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Should You Consider Live Chat For Your Website?

By Sue McCrossin

As a natural result of good marketing, you will begin to see increased traffic on your website. For some companies this is the time to consider adding live chat to your web pages. If you need to provide visitors with immediate assistance, explain complicated product options, and answer customer’s questions, it may be time for chat. Affordable and versatile, chat can provide you with an edge over your competition.

Companies in the following industries are already successfully using live chat: web hosting, software, real estate, finance, education, e-commerce stores, insurance, and law firms.

Why would you consider live chat? Here are some reasons:

  • You can use chat to engage visitors when you see signs that they’re about to abandon your site.

  • You can provide canned answers to your chat agents for them to be able to routinely chat with more than one visitor concurrently.

  • It could be a great opportunity to get instant feedback from site visitors.

  • Live chat allows visitors to speak with your staff online without dialing any number or writing emails.

  • Live chat can also show you the number of visitors who are currently visiting your site, even when they are not actively chatting.

  • You can integrate chat in a pop-up window that will open only when the visitor clicks on a hyperlink, therefore not interfering with the way visitors currently interact with your web pages.

  • Use the information you receive from live chat to refine your pay-per-click campaign search terms and trim expensive, unresponsive keywords from your campaigns.

  • Close more prospects because when you engage customers in a chat, they can ask the right questions and direct them to products compatible with their specific equipment. Consequently, your product returns will also go down.

What do you need to do to implement live chat?

  • Review your company’s FAQ’s and knowledge bases. If your company does not have this, you can begin by monitoring your customer service logs to build this knowledge base.

  • Implement the chat technology into your existing website and, if needed, your intranet. This way not only your clients, but also your employees can use the chat technology.

  • You will also need chat software compatible with your website platform. There are many free versions available, including Google Talk. However, if you want to engage the services of a third party to handle the additional customer support, you should think about using a call center service that specializes in online chat. They have the necessary processes and procedures that can be customized to your specifications, can you can get started right away. These services range in price from $40 to over $150 per month, depending on the features you wish to use.

Features of Many Chat Services:

  • Provide the chat client in an HTML version so that it will operate on all computers without anything to download or install.

  • Set up of a Pre-Chat Customer Form to capture information before the chat. This is particularly important for customer service chats.

  • Configure and automatic invitation to identify visitors with the greatest potential to buy, based on which pages they have visited, how long they remained on a page, where they came from, which keyword they used to find you, which items they have in their shopping cart, and whether they have previously purchased from your site. You can set up the rules for these chat invitations.

  • Set up a mode for email when online chat agents are not available. This 'leave a message' feature is a great way to generate leads after business hours.

  • Allow the visitor to print a record of the chat transcript at any time. Also, give them ability to have the chat script emailed to them.

  • After the chat, provide a customer survey form to see if the chat was helpful.

  • Chat on a secure connection. For this, you will need a 128-bit SSL encryption connection, and customers can provide sensitive information like credit card numbers securely.

  • View a customer’s desktop with screen sharing features.

  • Customer information collected during the chat session can be collected in your CRM database.

  • Since chat is web based, your representatives can send text, URLs and files to customer’s PCs.

If your intent is to deliver an in-store experience to an online customer, you may be ready for Live Chat. Some people even feel that Live Chat provides a better experience than a phone call because you can’t convey what a product actually looks like over the phone, but you can show it to the customer online with chat.

Sue McCrossin is a freelance writer.

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