Live Chat Implementation in 3 Simple Steps
When implementing live chat on your website, you can keep things as simple or make them as advanced as you want.
If you treat it as a simple add-on, you can be up and running in minutes. But if you're implementing live chat on behalf of a bigger business, or you wish to become a "messaging first" company, you’ll want to think carefully about how to seamlessly integrate it into your customer journeys.
In this article, we'll start out with a simple live chat implementation. Then, we'll follow up with a comprehensive live chat rollout plan.
Simple live chat implementation
1How to implement live chat on your website
Once you’ve found the right live chat software, the first step is implementing it on your website. We’ll show you how to do it with our solution, but the process is pretty much the same for 90% of the live chat providers out there.
Wordpress. It’s even easier if you want to integrate Userlike into your Wordpress site as no code is involved. All you need to do is install the Userlike plugin and paste your Widget Secret to connect Userlike with Wordpress.
Other CMS. What if you want to add live chat to other CMS? Check out these tutorials to engage with your customers in real-time:
Google Tag Manager. If you're already using Google Tag Manager, then adding live chat is painless. Just add it as another tag, as described in this Google Tag Manager Tutorial . Besides ease, another benefit of using GTM is how it simplifies implementing different types of chat setups on different parts of your website.
Now you can already chat! Conversations that come in through your implemented website chat will land in the Message Center.
2Adjust your chat widget
If you’ve poured time and money into a website that looks great, you’ll want to make sure that your chat widget aligns with the general theme, so as not to alienate visitors. Settings include:
- Design. How your chat widget will look.
- Behavior. E.g. whether you automatically visitors to a chat, whether they first have to register their details, etc.
- Wording. E.g. formal vs. informal tone, service time communication, etc.
3Set up your chat team
If you’re offering live chat in a team, you’ll need the right setup to work with live chat efficiently.
In Userlike, the first step is to set up operator groups . You could set up these groups by department or areas of expertise (e.g. English and Spanish, or Sales and Support). If you activate Group Select in your Widget Editor, your customers will be able to select with a click the group they'd like to be connected to.
Next, you’ll need to add operators and assign them to the right group.
When you add an operator, you also assign them add roles . These manage the permissions you want your operators to have (i.e. what they can view and what they can edit). You’ll also define the appropriate amount of chat slots to your operators which determine how many live chats the agent can conduct simultaneously.
The right amount depends on the experience of your agents. For less experienced agents, the ideal number of chats is 1-2 to guarantee timely answers and chat quality. As your operators become more experienced, you can gradually increase to 3-5.
Now that we've covered the simple setup, let's now take a look at a comprehensive roll-out.
Full-scale live chat rollout plan
1Define your goals
To make the most out of live chat, it makes sense to define your business objectives. While you can pursue more than one purpose at once, having a clear priority of these goals in mind offers some guidance for your implementation and roll-out.
Here are some goals you may want to set:
Offer a superior service channel. This is about customer satisfaction and making it easier for your customers to get in touch.
How you’ll measure this: compare satisfaction ratings, feedback and clicks to get in touch with your other channels.
Reduce phone calls/service costs. One of the main benefits of live chat is that it lowers your service costs while allowing you to offer real-time support to customers. Unlike phone support, live chat allows one agent to serve multiple customers at once.
How to measure: Compare the number of phone calls before and after live chat implementation. Calculate the costs per support interaction before and after live chat implementation.
Generate leads. Live chat is a powerful tool for capturing leads. If, say, a prospect is looking at your pricing page, you can proactively reach out to them to ask whether they’d like more information.
How to measure: Number of leads passed on from website chat team to your sales team. With Userlike, we often follow up on a promising chat in Pipedrive .
Raise website conversions. With live chat, you can also nudge visitors to purchase directly on your website, by clarifying any doubts they may have about your product, service or shipping fees.
How to measure: To measure the impact of live chat on conversions, you’ll need to conduct A/B testing. This consists in sending some of your visitors to a web page with live chat implemented, and the other part of your visitors to the same web page but without live chat implemented – and comparing which generates a higher conversion rate.
Customer understanding. Offering live chat allows you to gain valuable insights into your customers’ needs, desires and pain points.
How to measure: This is hard to measure. You can look at chat transcripts and count the valuable insights you got through website conversations.
2Involve the stakeholders
The ownership of a website varies greatly from company to company. Also, with live chat, there is often intersectionality. The marketing team might want to add live chat to the website, but it's the customer service team that will have to adopt it. That’s why it makes sense to get the relevant stakeholders on board and to make sure they’re aligned with your company goals.
Common stakeholders, in our experience, include:
- Business development (CEO, founder team)
- Marketing department / manager
- Digital sales department / manager
- Ecommerce department / manager
- Website department / manager
- Customer experience department / manager
- Frontend development (for the technical implementation, to check the quality of the live chat solution and to handle technical issues)
- Data privacy officer (to check whether it's GDPR-proof)
- Financial controller (to sign off on the investment)
Ideally, involve stakeholders at an early stage to ensure buy-in from the onset.
3Implement in a test environment
It’s good practice to implement live chat in a test environment before going live, especially if you’re a large organization with a high volume of support queries. This allows your team to get familiar with the chat and will show any unforeseen technical complications without negative consequences.
By testing, you’ll get a sense of whether the widget behaves as you expect it to. Does it appear automatically on the page (if that is the expected behavior) or close when a chat has ended?
4Invite your test team
The next step to bring on board the few operators who will be carrying out the first live chat tests. Before they start chatting, you’ll need to assign your operators chat slots. You may want to start with 2 or even just 1 per operator and scale up later as their comfort level rises.
Your operators will also need to add a profile picture so that customers know they’re chatting with a real person. Adding an authentic photo instead of a stock image makes the conversation feel more human and more personal.
5Define chat best practices
To guarantee a good experience for your first live chat customers, your support team will need to be acquainted with best practices for chat communication.
Chatting in private communication comes naturally to those of us who grew up with the likes of chatrooms and MSN, but the stakes are higher when it comes to customer service. That’s why you’ll need to define how you want your chat communication to look (formal vs. informal, emoji use, etc.).
As you get more experienced, you can improve and iterate on this. But to reduce initial uncertainty for your chat agents, it helps to clarify your communication approach. For more tips, read our article on live chat best practices.
6Implement on a specific page
Once you're confident that your chat behaves as intended within your test environment, you can make the move to your website.
It’s advisable to only implement it on one page for starters, e.g. your contact page or a specific landing page. See how it goes, and then roll out further from there.
This allows you and your chat agents to comfortably get acquainted with this new channel. And you'll also get a sense of the volume and types of customer requests and how best to conduct chat conversations.
7Build up chat tools
These are assets that help your team become better and faster at chat support, but they take some time and experience to set up:
- Canned messages. Called chat macros in Userlike, they are used for answering common questions quickly.
- Topics. Tags for categorizing and sorting your chats.
- Push macros. For guiding customers to certain pages of your website.
Your FAQ section and your experience with your existing support channels can help you set up your starting arsenal of canned messages, topics and push macros.
8Assess success of trial
The exact timing to assess the success of your live chat trial depends on how fast you've been proceeding with the rollout. But after a week or so of live implementation, you should already have some insights to work with.
How you measure the success of your live chat trial depends on the goals you set in your rollout plan (step 1).
Userlike's Analytics section can also help here. This provides numerical insights into the performance of your chat service:
- Impressions. How many times a chat has been started.
- First response time. How long a visitor had to wait until the initial response from the chat agent.
- Response time. The average time your operators take to answer chats.
- Missed opportunities. How many times a visitor tried to chat with you without success.
9Map out a comprehensive website chat plan
Once you’ve assessed the success of your live chat trial, you’ll need to define what type of chat setup you want to have across your website experience. This will also depend on your goals.
For example, if you want to create leads and/or increase conversions, the best place to implement chat is on your main product pages.
On the other hand, if you want to mainly reduce service costs, it makes sense to implement it on your contact page and to hide your phone contact options. Or you could make use of chatbot automation.
10Gradually roll out across other pages
The next step is to roll live chat out to your other pages, in accordance with your comprehensive website chat plan.
As you do this, the volume of chats will increase, which means that you will likely also need to expand your team and ensure that each chat agent is equipped to handle the high volume. These are sensible areas for your training:
11Announce the new channel to your customers
One of the main benefits of live chat is that it can seamlessly accompany your customers across their website journey. As such, they will automatically get acquainted with your new channel.
But it can still be beneficial to announce the channel explicitly to your customers – especially if you want to prioritize it as a support channel. You could explain your customers about the benefits of the new channel (e.g. faster replies) and manage expectations regarding service and response times.
Here are a few ideas for announcing the new channel:
Blog. With a blog post announcing your new channel, like Klaviyo did here, you not only keep existing customers updated but prospective customers as well. This also gives you ample space to explain your reasons for adding live chat support and to make customers aware of service times.
Newsletter. For customers who don’t read your blog or are short of time, your next customer newsletter is the perfect opportunity to announce your new channel.
Social media. This is where most of your customers are and likely where your announcement will get the most visibility.
12Gradually prioritize over other channels
We're pretty confident that as you’re testing, you will realize that website chat is the best mode of customer communication — for your customers as well as for your business.
Once you realize this, it makes sense to prioritize website chat/messaging over traditionally frustrating channels (phone & email).
A common myth is that customers want choice when it comes to contact channels. But, as Cynthia Grimm explains in When To Offer Fewer Service Channels, customers mostly only care about their issues being solved as quickly and effortlessly as possible. And live chat outperforms all the other channels in these areas.
That’s why companies like Wistia have removed their phone number from their website. In the case of Squarespace , they decided to withdraw phone support altogether as they realized that they could better serve their customers online — where their customers are.
Bonus step: consider expanding to messaging apps
Website chat is the optimal channel for reaching customers on your website. But what if they're not on your website anymore?
Through messaging apps like WhatsApp, Messenger and SMS, it's possible to offer the same easy-going communication as website chat. That's why at Userlike, you can easily connect more messaging channels. Whether messaging comes from your website, WhatsApp, Telegram or other, your support team can answer everything straight from the Message Center.
After your move to website chat, you could consider expanding to these channels to replace email and a big chunk of phone inquiries.
If you would like to give Userlike a try, you can sign up for a 14-day trial here.