Miles Hobson
Miles Hobson 14 April 2016

Listen When Your Customers Need You

In the past, companies have developed channel or product-specific support models which compete for supremacy. However, in the eyes of the customer, you’re a single organisation.

60% of customers interact through multiple channels but irrespective of time, place, device or medium, customers expect consistency.

What do they expect to be consistent?

  1. They expect you to always listen. That means not having to repeat themselves when they switch channels or because you weren’t paying attention. And most of this must come down to having the right agents, training and quality assurance, rather than the right technology.
  2. Customers also expect support to be offered when they need it. That means customer service still being within easy reach, even if you operate a self-service first model; and that means customer service being offered without them having to look too far for it. And this is where technology and its optimisation must come into its own.

Start satisfying these two simple expectations and you’ll see customer satisfaction levels skyrocket. I’m talking 98% customer satisfaction and above here - the stuff dreams are made of (maybe not the most exciting dreams).

Your brand’s website is the first port of call for many customers looking for help (and where customers need help the most if you’re an eCommerce business). So it’s the most important place to be ready to listen to your customers. And what’s the best channel for listening exactly when your customers need you?

Live chat of course. Not just another channel for you to manage but your new primary digital channel. A channel that can deliver on your brand promise and provide your customers with consistency.

Listen to your customers when they need you, with live chat.


So, why live chat?

Well like most digital channels, live chat comes with the advantage of agents being able to see previous customer service interactions. Instead of the customer having to repeat themselves, the agent is able to fill themselves in on any previous conversations they’ve had.

You can even listen to multiple customers at one time - meaning a more efficient service for you and the customer.

Live chat also makes it super easy for agents to forward customer feedback to managers. The entire transcript (and additional notes) can be emailed or added to a CRM system. Meaning products and services can be improved based upon customer feedback.

This means that customers feel they are being listened to. But like every channel, you can provide agents with the tools to listen but whether they do or not is entirely down to them.

The right hiring, training and quality assurance processes can improve agents’ abilities to listen. Agents need to make sure they aren’t talking over the customer, they must read what the customer has said and then reply with a personalised answer (not just a broad brush canned response).  

And when agents ask for feedback, they should ask more than “are you satisfied?” They need to ask why they are or aren’t satisfied and get down to the nitty gritty of their experience. This is actionable feedback.

There is no point in collecting data you can’t action. It frustrates respondents and makes them lose trust in you.


That’s how your agents can listen better, but how can you use chat to listen exactly when customers need you? Well unlike other service channels, live chat can be used to proactively offer support where customers often need it the most - your website.

Sure, you can make sure your phone number and email address are prominently displayed on your contact page, but can you reach out to a customer as soon as they get stuck?

"Amazing support that I didn't even know I needed!"

Proactive chat allows you to reach out a helping hand when customers need you most. It does take some careful analysis of visitor behaviour and a long optimisation process but it helps you provide that final customer satisfaction element (support when they need it).Listen to your data to help you start listening to your customers.

You need to provide customers with the right mix of support - there in the background and approachable when they want to use it but offered proactively when they really need it.


Proactive live chat is for those moments when their credit card isn’t accepted on the payment page (grrh!) or when they’ve read help article after help article but their smart TV still won’t connect to the Wi-Fi (grrrh!).

Live chat should be an option for every customer throughout their website journey however, in the form of reactive live chat. If a customer experiences a problem offline, they can jump straight on your website and click to chat from your homepage, contact page or wherever they like.


You don’t want to engage absolutely everyone on your website with proactive chat, that’s just as irritating as all the other potential grrhmoments. So don’t just programme a proactive greeting for every page, 3 seconds after the visitor has landed there.

Use your website analytics data (i.e. Google Analytics) to understand which pages customers most commonly bounce from, and which pages they usually abandon their baskets from. Customers are clearly facing problems on these pages, you don’t know why but to overcome these problems they need you.

Create targeted chat invites on these pages (just after the average time on page) and you’ll be able to engage the customers that need your help. Not the ones that are already having a great experience.

"Interesting for a pop up :) Usually I dislike these things but this time it was a real person talking to me with some valuable information. Cheers!"

With just your live chat software this time, set up targeted chat invites for when a customer flicks between a couple of product pages or views a number of help articles on a topic. These customers are clearly in search of some additional information, unaware that you can listen to them and provide answers in a matter of seconds.

They need you to reach out and help.

These are just some basic proactives for you to start with. You need to test your proactives and improve them as you go (as well as creating new proactives for your changing visitor behaviour). Creating a proactive invite is the easy part, optimising proactives across your website takes a lot more work.


Are you listening to your customers when they need you? It takes the right people, processes and technology to do so. Once you are achieving this though, you’ll be satisfying the fundamental expectations of your customers. To listen and to offer support when it’s needed.

Do these 2 things well and your customer satisfaction will skyrocket.


This blog post was originally published on The Chat Shop blog.

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