customers often move back and forth between each stage, with many smaller steps in between.

The biggest change is that now your website is the main hub—and it has to do a lot more of the heavy lifting. It’s where you drive all your traffic, convert customers, and impress them enough to come back. It has now become the main pillar of your customer journey.

When mapping your customer journey, your goal is to get people to your website and serve them to meet their current stage. That’s where live chat comes in.

Serve customers at every stage of their purchase journey with live chat.

Live chat typically lives on the bottom right corner of your website, and it can follow customers as they navigate across pages. Based on which pages they spend time on, you can craft unique messaging (using live agents or chatbots) to target where they are in their customer journey.

And it’s vital to meeting today’s customer expectations. According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report, 83% of customers expect to interact with someone immediately when contacting a business.

Instantaneous messaging channels like live chat satisfy that need for instant answers.

Let’s take a look at how you can incorporate live chat into your customer journey.

Be helpful during the awareness stage.

The awareness stage is all about customers realizing they have a problem and that there’s a solution out there to solve it. For retailers, this could be as simple as a customer who’s suffering in the heat, so they realize they’re ready to buy an air conditioner.

They likely don’t know what kind, their budget, or where, but they know they want one.

Maybe they searched for top air conditioners and found themselves on your website. While some businesses may see them as a lead to be captured, their not at that place yet. They are simply gathering information.

For customers in the awareness stage, live chat is best spent welcoming a customer and directing them to various resources on your website.

The best way to do that? With a chatbot.

How to loop in a chatbot: At this stage, it might not be feasible for agents to dedicate their time to answering broad questions. Leverage a chatbot to welcome newcomers to your website and direct them to informational resources—like your knowledge base, blog posts, or frequently asked questions.

Quiq’s AI chatbot helps resolve 80% of inbound inquiries, freeing up your customer service agents to spend time farther down the customer journey.

Wow them at the consideration stage.

At the consideration stage, your customers have likely narrowed down the competition but haven’t made a decision yet. Maybe they know they’re going to Hawaii but are still considering whether to go to a boutique hotel or stay at an Airbnb. Or perhaps they’ve selected an island and just need to pick between the swath of available resorts.

This is the point where you need to stand out. Customers are looking to narrow down their options. If you don’t impress them right away, you won’t make the shortlist.

Proactively engage with customers using live chat to help them navigate your website. Ask them questions to gauge their needs and direct them to the appropriate high-converting pages.

How to loop in a chatbot: When customers reach the consideration phase, they’re closing in on making a purchase. While it’s a good idea to engage live agents to help customers one-on-one and close the deal, a chatbot can help get the conversations started. Design the bot to answer simple questions and direct customers to an agent for more personalized help.

Push them over the decision hump at the acquisition stage.

You’ve made the shortlist—heck, you’re probably #1 on that list—and the customer is *this* close to making a purchase. This is when your live chat function is crucial.

Make sure your live chat is visible and engaging with users at key points in the decision-making process. For example, be available when customers get to their cart. That’s typically when they have last-minute questions, and any clicking away from that page could interrupt their momentum.

Here are a few ways you can entice buyers with live chat at the decision phase:

  • After answering a few product questions, suggest a product demo.
  • Remove friction by ensuring easy access to frequently asked questions.
  • Offer personalized incentives on the purchase page.
  • Loop sales team members into live chat conversations.

How to loop in a chatbot: Program engagement triggers that start with your chatbot. If a customer has been stalled in their cart for more than three minutes, send in a bot to answer those hesitations or offer them a well-timed discount code. If a user has bounced around between pricing tiers, send over a blog post that helps them compare. Figure out which obstacles are in your customers’ way and use automation to help get past them.

Increase retention with always-on support.

Customer retention is all about meeting expectations. Did the customer get the results they expected from your product or service? Did they have the experience they were hoping for?

Great customer service is the best way to improve customer retention—and live chat makes that happen with speed and accessibility.

Think about the last time you needed customer service. Chances are, you were in the middle of something and needed immediate help. Your customers face the same hurdles. They’re implementing your software and run into a roadblock. They have to reschedule a guided kayak tour and can’t remember the policies.

Whatever the case may be, stopping for a phone call or waiting hours (or days) for a return email stalls their momentum and complicates their customer experience. Live chat makes it easy for customers (whether they’re in the middle of making a purchase or actively using your product or service) to get quick answers. Quick answers lead to higher customer satisfaction and a better chance they’ll come back for repeat business.

How to loop in a chatbot: Always-on support isn’t realistic without the help of chatbots (unless you hire a lot of agents to cover your chat 24/7. Use a chatbot to respond to customers when your agents are out of office. At the very least, you can design conversations that collect information for agents to respond to when they’re available. You can also have bots walk customers through troubleshooting, answer simple questions, and direct them to helpful resources on your site.

Make advocates out of all your customers.

Not every customer will become an advocate for your company, but you should certainly do everything in your power to encourage it. And live chat can help you do just that.

Since live chat is…well, live…it’s a great tool to encourage in-the-moment reviews and survey responses. Make it easy for customers to leave reviews by including it right in the conversation so they never have to leave the chat.

How to loop in a chatbot: Chatbots are ideal for this task. After your live agent finishes helping the customer, hand off the conversation to a chatbot to collect feedback and encourage reviews.

Embrace live chat in the customer journey.

It’s easy to see live chat as just another support tool. It functions a lot like phone conversations in your call center—and you probably use the same people to staff it. But with the right tools and strategy in place, live chat enhances every stage of the customer journey.

Drive Satisfaction and Sales with Google Business Messaging

One of the most impactful—and often overlooked—tools in customer service is Google Business Messages. Google business messaging gives your company the power to take care of customers on their terms.

The result: You foster greater trust and close more sales.

Before we dig into the benefits of using Google Business Messages, let’s back up and review how it works.

What is Google Business Messages, and how does it work?

Google Business Messages is a conversational customer service chat feature that lets you connect with customers in a variety of different channels—starting with Google. Current and potential customers can ask your company questions in real-time directly from Google Search, Google Maps, your Google Business Profile, and even your company’s website.

There are two options for using Google business messaging:

  1. Turn on your business messages chat function directly through your Google Business Profile. This option gives you basic chat capabilities. You can set up an automatic welcome message, but you’ll have to enable notifications and respond manually to each customer inquiry.
  2. Use Google business messaging API to connect via a third-party app, like Quiq. This option comes with more features and functionality, allowing you to switch back and forth between virtual and live customer service agents depending on what your customers need.

3 reasons to implement Google Business Messages.

Great customer connections start with genuine communication. Messaging platforms let you engage with the people you serve in a convenient, casual way.

And Google Business Messages takes those connections to the next level, offering your company powerful messaging capabilities on a grander scale.

Here are three reasons to adopt Google messages:

1. Raise customer satisfaction.

In an increasingly digital, asynchronous world, it’s not enough for your company to be available only through phone and email. You have to cater to customers in the places they spend their time—then communicate in the mode they like best.

For most consumers, that means instant messaging on a mobile device.

Google Business Messages gives your customers an effortless way to ask questions, grab basic business information, and connect one-on-one with your customer support agents for personalized help. Plus, with messaging, customers get a written record of information from your company that they can revisit at their convenience.

When customers have a positive experience with your company, they’re more likely to come back—and recommend you to their friends and family.

2. Capitalize on Google searches.

Google is where (almost) every search starts. Over 92% of online searches happen on Google, and a whopping 96% of those occur on mobile devices. Simply put, Google is where people live when they’re online—and where they get the majority of information about the products and services they’re interested in.

As a company, you can capitalize on the status quo by incorporating Google Business Messages into your customer engagement strategy. When you make your company even more accessible on Google’s pages, you can reach customers—old and new—with minimal effort and maximum return.

Give customers easily visible, one-click access to your customer support team, and they’ll come away with knowledge at their fingertips.

3. Drive revenue and sales.

Google Business Messages isn’t just a conversational tool—it’s also a sales opportunity. A Facebook report found that 65% of people are more likely to shop from a business they can chat with.

At the most basic level, you can program your virtual customer service agents to offer helpful information and solve problems, but you can also use business messages to go above and beyond for customers.

Personalization takes the shopping experience to the next level.

Accenture found that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize them, remember them, and provide personal recommendations. By providing thoughtful product recommendations and guiding customers through the purchasing process, you can convert leads and score more sales.

How to ramp up revenue using Google Business Messages.

Try the following tactics to get more out of Google Business Messages—not just with customer enjoyment, but sales too.

1. Introduce customers to products they love, then entice them to buy.

When customers use Google Business Messages to start a conversation with your business, chances are they’re already interested in your company. But you can turn that interest into a sale—or even repeat sales—by deepening their understanding of your products and the value they offer.

After all, searching through pages of products on a website can be overwhelming, even with excellent navigation tools and filters. And scouring a website for FAQs can be tedious. On a messaging platform, though, customers just have to share a few details, and your customer service agents can take over the conversation from there.

Here are just some of the ways you can entice customers to buy using Google’s business messaging:

  • Answer product questions: Remove friction from the buying process early on.
  • Share product photos, catalogs, and carousels: Give customers new items and options to explore and get excited by.
  • Link blog posts and video tutorials: Build trust with customers by providing extra information, like ideas for incorporating a product into your life or instructions on how to use it for maximum effectiveness.
  • Provide personalized recommendations: Help customers get closer to what they need with tailored suggestions that account for their unique concerns and motivations.
  • Direct customers to sales reps: Connect customers who need more in-depth information or product explanations to your knowledgeable sales reps.
  • Share promo codes: Incentivize customers to take action by dropping a promo code or discount inside the conversation as a thank you.
  • Accept orders and add items to check out: Make it easy for customers to wrap up their shopping experience and press purchase.

2. Give your customer support team more time to create positive interactions with customers.

With Google business messaging API, your customer support team can spend less time addressing minor concerns and more time building bonds.

How?

By taking advantage of AI-powered chats. In Google messages, you can create an automated list of FAQs to send to curious customers so they have accessible information about store hours, online orders, refunds, shipping timelines, and delivery statuses.

When you program virtual customer service agents to address common customer inquiries, your support agents are freed up to focus on high-value conversations. These types of conversations happen when individual customers need help finding specific products, checking out, or handling returns. In those situations, your customers want attentive, personalized assistance—and fast—from a friendly person who’s easy to talk to.

Turning high-value conversations into positive interactions is key to closing sales and keeping customers happy.

3. Uplevel your brand and image by following messaging platform best practices.

Paying attention to the details when messaging can improve your brand reputation and differentiate your company from the competition.

Like any platform, there are strategic ways to make the most of Google Business Messages—and there are easy mistakes to make. You’ll create stronger customer connections and maximize your sales opportunities by following a few best practices.

Here are some to keep in mind:

  • Create an automated welcome message: Invite customers in by greeting them warmly and letting them know you’re available to help.
  • Reply fast: Speed is everything on a messaging platform. Take the time to set up a wide variety of automation that get customers the answers and information they need fast.
  • Be conversational: Use a relaxed and approachable tone in your conversations. Little things—like saying thank you or apologizing for an issue—go a long way toward building trust with customers.
  • Use visuals: Supplement your answers and directions with visual aids. Send product photos and videos, or use screenshots to help customers figure out where to go on your website.
  • Simplify the chat: Use rich messaging features like quick reply chips and typing indicators to expedite the conversation. These and other RCS features reduce the legwork for your customers.

It’s also a good idea to regularly review your Google Business Messages analytics to find out what’s working and where you can make improvements.

If the data shows that a majority of customers drop out of the chat after a few questions, for example, you could try rephrasing the questions, switching their order, or leading with different information.

Or maybe your analytics reveal that customers tend to ask the same easily answerable questions at the top of the chat. In that case, try updating your automated FAQs or opening the chat with quick reply chips that address the common questions.

Even minor adjustments have the potential to make a big impact on customer satisfaction.

Drive sales with Google Business Messages.

Google Business Messages helps you accomplish two separate but connected business goals: delight customers and drive sales.

Not only do business messages make it easier for customers to reach you, but it also makes it easier for you to cater to those customers. Dynamic messaging features and thoughtful automation give your customer service agents more tools and time to do what they do best.

When you partner with Quiq, we’ll help you set up and optimize your Google messaging platform, so you get the results you want.

Comparing Live Chat and Chatbots

How often do you interact with brands online? In-person?

Brand interactions now happen online more often than they do in-person. Salesforce projected that in 2022, 61% of company interactions would be online, and only 39% would be in person. That number has been steadily increasing since 2020.

With more people spending more time in front of their screens (whether mobile or desktop), customers need a convenient place to connect with your business.

And your website is a good place to start.

Live chat (also known as web chat) is the simplest way to connect with your customers online. It usually involves a chat feature that lives on your website where customers can instantly start a real-time conversation.

So, where do chatbots come into play? We get it—with all the jargon thrown around, it can get confusing. (What happened to the days of customer service by phone or email, right?) While live chat is the method of communication, chatbots are the ones doing the communication.

Let us explain.

Say you need to contact an e-commerce company to return an ill-fitting shirt. (Too long, too tight, too orange…whatever the case may be.) Even though it’s a simple transaction, you still need to request a return label. So you go to their website, open the live chat box and type in your request.

You’ll likely get a chatbot responding to your inquiry and helping you through the process.

Chatbots, like the AI-powered ones we implement for our customers, often stand in for live agents when interacting with customers.

But it’s not as simple as implementing live chat, finding a low-fidelity bot, and putting it to work. It takes careful planning and, above all, a fierce customer-first approach to successfully implement a chatbot strategy.

Continue reading as we compare live chat to chatbots, when to use each of them (or both), and how to navigate the customer service experience.

Why live chat is a must.

Where phones used to be the easiest and fastest way for customers to reach you, live chat is quickly replacing it. Live chat is a communication channel where customers can get immediate answers to their questions.

Now, 42% of customers prefer online chat (another name for live chat in this instance) over other communication methods, according to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customers Report.

Compared to other forms of customer service, live chat frequently performs better, with faster response times, higher CSAT scores, and quicker resolutions.

Plus, your customers are more likely to return to a website that offers live chat, according to 63% of respondents, reports SaaSworthy.

Why should you use chatbots for customer service?

Customer expectations are increasing. While at the same time, your customer service team is asked to do more with less. Something has to give. Or does it?

Chatbots build a bridge between your stellar customer service team and your customers. When comparing live chat and chatbots, don’t think of them as adversaries. Chatbots aren’t replacement tools for human interaction but merely extensions of your customer service team.

  • Here are just a few things chatbots can do:
  • Answer customer questions.
  • Troubleshoot common problems.
  • Gather customer information.
  • Determine the department to route customers to.
  • Move customers into an agent’s queue across channels.

In fact, 48% of U.S. customers believe AI should make life easier, according to Zendesk’s CX Trends Report. For people ages 25–39, that number jumps up to 80%.

How to make your chatbot stand out using live chat.

The biggest problems you’ll face when implementing a chatbot strategy for customer service are perceptions and expectations.

On one side of the spectrum, many people have high expectations for AI. Pop culture has skewed public perception, making them think AI can do nearly anything seamlessly without much work on their part.

On the other side, some people simply hear (or see) the word “bot” and dismiss it as stupid and useless. (Probably from previous bad experiences with low-end, faulty bots.)

There’s currently a long way to go before AI-powered chatbots meet customer expectations. Here are a few ways AI chatbots are failing customers—and how you can use this information to make your customer service stand out.

Accuracy is everything.

The stat: 47% of consumers report not getting accurate answers, according to Zendesk.

As an extension of your customer service team, customers need to be able to trust the information they get from your chatbot. Customers who don’t trust your chatbot quickly lose faith in your business.

While we like to think that AI is infinitely intelligent, chatbots are only as good as the information you feed them. Just like you have to spend time straining your customer service agents, you need to spend time inputting information, writing scripts, and QA-ing your chatbot.

How to fix it: Ensure your chatbots have access to all the information your customer service agents do, including product databases and customer data.

Speed still matters—even if your agents’ time isn’t at stake.

The stat: 56% of customers say it takes too long for the bot to recognize it can’t help solve their issues.

It’s like listening to the five-minute interactive voice response (IVR) menu before realizing you need to talk to a representative. Forcing customers to answer too many questions or go through too many routing menus is an easy way to frustrate them. Especially when 48% of surveyed consumers in the U.S. believe chatbots should save time when contacting a company.

How to fix it: While it’s a good practice to use chatbots to collect information before connecting with a live agent, keep them as few as possible.

Also, consider measuring chatbot performance, much like you would a live agent. Are they resolving issues quickly? Are they able to solve problems with just one interaction? That way, you can identify weak spots and continue improving.

Don’t make customers repeat themselves, ever.

The stat: 44% of customers say the most frustrating thing about working with a chatbot is when they have to start all over again with a human agent.

We know customers hate to repeat themselves. It’s one of the things they hope AI-enabled bots can prevent. According to Zendesk, 49% of surveyed consumers believe AI should keep people from having to repeat themselves.

How to fix it: When combining live chat and chatbots, make the handoff from bot to agent seamless. Use the information collected by the bots to auto-populate your conversational platform and give agents access to the conversation so they don’t miss anything.

Be transparent and give them a choice.

The stat: 44% get frustrated that they don’t have a choice between speaking with a human or a bot at the beginning of a conversation.

Think about IVR systems. They (almost) always give you an option to connect directly with a live representative, and it’s easy to tell when you’re talking to a live agent.

But it’s not as easy to identify over live chat, and customers can feel deceived when they think they’re reaching out to a person. And when they’re having a hard time explaining their issue, walking through it with a bot can just add to their frustrations.

How to fix it: Name your bot, and have them introduce itself as a robotic assistant. Include an option to connect directly with a live agent (when available) in that welcome message. While you want to encourage customers to interact with your bot in order to reduce the burden on your live agents, you don’t want to force them. Give them a choice.

Infuse bots with brand personality.

The stat: 47% of surveyed consumers believe AI should improve customer service quality.

Admittedly, you’re battling a perception when introducing chatbots into your customer experience. When customers hear “chatbot,” they immediately think of robotic, monotone voices. For web conversations, that translates to personality-less text or poor attempts to sound “human” that end up sounding… fake.

The easiest fix is to create a chatbot experience that matches your brand’s personality, whether that’s enthusiastic, fun, empathetic, or straightforward.

Our client Daily Harvest, a popular meal kit delivery service, knew they needed to create a chatbot to help alleviate their overburdened customer service team. But they wanted to ensure customers got the same excellent customer experience the brand has become known for. They partnered with Quiq to build a custom AI chatbot that not only solved common customer issues but could also interpret customers’ language and syntax, their food preferences, and more.

They ended up with Sage, Daily Harvest’s digital care guide. Besides reducing call volume by 60% (a huge win in its own right), they optimized the customer experience and improved their already extraordinarily high CSAT rate.

Read more about Sage and Daily Harvest here >

Make live agents and chatbots part of the same team.

With the right planning (and the right partner), chatbots and live agents can work seamlessly together to serve your customers.

According to Zendesk, only 38% of businesses use both bots and human agents for live chat. That means there’s a big opportunity for improvement.

Since 83% of customers expect to connect with someone immediately when contacting a company, according to Salesforce, you need to pool your resources to meet (or exceed) customer expectations.

Start crafting your chatbot and live chat strategy by taking these preliminary steps:

  1. Collect customer issues by volume. What questions do you get the most?
  2. Organize them by complexity. Are they simple “where’s my order” questions, or do they take several steps and individual problem-solving?
  3. Identify which can be solved with bots or which needs a live agent.
  4. Figure out how bots and humans can work together to solve problems.

Don’t think of live agents and bots as working in silos. The best tactic is to use them both together at various times in the interaction.

Use a bot to collect information and troubleshoot problems upfront. Then, tap in a live agent when the problem gets complex. You can also pull in a bot at the end of the conversation to close out transactions, ask for feedback, or talk about the next steps.

Empower your customer service team to embrace chatbot interactions, and work in tandem to deliver the best customer experience.

Leverage live chat and chatbots with Quiq.

Quiq’s AI-powered chatbots work just like your live agents. With our Conversational Platform, you can combine native Quiq customer service chatbots, bots developed in third-party frameworks, and human agents any way you like.

The question is no longer if you should choose between live chat or chatbots, but how you can use both to deliver the ultimate customer experience.