Isn’t one of the major goals of a website to close new business? Then why would live chat on your site be a bad idea?
You want the phone to ring and people to walk over the threshold of your establishment so that you can close new business. So why not close the sale right on your site, possibly the first time a visitor has come into contact with you?
I know. It sounds overwhelming, intimidating, too expensive, and too time consuming. But these excuses are just excuses and have no basis in reality—the reality that you can have and should have live chat on your site, and the benefits are improved service, improved sales, and improved search results.
I now have a couple of clients successfully using live chat. One client handles the online chats in-house with an experienced manager close at hand to answer any of the tougher questions that come up from time to time. The drawback is that the hours of availability of online chat are limited to office hours, minus lunch and potty breaks.
Another client has outsourced their live chat, which gives them expanded hours of availability but limits the range of responses allowed. The drawback with this solution is that there are times where the answers are insufficient and might frustrate a visitor.
Both of these clients are experiencing conversions from online chat. They are closing new business directly from their websites. And neither is a retail operation and neither sells goods—they only provide services.
Another win is that by keeping visitors on their sites longer—especially after a keyword search that delivered a prospect to their site—the visit length sends strong signals to the search engines for ranking purposes. One client’s rank jumped an entire point the first month of installation and both sites continue to improve in the rankings.
Here is how to get started implementing online chat:
1. Survey your sales, front line staff, and operational teams to explore commonly asked questions and even some of the tougher but less frequent questions.
2. Develop a detailed list of the questions and fine-tune answers that will be used as replies. This will also help you develop a great FAQ page on your site (also good for visitors and search engines).
3. Take the questions and answers and spend a good amount of time cleaning up the language, working through the responses, and projecting the follow up questions and answers that will make up the online dialogue.
4. Create a “never” and an “always” list of topics and phrases as a best practice guide.
5. Provide (in writing) clarity of the tone, personality, and brand promise to be upheld in all interactions.
6. Evaluate your in-house resources to determine if this is a service that can and should be handled in-house versus outsourcing to a third party.
7. Interview your staff for assessing who are and who are not good candidates to participate if you are planning on doing this in-house. (Hint: look for skills like writing, communications, service mentality, availability, and temperament.)
8. Generate standard replies that can be set up as single click responses to help your chatters to be more efficient.
9. Evaluate the services that are available and decide what will work for your company from the budget and service level point of view.
10. Just do it! If I’m wrong, then you can always cancel your service, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.
No more excuses. If you want more business, if you want to be more helpful to your existing clients, and if you want to rank better in search results, then you want live chat on your website.
Mardy Sitzer is a certified inbound marketing professional and president of Bumblebee Design & Marketing. Since 1993, Mardy has been delivering creative and innovative marketing solutions. An avid reader of all things internet and marketing, she also writes blogs, articles, and web content for industry magazines as well as for Bumblebee’s clients. She is an adjunct professor at Fordham University and instructor at Rutgers University teaching social media for business. Follow her on Twitter or email her at email@example.com.