Live Chat Support is a relatively new way to interact with your website visitors. Usually, the visitor initiates a chat request by clicking an icon on your website. The chat button can be positioned anywhere on your site. However, generally, it makes the most sense to add it to the bottom right position as Facebook does the same in their chat application.

Live chat can be used for prospective customers in order to help them with their buying decision or for current customers who need support with a product they have already bought.

Image: Reuters

Its often seen as a Business to Consumer tool and indeed it plays a key part in retail sales however it’s also really valuable for Business to Business too.

There are many Live Chat applications available to install on your website most are compatible with popular platforms like WordPress. In my experience, ZenDesk is one of the best applications on the market at the moment. It’s great for managing sales and service teams, getting great analytics and has a great App so you can run from Apple and Android devices too.

Though many large websites have offered live chat support for a number of years now it’s becoming a popular feature for smaller businesses.

Live Chat is growing in use because the technology is so easy to implement now and it has many benefits.

From the Customer point of view, these include:

1. Live Chat is Convenient for Customers

A study by Forrester Research in 2016 found that “62% reported being more likely to purchase from the site again. A further 38% of respondents said they had made their purchase due to the chat session itself. All these attitudes were even more prevalent among respondents who bought online at least weekly.”

2. Live Chat allows Multi-Tasking

There is nothing worse for a customer than having to waste a lunch break on hold to a provider. With live chat, a customer can carry on doing day to day work or skimming social media whilst waiting for a “bing” sound that the agent has replied.

3. Chat Transcriptions

Unlike phone calls which are often recorded for ”quality and training purposes,” the company may get a copy of your call but unless a customer has a recording function/app turned on, they don’t get a copy. With live chat software, the customer can receive a transcription of the conversation afterwards for their records.

4. Right Place, Right Time Customer Service

For customers, there is nothing more annoying than not being able to get hold of you when they have a problem. Live chat gives customers the option to speak to someone about a problem or just ask a question. This reduces the need for call back requests, expensive 08 numbers and waiting 48 hours or 2 working days for email responses.

5. No “On Hold” Music

Being put in a holding queue with classical music or 90′s pop can be tiresome to put it mildly. With live chat, this simply doesn’t happen. A customer can choose your own background music (or not) whilst waiting to be transferred to another department or agent.

6. Cost

Having a problem is annoying enough for a customer but paying to have it solved makes customers feel worse. Many people resent sitting on premium rate phone numbers or having to stop work to make a support call. With live chat, there is no cost to the customer and therefore no resentment from the outset of your agent’s conversation.

From the Business point of view benefits include:

1. Right Place, Right Time Customer Service

For businesses, live chat provides a direct method of communication right on the website and available to the customer whenever they need it. Obviously, this will be more beneficial for companies that get a lot of queries about how to use something or where to find things on their site. But these days, in a world of real-time customer engagement users expect to be able to get in touch with someone virtually.

2. Cost

Live chat software is relatively cheap and easy to install. A business may already be employing a receptionist, call centre staff, and/or sales team to man the phones. You can assign each of them a time slot where they also man the live chat platform? This means there is very little investment needed to bring this into your customer communication methods.

3. Data.

Customer data is invaluable. Live chat software provides additional layers of data. this includes:

Referring Link: Where the customer came from on or off your site. You can use this to gauge what they might be looking for and to initiate conversation if they haven’t already.

Operating System / Device: This tells you if the visitor is viewing your site from a mobile, tablet or desktop and which operating system they are using.

Idle / Viewing: If the customer is currently reading pages or idle, e.g. not actively moving their cursor or scrolling.

Time on Site: If the customer has just come onto the site or has been on it for some time and therefore more likely to require your help.

Number of Visits: If the customer is a new visitor or has already been on the site several times?

Number of Chats: If this is the customers first chat or have they had previous live chat sessions.

Location: Using the customers IP address, the majority of chat platforms will tell you the area the customer is from.

4. Increased Sales

Live chat can help boost sales because it lets a business nudge customers towards certain products or services without the “hard sell”. A customer that comes to your website is likely to already be interested in your product or service, instead of hoping they make a purchase you can proactively engage them or offer them a special offer or discount.

For more information on how Live Chat can help your business please Contact Me for more details.

This article first appeared on West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce

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