More and more businesses are seeing the value in adding live chat functionality to their websites. Should you jump on the bandwagon?
"Live chat functionality" is real-time conversation between a visitor and a sales/customer service representative on a website, in order to answer questions and provide customer support. It's like a call center, but in online chat form. (In case you're wondering, live chat functionality is not just for large companies. Lots of small and mid-size businesses are taking advantage of the benefits of live chat.)
Here are a few of the benefits to live chat functionality:
Live chat gives you the opportunity to connect with prospective customers browsing on your site. You can initiate the conversation by asking if they have any questions, and when they are ready for help, you'll be there.
The connection gives you the opportunity to start the relationship off right. You're warm, friendly, and helpful, and you're there to make their experience a great one. (Please note that the live chat representatives ideally have a lot of knowledge about your business.)
According to an ATG Global Consumer Trend study, 90% of users surveyed considered live chat functionality to be helpful, and according to an emarketer.com survey, 63% said they'd be more likely to go back to a website that offers live chat. (source: Kissmetrics)
Let's face it: we've become a very impatient society. We're all about instant gratification. We want information now, we want attention now, we want our questions answered now.
Live chat is actually a nice solution to that problem. Chats are done in real time, reducing the risk of visitors leaving your site with unanswered questions and forgetting about you. Added bonus: Wait times for live chat are usually shorter than call centers.
Live chat functionality can save your company money. Employees are able to work more efficiently, having multiple chats going at once (you can't do that with phone calls!) and can multi-task while conversing with users.
It can also reduce phone expenses and call center costs, if you use those.
The biggie, though, is that live chat functionality can actually increase sales, as employees are able to answer detailed questions about your products or services, assist with an online purchase, and even upsell customers!
What company should you use?
There are lots of options out there for live chat. We've worked with (and recommend):
But do your own research and find one that works best for you. Here are a few other providers out there:
Should you outsource your live chats?
That depends upon your company. What's the volume of chats you expect to have? If you don't already have a person or people on staff to handle live chats, would you need to hire someone?
If your target market typically makes inquiries or purchases outside regular business hours, outsourcing your live chat might be worth looking into. Look into companies like Upwork that provide freelance customer service reps.
If you want to get the most out of your live chat functionality, train your employees on how best to represent your company. Provide a few scripts or cheat sheets to help them answer questions and upsell when appropriate.
Remember to be warm, friendly, and helpful! This is your opportunity to make a great first impression.