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    When you look at the most successful ecommerce businesses operating online today, there is a key similarity between the vast majority of them. No matter what they are selling, the best sites all offer live, text-based chat with their customers. As a credit union manager, could you benefit from doing something similar? And, if so, how do you get started? Let’s take a look at everything you need to know in this guide to best practices in Live Chat for credit unions.

    How to choose a system

    Of course, there is a huge amount of choice when it comes to Live Chat, and the vast array of services can be a little overwhelming to the newcomer. However, you can break down the options into two distinct flavors: hosted solutions, and installable solutions.

    Hosted solutions may initially appear the preferred option for most credit union managers, as they are often the cheapest option. All you need to do is pay a small amount of investment up front, pay a monthly user fee, and the hosting company will do all the rest—you can be up and running within a few days.

    It’s different for an installable system, in that you buy hardware and software up front, and can install it directly into your IT environment. The beauty of installable Live Chat solutions is that you can tweak and customize the software to your liking. However, this does come at a higher cost than hosted solutions, and these expenses can increase if you also have to pay for hosted or colocated servers.

    Features you may need

    Live Chat systems come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, but there are some basic features which should prove invaluable for credit unions. First of all, choose a service that allows you to hide the chat button when there is no one on the other end to respond. While your customers will forgive you for not having chat available, they won’t if no one responds to their queries quickly.

    Spell check is also critical. As a credit union, people will need to have the impression that you are a capable organization that is going to look after their money properly. And it only takes a few typos and mistakes for your reputation to go out of the window.

    Finally, while may sound silly, make sure you can send your customers hyperlinks when required. Believe it or not, not all Live Chat systems offer this vital feature. Most people using Live Chat will have a query that can be answered immediately by pointing them to the relevant web page on your site. Hyperlinks just make it super easy for you—and them.

    Staff communication

    Be careful that you give your staff the right level of training to ensure they understand how to communicate with customers. Companies that ignore the importance of natural sounding conversations and communication run the risk of sounding like robots. It’s vital to have that human connection, so make sure you personalize all your greetings, build a rapport, and acknowledge the customer’s problem. Staff should be empathetic, too, and the tone of voice used should be relevant to your brand. Finally, ensure staff are always positive and make sure the customer’s inquiry has been fully dealt with before hanging up.

    Training

    Not every member of staff will be able to get stuck into Live Chat straight away. Your training should include a whole raft of areas that must be covered. Quick typing skills are essential, as is a strong command of the language. Your CS teams must also be able to authenticate customer identities, in a similar manner to how they do it on the phone. Multitasking is critical, too, as is being able to resolve conflicts and reduce customer tensions.

    A few extra tips

    Finally, let’s equip you with a few things you should include in your rollout plan to get Live Chat for your credit union. The first step is to choose your provider or solution – and make sure you fully read the instructions. The next step is to decide where to place the Live Chat box on your site —most have it as a footer in one corner of their sites, but you might benefit from being different. Fully test your Chat service before launch, too, and make sure that everyone understands how to use all of the features and customizations you have installed. Once you have your service up and running, it’s a simple case of tracking performance, measuring stats, and ironing out any kinks you might have to improve the overall service.