When is a live chat function really beneficial for online businesses?

Pros and cons of having a live chat function

AnyTalk, BoldChat, LivePerson… If you are an online business owner, you might have heard at least one of those names. From a simple to highly customised solution, there is quite a number of online chat services to choose from. As traditional customer support methods like phone and/or email are deemed too slow and unsuitable, live chat function seems to be the most appropriate way to nurture better customer relationships.

By all means, having a live chat with your (potential) customers help you build healthy relationships with them. Integrating a live chat software seems like a logical choice, particularly when customers are fed up with machine answering the phones and longer waiting times. In fact, ‘nearly a third of consumers now expect live chat to be available for contacting a business’ according to the Next Web.

But is it really good for your online business? When does live chat function fail to serve the customers? Having worked with a variety of digital projects, we have seen that not every business would find live chat feature as the optimal solution to consumer support and problems.

Redefining the purposes

The function addresses the shared goal of promptly solving the problems and answering the inquiries that customers have. It’s not only quick, but also simple and personalised way to connect with customers.

It is no surprise that many people prefer this than phone or email, considering how familiar we are to the concept of live chatting (such as WhatsApp and Facebook).

The benefits of using live chat services

  • Convenient for web visitors.
  • Cost effective for businesses. (For instance, a customer support can efficiently handle multiple chat conversations at the same time.)
  • Adds some personal touch than emails.
  • A way to beef up your sales performance and increase conversions (‘A whopping 77 percent of online shoppers want to contact a real person before buying’.).
  • It can take you straight to the source of customers’ pain points and get valuable customer insights. (Some software include locations, user behaviour, visitor profiles, analytics, etc.)
  • No longer being judged based on one’s accent.
  • No more awkward conversations.

live chat function example

When is it more effective?

While many reports promise the pros of using live chat services, it is also worth noting that this method is the most effective, provided that:

  • The chat window is found where it is most needed. On the other hand, a live chat placed in the least needed place/page is just an irrelevant and superfluous visual element.
  • Every user is aware of the service and where to find it. (This point is particularly crucial as not every visitor lands on the homepage.)
  • It does not distract the visitors from reading the web content.
  • It’s responsive. Some live chat features are not well adapted for mobile or tablet platforms or vice versa (Read more here). Nothing’s more frustrating than trying to type in a tiny window.
  • You are more likely to benefit from this function if you are a consumer-oriented online business.
  • You have the dedicated team to respond promptly to chat inquiries. Customers often expect quick and friendly responses from chats.

Use as a complement rather than a substitute.

We often forget that real-time customer support is not just limited to live chat. Social media is another powerful channel to connect with customers, solve problems and respond to their questions. For example, Twitter has proven to be effective in handling customer complaints real-time. In addition to the personal touch, social media also provide valuable customer insights – including user behaviours, trends and demographics.

What’s your unique business requirements?

Again, before jumping into choosing a live chat solution, it’s always a good idea to reevaluate what benefits it is likely to bring to your business, and the capacity to implement it effectively.

live chat function

What do you think?

Appnova is a digital agency specialising in web design, UX, eCommerce, branding, digital marketing and social media.

Keep following us on Twitter @appnova and “like” us on Facebook for useful news and tasteful digressions about geeky stuff.

(Cover image via judy_and_ed on Flickr)

 

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