Businesses have been adding live chat on their websites to improve customer service and increase sales. The barrier to adding this feature is low and there are many cheap or even free options. But they should not be used by everyone. Here are the pros and cons of using live chat on your website and some tips on how to install it.
- Immediate access for customers.
Customers can sometimes spend long amounts of time looking for the best way to contact you. With live chat (which pops up automatically on most websites where its implimented) customers dont have to search around to find you.
- Better use of employee time
Whereas calls and emails only allowed employees to handle one customer at a time, instant chat allows them to handle multiple interactions simultaneously in a stress-free way. This saves them (and you) lots of time.
- Very affordable
Getting started is free and paid lans are incredibly cheap considering the features they come with. This means even new or small businesses can start today.
- Improves brand image
Instant chat is viewed in a very positive light by consumers and reflects well on your brand and company. Assuming you are doing it correctly, there is an increased chance the customer will walk away with a higher option of your business.
- Less emotional exhaustion
One-on-one interactions like phone calls and office visits can be a drain on our daily emotional batteries. This is much less so with instant chat. This is the case for the customers as well.
- Non-intrusive for customers
Customers can continue to browse and get on with other things while on instant chat with you, which is always appreciated.
- Prevents cart abandonment
Sometimes a small question or concern can derail a purchase. Having an instant chat allows them to resolve their issue and continue quickly.
- Multilingual support
Many instant chat programs now come with automatic translation for foreign languages.
- Automation and chatbots
Automation makes it even easier to respond to customer needs. You can add answers to your most frequently asked or complex questions so you don’t need to type it out every time.
- Last chance before a bad review.
If a customer feels they have had a bad experience or can’t reach you, often instant chat will be the last chance to make it right before they leave a bad review. This isn’t hypothetical, it’s something that happens surprisingly often.
- Encrypted and secure
Instant chat programs are all encrypted to keep your customer’s information secure. This is especially important where customers need to share sensitive information.
- It’s popular with customers
77% of customers say it’s a preferred method of communication. Only 44% stated phone calls were a preferred method and 33% said they expected instant chat as a feature.
- Possibility for data collection and marketing insights
Serving your customers through instant chat is a great way to get valuable insights into how customers feel about your products or business. People on instant chat tend to be more relaxed and open to sharing.
- Feels impersonal to some users
Some users find instant-chat to be less personal than face-to-face or phone calls and may think less of your business because of it. This number is relatively small, however.
- Not as popular amongst seniors
Another group that may prefer live chat is the older generation who still prefer a more personal approach. If your business mostly serves seniors this may be something to avoid.
- Need to be online all the time
If you don’t always have access to the internet you won’t always be available to answer questions. This may be particularly difficult during peak hours when all employees might be busy with other issues.
- If not properly implemented it can harm your business
Every missed message increases the likelihood of a bad review or a loss of customers. Badly implemented instant chat makes this a lot more likely.
- Employees can get complacent
Without proper supervision and a good system, I’ve seen employees get complacent with instant chat and start missing messages. This is especially true for small websites with little traffic.
- Some employees don’t ‘get it’
While telephones have been around forever, website instant chat is still relatively new and may be an uphill struggle for some employees, despite most being relatively easy to use.
Only businesses that can effectively insert it into their customer service system can make full use of instant chat. Companies that come at it half heatedly or don’t make plans to always be online during work hours will see real negative impacts like loss of customers or bad reviews. This is especially true for companies that already have poor customer service. For example, an online retailer I installed instant chat for found their negative reviews went up because customers were already having a hard time reaching them. In many of the reviews the missed messages in instant chat were seen as a last straw.
On the other hand instant chat could be a saving grace for companies that are about to get a negative review. A good instant chat conversation can turn around a negative experience and even promote a good online review. I’v seen this happen multiple times. Companies that are tring to imprve their online reputation may find instant chat a fast and effective way to do that.
Instant chat is a powerful tool for saving time and getting more sales, but only if implemented seriously and with a plan or system in place for continued good use. Companies that do not take the time to do it right will see much more negative effects. Ask yourself if you can make the time to make this an integral part of your customer service and you may find it becoming a valuable asset.
If you’re looking to get started for free we recommend Chaport for its easy setup, always free plan, and great features. We have not been rewarded for this endorsement.
Jolly Good Media is an Oregon City web design and online marketing business. We can help you install instant chat on your website and put systems in place for correct usage. Check us out online for more information.