How To Use Live Chat For Successful Customer Support: 3 Considerations

In this oversaturated information era, we are not oblivious to the irony that we are simply adding to that flood of information out there on the interwebs. Everybody is a teacher now, about anything, and across so many kinds of platforms and media. Beyond the information to which people all over the world want access any second of every day, those same people want that information to be made available to them in the form of a customized, unique experience. 

The giant housing service, Airbnb, presents a good example of accommodating this demand as its marketing is no longer directed only toward finding a place to stay in a new city but also facilitating local cultural experiences for you to enjoy. 

In the world of business, customized experience comes in the form of: 

1. product delivery - actually providing the product or service that was purchased

2. customer service - supporting customers in the sales lifecycle

Customers want the solution to their problem and they want it immediately, which is why instant messaging and live chat options are now burgeoning as the CURRENT end-all-be-all of customer service. Slack, Facebook Messenger, and Salesforce are just a few examples of the many apps that offer live chat services for your business but, as an HubSpot article admonishes, these apps are just the tools. The vessels for humans to use to connect with other humans. In other words, your capacity for live chat does not end with the app subscription. Instead, a lot more must be considered prior to setting up the chat system. The article clarifies these considerations into three categories:

  1. Speed of response
  2. Customer convenience
  3. Offline access


Even if your company creates set hours during which live support can be provided and then any offline time is left for automatic chatbots (#3), you must consider how long it takes for you or an employee (or a chatbot outside business hours) to actually physically open the support message and begin interacting with that customer in real time (#1) and you must have a system in place to ensure that the correct employee or department is addressing the particular customer inquiry (#2). If the inquiry is picked up by an employee within thirty seconds but they are in an irrelevant department and have to pass off the inquiry to someone else, the thirty second response time does not matter and now more time must pass before the customer's problem is solved. 

The article recommends considering what systems you have in place on the human side of the chat app. It does not matter if you are a solopreneur or a corporation with many departments and teams, the ultimate question is: what is your capacity for both speed and accuracy when a support message comes in from a customer?

If you are a solopreneur, design your own response process. 

  • When can you realistically respond to customer needs? 
  • How quickly?
  • In what area are you limited?

If you are in a department at a larger corporation, 

  • What system is currently in place within your team to handle customer support needs?
  • Do all departments and teams use the same chat app?
  • With what other department or team ought you to connect to make sure customer inquiries are appropriately distributed?