Real-time support is essentially any customer service channel where help can be provided instantly or at least within a few minutes. Real-time support includes video chat, live text chat, phone calls and social media messaging among others.
In recent years, customers have increasingly come to expect real-time support, particularly when it comes to online businesses in e-commerce and SaaS environments. Long gone are the days where customers were happy to wait for days just to get a response to an email query.
Customer support, or customer service as it's often called is a major contributing factor to the success of a business. Quality customer service helps you retain existing customers as well as attract new ones.
When customers compare several similar products or services, excellent real-time customer support can be a significant differentiator.
As online sales continue to grow, companies need to find ways to stay competitive while delivering amazing customer experiences. Customers have a world of options to choose from when it comes to online products and services. That means if they don't get answers to support queries quickly, they'll move on to your competitors.
If your company has an online presence, it's almost universally agreed that providing real-time customer service will have a positive impact on sales, retention and repeat business. In fact, 93% of consumers are more likely to be repeat customers of businesses with excellent customer service.
While there are many options to choose from when implementing real-time support channels for your customers, here are 5 of the best.
While picking up a phone might seem slightly old fashioned when it comes to online businesses, e-commerce stores and SaaS products - phone calls are still one of the best ways to provide instant support.
Phone calls are one of the best ways to ensure customers explain their questions clearly while also ensuring support agents understand exactly what's being asked.
Phone calls are simple, fast and provide a level of clarity when working through queries which can't be matched by any text based solutions.
If you're interested in implementing phone support, Feederloop allows anyone on your website to call you straight from their browser. You're also able to see the customers screen and start a video call, all straight from your website.
While providing support via text/sms messages has been used for many years, there's been increased growth in the use of messenger apps like Whatsapp in recent years.
With the mass usage of smart phones across the globe, it's important that you provide ways for customers to contact you from their phones. While phone calls are one option, messenger apps provide a newer real-time option.
Support agents are able to manage queries via desktop or browser apps which integrate with mobile messenger apps thus providing centralized management of queries.
While these solutions are definitely worth considering, one of their drawbacks is that they typically require your customers to leave your website or app. Solutions like real-time video and text chat on the other hand which are embedded in your website ensure that customers stay engaged on your site longer.
Live chat usually focuses on real-time text conversations between visitors on your website and your support or sales staff. Companies like Intercom, Crisp and many others provide chat widgets for your website along with centralized management of all conversations.
When agents aren't available in real-time, live chat platforms sometimes provide fallbacks such as AI bots or automated responses. This can often provide the best of both worlds, with real-time responses from your support staff when they're available and falling back to automated responses when they're not.
Before going straight to using AI bots and automated responses, be sure to give some thought as to whether or not this will be appropriate for your customer base. Live text chat is often thought of as impersonal and frustrating when customers aren't able to speak to a real person.
Real-time video chat and screen sharing allows support agents to not only speak to customers but also see their screen. Screen sharing in particular aids in faster query resolution times by letting the support agent see exactly what a query relates to and how it's affecting the customer.
Solutions like those provided by Feederloop can be embedded directly into your website which means support calls via audio, video and screen sharing can be had with customers while they're on your site. There's no need for the customer to pick up a phone or download any extra software - everything happens in their browser, on your website.
When your agents aren't available in real-time, these solutions should also provide fall backs such as voice messages, email or calendar meetings to ensure customers always have a way to contact you.
Social media has grown to not only be used in our personal lives but also in our professional lives when dealing with companies. Social media platforms provide mass visibility for your company which can be both positive or negative if you don't stay on top of your online presence.
Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and others provide real-time private or public messaging features which should be taken advantage of to address queries quickly as they come in.
According to studies, 54% of people have a more favorable view of brands that respond to customer service questions or complaints on social media.
Because of the public nature of social media - bad reviews, support queries or any feedback posted on these platforms should be attended to quickly. Treating social media as yet another real-time support channel goes a long way to not only answer queries quickly but also maintain a good public image of your company.
So there you have it, 5 of the best ways to provide your customers with real-time support.
From more traditional phone based solutions through to cutting edge video chat embedded in your website, providing your customers with excellent real-time support can help grow sales and keep existing customers happy.