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Get context on live chat conversations fast

Editor, Intercom

Amanda Connolly


Main illustration: Alexiacas

When a visitor or lead gets in touch on your website, it’s important to get as much context as you can around the live chat conversation you have with them. Your aim should be to understand what they want, how you can help them and to judge how fast they need a solution.

With lots of inbound leads, you’ll need to prioritize which ones need a response first, and it’s not always as easy as you might expect to make this judgment call.

Instant gratification is a common expectation in today’s on-demand world so deciding whether or not your lead needs an immediate response in a live chat conversation or if they should be courted more leisurely is vital. You don’t want to turn away anyone who is in the buying mindset and likewise, you don’t want to scare off anyone who is still exploring their options.

You wouldn’t walk over and tell them you’ll be in touch later on

Think of your lead requiring urgency as someone who has done their research and walked into the store, cash in hand and ready to buy. If you were in a B2C scenario here, you wouldn’t walk over and tell them you’ll be in touch later on.

Similarly, imagine your lead walked into the store with a list of questions in hand, looking a little meek. You would answer their concerns and give this person any assistance and space they need to make a considered decision. You wouldn’t start packing up and asking for their money straight off the bat.

This mistake is common in the B2C world and while urgency exists in the B2B world, it’s important when you deal with leads to quickly understand what type of lead they are and what type of response they require.

Making that call about your leads through understanding their actions will ultimately give you a clearer view of where everyone is in the funnel.

We’ve outlined our top tips for getting context on your live chat conversations quickly:

Use tools to establish who you’re talking to

Lots of sales focused tools will have an integration that can give you important context on who you’re talking to.

Resources such as Clearbit can give you crucial information about both your lead and their business at a glance, including industry, location and company size. Having this information from the very outset is key as the conversation develops, and allows you to be selective about who you talk with in the first place.

Judge the urgency of the conversation

If someone lands on your website and uses a form or messenger to ask you a question, they want more information. And these leads should be your first priority.

Your lead is ultimately looking for more than an answer

If a lead opens with a direct question and no introduction, they’ll want an answer fast. It’s best to get to these right away and save formality for later.

Your lead is ultimately looking for more than an answer, but for the moment, they’re simply looking for a fast, accurate response and it’s your job to give it to them.

If you encounter a lead who has opened a message or live chat conversation with a more traditional greeting or some small talk, it is usually a sign that they are happy to have a more conversational experience. These are the cases where you can take your time and give a more detailed response and offer additional assistance in a very personal way for the lead.

Ask the right questions right away

Urgency is one thing but you will also need to parse the context of your lead’s message right away so make every question counts. We recommend asking leading questions as early in the conversation as possible. A leading question would be “What brings you our way?” or “What barriers do you have at the moment?”

Also, be sure to ask what they hope to achieve by using your product – this is crucial to determine if your product is a good fit for their needs. Each answer you get should help you define what their pain points are and also how urgent resolving them could be.

Highlight the importance of answering questions

While the conversation might be fast paced, it’s vital that if you ask your lead a question, they understand why you’ve asked it.

That way, they will be more inclined to give an informative answer that allows you to better determine what a possible solution might be. From the lead’s perspective, having to answer a lot of questions without that understanding can feel intimidating and off-putting.

We’re all human. Don’t forget it.

Initial conversations with leads can be a hotbed of anticipation on both sides so it’s important you remember to show your human, friendly side as well.

We advise avoiding business-like robotic language

You can still ask and answer questions and qualify a lead while remaining friendly and conversational. We advise avoiding business-like robotic language but you should also take the cue from your lead about the type of conversation they are after.

Some leads will kick off a live chat conversation by saying hello and introducing themselves in a friendly manner or even using emoji. In these cases, you should absolutely do the same.

However, if a conversation starts with a lead avoiding the introduction and launching straight into a question or series of questions, you should remain friendly but also be respectful of this tone.

Continue the conversations

Of course, your first conversation with a lead is important and you will have many pressing qualification questions to tick off your list, but it should never escape your mind that this is also your lead’s first step in building a relationship with your business.

Your relationship begins with the earliest interactions

Extra care should be taken to consider their immediate needs and understand them before moving forward to help establish a strong basis for your working relationship.

Once your lead has signed up, it’s important to remember the attention given during their first interactions with the company and help to ensure a smooth transition from lead to customer.

With this transition in mind, you should note any factors that you think other colleagues who will be dealing with the customer should know. This is where your initial assessment of conversation style and urgency will become an important part of how this customer is dealt with, so be sure to take note throughout your conversations.

Building relationships the right way

Whether via a live chat conversation or in a more traditional sales conversation, you are looking to qualify leads while also striving to build a mutually beneficial relationship. That relationship begins with the earliest interactions, making it critical that you get the conversation off to the best possible start.

In sales and marketing, speed is everything – check out this guide to learn how real-time sales can grow your business

Download The Beginner's Guide to Real-Time Sales