Olark Live Chat Blog
All Hands Support is our way of getting everyone on the team to contribute to customer support. It means that every week, every team member, even me, the PR guy, logs on for a three hour customer support shift. Sometimes it's easy - a few questions about pricing or automated chat rules. Sometimes it means handling customer complaints effectively - using what I know about customer relations to ensure that a frustrated customer gets the help they need. I realize that might seem a little crazy - for Olark and for me - to hand over the ‘keys to the car’ for three hours, but in reality it’s invaluable, for both of us.
An essential part of onboarding new customer support operators is teaching them the right way to talk to customers who aren't happy. Today Alex Ivanovs, of CodeCondo and business/startup columnist for Huffington Post, shares some of his tips for handling customer complaints. Difficult customers are part of the business process. Nobody likes dealing with them, but often we have to. It's best to be prepared for these situations - like when a customer is typing in ALL CAPS - as some customers might take it a little bit too far.
What's a CRM? When we use the term it typically means a customer relationship management (CRM) platform - a piece of software that makes it easy to get an at-a-glance view of every interaction a customer has with your business. (Read more about CRMs here.) CRM platforms range in complexity, from Salesforce which comes with lots of sophisticated features to categorize and track interactions, to platforms that are straightforward and simple. If you're using live chat software on your website, start by integrating it with a simple CRM. This is the easiest way to ensure customer conversations are shared across your entire organization, and to understand what features you actually need.
Bruce Springsteen once admitted, while introducing one of his many songs about car culture, “When I get under the hood, it’s like Alice lost in Wonderland. I don’t know about that stuff.” He is not alone. Much as people rely on cars for the majority of their daily travel, comprehensive (or even basic) knowledge of what goes on under the hood is in short supply. This, of course, is what fuels the auto repair industry. And while most auto shops recognize the long-term value of transparency and honesty, the negative perception of the typical auto mechanic endures: someone who leverages his expertise to swindle his customers by charging for nonexistent problems and egregiously marking up the costs of parts and labor.
Today's guest post comes from Ashley Dull, Finance Editor at Digital Brands, Inc., where she oversees content published on CardRates.com and BadCredit.org. Ashley works closely with industry leaders and experts in all sectors of business and finance to develop authoritative guides, news, and advice articles with regards to audience interest. Today she's sharing some of the most helpful tools she's seen used by small- to mid-sized businesses...
If you've ever had a chat with a customer and thought, "I need to make a mental note to follow-up with this person" then today's integration announcement is going to prove quite useful. Today we've launched the Olark Live Chat and MailChimp integration.
For me - ConversionXL Live is the best conference we attend all year. More intimate than Hubspot's INBOUND conference, the true power of ConversionXL Live isn't in the sessions we attend, but the connections we make over meals, coffee, cornhole, playing Super Mario Bros., gigantic Jenga, karaoke, brewery visits, or any number of other fun activities featured at the conference.
This following article comes from Olark contributor Jack Saville at Bynder Digital Asset Management. Today Jack's sharing current emerging trends for UK customer services, a topic which should prove particularly helpful for those who already have a customer base in the UK or are looking to expand.
At Olark, we're committed to making business human. Whether your sales team uses Olark Live Chat to increase leads, or provide exceptional Customer Support, creating personable, human connections starts with understanding your customers' needs. That's why we're very excited to announce that the Olark and HubSpot CRM integration is now availble in HubSpot Connect.
Today's guest post is from Daniel Kohn, CEO and co-founder of SmartMail, a company that helps eCommerce stores and online retailers increase sales, average order value, and lifetime customer value through email. Today Daniel shares 3 ideas for personalizing emails, derived from SmartMail’s 4 highest converting email templates to help jump start your eCommerce email marketing program.
Today's guest post comes from Nathan Oulman, CEO of DailyHosting.net. Nate spends a lot of time reviewing and writing about martech software and how it can affect an organization's bottom line. In this roundup, he shares some of his favorite tools for jumpstarting lead gen in your sales funnel...
[editor's note] The Olark team just got back from SupConf Seattle where we spent the days learning and the evenings hanging with our Support sisters and brothers. It was a lot - from the great food of Seattle, to the inspiring talks, the workshops, the coffee, the coffee, the coffee, the cof...you get it. They have good coffee in Seattle. As we start to mentally unpack it, we want to share what we learned. Peter shared a transcribed version of his AI talk on Medium. And today, Sarah a.k.a. "Betts" shares her key takeaways from SupConf...
Introducing Support Driven Exposition (SDX) We've talked before about how ongoing education is a pillar here at Olark. We've set a number of ways to enable teaching within our teams - onboarding, presentations, newsletters, retreats. We really want colleagues to share what they've learned with others.
Introducing the Olark and PeformLine integration There are plenty of reasons why you want to review your transcripts. We've written before about how reviewing customer conversations can give you an advantage to overcoming objections in your sales funnel. It's also valuable in understanding where your chats are originating, so you can understand what pages may need optimizing.
Thank you, customers, for helping Olark win gold in the "Customer Service Department of the Year" category If you're not familiar with The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, they honor customer service, contact center, business development and sales professionals. More than 2,300 organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were evaluated in this year’s competition. More than 75 members of several specialized judging committees determined the Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award placements from among the Finalists during final judging earlier this month.
How are you tracking live chat leads? If your current system for tracking leads in your sales funnel or support queue involves a spreadsheet, or matching transcripts with emails, or post-it notes stuck to your desk - then it's time to try a CRM. We'd like to introduce our newest integration partner, Nutshell, a CRM platform for small businesses, built by a team that shares our commitment to excellent Customer Support. (They're also our neighbors, just a few blocks down from our Ann Arbor, MI office.)
When last we heard from our intrepid traveler Ted, he was wandering the brave new world of chatbots in search of a pair of pants. Ted's first adventure took him to a few different platforms and bots, and while he ALMOST succeeded in buying pants using only chatbots, he ultimately came home empty handed. Not to be deterred, Ted has once again ventured forth from the realm of humans to see if the chatbots are any more helpful...
Maintaining consistency and immediacy when faced with a question like, "How are you better than your competitor?" can be tricky for anyone. Even more so when that question comes in over live chat. So we came up with a system to use Olark Shortcuts to help our team respond, and wanted to share it with your team. And if you try it, we'll buy you pizza...
Build a company your customers love with more human, more helpful customer support tools. The following article was written by Mat Patterson, Customer Evangelist at Help Scout. It coincides with a recent webinar we did with Help Scout and Denise Twum, Head of Customer Support, Issuu. You can see the full webinar conversation on the Olark Live Chat YouTube channel.
Today's article comes from Tim Parry, who's been covering the retail and eCommerce industry for the last 10+ years now. Last month, Tim attended the retail industry's largest tradeshow and returned with some observations on how SMBs can apply lessons learned by the world's largest retailers...
Today's post comes from our friends at BigCommerce, the all-in-one shopping cart software that helps you accept payments, grow sales, and builld a gorgeous website (and bonus: integrates with Olark Live Chat!). Check out our integration and learn more about BigCommerce here. Are you still recovering from the whirlwind of 2016’s end-of-year holiday shopping sprees? Ready or not, here Valentine’s Day comes, and though it may not be as monumental in terms of driving revenue as Black Friday is, it’s still a huge opportunity for your online store.
Raise your hand if a support agent has ever told you, “Let me escalate this to an engineer…” I think this is a risky tactic for the success of a customer relationship over time. I have an idea how to prevent it and I want to know what you think. Hopefully you're familiar with our practice of All Hands Support. I'm proposing we take that to the next level with 'All Hands Ownership.'
When first starting with live chat for your website, there are a LOT of options for tools and platforms that you can use alongside chat to improve your customer experience. I mean, this article from Appcues shows you 60 different tools that will improve your customer experience, and that's just one article! In the fast-moving worlds of SaaS and ecommerce, it helps to focus on picking a CRM first. CRMs, Help Desks, and Knowledge Bases come in all shapes and sizes, so it's important to evaluate each option based on what will make make your business most successful. Doing so will make it easier for you to customize customer conversations, and analytically highlight the strengths and weaknesses of your communication channels.
Happy New Year! In the past, we've talked about why it's important to connect live chat with a CRM: it helps keep sales leads and customer records in order; and will make future customer conversations more personalized, increasing the likelihood of closing a sale or keeping a customer. In short, a live chat CRM integration will help you achieve your business goals. If one of your resolutions this is to integrate with a CRM then it's best to start at the beginning, with a quick overview of the history of CRM software. In our increasingly over connected world, there are more opportunities for business people to develop relationships with prospects, customers and their influencers than ever before. Therein, however, lies a daunting challenge: how do businesses cut through the noise to effectively develop relationships with customers, prospects and their influencers that help them grow? How do you cut through the crowd to connect with the right customer? Advancements in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software are helping us find answers to this question.
Can you believe that it's almost 2017? At Olark we end each year with a reduced support schedule to give our entire team an opportunity to reflect and spend time with their families. Starting Monday, December 26 our team will be taking time away from the computer to join family and friends for the holiday season. Our regular support schedule will resume on Tuesday, January 3.
Over on the Zapier blog, we were recently reminded to maximize taxible deductions by purchasing software subscriptions before the new year. Good advice to follow, but where should you invest your money?
We're coming to an end of a busy, busy year here at Olark Live Chat, but before we close the books on 2016, we have one more integration partner to add to our redesigned Integrations Portal. Today we're announcing that we've teamed up with Front to launch a native integration that makes it easy to access all of your customer conversations and messages in one place.
More choices. More power to you. We've talked before about why it's important to connect Olark Live Chat and a CRM or help desk solution. It makes the qualitative data contained in transcripts actionable and more valuable, improving retention and increasing the likelihood of future sales. As an independent live chat platform, our value is multiplied by the number of platforms we enable our users to connect with. By offering you more platform options to connect with, we increase the power you have to provide a high quality customer experience.
Today's blog post comes from Olark user Timesheets.com who shares how businesses can prepare for balancing employee time off requests during the busy holiday shopping season... Congratulations - Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over! But as you know, we're not finished with the holiday shopping season yet. As Jordan Vidra said in a recent Olark holiday ecommerce webinar: "Customer interaction volume at Homage goes up starting with Black Friday and stays high through Christmas, and even after Christmas with returns and exchanges." This sustained increase in customer interactions makes staffing customer service over the next month tricky. Many employees want to take vacation to spend the holidays with friends and family, leaving businesses with fewer staff than is ideal for helping holiday shoppers.
This is part 2 of our holiday shopping season ecommerce webinar series. In part 1, StellaService discusses why retailers are discontinuing email support and instead adding more help on live chat. In today's discussion, Jordan Vidra of Homage talks about how his company creates unique connections with every customer, and how their lean team staffs accordingly to handle the holiday shopping rush. [-Karl]
Last week I sat down with Carol Krakowski of StellaService to discuss data and trends that are driving change in the retail customer experience. We covered a wide range of topics, from eCommerce to live chat to Facebook Messenger. You can view our entire conversation in the video below, or scroll down to the highlights. [-Karl]
You might remember that a few months ago Olark launched Hummingbird - a completely redesigned live chat experience on mobile devices. Over 50% of Olark users now have Hummingbird enabled on their mobile sites to increase sales and conversions, and support their customers' needs. You can see it in action on our site, or on sites such as TheBlackTux.com (pictured here) So it's with great excitement that today we announce that Hummingbird is once again taking flight!
Do you have enough staff to handle customer service? Are you letting customers fall through the cracks because you can't respond to their questions fast enough? Are you holding back from fully staffing live chat because you need all hands to focus on email or phone?
[Editor's Note] Today's article comes from an Olark friend, Mr. John Dubock, a software specialist for BuildTools.com. John first wrote us to share some of the huge sales numbers he was getting from chat on his company's site, so we asked him to share what his sales day on chat is like. If you have questions about his setup, or specific tactics for selling, leave them in the comments and John will get back to you like he does on chat...ASAP! [-Karl] Salespeople today have amazing selling tools to choose from, but they really only need two: a chat platform and their favorite CRM.
Today's guest post is by Jacob Baadsgaard, founder and CEO of Disruptive Advertising. Previously Jacob showed us how to create content specific proactive live chat prompts. Today he explains how to create proactive chat prompts specific to a PPC ad campaign.
Today's guest post is from Brandon Liebowitz, founder of SEO Optimizers.
One of our goals here at Olark is to help all of your systems work together to provide the best possible customer experience. With that, we’re excited to announce the revamped Olark Live Chat and Groove help desk integration.
Here at Olark, we’re committed to building integrations with complementary analytics, CRM, and help desk platforms that will boost our users' business. Google Analytics (GA) is one of our most popular integrations, and is arguably the most popular web analytics service in the world. Data from BuiltWith shows that nearly 76% of the 100,000 top websites in the world use GA. And here at Olark, we found that more than 40% of our paying customers use the Olark and Google Analytics integration. However, for a long time GA was a major customer support bottleneck for us. We knew enough to handle most basic GA questions, but none of us were GA experts or used GA on a regular basis, and so as a team we would struggle with deeper or more specific customer questions.
Starting today (Friday, August 12, 2016) the Olark Customer Support team is headed to Estes Park, CO for Olark's annual company retreat. What's that, you ask? Great question.
The following is an excerpt from our whitepaper on Olark Live Chat and Google Analytics, written by David Kucher of Confluent Forms. To download the entire whitepaper, which includes step-by-step instructions for creating segments, visit the whitepaper download page.
In his article, How to Create a Better Customer Experience, Shep Hyken says, "There is no doubt that creating a better customer experience translates into revenue." Everyone can agree that a good Customer Experience is good for business.
Olark Live Chat offers its employees 12 weeks of paid parental leave, which includes paternity, maternity or adoption. Policies like this, and our vacation bonus, helped us earn a 2016 When Work Works Award, and require a lot of behind-the-scenes work before they see the light of day.
Clarence Bethea created Upsie because he wanted to make it easier for consumers to buy the right kind of warranty for their personal electronics. He also knows it's tricky to convince customers they need a warranty, so he started using Olark to address their sales objections at the right time... With consumer electronics, the checkout is an important part of the customer experience. This is the point where the store gets one last upsell opportunity: the warranty. "Customers always, ALWAYS have a question about warranties. They want to protect their new purchase, but don't want to be tricked into purchasing an overpriced warranty," says Clarence Bethea, founder of Upsie. "In brick-and-mortar stores, customers only get to ask warranty questiosn when they're checking out, which might seem like a logical point to have that discussion, but in reality it's tough for both the consumer and the store employee fielding the question. The store employee at check out has intructions to keep the line moving, or might not have been trained on warranty questions, so the interaction is often rushed and doesn't instill confidence in the consumer. We knew we could improve that customer experience."
We're in the middle of a mobile revolution. The rise of conversational commerce and chatbots, the decline of the app download, the dawn of the mobile consumer, THE POKEMON GO CRAZE?! What an empowering time to have a phone in your hand. And today, we're adding to that empowerment with the introduction of a redesigned, mobile-friendly version of Olark Live Chat called "Hummingbird."
Today's guest post is by Jacob Baadsgaard, founder and CEO of Disruptive Advertising. Content marketing is a key component for any business that wants to generate more leads. It's the "Swiss Army Knife" of online marketing: Need better SEO rankings? Great content helps with that. Need better PPC performance? People love to click on and share great content. Want to nurture or grow your audience? Content marketing is great for that, too. But…what if there was a way to help your content perform better? To get more conversions from all of that content you spend so many hours producing?
Being 'human' is having a moment right now in the world of ecommerce marketing. After years of a full-on automation craze, and as the talk of chatbots heats up, savvy marketers realize we must be more personal in our customer communication. Now, instead of “SEO” and “automatic,” ecommerce managers are focused on terms like “customer experience strategy.”
The footwear industry is full of compelling and fashionable brands, as shoes have long been considered expressions of personality. Socks, on the other hand, might be considered the less glamorous counterpart to shoes in the footwear industry. However, one company, Bombas, is out to raise the standard for style and comfort when it comes to the socks we slip on our feet every day. But Bombas’ ambitions go beyond developing the best socks in the world—through its “Buy-One, Give-One” model, the company is working to ensure that no human being in need of socks ever has to go without.
For too long, I ignored my closet. My pants situation was dire. Crotches were torn, knees were ripped, and I was bereft of any pants but for a single pair of jeans and one pair of khakis. Yet all was not lost.
Scott Tran, one of the main organizers of SupConf and founder of Support Driven, and I have been doing monthly coffees for almost two years. Over our usual Philz orders, we would exchange ideas, opinions and suggestions: his from from a product and support perspective; mine from HR and culture. One of the most memorable collaborations resulted in me making drastic changes to Olark’s new hire onboarding process and sharing those ideas with the Support Driven community. During one of these coffee collaborations Scott asked me a simple question, "What do you think about Support Driven doing a conference?" Thus started a year long journey of seeing this conference grow from an inkling of an idea to SupConf 2016, a conference for support professionals. Before the conference happened on May 23 and 24, Scott and I chatted again to revisit how this vision has come to fruition.
I met Richard Shapiro at a recent CX Meetup in NYC and was reminded that he talks at length about high quality customer service in his book, "The Endangered Customer: 8 Steps to Guarantee Repeat Business." As Internet talk of automated chat and messaging bots hits a fever pitch, I found this portion of his book prescient and, with Richard's permission, wanted to share it with you. -Karl It all begins with hope. It may sound obvious, but if you wish to make a human connection with a customer—in person, on the phone, or online—then the most important thing to remember is each individual’s humanity. Human beings come to you with hope in their hearts. They need or want something they haven’t found elsewhere, and they hope you have the answer. Perhaps they are looking for the perfect Valentine’s present, a watch for their son’s graduation, or a gift for friends who just moved into a new home. Your job is to give them hope that they’ve come to a place where their problem or desire will be addressed in a helpful, friendly manner.
Savvy marketers have a chance to double dip next week - on May 10 and 11 they can attend the Small Business Web Summit, and on May 12 they can virtually attend International Ecommerce Day 2016. Here's a sneak preview of what to expect during this daylong, online event full of some of the top minds in eCommerce... International Ecommerce Day 2016 is a virtual conference for marketers and managers, conversion optimization pros and business owners. It's a full day of hand-picked programming that will provide actionable tips for shifting from traffic acquisition to customer conversion.
Before you read further, please take two minutes to read this in-depth article about Olark user, The Black Tux. The article shares insight from The Black Tux on using live chat to train new members of the Customer Service team, and how the team uses chat data to load balance its service efforts. When you're finished reading that article, you can read about my experience with The Black Tux Customer Service team... I spend a lot of time telling people what it's like talking to businesses that use Olark Live Chat. A few months ago, I got to have that experience firsthand with Olark customer The Black Tux. I got married on December 31, and YOU'LL NEVER BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT...
In today's guest post, Chris Pontine, owner and publisher at Creating A Website Today shares some tips on how to easily build an online store, and 13 things that should set your mind at ease about the process. There are a lot of things to consider when building an online store. Sure, there are questions like, "Should I add live chat?" but in my experience these are the 13 most pressing things to consider first. Without knowing much about a company and what they offer in the way of eCommerce solutions, it can be very difficult to feel confident in your decision to sell your goods online. By determining the answers to your most pressing questions, you, too, will be on your way to eCommerce success. Let’s look at the 13 most important things to know when building an online store, shall we?
If you like cat gifs, you're going to want to read on...
We've talked before about how to effectively automate a live chat greeting, essentially sending visitors a pop up message. Today's guest post comes from Grant Thomas, Marketing Manager for JustUno, who offers 12 more ways for eCommerce businesses to use website pop ups.
The Customer Support community is much different from other 'hard' tech communities because of the emotional involvement of the day-to-day work. Support can be very rewarding, but it can also be a grind. In a recent study, 45% of Customer Support professionals found maintaining and improving team morale challenging. (source)
Rejoice unhappy cable TV customers: a new law might make it easier for you to cancel your Comcast subscription with just one click. Why is this important for you as a business owner? Because this proposed law started with a customer who simply wanted to cancel their service. Rather than turn that customer problem into a success story, what followed was a now infamously bad customer support interaction, which was caused by misaligned sales expectations for Comcast's Customer Support team. Here's what happened, and how you can avoid having it happen to you:
This article is a prequel to my eBook, "Persuading Customer Support to Sell." In the book, I share how to get Support to contribute to sales in a non-salesy way. Why should they do this? Because it helps you fight churn, and churn is slowly but surely killing your business. Customer Support doesn't bring in new sales prospects - they prevent churn. They're talking to customers after the purchase to ensure customers are happy. If they're not, then they work to quickly help or appease them so they're either happy again, or not mad enough to leave. When a customer leaves you, this is churn. Churn is people falling out of love with your company. Churn is the biggest problem for the lifetime value of a customer.
Getting frustrated at work happens to everyone, and everyone should prepare their own survival tactics for feeling overwhelmed or frustrated. When your work is customer support, and your job is to wear a happy face while dealing with angry customers, well it can be challenging to say the least. Heck, sometimes I get overwhelmed and frustrated when I get two chats at once and they're not both asking, "Where is your pricing page?" DO I LOOK LIKE I HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS PEOPLE? I digress...
Lucy's story is not unique to those of us providing Olark support. We wish we could have helped Lucy get started on the right foot, and saved her some frustration - her bad day on chat could have been avoided had she taken a few small steps! The names and events you're about to read have been changed to protect the Olark innocent.
Our friend, Matthew Harris is the founder of sendwithus. He recently wrote an article for Venturebeat about social engineering - using a human interaction, like live chat, to trick people into providing security information. In this follow-up article, Matt explains how the extra data his team populates in the olark UI helps identify customers and mitigate the risk of an intrusion via chat.
February might seem a bit late to reflect on the holiday shopping season, but many SMBs say their holiday season actually ends in January. Now that we're actually clear of the holiday rush, I checked in again with a few Olark customers who signed up for our Cyber Monday Survival Kits this year. I wanted to know - "What did you learn this holiday shopping season?"
In December, I (Karl) had the opportunity to sit down for coffee with Felix Thea - host of the Shopify Masters podcast and founder of TrafficAndSales.com. Through his podcast, Felix has talked with hundreds of different store owners and has a few thoughts on the trends of 2016, particularly a renewed focus on personalization. As someone who interacts with the Shopify community on a regular basis, I'm always looking at how the eCommerce ecosystem is driving innovation for online retailers.
Nick Oliverio is one of only a few Olarkers who straddles the line between support and sales. He's also held sales positions with other companies before becoming the Chief Support Ninja at Olark. Nick has a unique perspective on what it takes to be successful at both support and sales. While the two worlds are seemingly unrelated, as Nick explains in this interview, support has made him a better salesperson, and sales has changed his approach to customer support.
Today's guest post comes from Brian Kelly, VP of Product at Nutshell, who explains why end users—not just managers—are the new decision makers for business software purchases. Spoiler alert: vendors are listening...
I recently had an "angsty" conversation with one of our customers whose customer support team being overwhelmed with chats. Lucky for this customer, there are two very easy (and one more advanced) solutions to this issue. And lucky for you, the reader, I'm going to share them here. If you're considering live chat, or just getting it up and running on your site, this is a common concern: How do I keep from being overwhelmed by customer chats?
Today’s guest post comes from Brent Summers who is the Director of Content Marketing at Segment. In reflecting on this past year, one of the most notable trends we saw was a focus on enhanced customer experiences. Most consumer experiences with brands begin passively, often online when friends share opinions about products and services over social media. Once a consumer chooses to express their interest - a click, a like, a retweet, etc. - brands now have a plethora of active ways to escalate a 'passive' relationship, and that is the beginning of the 'customer experience.'
"I'll be honest - my first thought was, 'What has Marketing done?'" Just before Thanksgiving, we sent an email to our customers to notify them of our reduced hours on chat support. Unfortunately, as it was our first time out with a new piece of software, we made a few mistakes, which resulted in...about a month's worth of email volume in under an hour.
Today Richard Protheroe of Veeqo provides a few easy steps to optimize your Shopify store to capitalize on end of year sales. From Thanksgiving right through to New Year's Eve, ecommerce retailers have as many as 10 big shopping days to prepare their store for. It’s no surprise then that sales for retailers in the months of November and December can equate to up to 40% of overall sales for the year. Understandably it can be a very stressful time for store owners, but ultimately very rewarding. This is especially true for Shopify users who have a plethora of apps and add ons at their disposal to help increase sales, as well as some general ways to increase traffic and sales over this holiday period.
We may not always use live chat here at Appcues. But it sure has been helpful in onboarding new users throughout the early days of growing our SaaS business. Live chat has been an ideal medium to help us garner product feedback and onboard new users, which has been crucital for our growth.
The following is an excerpt from The Cyber Monday Survival Manual. With more customers comes more typing. And the time you spend typing your holiday hours for the 20th time, could be time spent helping another customer buy something new. Canned responses help solve that problem.
"When I feel overloaded, I get tunnel vision. It becomes harder and harder to jump between tasks quickly and, more importantly, continue to provide quality service." In the run-up to the holiday shopping season, we're offering some insight on what things are like when live chat gets really, really busy.
As you prepare for Cyber Monday, we want to provide you with as much information as possible to get you ready. So we thought - what could be better than hearing from those who have been on the frontlines during the busiest online shopping day of the year?
The following is an excerpt from The Cyber Monday Survival Manual. When Cyber Monday has come and gone, you're going to want to know how well your team did. One way to tell is to manually count the number of times someone rings the "official" Cyber Monday Sales Cowbell. (If you got our Survival Kits you know what I mean). Another more accurate and efficient way would be to have Google Analytics keep track of the numbers for you.
It's okay to be selfish with your live chat data. Yes, it's great to help your customers, but you should be asking, "What can these customer conversations do for me?" That's what we started doing about six months ago and it's been a huge benefit to our company in the way we're developing strategic partnerships.
People sometimes ask - what would you do differently if you had to start another company all over again?
Last year, sales on Cyber Monday topped two billion dollars. That was an 8.5 percent increase from 2013 as Cyber Monday was, again, the busiest day of the year for online shopping. We saw it on our network too. Chats for Olark customers went up 40 percent on the Monday after Thanksgiving, and those numbers stayed high for the week following Cyber Monday. November and December - the holiday shopping season - will account for 20 to 40 percent of annual sales for small and mid-size businesses. How are you getting ready?
Onboarding new employees starts with hiring the right people. As part of our continuing series, October is for Onboarding (#October4Onboarding), Kara Silverman of acast tells us how her team uncovers talent that best fits their culture.
If I told you October is the best month for retailers and eCommerce shops to onboard new operators for live chat...would you say that's insane? True, the timing is a little crazy - we're less than two months out from the start of the holiday shopping season. [FURTHER READING: 4 predictions for the 2015 holiday shopping season, via Practical eCommerce] Yet at the end of last year we did an informal poll of retailers (Retail Lessons for 2015) and when asked what they'd do differently for the holiday rush, many retailers said they would have added more operators on live chat:
Today's case study comes from Michael Borohovski, co-founder and CTO at Tinfoil Security. I fell in love with Olark shortly after my co-founder, Ainsley Braun, and I started Tinfoil Security in 2011, mostly because I'm extroverted and gregarious by nature. I'm the type of guy who is absolutely willing to hop on a site, see an Olark chat, and start a conversation. Remarkably, this is exactly how we met one of our future advisors, now also a good friend.We’ve been using Olark for four years now, and while not every chat has led to serendipitous meetings, enough conversations have led to unexpected outcomes that I find it an invaluable resource for meeting people and learning more about our customers.
Recently I wrote about The Olark Retreat - why we get the whole company together at least once a year and how we structure that time together. It turns out our customers also host some unique retreats!
We recently completed our fourth-annual, week-long, all-hands, extra-hyphenated Olark retreat. Since then, I've been fielding lots of questions about our retreat from curious friends: Why do you do it? What do you there? Should my company do a retreat?! The answer to that last question is unquestionably yes, although it might look very different from ours. To understand why, let's start at the beginning.
Online retailers listen up - you have 104 days until Cyber Monday. Now, that might seem like a lot of time, but you know - and I know that you know - holiday shopping season will be here in the blink of an eye. If you're not preparing now, you'll be scrambling come November.
Today's guest post from Giles Adam Thomas provides a step-by-step tutorial on how his team achieved a 176.33% conversion rate increase by studying chat transcripts and making simple website copy changes. Many people believe conversion optimization is the same thing as A/B testing. This is incorrect. Increasing leads, sales, and more importantly profits from your website and your business requires a focus on increasing your conversion rate.
As one of the project leads for Shortcuts, I'm excited this highly requested feature is finally available, and proud of the great work the team put in to make Shortcuts a reality. Hopefully you're like the thousands of other Olark paid customers who are using or have used Shortcuts. If you haven't, login to your account and go to your Shortcuts preferences. Go ahead, we'll wait...
The newest Olark live chat feature enables operators to respond quicker and access preset text without the use of third party software. San Francisco, CA, July 14, 2015 - Olark live chat (www.olark.com) today introduced its newest in-platform feature: Shortcuts. Shortcuts allow operators to create commands that expand predefined lines of text, links and other commonly used responses and messages. This feature saves operators time, increases their efficiency and helps Olark users improve their customer experience.
A little while ago we announced reaching 10,000 paying customers. It was, without a doubt, a huge milestone and we wanted to celebrate. Not only did we want to celebrate, but we wanted to celebrate with our customers who helped to make it all happen.
Today's post comes to us from Hannah at TRULY who wrote in to tell us how a particularly busy holiday shopping season caused their team to rethink their live chat experience and improve their customer experience.
As a developer at Olark, I really appreciate the creativity and ingenuity of the customers that integrate with our API. I find it rewarding to see people not only using the products we create, but also the APIs we provide to interact with our system. These interfaces provide a peek into the big machine that Olark is, to allow deeper integration of a customer’s specific needs to better communicate with their own users. Once in a while a special integration comes up that is so elegant that I can’t wait to share it with my co-workers and other Olark customers trying to solve a similar problem.
Olark customer Jane Clayton & Company was recently featured in the winter issue of Retail Technology UK. You can read the full article on pages 52 and 53 of the magazine by going here, but since that article will only be available through May 2015, we've captured some of Jane Clayton's story here on the Olark blog.
There may have been 101 dalmatians, but did you also know there are 101 tactics you can try to increase conversions in your Shopify store? Jevin Maltais, editor of Ecommerce Growth Weekly and ownerof QuickJack Solutions, wrote a cracking article that lists those 101 tactics, which you can read here. The following is an excerpt of Jevin's article that highlights some of those tactics. There are a myriad of ways to remedy an issue on your Shopify site, especially if sales aren't meeting expectations. But which best help increase conversions?
Today's guest post comes from Ashley, founder of Nose Graze, a specialty shop for Wordpess themes and plugins. If you use live chat to talk to your customers (and I hope you do), it's easy to grab visitor information like login name and account email if they're logged into a WordPress account. Here's how to do it:
Today's guest post comes from Simon at Staff Squared who wrote to tell us how his team has used live chat to double the number of sign-ups for their app.
Check out this awesome talk by Simon Ouderkirk of Automattic about how to ask questions to get a better product. Based on the 5 Whys developed at Toyota in their heyday, this talk will make you think about how to approach problem-solving.
Let's be honest: guys can be tough to buy gifts for. San Francisco-based Man Crates is making it easier. As a popular destination for awesome gifts for men, Man Crates says 'no' to ugly neckties, cologne samplers and executive trinkets, and instead hand picks gifts like hard to find hot sauce, outdoor survival gear, or delicious craft meat products.
Hi there! I'm Ben Schultz, Data Guru at Olark. Welcome to the new Olark Research Corner. In this new blog series, we’ll be giving our readers a peek into how people are using Olark. Since starting at Olark, where we practice All Hands Support, I’ve found myself asking a lot of questions about the customer experience on live chat.
During our 10K customer campaign back in February, Nosh Detox chatted with us to say they'd closed a £1,000 sale on chat in one day. So I called Tevita Lesuma, Nosh Detox's business growth manager, to find out how they did it. "Originally we thought it would be complicated to organize a chat service - that it was only for larger companies with an existing call center. That wasn't the case at all."
"This is my first position in marketing, and I am the only one in my department, so it’s ALL on me to generate leads." Sound familiar? If so, you're not alone. That quote is from Jessica Potter-Adkins, Director of Marketing & Communications for a national distributor of insurance products. Jessica and I met earlier this year at the ConversionXL Conference, where we discussed the challenges she was facing as a newly minted marketing director, and the benefits of live chat, a technology she had been eyeing for some time.
Poornima Vijayashanker is a software engineer and serial entrepreneur. She is the founder of Femgineer, an education company for tech professionals interested in entrepreneurship and leadership. She was the sole female engineer at Mint.com, which was acquired by Intuit in 2009. Post-acquisition, she decided to leave Mint and launched her own startup, BizeeBee, helping fitness studios and other membership based businesses across the world grow their business.
April is All Hands Support Month here at Olark, during which we'll be sharing tips and stories on how to bring your entire team closer to your customers. Chief Marketing Olarker, Sunir Shah, recently took time from the 'hurricane' that is South by Southwest (SXSW) to talk with Tech Cocktail about why we do All Hands Support.
Last month I attended ConversionXL Live, where we spent three days talking about conversion rate optimization (CRO). It was a fascinating look at the latest trends in site design and the chance to connect with others who had the same question that I did: how do I increase conversions?
(Moha Antani (l) and Jorge Hernandez (r) of the CoPromote community team) "Four years ago it was a complete mess," says Jorge Hernandez, CoPromote's communications director. "On an average day we'd get 50 emails, half of which were negative, and 10 chats in a row from people who were confused or frustrated or both."
SXSW can seem like fun until you're on day four, wondering what the point of life is, with a cumulative hangover and a looming chiropractor's bill for the Airbnb floor you volunteered for in January. But, IT CAN BE DIFFERENT. Here's a few suggestions to help you rock it.
Today's guest post comes from Andrew Batey, CMO, Spinlister, who explains how his company goes to great lengths to put customers above all else... Spinlister is a peer-to-peer bike share service. We are building a global network of cyclists that help each other no matter where they travel. Our service is built entirely on trust. We depend on positive relationships with all of our customers.
All Hands Support has become a cornerstone of culture at Olark. Every Olark employee does direct customer support on a regular basis. In this video, our founders discuss how the practice began and how it's impacted the growth of Olark to 10,000 customers.
Rickshaw Bagworks has been providing custom-made bags to San Francisco for many years. Their store is a colorful playground for bike fans and bag lovers alike. To bring their superlative customer service to their online store, Rickshaw uses Olark live chat to be available immediately.
10,000 paying subscribers worldwide are now using Olark to make their customers happier. San Francisco, CA, February 17, 2015 – Olark live chat (www.olark.com) today announced it is now serving more than 10,000 paying businesses on its worldwide network. This includes businesses such as Acquia, Casper, Front, PagerDuty, Product Hunt, ShippingEasy, WordPress.com, and thousands others who offer instant service, sales and support using Olark to make customers happy.
As Olark passes the 10K customer mark, my co-founders and I reflected on the last five years bootstrapping and building the business. We have lots to be thankful for, but I am most thankful for my awesome and flexible teammates who care about how we work together. The challenges we took on in 2014 raised tough questions about our organization. What are our most important projects? How do we determine our priorities? How do we find the right teammates to solve a problem? Who makes decisions in a "flat" structure? Should we remain flat?
Olark is the first software company I co-founded. Starting out I really had no idea what to expect. Previously I worked for several years as an early employee at another startup, so I had a fuzzy picture in my head of what I wanted Olark to look like, but I wasn’t sure how to get there or how long it would take. Now it’s 2015, our team is over 30 people, and we have thousands of customers. People ask me all the time about those early years: how long it took to become profitable, what “typical” revenue growth looks like, or when to make that first hire. Time has really put those first few years into perspective, and as we get set to cross a major customer milestone next week, I thought it’d be helpful to share what those early years were like for us.
Today's post comes from Johnathan Dane, founder of KlientBoost. His company got some surprising results after experimenting with the Olark Greeter... If you're like me, you already have a healthy list of 'to dos' you're working through to grow your business - all the the latest and greatest marketing tips and tricks from across the Internet. And if you're like me, there just isn't enough time in the day to put all of these new marketing discoveries to use. You want something that will get results, but you're not sure where to start.
Conspire used Olark to answer questions during a 100x traffic spike, and continues to use live chat to keep its massive (and growing) database up-to-date.
CommitChange.com currently works with nonprofits looking to raise funds via crowd fundraising, event ticketing, or other means. Based on each non-profit's needs, CommitChange.com builds them a customized suite of tools to manage their campaign and achieve their fundraising goals, all from a single platform. The company currently services more than 300 nonprofits across the United States, recently released its first monthly subscription tier for its core fundraising suite, and had more than 9,000 donors use the CommitChange.com platform for their charitable giving in 2014.
Nothing is more exciting to an entrepreneur than a new user, standing at the precipice, poised to convert. So much could go wrong at this moment. Will they put in their email address? Will they go to the next screen? Will they enter in payment information or share referrals? Is your product even right for this person?
Today's guest post is from Angelica Valentine, Content Marketing Manager at Wiser. You can follow her on Twitter here: @AngelicaSaidSo. Every retailer knows there are plenty of opportunities to maintain and even grow their sales after the holiday rush. January is a prime time to strengthen customer relationships and extend the life of those initial purchases or even inquiries that happened in late November and throughout December.
Retailers - before you pack up the tinsel and declare the holiday shopping season 'over,' it's a great time to stop and reflect on what worked and what didn't. I was curious, so I asked some online retailers, "What lesson did you learn from this year's holiday shopping season? And what will you do differently in 2015 knowing what you know now?"
Here at Olark, you may have noticed we've implemented a new reporting system, which includes feedback on how visitors feel your operators are doing.
San Francisco, December 9, 2014 - Olark today introduced Chat Ratings, a feature that allows companies to garner more detailed customer feedback and better understand if they are making customers happy through live chat. Chat Ratings let customers quickly and easily rate the helpfulness of their live chat experience, and let operators and managers immediately review that input to measure the quality of service being provided.
As the holiday shopping season is now upon us, I went to the Desk.com blog to share some insight on what parts of the purchasing process are most critical during the holiday shopping season. You can read that article here. It's a topic that is near and dear to my heart.
San Francisco, Calif., Nov 24, 2014 – Olark today announced it has joinedDesk.com App Hub to help fast-growing SMBs leverage customer service to accelerate rapid growth. Olark live chat is designed to help companies get closer to customers and foster stronger relationships by providing help when it's most needed. Olark integrates directly with Desk.com so that companies can continue the conversation after the chat to provide a more complete customer experience. Joining the Desk.com App Hub makes it easier for businesses to integrate Olark with Desk.com and other apps in the App Hub to create a full-featured platform for service, support and sales.
As SynapsePay grows, its use of Olark live chat has grown with it. This case study shows how... In late 2014, Memphis-based SynapsePay launched its platform that allows anyone with a bank account and Internet connection to transfer money and issue payments. It also gives merchants a secure portal for accepting payments, either in-store or online.
Casper Sleep and BarkBox are superstars of the NYC online retail world. Both have had phenomenal success, building legions of evangelical customers and getting loads of press and accolades along the way.
Grasshopper was founded by Siamak Taghaddos and David Hauser in 2003 with a vision of helping entrepreneurs and small businesses run their organizations completely via mobile phones. Making sure that they are aligned with the needs of their customers has helped them create a number of initiatives intended to increase happiness and build relationships with customers. Taylor Aldredge, Grasshopper's Ambassador of Buzz, details some of these programs and shares what they learned.
Huge thank you to Miha for allowing us to share this article, which originally appeared on his website breakthebit.org. If you're an advanced Olark API user, you might want to skip straight to our full API section. If you're a new Olark API user, then you've come to the right place.
We acquired a customer 30 minutes after we installed Olark. Here's how: Pipemonk (formerly Zapstitch) is building a Cloud Data Integration platform. We automatically sync and transfer data between various cloud business apps. Today, we connect Shopify (eCommerce platform) and QuickBooks Online (financial software). As an early stage startup, it is critical for us to learn from every user that signs up. We use Olark to provide live product support, get customers’ feedback, reviews and sometimes just exchange quick plain hellos :).
A few weeks ago we attended a "Customer Success" conference put on by one of our excellent customers, Gainsight. There were lot of interesting talks, but my major takeaway was that successful companies invest in building longterm relationships with their existing customers.
At Olark, we have people spread out over three continents, in four countries and six time zones. We're most interested in finding the right people as we build our business and location is not as important as what each and every member brings to the team. Thus, we find ourselves spread out pretty far and wide, from our offices in San Francisco and Ann Arbor to as far away as Sao Paulo, Toronto and the Isle of Tiree, 40 storm-drenched miles off the West coast of Scotland.
Humans figured out trade very early on. By 3000 BC, humans were setting out on missions of waterbound trade, and by 1000 BC, merchants were becoming a part of societies. There were ideas about how to treat customers. The butcher, the baker and the local perfumier had to meet the needs of the customer with custom products as well as nascent marketing techniques. The beginning of the industrial age brought the vast new challenge of a customer base the proprietor would likely never meet in person.
There’s a good chance that right now someone is browsing your site and considering making a purchase. And although I’m happy you’re here reading our blog :-), I’d like to offer some ideas that you can apply to your own site and start converting those browsers into buyers.
After reading our article on integrating live chat and a CRM, you're probably excited to get your CRM hooked up with Olark. But what if you use a CRM or Help Desk platform that we don't "officially" support? No problem! to make that connection, you'll use a webhook, which happens to be my area of expertise :) Our former co-founder, Zach Steindler, alluded to this briefly in his article on CRM Magazine: "Even if you're not using a big-name CRM solution, live chat platforms make it easy for developers to add basic push functionality with minimal programming."
A wise philosopher once wondered, "If a conversation happens and no CRM is there to hear it, does it make a sound?"
I've written before about the amazing things we've had happy customers do for us; from baking cookies to delivering homebrew beer to sending us chocolates and cheese and wine -- jeeze, thinking about it, we've got some pretty amazing customers....
Olark Co-founder and Master of Customer Experience Roland Osborne delievered this talk about improving your product by getting your whole team involved with support. Apparently designers wearearphones quite frequently.
Lincoln Murphy is Customer Success Evangelist at Gainsight and is driving thought-leadership in the areas of Customer Success Management, customer retention, churn mitigation, and expansion revenue. Since 2008, as Managing Director of Sixteen Ventures, Lincoln has helped 300+ SaaS companies rapidly improve customer acquisition and retention to create efficient engines of growth. I wanted to find out how Lincoln looks at "Happiness Hacking": testing customer-service solutions and improving the product in direct response to customer feedback.
Growing your team can make your customers more loyal and increase your sales --- if you do it right. When you add new people to your team, consider two important factors. You want to quickly get your whole team ready to talk to customers effectively, with a set of best practices to follow. And you want to make sure your system is optimized to take advantage of features that can make your team work better.
Since I moved into the role of a "startup marketer," I feel like I've read a million "how to market your startup" articles. While they often have amazing hints on growth hacking and optimizing your funnel (and who doesn't love optimizing their funnel?), they generally miss out on a strategy that may come as a surprise: support. Yes, it actually involves humans, but don't be afraid. It's a great way to communicate with existing customers and makes getting new customers easier.
Wade Foster is CEO of Zapier, the integration service that allows you to connect many web-based products and services easily. At Zapier everyone does support as part of support driven development. As the CEO, I still spend at least 10% of my time each week doing support.
Freshbooks has developed a rather legendary reputation for their obsessive attention to customer experience. They are the winner of multiple Stevie Awards for Best Front-Line Customer Service Team and have generated countless customer tweets remarking on their astonishing support. Mark MacLeod, Chief Corporate Development Officer shared:
In the early days of Olark, we took a very traditional approach to customer support. We did what most companies do and hired someone smart to handle it. Andrew did such an amazing job of handling issues that we hardly heard from our customers. In the Fall of 2009, Andrew decided to go back to college and finish his degree. So we had to change things up a bit.
It's not the average day that your company blows up their pricing for a month. On April 24, All Hands Support Day, we're offering all our paying accounts unlimited free operators for a month. This may be a great idea, it may be a terrible idea, but it is definitely a principled idea. Not to mention, an awesome idea--one we've been practicing ourselves since Olark began!
When I asked some cloud software companies about doing All Hands Support recently, ZenPayroll gave by far the most enthusiastic response. It was clear their whole team eagerly participated in talking to customers. Everyone wanted to talk about it.