Online Chat - Is it for you?

A few years ago, the prospect of having live chat software on a website was either extremely expensive, required complex coding, or was only aimed at larger companies. As more and more companies looked to utilise live chat software on their websites, there are now so many choices as various software providers try to promote their version over others. Many live chat software platforms now offer a free version, which can be ideal for small business owners who only need the basic package for their website to get up and running. It’s also a risk-free option to trial live chat to see if it is a fit for your company.

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Options

Some of the more popular live chat platforms such as ZenDesk, PureChat, Olark and Drift offer similar services, but can vary in pricing depending on the users and functionality required. It’s also worth looking at how each live chat software works to see they offer the right experience for your customer, and if they suit your business needs. There’s little point having a fantastic looking live chat feature on your website if the process of notifications and answering messages is too complicated for the business owner, or the software isn’t tracking all of the data required to offer a seamless experience to your customer.

One that you may not have considered is Facebook Messenger (we’re currently using this one!). So far it has been easy to install, customise the color to match our logo, and as it’s linked to Facebook, queries can be answered quickly as soon as a notification pops up on the screen (mobile or desktop).

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Pros & Cons of Live Chat

Keep in mind how you and your customers would utilise live chat on your website. Would it be to offer support? Or maybe just to answer some general queries before making a purchase? Is it just one person answering messages, or will this be shared between team members? Do you work at a desk, or are you out and about and use your phone for most of your communication?

 
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Live chat can be a great way to interact with potential and existing customers in a friendly, less formal way, but it’s important to remember that any chat experience is personalised, with automated responses kept to a minimum. After all, we get frustrated when met with automated responses on the phone, or in person (it’s happened to me in an Apple Store!) when we are just looking for a quick answer.

 
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Customers are expecting faster response times from companies, especially online. If complaints made to companies via Twitter are expected to have a response within an hour, live chat responses must be within minutes before visitors leave to find another company to help them with their query.

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When used correctly, live chat software can increase conversion rates, with Kayako compiling the following statistics:

  • 29% of consumers have told friends or colleagues about a positive live chat experience

  • 38% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company if they offer live chat support

  • 51% of consumers are more likely to stay with or buy again from a company if they offer live chat support

Source: https://www.kayako.com/blog/live-chat-pros-and-cons/

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Summary

Ease of use (for both company and customer) is essential, along with great customer experiences - personalised, friendly chat to offer support or guidance, rather than automated, formal responses. Each live chat platform has it’s pros and cons, and it really comes down to the business needs. That said, most of these platforms offer a free trial (or free version) so that you can test it out to see if works for you.