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Should Your Small Business Have Live Chat?

We live in a world of instant gratification. We can order items online that arrive the next day. This is why our customers have come to not only appreciate but expect to be able to converse with a company and have an immediate response. Because companies from all industries are jumping on the ‘instant communication’ bandwagon, the threshold for appropriate response time is getting shorter and shorter. Gone are the times when a contact form submission can go unanswered for 48 hours.   

Because a speedy response is a crucial aspect of both great customer service and customer retention, many businesses have invested in live chat.  

 Live chat, when done right, can add some major benefits to your customer success, marketing, and overall business model. You can directly connect with your interested customers, minimize lengthy email communications, upsell products and services, and humanize your brand. Each conversation is a chance to delight, impress, and create a bond with potential and current customers.   

It’s all these reasons and more that large and small businesses alike have jumped on this form of communication. Little chat boxes are popping up on company websites from industries that span the board. For companies that have full teams for customer support, it’s a no-brainer to enact a live chat strategy. But while live chat is a huge help to some companies, it may seem like a burden to those businesses with limited teams and time.   

So, let’s answer the question: Should your small business have live chat?  

What does live chat entail?  

Having live chat functionality available on your site means website visitors can reach out directly to your team through a chatbox, and start a text-style conversation with your team. that message may send to a team dedicated to nothing but customer support communication. Other smaller companies may have one person who fields these messages every once and a while when they pop up.   

Based on the amount of site traffic, you need to make sure you choose the right webchat system and have the manpower to manage it. Some companies may have a team dedicated customer support communication. Other smaller companies may have one person who fields these messages every once and a while when they pop up.  Some chat setups use a dedicated platform to categorize, organize, and prioritize chat conversations. Others may opt to have these chats sent to their phone as if it was a text from a friend.  

With all the live chat companies to choose from, there is plenty of opportunities to tailor the chat experience your company may need to offer. No matter how you offer the communication, as long as you offer a speedy, quality communication, you will reap the benefits of instant chat.   

The live chat stats don’t lie  

Live chat has the highest satisfaction rate for channels of customer service In general, website visitors would prefer online live chat over any other form of communication with a business. Live chat generates satisfaction levels of 73%, compared to just 61% for email and 44% for phone. 44% of online consumers believe that live chat is an important website feature. If you consider younger consumers — those 18-34 — one report found that 60% regularly use live chat for customer service.  

63% of consumers reported that they are more likely to return to a website that offers productive live chat. The relationship-building benefit of live chat is a huge driver with a great first-impression especially when a potential customer is in the research phase for a product or service.  

That satisfaction in communication and relationship building can have a significant return on investment – one survey shows 79% of businesses reported that implementing live chat resulted in increased customer retention, sales, and revenue.  

But with a chatbox comes great responsibility  

While a few years ago live chat would have been considered a luxury when perusing a website is quickly turning into an expectation. One survey reports that 62% of customers expect live chat to be available on mobile devices, and if possible, 82% would use it.   

On top of that, if you offer live chat, it has to be in tip-top shape and fully operational or the customer experience can go from hero to zero almost immediately. If you adopt a live chat and don’t offer a great customer experience, it can do more harm than good. If you have that little chatbox on your website, customers expect it to work well.   

Should your small business have live chat?  

To know if your company is ready for live chat, first ask yourself a couple of questions:  

ARE YOU READY TO OFFER KNOWLEDGEABLE RESPONSES?  

Sometimes it seems like the easy thing to do is to pass the live chat responsibilities to an intern or someone who has more time to take on random queries – but can that person answer the in-depth questions your website visitors might ask?   

For some companies, it may work well to have a middle man that forwards a question to the right team. For other companies, it may be a smoother process to have the team with the answers also manage the live chat for when those questions arise.   

No matter which communication strategy you choose, the main objective is to get back to the customer quickly.   

WHAT IS YOUR CONTACT FORM TO RESPONDER RATIO?  

Don’t bit off more than your team can chew. HubSpot found that consumers expect to get a response from customer support within 10 minutes or less from the moment they’ve first reached out. If you have a constant stream of contact forms coming in and only one person fielding that conversation, you may not be able to offer that crucial stellar customer experience.   

If you foresee that ten-minute deadline to be tight, then you may need to dedicate a slightly larger team to the cause.  

DO YOU WORK IN AN INTERNATIONAL MARKET?  

Companies that have a large percentage of their customers out of their time zone have less opportunity to monitor live chat only during business hours. For a website visitor that is on your site during off-hours, it’s frustrating to see a chatbox that isn’t available to use.   

If you have a large international audience, you should either only have the live chat option visible during your hours of operation, or have your team able to man the live chat 24/7.   

ARE YOU WILLING TO INVEST TIME AND ENERGY IN A GREAT LIVE CHAT EXPERIENCE?  

Chatbots that don’t work for mobile can seriously damage the mobile user experience. A major complaint that can come with a half-bakes chat experience is that the chat box will open automatically, blocking website info for someone not interested in chatting. A chat box that looks cute and unassuming open on a desktop can be completely overbearing on a tiny phone screen. Use a chatbox setup that complements all screen sizes and user experiences.   

How to manage live chat without a dedicated customer service team  

TRY BUSINESS HOURS CHAT    

Don’t be chained to your DMs 24/7. Test out a live chat setup that offers on and off features so the chat option isn’t visible when your team isn’t available to answer. Or, if you don’t want to lose valuable communication during off-hours, switch the CTA to a contact form submission so you can reach out later.  

KEEP DETAILED RECORDS ON FAQS   

The more time you spend organizing and saving your common questions and common responses, the better your communication is, and the easier your life will be. Write out template responses based on these FAQs to easily copy into your communications. They key is to choose welcoming, casual, insightful responses you’ve to keep for repeatable use. Thay way you don’t sacrifice building a relationship by using a scripted response.  

By having a master list of these responses, you can constantly update information and grow the number of boilerplate responses you can just copy/paste into chats.  

TRY A CHATBOT AS A GATEKEEPER.    

If you don’t want to deal with FAQs but do want to offer a chat experience, try using a chatbot assist. A chatbot will essentially do what you would do with your template – offer boilerplate responses to common questions. This is a strong option if you find that a majority of your instant chat questions are “What are your hours?” or other standard questions.   

The chatbot can handle these basic questions, and if the individual wants a more in-depth or customer answer, they can connect with you by simply typing the word human.   

  

Be there for your customers the moment they need you, and you might establish a new long-term client relationship. Are you interested in exploring new channels for purposeful client communications? Reach out to our team to discuss opportunities for growth in your customer conversations! 

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