One of the most common mistakes made by business owners or CEOs regarding their company's website, is the misuse of Live Chat functionality.
In going through a website redesign, improvement or revamp process, they think of websites that they like, appreciate or want to emulate in some way.
Oftentimes this is a good exercise, but it can become detrimental when looking at features and the actual context around features - Live Chat being the perfect example.
We all know the little icon by now and what it does when you click it...
But I'm not sure we all really know what goes into managing it on the backend. From a technical perspective, it's not hard to implement in a WordPress Website. There's a great plug-in called WP Live Chat, with a very solid and configurable free version. However, from a staffing standpoint, you have to know what you're doing and make the investment in the customer experience, otherwise you're basically left with a glorified form.
Now, when you have a great experience with Live Chat, it's usually when you're ALREADY A MEMBER or CUSTOMER of a site. Many membership sites have searchable resource libraries supported by 24/7 live chat functionality staffed by an actual person.
My experience is that when business owners or CEOs have positive experiences in these situations, they make the mistake of assuming that the functionality of implementing the live chat on the front end of their site will increase conversions or support sales.
It will, but ONLY IF THEY STAFF IT PROPERLY.
1. 24/7. Data shows users are on your website at all hours. That's the purpose of having a website. If you have live chat, especially on the front end, where you're trying to convert new users into customers, you better make a good first impression and not just have your unstaffed live chat be a glorified form - staff it.
2. Make sure the people "manning it" are subject matter experts. Yes, if you do this, your best people have to be on the live chat. It doesn't work to outsource it or have an intern say "let me have someone get back to you on that."
Sorry, but you know I'm right.
Put yourself in the user's shoes for a second. If you tried to engage as a prospective customer, and wanted to chat with someone right away, you could ask a question and get immediate answers. That is the purpose of the Live Chat functionality. Otherwise, you'd just call or fill out a form and wait for a response, thus killing the purpose.
So, the answer to "Does Live Chat Work For My Business?" is not binary. It can work. But only if you follow the best practices laid out above.
You have to ask yourself: "what's the purpose of live chat for my business?"
-to support existing customers?
-to drive new leads/sales by capturing visitors browsing my site?
Just because it feels good on a website you may visit, doesn't mean it's a simple plug-and-play solution for conversions.
The great thing about Live Chat, just like everything else I talk about, is that you can test it, get data, and see what works best - but going in with the knowledge about what it truly takes to do it well, will only help you in the long run.
Thanks for reading, and have a great day!
Paul Hickey, Founder / CEO / Lead Strategist at Data Driven Design, LLC has created and grown businesses via digital strategy and internet marketing for more than 10 years. His sweet spot is using analytics to design and build websites and grow the audience and revenue of businesses via SEO/Blogging, Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook and Instagram Ads, Social Media Content Marketing and Email Marketing. The part that he’s most passionate about is quantifying next marketing actions based on real data.