Live Chat is an effective means to providing quick, targeted help to existing and prospective customers through your website. Some interesting studies have shown that customers have come to expect businesses to be readily available for their specific needs. Here at Stride, we’re seeing more and more interest in this helpful online feature.
Surprising stats we’ve found from several studies:
- 51% of consumers say a business should be available 24/7
- 42% of consumers say that they prefer live chat over waiting on hold
- 92% of customers feel satisfied when they use live chat, compared to voice (88%), email (85%), web form (85%), Facebook (84%) and Twitter (77%)
- 63% of customers said they were more likely to return to a website that offers live chat as opposed to one that doesn’t
- In 2018, live chat will have grown 400% as a preferred customer digital engagement tool since 2015
- Typically between 10-50% of web visitors will engage with live chat. If done correctly, a third of those visitors typically become a lead or make a purchase.
Once you’ve decided to explore live chat for your website, there are several factors to consider when choosing a provider.
Budget. There are a variety of free and low-cost solutions out there. However, if you operate an e-commerce site, you may need to invest in a more robust service, which can increase sales substantially.
Available staff. It’s important when using live chat that a helpful representative is regularly available to provide feedback to customers, especially during business hours. Many online chat solutions provide the ability for customers to submit a question when there are no operators available, but this should be an exception and not the rule. As a general rule, operators should be available with 3 minutes.
Customization. Ideally, you should be able to tailor your chat tool to match your brand, and avoid third party advertising. Some free or low-cost products require you to promote their service in exchange for the low cost. Any paid service should allow white label customizations.
Passive vs. proactive chat. Most live chat tools are passive, meaning they require a visitor to take an action to establish a connection with the operator. Some services offer proactive chats, which pop up and entice visitors to chat. You’ll need to determine what’s works best for your audience and your brand.
Offline messaging. Not all live chat services are created equal. One factor to consider when evaluating your options is how the software handles times when no operators are available. Some services don’t provide alternate messaging when staff is offline, which renders your chat tool useless for large periods of time. We feel that “away” messaging and/or a ‘submit a question’ feature is critical to successful use of live chat.
Integration with sales & marketing. Premium live chat services offer integration with third party software to help sales and marketing teams boost conversions of sales leads. Salesforce, MailChimp, Facebook, and Google Analytics are some of the tools that your live chat data may be able to integrate with.
A great live chat experience can speak volumes about your business. Having the right tool for your needs is key to getting the most out of your investment, and generally speaking, the more features you require, the higher the cost of the service. If you do the work to determine your needs and research your vendor options, you’ll soon have customers singing your praises.