As an indie maker, you have surely already seen a chat box — this is the small widget at the bottom of most landing pages which invites you to talk to the team if you have any question. These widgets have become very popular. But do you really need to install one for your product, and how do you make sure you are using them properly?

The popularity of live chat has increased dramatically for the past few years. Users actually prefer to use chat more than any other channels. No other communication channel demonstrates such a significant and stable growth. According to a recent study, 51% of customers are more willing to be loyal to a company which provides chat support in real time. So here are a few tips so you can make the most of live chat for your indie products.

1. Always introduce yourself

Chatting with users is not a transaction, but a conversation. Make the conversation personal by introducing yourself: this will make it about two people talking together, rather than a conversation between a client and a faceless business.

Your chat should display the name and photo of the operator. It’s also a good idea to write not just: “How can I help?”, but to motivate the users to write back by asking specific questions.

2. Be quick

Chat is a channel where speed definitely matters. According to this research, 79% of users say that they prefer to chat instead of calling or sending emails, mainly because of speed. As for time, 60% of users don’t want to wait for a response that takes longer than a minute.

At the same time, if a visitor has left your website, you don’t have to worry about losing them forever. You can reply to them over email later. For some customers it’s actually even more convenient to ask a question in chat, and then continue the conversation over email.

3. Guarantee an answer

Even if you can’t immediately solve the problem, let users know when they will receive a reply. For example, if you can’t answer the question on your own because the issue is not your purview, ask the user to wait some time – a couple of minutes/hours/days – while you talk to a specialist.

If you can’t fix the problem in the near future, promise to improve it in the next update. This will help build a solid relationship. But remember that you should live up to your promises.

4. Use the ELI5 technique

Of course you know everything about your own product. For you everything that happens inside it is natural, but customers should not have to understand what is hidden behind certain functions. If you need to explain a complex idea or a set of instructions, don’t do it as if you are discussing it with a colleague. Instead, use the ELI5 technique, which stands for Explain It Like I’m Five.

You should (over) simplify your explanation so every user can understand your product in seconds. This is especially important for chats within a small chat box: you have to convey the message as shortly as possible.

5. Make it accessible

When users want to get help or ask a question, it means they are already facing a problem. Do not aggravate the situation by forcing them to look for a way to contact you. Place the chat widget on every page of your website. This way you can help your customers every step of the way.

You can also offer support at very specific moments, triggered by user behaviors. For example if a user clicks many times on the same button but it doesn’t work, it is a great time to start a conversation and offer some help.

6. Rely on links

Nobody likes to scroll long messages inside a tiny chat window. Create a FAQ section which can be invoked as required. This saves users from having to search for information in a long list of messages. If your instructions contain more than one picture or three steps, try to refer them to a link in the FAQ instead.

7. Use time-saving tricks

It’s not always necessary to create a separate article in the FAQ section to answer similar users’ questions. Sometimes such articles are simply not suitable, for example, if the question relates to personal account information or billing information. Instead of wasting time typing the same answer again and again, save them and then insert these frequently used messages from your saved list. Customer receives a quick answer, and you save time — everyone is happy.

Take care of your customers in real time

I’m biased because I work there, but I strongly recommend using Dashly as your customer support companion. You can apply all of these tips and more to provide effective support and build a better relationship with your users in real-time. One cool feature is that you can see what users are typing before they send you their message. This feature significantly accelerates the process: customer are still thinking over the right words to describe their problem, and you are already looking for the right answer to give them.

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