In this post, Robert Brandl, owner of WebsiteToolTester, shares some creative ideas for using live chat to improve your online store and increase your sales.
Advice and perspectives on live chat sales, customer service, and building human connections in a digital world.
In this post, Robert Brandl, owner of WebsiteToolTester, shares some creative ideas for using live chat to improve your online store and increase your sales.
As we scaled our startup, we knew we needed more than just a mission statement to focus our team, improve our hiring practices, and keep communications issues in the workplace at a minimum. In 2012 Olarkers began formulating a list of values to do just that.
Question: What do industries like auto, supply, and manufacturing have in common?
Answer: They’ve been around a heck of a lot longer than live chat.
While English once dominated the internet, it's now the preferred language of barely a quarter of the online population. As of December 2017, just 25.4 percent of internet users spoke English as their primary language; 19.3 percent spoke Chinese, 8.1 percent spoke Spanish, and 5.3 percent preferred Arabic.
A few years ago, a colleague turned me on to a pretty fun procrastination game — type a few English sentences into Google Translate, translate them into another language, translate the result back to English...and repeat. It only took a few cycles to end up with a hysterically garbled mess.
At Olark, we believe human connections are essential to business growth. But to really connect with someone, you need to understand their context. What problem are they trying to solve with your product? How did they hear about your company? Are they considering switching away from one of your competitors, and if so, why?
You probably already know that your target customers hang out on social sites — whether it's a Facebook group for runners (who might buy your shorts!), a LinkedIn community for small business owners (who might buy your software!), or even a Quora thread about sticky IT issues (solution: your professional IT services). You may even have closed a sale by joining a group and weighing in on a question or two. But did you know there's a name for that?
You’ve probably heard that Olark is a 100% remote company, and that we have some cool ways to connect virtually. Once a year, we get the whole crew (and families) together for an annual retreat. Retreat 2018 starts tomorrow, Saturday August 25.
Every time you interact with a lead or customer on chat, you learn something new about their goals, preferences, and priorities. From the seemingly minor (e.g., shipping preferences) to the sales and marketing “jackpot” (e.g., a detailed summary of a customer’s motivations for using your product), quick access to customer information can be a game-changer for growing your business…
One of the primary benefits of live chat over other methods of sales or support like email or the phone is the ability to help multiple people quickly and efficiently. Here are seven tips to help make chatting a breezy, pleasant experience for you and your customers!
Sergio Aicardi is the proud owner of The Miami SEO Company and Mobility Scooters Direct. He has been an active blogger for several well-known marketing publications and was short listed in the US Search Awards 2 years in a row for Best PPC Campaign & Best SEO Campaign. In today’s post, he talks about how he’s used Olark Live Chat to improve conversion rates on the Mobility Scooters Direct website.
An essential part of of any digital strategy, content marketing is the elusive unicorn for most small businesses. Today Pete Rawlings, of This is Neat shares his opinions on how effective writing, great design, and live chat all combine to create the perfect content marketing experience.
What I’ve learned journeying from the Olark support department to our engineering team in 22 months.
This is the fourth post in Rhoda’s Tips from a Farmer series. Read her first post on working smarter, not harder, her second on Prioritizing like a farmer, and third on Getting Help.
Does the very mention of the “GDPR” — General Data Privacy Regulation — make you want to run screaming for the hills? We hear you!
Running a small business is just like running any other business, right?
Er, well, not always. We get it — Olark is a small, bootstrapped company, so we know that while working with a small team can be incredibly rewarding, it’s also quite challenging at times.
One of the best things about selling online is the opportunity to reach prospective customers anywhere in the world. But if you’re attracting a global audience (yay!), you’ll likely find yourself fielding questions and requests in multiple languages, many of which your chat team doesn’t speak (hrrm).
Self care is a critical component of mental health. Because it’s so important, we’ve put the value of Chill at the top of our list of values. The wonderful thing about caring for yourself is that you get to choose what works best for you!
If you work in sales or support, you know the importance of empathizing with your customers and leads. You may also be familiar with that fatigued feeling at the end of the day (or sometimes by 9am!) of expending all your empathy on others and having very little left for yourself. Building a simple kit based on the 5 senses will help you recover and prepare for the next interaction before you can calculate the cost of a 2 week trip to Bali.
When I tell people I work from home, I usually get one of a few skeptical reactions:
This is the third post in Rhoda’s Tips from a Farmer series. Read her first post on working smarter, not harder, and her second on Prioritizing like a farmer.
Reno Assistance, a Canadian company that connects its customers with reliable contractors, sets itself apart from the competition by offering advice tailored to each customer’s unique needs. That individualized service starts with live chat software powered by Olark.
Today's guest post comes from ThemeXpert founder and CEO Parvez Akther. ThemeXpert is a bootstrapped startup that has grown to provide WordPress and Joomla templates and extensions for more than 55,000 clients around the world.
Once your team has grown beyond one or two chat agents, you may want to start filtering chats and making sure they are routed to right person or team. Olark makes it easy!
You know the feeling: you’re on a chat with a customer, and trying to explain exactly where the “Add More” button is.
This is the second post in Rhoda’s Tips from a Farmer series. Read her first post on working smarter, not harder.
Saying no to a customer is one of the toughest parts of any sales or support job. Whether you’re telling someone that your product doesn’t have the feature they’re asking for, that their refund period has expired, or that they’re not eligible for a discount, you know you’re letting them down -- which can feel like the opposite of your goal.
At Olark, we deeply value inclusion and diversity. It has recently come to our attention that our motto “Make Business Human” is anthropocentric and excludes other sapient life forms.
This article is the third in our series on Customer Service trends in the United Kingdom. In part 1, our friends at Bynder explored the rise of self-serve business data. In part 2 we discussed the looming impact of Brexit on small businesses. Today we share what small businesses see when they look to the future of customer service in the U.K.
At Olark, we love the benefits of remote work, but we also know that working remotely isn’t for everyone. Transitioning from an onsite role to a remote role can be a big adjustment. Here are five questions to ask yourself if you’re thinking about taking the #remotelife plunge.
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?
In summer 2017, the Olark team decided to focus our brand and product development on a new use case: live chat for sales.
Question: Help! What should I do when I get an issue I can’t resolve in chat?
In addition to my role as Olark’s Director of Customer Service, I am a farmer — well, more of a smallholder, and a fledgling one at that. When I’m not in meetings or talking to customers, I can usually be found in a padded boiler suit, up to my ears in muck and surrounded by animals and vegetables.
If you work in sales, you already understand the importance of doing your homework. A quick LinkedIn search, or a little browsing on a company website, can tell you so much about what someone’s interested in and how they might benefit from your product.
Question: What are the best ways to keep cheerful when chatting?
Are remote teams doomed to failure? Is it possible to build a positive team culture when everyone is distributed?
Question: Wait a minute - you can talk to a bunch of customers at once with live chat? How does that even work?
Celebrating with candy is an Olark tradition. We call it Sweet Support. As part of our monthly newsletter, the support team chooses an Olarker (or two or three) who has gone above and beyond for our customers. They get a box of treats to enjoy as a fun way to show our appreciation. Anyone at Olark can receive a Sweet Support package in the mail.
Question: How can I elegantly wrap up a chat when I need to leave my desk?
Last year, Olark became a remote-first company. We said goodbye to our headquarters in San Francisco and now our 40-person team works from across the US, South America and Europe. We love the benefits of working remotely so much, we’re trying to help others find a remote job too!
Question: I’m concerned that the visitors I chat with won’t remember everything I’ve shared with them. Help?
What does a support-heavy business do when its customer base booms and its customer service capacity is stretched to the limit?
The following article originally appeared in Harvard Business Review.
Many years ago, I had to take some time off work for depression. I had a sick note from the doctor, and had disclosed that it was mental health related. After two weeks, when I was just starting to feel like I could cope again, my colleagues invited me out for the evening. I wanted to remain welded to my sofa, but I decided to go, as a way of easing myself back into my normal routine.
Question: A really obnoxious visitor won't stop chatting with me! How can I make them go away!?!?
I remember when I was first starting my search for a remote job. It was intimidating! Limited resources. Lack of support. Difficult to maneuver through jobs that were fully remote vs. those that allowed “some” work from home. I eventually found the perfect fit at Olark and it’s been amazing for my family, my life, and my sanity.
The vast majority of questions we get at Olark are pretty simple, or at least quick for our talented team to resolve. A few times a day we get questions that are mind-boggling, unusual, new, or just plain hard to figure out. We have some unique and not-so unique strategies to unravel tough problems and reduce the wait time for our customers, all while thriving as a remote team. Let’s follow the path of one of these questions to see what happens!
When Olark was founded, way back in 2009, most businesses offered one of two basic online communication options: email and web forms. There have been a lot of changes since then! Today, businesses communicate with customers not just via live chat, but also via online messaging, social media, and more.
Question: Sometimes when I'm chatting I get a visitor repeatedly checking to see that they haven't lost me. It makes me crazy! What's the best way and frequency to reassure them that I'm still working on their question?
It’s a new year, with new goals. Completing all those new goals can feel overwhelming. Where will you find the time? The resources? The creative zeal?
I like to end my chats with “Thanks for stopping by!” — but some of my colleagues use “It was a pleasure talking with you!” Is one better than the other? Or does it not matter?
Getting back to work in the New Year can be a challenge for even the most diligent of over-achievers.
Want to chat with your customers directly from Slack? The Olark Live Chat Slack App makes that possible! You can also share conversations with teammates in Slack, ask for help when things get busy, and celebrate together when one of your team members gets a 5-star customer rating.
This story is part of our Making Business Human series. For more on the series and our mission, check out this post!
Olark has always been a remote-friendly company, but earlier this year we decided to say goodbye to our headquarters in San Francisco and fully embrace the remote life. Our team loves working remotely for reasons as unique as Olarkers are! We thought we’d share a few of these reasons with you in our own words to start a discussion about the benefits of remote work.
Happy holidays everyone! Wherever you are, the entire Olark family wishes you all the best as we close out 2017 and get ready to flip calendars over to 2018.
This story is part of our Making Business Human series. For more on the series and our mission, check out this post!
Q: I sometimes make typos or mistakes in chat - what’s the best way to recover?
This story is part of our Making Business Human series. For more on the series and our mission, check out this post!
….Think Morgan Freeman’s voice as you’re reading this….
Long ago in a land called Palo Alto, four founders embarked on a journey to change online chatting. They lived and worked together in a house with a garden. In the garden grew a faithful redwood tree, Dory.
I like to answer the question "how are you?" with "I'm excellent, thanks! Any Olark questions I can answer?"
Does the very word “Networking” make you cringe? Does it lead to a strong desire to go home, make snacks, and curl up with 12 seasons of your favorite show?
Barbara is our longest-serving support agent, with over 30,000 chats to her name. Yes, 30,000!! Given that she only worked part time for most of those chats, that is one serious record.
Creating connections between customers and businesses is at the core of Olark. Since day one, the heart of our product has been about humanizing websites through chat. Our mission can really be boiled down to a single, short statement: Make Business Human.
The following article comes from Olark contributor Tessa Metselaar at Bynder.
As Rene Djuricek, Owner of Netherlands-based Meesterslijpers says, "The days of customers using only email and telephone to contact businesses are over. Customers want to contact a business the same way they contact their friends and family."
Today's guest post comes from Greg d’Aboville of WisePops, a super easy pop-up builder platform.
Converting website visitors is a subtle art. Some folks just need a few questions answered before they're ready to buy — which is where live chat software really shines. But others will need an extra push to decide that now is the right time to make a purchase.
I’m more interested in how AI can enhance human decision making. At RapportBoost.AI, where I’m Co-Founder and Chief Data Scientist, we leverage Artificial Intelligence to help online brands communicate more effectively with their customers via live chat.
In this post I’m going to talk about three different AI technologies available to companies to enhance their live chat implementation.
Almost all of us know someone who’s been affected by addiction or mental health issues. More than 20 million Americans over the age of 12 have a substance use disorder, and from 2002-2015, the drug overdose deaths in the U.S.more than doubled. (Source: Addiction Center)
Live Chat Gender Experiment Results by Olark live chat software for websites
A few years ago, while chauffeuring me to the airport the Sunday after Thanksgiving, my mom casually suggested that I start a food blog. “You’d be such a hit!” she gushed. “We all loved your Piecaken!”
At my age, I like to think I’m immune to parental flattery, but I never did outgrow the longing for internet fame. So, I started exploring blog platforms. I didn’t need much—a rich text editor, simple photo formatting, and basic analytics so I could chart my rise to stardom.
Hi! I’m Barbara. I’ve been chatting at Olark for over four years now, and I’ve been in various forms of customer service for almost 20.
In addition to that I’m a wife, a mom and a human with my own interesting life. Just kidding - my family and work make up most of (and the best parts of) my interesting life.
When I first started working at Olark I wanted to chat. All work day, all chat. My boss wasn't sure that was such a good idea.
The Customer Service team at Olark recently published our first set of service standards, and we’re pretty excited about it!
|Here we have some of the Olark Customer Service team, frolicking happily on a recent team retreat, including Dennis (holding the paper pad above his head), Emily to his left, Brian to her left, Alicia across from Brian, Rhi getting ready to make notes happen, Sarah listening attentively, and Brooke sporting our retreat hoody from Estes Park.|
Blue Spot had been manufacturing for years. They made office furniture, sold it to retailers, and had a deep understanding of their competitive landscape.
So when they decided to transform their company and create an ecommerce site that sold directly to customers, they knew how to separate themselves from the competition – use live chat.
You've installed Olark live chat software on your website, and you're ready to start talking to new customers. But are you ready to capture those conversations? And are you prepared to turn those conversations into actionable sales leads?
Here at Olark, we’re continually awed by the diversity and creativity of our ecommerce customers. Who knew there were so many amazing folks out there, selling everything from custom meal plans to electronics insurance online?
We previously gave you some live chat canned responses examples. These Shortcuts from Olark users provide a nice framework for transactional chat shortcuts. They help your live chat agents respond faster, which keeps average response time down and customer happiness up.
Do an unusual number of visitors bounce from your pricing or registration page? Have you noticed that people have a lot of questions about a particular section of your help center? Is there a page on your site that’s getting too busy with multiple calls to action—watch a video, sign up for a newsletter, and chat?
Did you know...you could address all of those issues with automated chat rules?
Pageviews, sessions, opens, likes, shares, conversions, chat volume - data, and the tools to gather it, are all around us. The challenge is making data and analytics actionable.
We’re thrilled to announce that it’s now possible to create detailed JIRA tickets straight from the Olark chat console! Just enable the integration and use the !jira command to send customer bug reports and feature requests straight to the waiting arms of your engineering team.
Collage.com is a Michigan-based ecommerce company that makes it easy to create your own professional-quality custom photo products. They offer more than 50 products—such as books, blankets, t-shirts, calendars, and more—that anyone can customize simply by uploading their favorite photos.
Today, we’re excited to bring you a guest post from our partners at Nexcess, one of the largest web hosting providers for eCommerce stores. Nexcess talked us through a full suite of options, from simple to complex, for improving your eCommerce store’s speed and responsiveness in preparation for the holiday season.
When you have a case history in excess of half a million, the thought of switching help desk software can be more than a little daunting. But in June of this year, the Customer Service team at Olark decided to take the plunge.
As we undertook this behemoth of a help desk migration, we made a note of some of the things we did to make it go smoothly.
Today, we’re sharing our top tips with you!
Last week, while in line at the grocery store, I checked my email on my iPhone and up popped a clearance sale announcement from my favorite running company. I’m a size medium, so I had no time to lose—millions of averaged-waisted shoppers were vying for my shorts! I made my thumbs do the cha-cha and had three pairs charged to my PayPal account in seconds flat.
Olark customers often wonder—will adding another live chat agent to my team increase my sales? In a previous article, we talked to OnePageCRM about how they used data to justify hiring another agent. In this article, we talk to Ben Jata, Director of Operations at Upper 90 Soccer about the benefits he gained by adding just one new live chat agent.
The old adage is, "Do what you love." Ben Jata loves soccer.
Today's guest post comes from Brad Shorr, Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, an Internet marketing company in Chicago that provides SEO, PPC and web design services.
You need to write like a human to make that happen.
When you’re talking to a customer on live chat, quick responses are critical—a few seconds' delay might be all it takes for someone to go from feeling personally cared for, to wondering if you’re there at all.
The following article comes from Olark contributor Caroline Klein at Bynder, a digital asset management platform.
German companies are under pressure to adapt their customer service to changing customer needs and expectations. They need to understand the influence of digitization on customer service and review new channels and technologies to understand how German customer care can be improved.
Starting today (Friday, August 11, 2017) the Olark Customer Support team is headed to Traverse City, MI for Olark's annual company retreat.
You may have noticed the new Olark homepage with the credo, "Make your business human." As part of this new look and feel, we've asked our friends to share how they make their business human. Today we hear from Nathan Kontny of Highrise.
I'm sure you've heard: It's never been easier to start a business. But with all that ease, there's even more and more competition. It's harder to stand out, even harder to stay relevant. What do we do?
I'll be the first to admit that I don't know much about customer support. My background is in public relations, as I've talked about before.
Yet, as is wont to happen in any startup, my role has expanded since I joined Olark. As I've morphed from 'specialist' to 'marketing generalist,' I feel like I've read a million "how to market your startup" articles. What kind of articles you ask? Try starting with the 'Growth Marketing' section of the Appcues blog. They do a nice job capturing actionable insight.
While they often have amazing hints on growth hacking and optimizing different funnels, many articles fail to mention a strategy that may come as a surprise: customer support.
Yes, it actually involves humans, but don't be afraid: it will help you improve your product to ensure existing customers stick around longer, and maybe even buy more; and it makes it easier to attract and sell to new customers.
How so? Let's take a look.
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...
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 :)
"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."
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.
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...
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.
The beauty of live chat is that it's immediate. A business can answer its customers' questions at the right moment in the sales funnel.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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]
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.
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."
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:
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.
One week every year I sit down to reflect on the state of the SMB SaaS market, and I thought I’d share my thoughts with you.
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?
Hi there! I'm Ben Schultz, Data Guru at Olark. In this article, I'm sharing some data and results that other Olark users have experienced by adding our live chat software to their website. Check it out!
We're surrounded by data here at Olark. On regular basis I'm combing our customer records in Looker, checking out event data in Segment, and keeping an eye on our search traffic via Google Analytics.
Kendall Burke and the team at Acuity Scheduling want to change people's mind about contacting Customer Support. While support interactions can, at times, be a downer, Kendall is working to make every interaction at Acuity human and fun.
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?
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?"
When learning how to handle customer complaints effectively, you have to be prepared for the customer typing in all caps.
Dealing with these customers, especially on live chat, is an art. Some times customers have a problem and need to blow off some steam, and they're going to blow that steam off in the face of the first person they can reach on live chat.
Is it fun? No. Does it happen? Yes, some times. Can they be reasoned with? Absolutely.
An Olark user recently asked me the following: "If you had a customer who was talking to you in all caps and that customer clearly isn't mad, would you ask him to politely turn off caps?"
My response? "No. I would continue the conversation and not call attention to the fact that the customer was using all caps."
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.
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.
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...
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 can't believe we're about to close the books on 2015. Where did the time go?
"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.
If you’ve done any sort of front-end engineering work over the past few years you’ve more than likely been inundated by the sheer volume of new technologies at your disposal. From Backbone.js to React, the rate at which new front-end technologies come out is rapid enough to make anyones head spin.
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?
I wanted to highlight some small tweaks and additions we brought to you in October. Hopefully they make your life a little better as you use Olark!
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.
The following is an excerpt from The Cyber Monday Survival Manual.
It's that time of year again - the holiday shopping season is here. That means Cyber Monday is right around the corner.
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?
We've talked about hiring the right people for your team, but what does it take to ensure your new hires are successful within your organization?
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.
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:
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.