Getting Live Chat Right: Real Time, Real Talk.

Quick resolution. These are the words most frequently used by customers when describing positive customer support interactions. As advertising costs continue to increase, having a robust chat strategy can help you differentiate your brand from your competitors and exceed your sales and retention goals.

It should come as no surprise that customers prefer live chat over any other customer service channel. In fact, 42% of customers prefer live chat, whereas only 23% of customers prefer email and 16% social media. Additionally, live chat has been shown to yield higher customer satisfaction rates. For instance, 82% of customers who made contact through live chat rated their experience as satisfactory. Conversely, only 61% of customers who reached out via email did the same. The rates of satisfaction for social media and phone were even lower: 48% and 44% respectively. Similarly, the percentage of customers who were satisfied or very satisfied with their online shopping experience increased from 72% to 92% when live chat was used.

As we all know, happy customers means higher revenue with 79% of businesses experiencing higher retention rates, sales, and revenue. To this point, live chat engagement was shown to boost conversion rates by 40% and the average order value by 10%. And 63% of customers were more likely to return to a website that offered live chat. Plus, live chat offers a competitive business advantage: despite being the preferred channel of communication by customers, only 9% of businesses utilize live chat on their website, which means that you can use live chat to stand out from the crowd.

That your business has plenty to gain from implementing live chat makes sense. After all, live chat offers customers access to real-time assistance which satisfies their need for immediacy. Additionally, research has shown that providing customers with real human support, which live chat does, tends to foster trust. Live chat is also a cost-efficient customer service tool, as it allows agents to respond to as many as 6 customers at once; whereas, with phone and email, agents can only respond to one customer at a time. And finally, live chat allows for maximum brand engagement, as customers can get the help they need without ever leaving your website. Taking these benefits into account, it is important to get the basics of live chat right. Here is how:

1. Show empathy by being solutions-oriented

When something goes wrong, the urge to apologize often kicks in. A quick apology is appropriate in most cases but instead of adding limited value to the customer’s experience with an apology, show that you genuinely empathize with their situation by providing a solution. For instance, many businesses have been affected by shipping delays as a result of the pandemic. Instead of going into a lengthy explanation regarding the delay, respond to your customers in such a way that makes the interaction worthwhile for them. This could involve providing accurate information as to the order status, or depending on the specifics of a given case, it might involve processing a replacement order, a refund, or any other kind of financial incentive – for example, a discount on their next order.

2. Mind your tone and language

Customers who reach out via live chat tend to adopt an informal tone and employ casual language. If your brand’s tone is friendly and casual, there might be some leeway for some friendly banter. But remember that at the core of every customer interaction lies a business transaction. So avoid taking unnecessary risks, such as using humor in a way that could lead to misunderstandings. And always use clear language, avoiding texting abbreviations and technical jargon.

3. Make it personal but be cautious

Avoid making assumptions. For instance, it could be that you are in the health and beauty industry and many of your customers disclose sensitive personal information when reaching out. For example, some of your customers might need to cancel a subscription as a result of becoming pregnant. Before you jump to congratulate the customer on what many of us would consider good news, consider that your customer might feel a different way about her pregnancy.

4. Review the customer interaction history

Take advantage of customer experience softwares, such as Gorgias and Kustomer, that provide a holistic view of your customers to provide fast personalized help. Reviewing the customer’s history provides context and sharpens your sense as to where the customer is coming from, allowing you to anticipate their behavior so that you can respond quickly and accurately. For instance, a customer reaching out over live chat because his or her complaints have been ignored on social media, will likely have a different attitude than someone reaching out for the first time to inquire about one of your products. If this is not the first time a customer is reaching out about a particular issue, reviewing the customer’s previous interactions will ensure that you respond to the customer in a manner that adds value to their experience, preventing you from responding with information that the customer already knows and showing you are well-informed about their particular case.

5. Leverage chatbots and canned responses but tread with caution

Chatbots can be useful in that they provide an immediate response to a customer’s query. They also help to establish clear expectations with customers – for example, allowing you to establish the timeframe within which customers will have access to help from a real person. Scripted responses can also add value to the customer experience in that they provide efficiency, minimize the possibility of making human errors (e.g. typos) and allow brands to stay consistent in their messaging. With that said, avoid excessive use of automated and scripted responses. Only use chatbots to provide a first point of contact. Additionally, when using scripted responses, make sure that the response addresses the customer’s issue in its entirety and avoid appearing unauthentic. This is where reviewing the customer history also plays a role, as it can prevent you from using the same canned response with a customer more than once.

In a nutshell, adopting live chat often results in higher customer satisfaction rates and revenue generating opportunities. Nevertheless, to truly benefit from live chat, it is crucial that your business gets it right. Customers prefer live chat over any other channel because they essentially value two things: an efficient resolution and the ability to interact with a real human being. As such, friendliness, patience, and helpfulness are key. (Although if someone reaches out extolling the virtues of their cryptocurrency scheme, there is only one way to respond: ignore.)

About Horatio:

Horatio is a leading provider of white-glove customer experience and omni-channel support services. At Horatio, we like to say “do what you do best, and hire Horatio to do the rest.” Horatio partners with high-growth and innovative companies to develop their customer support strategy and provides a dedicated handpicked team to execute. Horatio’s number one focus is on providing high-touch, brand-focused customer support. Our team is equipped with state-of-the-art technologies and expertise to ensure a great customer experience every time.

To learn more about Horatio, please email or visit


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