Should your small business website site invest in life chat this year?

By Lexie Lu

Customer service policies drive loyalty and word-of-mouth advertising for your small business. No matter what industry you’re in, you likely have a number of competitors, so it’s important to stand out from the crowd. One way of doing that is offering features smaller businesses don’t always offer, like live chat.

There are many benefits to adding live chat to your website, as well as a couple of cons. Isn’t that how things typically go in life? Here’s everything you need to know about live chat so you can make the right decision for your company.

-Drive repeat sales

Customers value high-quality support, and about 52 percent state they’re more likely to buy again from a company offering live chat support. Acquiring a new customer costs more than keeping the ones you already have, and current customers spend more per purchase. Driving repeat sales is an excellent perk of live chat.

Live chat likely helps retain customers because customer service agents solve problems by pushing a few buttons on the keyboard. Almost half of consumers say they prefer live chat to telephone support.

-Increase sales

There’s something about talking to someone and getting your questions answered before committing to a purchase that adds a level of trust to the transaction. Live chat is the next best thing to face-to-face customer service.

Camping World offers a live chat feature on its website, which is a smart move since people buying campers are spending a lot of money and want to be sure they get value from their purchase. A live chat allows them to answer any questions on the fly and also gives Camping World a chance to collect the potential customer’s name and email for future reference.

-Reach generation Z

Generation Z is the first one to have grown up entirely with digital and the internet. They’re savvy and discerning consumers and expect your site to offer an excellent customer experience. Adding features, such as live chat, enhances the overall experience and shows the younger generation you care about reaching them in ways they prefer to communicate.

-Implement easily

Adding live chat to your site doesn’t have to be complicated. The simplest way to do so is through third-party software such as MyLiveChat, which integrates with WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and more popular platforms.

NARS Cosmetics sells high-end makeup. Its live chat offers two different options. Users can get help from customer service for an order or talk to a NARS artist. The company provides highly relevant live chat based on the consumer’s needs.

-Overtake the competition

Consumers prefer live chat. They like the convenience of chatting online, and they spend more money when they receive immediate answers to their questions. Around 92 percent of people report feeling satisfied when using live chat features, but many businesses still ignore live chat for their websites, feeling it is too time-consuming or costly.

Stand out from the competition by adding live chat to your site and meeting the expectations of your customers.

Con: Staffing the chat

One drawback to adding live chat to your site is staffing it. Your chat should be available at least during business hours. The agents answering your live chat also need to be fully trained in your customer service policies and able to answer any questions about your products and services. Training staff takes time, money and attention to detail.

Con: Forcing customers to repeat themselves

There are occasions where a live chat agent can’t solve the problem a customer has. In a situation where the customer is already frustrated, having to repeat themselves to another agent over the phone or via email may be a deal-breaker that drives them from doing business with you again.

Be aware of some of the issues with live chat and plan ahead. Create communication across channels, so customers don’t have to repeat themselves. Think through the problems you may run into and solve them before they occur.

Trending customer service model

Live chat is a trending customer service model, and something consumers appreciate more and more. If you don’t already use live chat on your website, even adding a simple plugin to your site is a good place to start. As your company grows, you can hire on additional support staff and invest in more intricate software. Soon your business will be chatting up a storm, and you’ll be reaping the benefits. Talk about success.

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Lexie Lu is a web designer and CX enthusiast. She enjoys covering topics related to UX design, web design, social media and brandingFeel free to subscribe to her design blog, Design Roast, or follow her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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