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March 22, 2017
Customer Service  |  7 min read

How to Leverage Automation with Live Chat

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Sujan Patel

The benefits of live chat are well established. When used correctly, these systems help give customers the instant information they crave. This helps build trust in your company while also minimizing the costs associated with building out fully-fledged customer service departments.

Live chat tools aren’t totally hands-off, of course. But many of their activities can be automated, creating efficient processes that lead prospects to sales and conversions as effectively as possible. To drive conversions with live chat, you need a combination of automation and genuine, helpful person-to-person conversations with your customers.

Live chat automation involves everything from initiating conversations based on simple triggers to implementing an AI-driven chatbot to mimic human chat behavior. The appropriate applications of automation for your business—including those found in the list below, among others—will depend on the complexity of your live chat needs and the available resources within your organization.

Initiate conversations based on automated triggers

Immediately blasting your visitors with intrusive chat invitations and pop-ups as soon as they land on your site isn’t going to endear your system to them. Odds are, they’ll hit the “Back” button—even if exiting the chat is as simple as clicking a button.

Adding automation to your live chat system, therefore, requires a certain level of finesse. Rather than auto-launching your chat window, you can control when it’s presented to visitors with automated triggers.

For example, you might want to automatically launch a chat window whenever a visitor:

  • Has spent a certain amount of time in your help section or knowledge base
  • Appears to be exploring different product options or price points
  • Exhibits any other behavior that seems to indicate they need help

Many live chat tools offer this functionality, though it goes by different names with each. Ask your tool’s support team for the correct process for setting automated conversation triggers.

Enable chat based on country or language

Robert Brandl of ChatToolTester offers two suggestions for going beyond simple conversation triggers: activating live chat based on country of origin or language.

In the instance of visitor country, Brandl shares:

"Typically, websites in English attract visitors from all around the world. But that doesn’t mean that you are able to sell them your products. You may not be able to ship to their destination, or you already know that your payment gateway won’t work in their particular country."

Implementing rules that deactivate your live chat tool for visitors in countries you can’t ship to, according to Brandl, means that “your chat agents can focus on the most important customers without having to answer questions from visitors that you cannot service anyway.” Similar automated filters can be set up based on detected language to prevent chat requests your team can’t adequately service.

Integrate live chat with your CRM

Miles Hobson of The Chat Shop offers another live chat automation that’s easy to implement: sending transcripts of your chat sessions directly to the customer’s record in your company’s CRM. Doing so offers several benefits.

"You can waste less time digging around for history on the customer you’re currently talking to. You don’t have to get your customer to repeat what they already told you a week ago, a month ago or whenever they last chatted."

Again, many chat tools offer this as a built-in functionality with popular CRMs. If yours doesn’t, however, it may be possible to create these connections with API coding.

Experiment with chatbots and hybrid chat solutions

Chatbots are something of a sensitive subject within the live chat community. Some experts claim that automating direct customer interactions leads to the kinds of flat, impersonal interactions website visitors are trying to avoid. Others, on the other hand, insist that today’s latest crop of AI-driven chatbots can be nearly indistinguishable from live support.

The answer—at least, in light of today’s technology—may lie somewhere in the middle, in the use of hybrid chat systems that can answer simple questions and refer more difficult queries to a live service representative.

Impact’s Derrick Weiss shares the positive experience he had interacting with Drift’s automated chatbot, Driftbot, before being passed on to a human—Connor—for more support:

“[Connor] gave me a handful of resources that were super helpful, and he did it within a couple minutes. He was able to do that so quickly because he was set up by the right technology. I initiated the conversion with Driftbot and it qualified me enough to allow Connor to step in so that he could help me out.”

Ultimately, your company may or may not be ready to automate all of these aspects of a live chat installation, but Larry Alton, writing for Desk.com, emphasizes that it isn’t just the initial integration that should matter when it comes to live chat automation. Ongoing testing should also be a priority:

“When’s the last time a manager tested out the automated system to see if it still works, if it needs an update or if there are kinks? It’s probably been awhile—and maybe since it was first installed. Testing the systems should be done on a regular basis, ideally once per week, because otherwise, you may not even realize there’s a huge obstacle that might be easy to fix.”

Identify the right live chat solution for your company and your customers, then find ways to automate the process to make your systems even more efficient. Test regularly, and you’ll enjoy all the benefits of a live chat solution that makes website visitors feel heard and that translates to more conversions for your business.

25 Things Every Small Business Should Automate - Download Now


Sujan Patel is a leading expert in digital marketing. He is a hard working and high energy individual fueled by his passion to help people and solve problems. He is the co-founder of Web Profits, a growth marketing agency, and a partner in a handful of software companies including Mailshake, Narrow.io, Quuu, and Linktexting.com. Between his consulting practice and his software companies, Sujan’s goal is to help entrepreneurs and marketers scale their businesses.

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