10 tips for using live chat effectively

Live chat can help you get more bookings but only if you use it well
James Donald
August 6, 2019

Live chat can help you get more bookings and provide better, faster customer service – but only if you use it well. 

More travellers are embracing live chat. It’s fast, easy, and infinitely more convenient than phone or email. 

International travellers use live chat to avoid long-distance phone calls and mobile users like it because they can communicate in busy places (like airports) without struggling to hear over background noise.

Live chat demands agility, though – if you take too long to respond, people will move right along. Travellers are now demanding service 24/7.

With that in mind, here are 10 tips for making the most of the live chat feature on your website.

1. Offer help at the right moment

Let people know you’re available to chat – but not too soon.

Just like a good in-store sales assistant, your chatbot will give people a chance to settle in before offering support. 

For most websites, ideal timing is after 10 seconds or when someone has reached the bottom of the page.

2. Make a good first impression 

The words, sounds, and graphics you use on live chat are crucial.

Aim to inform, not sell. The first message people see should be a subtle offer of help, not an overly-enthusiastic sales pitch.

3. Don’t ask for people’s emails upfront

On ecommerce and B2B websites, it’s common to ask for people’s email addresses before starting live chat. The goal is to collect email addresses to try to ‘nurture’ potential leads with follow-up emails.

This strategy is great for some businesses, but it doesn’t work well for tourism operators. Most travellers don’t want to be nurtured. Buying from you is typically a one-off decision with a time constraint. Many travellers are also booking last-minute, making email nurturing even more futile. 

4. Make it simple for people to ask questions

Live chat is meant to be an easy, intuitive, user-friendly tool. If it’s complicated to use, people will become frustrated and give up.

Yonder makes it really simple for people to ask questions, especially by not asking for email addresses upfront (see point three).

5. Anticipate people’s needs

Address frequently asked questions upfront in the live chat window with clever, thoughtful copy.

Take the below approach from a whitewater rafting company, for example. In winter, many would-be rafters are worried about freezing cold water – but they’ll be feeling a whole lot warmer about the idea after reading this message: 

Relevant website messages to address anitcipated customer needs

The rafting company anticipated their customer’s needs and provided a solution, without being asked. Now that’s customer service. 

6. Respond immediately and 24/7

Live chat is just that – live. People expect instant communication, whether they are local or international. We know of an operator who took nine minutes to respond and that was already too late! This is not uncommon. 

Yonder makes instant, 24/7 communication easier by automating the majority of responses. Before installing live chat on your website, we compile all your FAQs and come up with automated responses to address each one.

For questions that fall outside automated responses, we suggest using a mobile app to monitor the chat and setting up a staff roster for outside office hours. 

7. Keep your answers short

Have you ever timed yourself typing? Writing a comprehensive answer might take 2-5 minutes – and in that time, your prospect might disappear.

Make sure your customer knows you’re right there by replying something like ‘Hi there, thanks for your question’ or ‘Hi there, I’d love to help you with that’.

Don’t worry about being too brief or sending too many messages. Chat is about conversation and by nature requires short sentences. So, ditch your email templates with multiple paragraphs and engage in a real conversation with the customer. Ask for more information and give relevant short answers when they ask questions of you. 

8. Be careful about automated responses

As mentioned in point six, Yonder makes it easy for you to reply immediately by using automated responses wherever possible.

However, we don’t take automation lightly. For automation to truly work, the artificial intelligence needs to be smart enough to truly understand what someone’s asking and reply with a relevant response.

When poorly executed, automated answers can be a disaster. But when done right, they can provide even better customer service than real people.

A few benefits of automated answers (when done well):

  • Consistent quality and tone of responses
  • No spelling and grammar errors 
  • Rich responses with images and links

You won’t be able to use automated responses for every question, but Yonder customers find 50 to 70 percent of enquiries are covered. 

9. Get the support of your staff

Although a lot of the live chat experience can be automated, your staff will still be on the frontline responding to questions.

Make sure they understand the live chat tool so they can provide excellent customer service – just like they do on the phone or via email.

10. Find a live chat provider that understands tourism 

Not all live chat software is created equal. Different industries require different features. Investing in the wrong type of live chat for your business could end up costing you bookings, not winning you more. 

For example, one customer moved to Yonder from another live chat provider and noticed an uptick in enquiries from three per month to 100 per month. 

Interested to learn more? Get in touch to see how we can help - you may be eligible for a free 30-day trial or we can provide a 30min customer service assessment.

Let’s chat, we can help.

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