Or more accurately, let’s talk live chat.
If you’re a business that utilizes this nifty sales tool, kudos to you.
If you aren’t, why aren’t you? I’d love to know why you do or don’t in the comments below.
BGB doesn’t (although that is always subject to change), largely because sales volume isn’t really large enough to warrant it. I can cater to my clients very comfortably using good old-fashioned email.
However if you’re a business that serves a very large client base, it very well could be the perfect tool for you.
Only you can know this grasshopper. The force is within you.
But I digress.
On-demand entertainment, downloadable books, and online classes provide the immediate return consumers have come to expect.
That concept infiltrates the customer service arena, as well. Live chat software gives businesses a virtual platform to deal with customer questions and concerns immediately. (To be fair, Twitter allows you to do this as well, but not nearly as efficiently I would imagine.)
Sixty-five percent of individuals have engaged in a live chat session at least once, according to a 2012 study by BoldChat.
So. Let’s look at some ways implementing a live system on a business website might improve sales and provide a lovely little return on investment.
What Is Live Chat?
If you are familiar with instant messaging, you already know about live chat systems.
There isn’t much difference between standalone applications such as Skype and the software that drives live chat on a website, according to Tooltester Network founder Robert Brandl on Informly.
A visitor clicks on a link that opens up a chat window so they can talk online to a biz rep.
On the business side of the application, a window shows someone is trying to open a discussion from the website interface.
Companies opting to use a live chat product should:
- Have at least one person available during a set time frame to manage the chat
- Want to collect real time data on page visitations
- Want to improve on customer service while visitors are on a website
What Do You Get from Live Chat?
There are benefits found in a live chat application that go beyond the obvious communication process, including:
- Web site analytics
- Automatic transcripts of conversations
- Translation services
- Eye-catching interfaces and graphics that make the conversation easy to digest and respond to
Why Live Chat Works to Increase Sales
People are accustomed to online conversations because of social media sites ala Facebook.
This makes business chats natural for most individuals that go on the Internet to buy.
The BoldChat survey shows 21 percent of shoppers prefer the online chat function over other options. Combined with the most popular communication tool for customer service — email contact — and a toll-free phone number, businesses give shoppers choices when they need assistance.
The digital age is one of instant gratification, and purchasing online can be confusing.
Navigation systems and secure buying pages sometimes lack consistency. Users may encounter problems figuring out forms, finding the right product, or working through the shopping cart features.
An online chat operator can walk customers through the process before they get frustrated and go elsewhere.
Live Chat Puts You One Step Ahead
Live chat platforms are relatively inexpensive and innovative ways to dazzle customers.
While online chat systems are starting to appear more often with big businesses, they are not as common as you might think.
A 2011 study by TELUS International showed larger retailers had yet to embrace this technology — of the 30 companies the study considered to include, only six had established chat sales programs.
Getting ahead of the curve will make your business look like a trendsetter.
I know from personal experience that when I was hosting BGB with Hostgator (aff link), any time I had an issue I went straight to chat support and they were awesome.
And I do that on just about every service I subscribe to that offers the feature. It beats hopping on the phone and sitting listening to elevator music by a landslide.
Tips to Make Live Chat Work for You
Live chat has potential in any industry I would wager, as long you use it correctly.
The key is to train your operators how to manage the system. When customers initiate a chat, they should get a timely response. If they don’t, they will give up and move on. It may be the last time you see that customer, too.
Common sense, no?
Perhaps consider cross-training your staff to jump in when the chat volume increases to handle overflow.
Also, use canned responses wisely.
Sure they can help to make the process smoother but can come off as robotic if you aren’t careful. Ideally, you’d want a chat session to feel as personal as a phone call.
At the end of the day, it’s your choice to utilize a live chat service. Decide if it’s right for your business and if it is… use it. Don’t lose customers because they can’t get the answers they need from you online.
That is really the beauty of live chats. You can give your customers the best of both worlds — personalized service, along with online buying potential.
Over to You
Do you use a live chat software on your website? Do you find it increases your sales? Or is it more of a pain in the arse? Please share your experiences in the comments below, I’d love to hear ’em. Oh and if you have a problem with this post… I’m NOT available via live chat. hehe (You can totally email me though.)