You’ve seen those live chat boxes appear when you visit a website – especially commercial websites selling services or large numbers of products. Casual browsers usually flick them off without even thinking about it. But people busy researching new purchases or scouting out potential business partners tend to use these chat boxes to imitate important conversations.

This week, the team is talking about how chat boxes work and the big reasons that your website – not matter how larger or small – may need one (and, as the team relates, how not everyone in the business may understand that!).

Before we head into the best reasons to consider a live chat box, let’s look at some stats. Studies have shown that 30% of customers now expect a live chat box when they visit a site, that this number can more than double when customers use a mobile device. JD Power surveys have even found that 42% of customers prefer live chat as a digital contact method, far more than email (23%) or social media (16%). The most popular reason appears to be the chat’s immediacy: It’s highly focused and allows for instant communication regarding products or questions. Unfortunately, fewer than 1 in 10 companies have any kind of web chat service.

Is a chat box sounding better now? Let’s go over a few more in-depth reasons why putting one up on your site (or at least directing people to a chat service like Facebook’s Business page chat) is a great idea.

Email Contacts Take Took Long

When email support services first came, they were an easy way to get into contact with a company and ask a very specific question. These days, they just take too long. Business emails can take 48 hours or longer to answer for busy companies, and that’s just not acceptable to today’s buyers. Priorities have changed, and now people prefer thier answers immediately.

This also helps a lot with lead management. The faster you can initiate conversations with a lead, the easier it is to hang onto them, and few options are faster than an instant chat window.

Competitive Advantage

When only 9% of companies have chat boxes (possibly much lower in your industry or region), then there’s a lot of competitive advantage to be had. Imagine researching products or services for your company: You’ve just visited a dozen different websites from businesses in the area, and they all look more or less the same. In fact, you’ve already forgotten most of them. Then you come across a new website, and while it may not look radically different from the others, a live chat box immediately pops up in the corner. You respond to the message, and start a conversation that yields the information you need, and leaves behind an unforgettable experience with the brand. That’s competitive advantage!

The Chatbot Option When You Aren’t There

“This sounds nice, but I can’t have someone sitting around all the time just waiting to talk on a chat box.” That’s a common response, and it makes a lot of sense! Fortunately, today we have chatbots, which can initiate the conversation for you, and – depending on the level of complexity – answer questions, pull product information, or even make sales. Of course, these chatbots can also alert appropriate sales or marketing staff so that a real person can take over the conversation, which is great for more complex questions.

Chats Can Span Social Media, Too

Your website isn’t the only place that can benefit from chat boxes. We already mentioned Facebook’s chat window options, and there are many excellent chatbot tools that also work with Facebook. If you see a lot of lead management on places like Facebook, then you can focus on your chat options there, giving you more freedom in how you talk to your audience.

You Have Lead Qualification Options

All right, but what should your chat box/bot actually say? Well, you have two options. The first is to customize the chat box for whatever page the visitor is on. For example, in a pricing page, the chat box can offer more information about current deals and discounts. For more general landing pages, the chat box can offer info about particular products or services. You get the idea!

Your second option is to make a simpler chat box greeting message that gets the point across and begins a conversation. Common openers include:

  • “Are you a [Blank]” – fill it in with your target customers, like “business owner” or “local contractor”
  • “Tell me more about why you’re here”
  • “What brought you here today?”
  • “What do you want to know about [product, service, etc]”
  • “Do you want some help with this?”

What do you think? Is your business ready for chatting options? Is there anything holding you back? Let us know on social media @21handshake! If you enjoyed this episode, please take time to rate us and share with someone else who may be interested. Thanks!