Building Strong Relationships with B2B Customers who Prefer Live Chat – Part 1
More customers are preferring live chat for talking with businesses. The first part of our three part series focuses on what to do before the conversation even starts.
It’s no secret that more B2B (business-to-business) customers are using live chat than ever before. A simple way to get a response from a business without having to call (and often face hold times) or email, chat is a real-time form of communication many businesses leverage daily.
But what happens when most, if not all, of your conversations with a customer happen over chat? In the world of building relationships to increase retention and revenue, this can create a hurdle in knowing and understanding the needs of your customer.
So, how can businesses build strong relationships with B2B customers who prefer chat communication? In this three-part series, we’ll highlight key tactics leading support teams implement to build and maintain these important relationships. To start with Part 1, here’s information on what companies should have in place before a chat conversation happens.
Part 1 – Pre-conversation Chat Planning
Set realistic expectations for chat communication – B2B chat is complex when compared to B2C (business-to-consumer). In the B2C world, agents are often flooded with “What’s the status of my order” and “How can I reset my password” requests. While B2B agents can work on these issues as well, usually the problems they encounter are more unique and challenging. This isn’t a bad thing though! Agents that deal with the same type of requests repeatedly are more prone to getting burnt out and resigning or changing departments. Solving different types of issues keeps agents on their toes and actively engaged with customers in a positive way. But these complex B2B issues need to be structured, because it’s unrealistic for a customer to expect a response in a minute to a problem involving multiple departments. Instead, sit down with your support agents and map out your common issues. After you do this, categorize the issues by difficulty (i.e. easy, normal, hard). This will provide your agents with a guideline for how long it usually takes to resolve a specific issue and they can then share this information with the customer. For example, looking up a product ID number may only take a couple minutes, but fulfilling a request to share some custom code may take 10 minutes as the support agent tracks down a developer who can provide them with the code. Implementing this tactic helps to set the expectations of the customer and prevents frustration.
Provide information on where your chat is and isn’t available – Some companies implement live chat and then broadly tell their customers about it; however, they often lack an information source on where their chat is available and how to access it. One of the worst things you can do with customers who prefer live chat is to not share information about your chat solution. Common question like the ones below should be answered either within your self-service portal or on an FAQ page about your support channels:
Do customers need to log-in to your self-service portal to chat with you?
Are there any specific hours chat is NOT available? If so, what happens when chat is offline?
Is there a direct link to access chat at any time?
Does chat work better in specific browsers (Chrome, Firefox, etc.)?
Is chat available on mobile devices? If so, do you need to download an app?
Be clear if there is a wait to chat with an agent – Nobody likes waiting, but what customers hate even more is not knowing how long they need to wait. This is a simple one but consider implementing some form of messaging into your chat solution if customers frequently need to wait more than a few minutes to chat with you, or displaying what place they are in the chat queue
Implement custom agent information into your chat – Having a stock photo and profile of a generic chat agent isn’t beneficial for anyone. By failing to share information about yourself with the customer, they are less likely to open up about themselves. Ensure all profiles of your chat agents are complete including name, contact information, personal photo, and a short bio (if applicable to your industry). Especially in the age of frustrating chat bot experiences, it’s important for B2B customers to know they’re speaking with a real person.
We hope you enjoyed part 1 of our series! Stay tuned for Part 2 on how to build and maintain strong customer relationships during the conversation.
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