3 Brands Crushing Instant Customer Service

Live chat is your direct connection to the most important people in your universe -- your customers.

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By Aaron Agius

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In this age of instant gratification, consumers want their problems dealt with immediately -- not five minutes from now. By implementing live chat on your website, you can keep your customers active and engaged.

Do you use chat as a bonus feature on your site?

Live chat shouldn't be a bonus feature for your site; people are coming to expect it as standard service. In fact, the percentage of customers who have interacted with a customer service representative via live chat has risen from 38 percent in 2009 to 58 percent in 2014, and it continues to rise.

Live chat not only improves long-term customer loyalty, but it also helps to drive initial patronage. In a study by eMarketer, 62 percent of customers were inclined to buy items online if live customer support was available.

Happy customers act as brand evangelists and in the long-term; good customer service will provide an excellent ROI in terms of acquiring new customers.

Will live chat keep your customers happy?

Simply offering live chat isn't enough however, to keep your customers satisfied. You have to go the extra mile and deliver value if you want to keep them as customers.

Related: 25 Tips for Earning Customer Loyalty

For inspiration, check out these three brands that are winning at instant customer service.

1. Bet365.

Sports betting is not an industry renowned for having good customer service. Some representatives are downright rude, and in the worst cases, others have even been known to threaten their customers. For this reason, it's great when a company in this industry takes customer service seriously and trains its representatives to behave professionally and courteously.

Most customers want to have their problems resolved quickly, so they can go back to playing. Because of this Bet365 uses a pre-chat survey in order to put the customer in touch with the most qualified representative -- thus expediting their interaction.

When customers are waiting to speak to a live chat representative, they can see their position in the queue, which deters them from leaving.

Once the conversation starts and the representative introduces him or herself, they immediately start working to find the customer a solution. Customers can see a typing indicator when the representative is crafting a message, which helps to fill the moments of silence.

Related: Ditch the Phone: Why Adding Live Chat to Your Site is Profitable

It's worth remembering that 60 percent of customers don't want to wait more than a minute for a response -- so don't leave them hanging!

Bet365 is incredibly helpful when it comes to clarifying rules on bets and solving technical issues, but you might want to proceed with caution when taking betting advice from them:

2. PetPlan.

People are very passionate about their animal companions, so it makes sense for a pet insurance company to deliver customer service that is friendly and efficient.

When interacting with PetPlan's customer service team, you get the impression you're dealing with someone who is a happy, enthusiastic fellow pet lover. The tone of communication is conversational rather than professional, which reminds you that you're dealing with a real person and not a soulless corporate representative.

Instead of rushing you to make a purchase, you'll be referred to the most informative resources on the company website. PetPlan goes the extra mile in order to be as friendly and helpful as humanly possible.

Interestingly, PetPlan offers a live chat function within Facebook, so you can speak to a customer service representative while staying on social media. This is really useful if you've arrived at the PetPlan Facebook page but don't want to leave FB, right then, to address an issue.

By interacting with customers where they're already active, you dramatically improve your chances of engagement.

3. Cracka Wines

I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that wine is a drink I enjoy without being something I'm very knowledgeable about. I prefer white wines that are bitter rather than sweet, but other than that, I'm clueless.

That's why I was delighted to see a chat box pop up when browsing the Cracka Wines website the other day. After taking the time to carefully listen to my preferences, the representative recommended a Chardonnay and then narrowed it down to a specific bottle based on my price requirements.

Unlike dealing with other companies, I was never rushed to make a purchase and felt as though the representative was more interested in my needs than making a commission. By providing value instead of pursuing the sale, Cracka Wines got me as a customer.

Related: Your Customers Are Talking. Are You Listening?

To quote a popular sales adage: "People love buying but they hate being sold to." We'll see if I like the bottle, but it certainly sounds appealing based on the winemaker's notes.

Aaron Agius

Search, Content and Social Marketer

Aaron Agius is an experienced search, content and social marketer. He has worked with IBM, Ford, LG, Unilever and many more of the world's largest and most recognized brands, to grow their revenue. See more from Agius at Louder Online.

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