Awesome customer service is what sets great companies apart from the average ones, and to provide that level of customer service, you need great tools.
Once a business has found product/market fit, service and support become some of the most important factors in a company’s success.
Yet for so many businesses customer service is overlooked because maintaining unbeatable customer service is challenging.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Modern companies make it easy for their customers to reach them. Some of the best companies, like Amazon, even publish their CEO’s email address, so customers can have their concerns escalated and addressed right away.
I’ve seen companies use various forms of communication methods for their customers to get in touch with them. From 800 numbers to live chat and more.
Today, we’re going to focus on live chat. Why? Because I recently spent some time thinking of ways to make pre-chat survey experiences better.
These thoughts will not only help chat software makers improve their products, but also help any business wanting to improve their customer service.
Let’s dive straight in…
With live chat, you can get to know your customers, have meaningful conversations, and solve their problems efficiently.
Knowing your customers is a very important step in providing outstanding customer service, and it begins as soon as someone visits your website.
Whenever I click on a chat icon on a website, the first thought in my mind is “I hope I can get to the right person as soon as possible”. It is the same feeling when you dial an 800 number.
No one enjoys being bounced around from person to person. This is why an effective pre-chat survey is important for a great customer experience.
Existing pre-chat surveys are very basic, allow for minimal customization, and don’t currently add much value. In many cases, your only options are to ask for a customer’s name, email, and phone number, which often just discourages customers from continuing. Very little about the design encourages customers to want to complete the form and start chatting with a team on the other side.
I’m going to share some design perspectives on how to improve pre-chat surveys from a website visitor’s standpoint as well as a chat operator’s standpoint.
With these design modifications, I believe that pre-chat surveys will instill trust in customers, make chat operators significantly more efficient, and help businesses provide its customers with the best live chat experience they’ve ever had.
As I took a step back from the technical aspects of design, I began to think about the overall goal and purpose of pre-chat surveys.
What problem are live chat product solving, and how do they solve it? How should customers and teams feel using live chat? What makes live chat unique from a customer service standpoint?
I came up with a few phrases to capture the core qualities and value of live chat and used these principles to guide my thought process for redesigning a pre-chat survey.
The interaction must feel as natural as if you were in the same room. The product should instill trust in the user.
It works exactly how you think it should. Customers and teams get it without any explanation.
Enhance the process.
The product improves the customer service process for everyone. It fits in seamlessly into the current workflow and adds value in every way.
Empower the team.
Teams feel superhuman using it. They are crazy efficient and can handle customer issues flawlessly.
Pre-Chat Surveys – Redesigned
This section is primarily for teams designing chat products. I will share some product design recommendations on how to improve the current pre-chat survey. With a few changes, they can significantly improve their live chat experience for both the team and customer perspective, and I hope they consider implementing some of the ideas.
Ideas for the Product
Most website visitors don’t want to have to start talking with an employee on live chat, and may even do whatever it takes to avoid it.
Every person is different, but from a design standpoint, it’s important to note that the majority of visitors who click on the chat icon will initiate the interaction with a neutral or negative attitude. From the get-go, the experience needs to be as positive as possible for the customer. A successful customer service experience will completely shift a customer’s initial attitude and have them leaving on a positive note.
A pre-chat survey is an excellent opportunity to set the right tone for the interaction. If the design is welcoming, it will make customers feel comfortable and encourage them to stay engaged.
A simple addition of an image can turn the experience from impersonal and isolated to warm and friendly, and can make customers feel like there is actually a human being on the other side.
Images, as well as copy, also gives teams a chance to shape how their customers perceive them. Is the photo and tone of voice fun and goofy? Or is it more serious and professional? This is an opportunity for teams to customize the live chat experience in a way that stays consistent with their brand.
When customers have an issue or question, they want to be helped as soon as possible. Seeing a long list of questions to complete when they open a chat window is overwhelming and will discourage them from sticking around to complete it.
The best customer experience is simple, personal, targeted, and efficient. Here are some ways I believe pre-chat surveys can make sure that happens.
Only allow one question to be asked at a time.
This makes the survey feel less like an overwhelming, impersonal form and more like a conversation for the customer. It also encourages the team to keep the survey simple.
Add conditions to questions.
Teams can then ask questions if and when absolutely needed. It allows them to design different survey experiences for several customer scenarios, and makes the survey easily fit into any customer service process.
Create more opportunities to add messages.
Messages help encourage users during the survey. Giving teams more opportunities to add messages will help them guide their customers through the survey, keeping them engaged.
Best Practices for Designing a Pre-Chat Survey
Every business should try to have the best customer service possible. For those using a live chat service, a well designed pre-chat survey is a great way to make your customer support team more efficient, and have more happy, satisfied customers. Here are some best practices when designing your survey.
First impressions matter.
A conversation on your website is usually the first interaction a customer will have with your team. It’s important to make sure the pre-chat survey aligns with your brand and gives customers a positive, professional, and accurate perception of your company.
Every customer’s comfort level with live chat is different, and a pre-chat survey is a way to make customers feel welcome and build trust. When a customer opens a chat window and sees a friendly image to represent your team, it’s more welcoming and helps them know that a real person/team is there to help.
Keep it simple.
A good survey will get all the necessary information without deterring visitors. Make it easy for your customers. The more questions you add the less likely people might be willing to complete the survey. Don’t ask too many questions, and if possible only ask one question at a time.
Make it personal.
Only ask information if and when it is absolutely needed. Adding conditions to questions will allow you to customize the survey for each customer based on how they respond.
Like I mentioned earlier, oftentimes people are hesitant to enter their name and email right away. You might want to think about asking for it at the end of the survey when you’ve had a little bit more time to build some trust between you and the customer. Or maybe you don’t need to ask it in the pre-chat survey at all. Every situation is different.
Make it efficient.
You may even want to be super direct and let customers simply tell you what department they need to talk to. By keeping it short and targeted, you will increase efficiency and connect the customer with the person they need right away.
It’s a good idea to keep track of how visitors respond to your pre-chat survey. How many visitors complete the survey and have a conversation? How many leave the survey without finishing? How many open the chat window, but don’t even start the survey at all?
Eventually, you’ll start to see patterns and have a better idea of how well your survey is performing. If a significant amount of visitors are not completing your pre-chat survey, think about how you can modify it to better assist the needs of your customers.
Bringing It All Together
Every business has their own preference, style, and process for answering customer questions. No matter the style or process, with a few modifications, pre-chat surveys can be super flexible, extremely customizable, and exactly what your business needs for an unbeatable customer service experience!