5 Reasons Why Live Chat is The Untapped Potential for Your Business

The trouble with online shopping is that many customers are disconnected from someone who can answer their questions in real time with precision. Rather than watching potential customers click away from their e-commerce sites, many businesses have been adding live chat support. As it turns out, live chat has the ability to provide the convenient answers that customers want, while also adding significant benefits to the staff and bottom line of companies.

In this post we’re going to get into why live chat can improve your business and tips on how to maximize its effectiveness.

1. Live Chat is Convenient for Customers

live chat is convenient

A study called “Making Proactive Chat Work” that was conducted by Forrester Research found the following:

“Many online consumers want help from a live person while they are shopping online; in fact, 44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a Web site can offer.

An online chat system provides customers immediate access to help. Wait times are often much less than a call center, and customers can easily multi-task while waiting. Additionally, the pain of having to dial a 1-800 number and navigate through a maze of numeric options is non-existent.

An ATG Global Consumer Trend study found that 90% of customers consider live chat helpful and an emarketer.com survey found that 63% were more likely to return to a website that offers live chat. The report goes on to say:

“62% reported being more likely to purchase from the site again. A further 38% of respondents said they had made their purchase due to the chat session itself. All these attitudes were even more prevalent among respondents who bought online at least weekly.”

2. Live Chat Cuts Down on Expenses

live chat cuts down expenses

Live chat software has consistently demonstrated that it can save on both employee task time and phone expenses. Some of the most notable cost savings are:

  1. Live chat reduces overall contact center costs by lowering average interaction costs.
  2. Increases efficiency by allowing live chat representatives to handle multiple chats simultaneously, thus reducing the need to hire more representatives.

With employees spending less time on the phone, they can multi-task during chat conversations and cut the waiting queue to a fraction of its former size when compared to a call center. Not only is this a process improvement but it increases the chances of overall sales (which we’ll get into next!).

3. Live Chat Increases Sales

live chat increases sales

The general trend among users in marketing forums and on blogs is that live chat on a website can generally lead to improved sales numbers. Forbes magazine reported in a recent study:

“In 2008, Wells Fargo made a second attempt to leverage online chat to drive sales, and happily, this time the results have been crystal clear. High customer satisfaction scores and a double-digit increase in converted shoppers have shown the value once and for all of this technology.”

The key is that customers have someone who can immediately walk them through a sale if they become confused or have a question that can make or break a sale. This helps eliminate bounces away from retail websites and ensure that full shopping carts make it through check out.

Website designer Cory Miller of iThemes regularly uses Provide Support for his business, and he has noticed increased opportunities for upselling products. Once customers are engaged with an employee who can understand their needs, the employee is in a perfect position to recommend additional purchases that may be the perfect fit for that particular person.

4. Live Chat Gives You An Edge of Your Competition

live chat gives you an edge over the competition

A recent study by TELUS International found that many top retail businesses are not offering chat. If you want to gain an edge on the competition, live chat is a key feature that websites must have in order to be competitive and to hopefully rise to the top. In fact, live chat provides a simple way to connect with customers who spend a good deal of their money online. The report by E-Marketer found:

“Almost two in 10 live chat respondents did more than 75% of their holiday shopping online, compared with 14% of those who did not chat. A further 25% of chatters made 51% to 75% of their purchases on the Web, versus just 10% of those who did not participate in the chat service.”

If you aren’t convinced that live chat is for your business, check out this study conducted by Bold Chat. The cost savings and convenience for both staff and customers makes live chat not only a viable option for businesses today, but an essential tool for any company that thrives on providing excellent customer service.

5. Live Chat Taps into Customer Pain Points

live chat paint points

A customer’s frustration or need that has yet to be filled is called a pain point, and marketing teams mine social media and message boards for these pain points. Marketers such as Markus Allen turn these pain points into profit: “Armed with these pain points, we can either write new content (for a blog or for an article) or create benefits/advantages for our advertising.” In addition, pain points can turn into sales opportunities with customers.

Live chat provides immediate access to customers’ pain points. When customers use live chat, they’ll try to ensure that a product will perform as advertised or that a promotion will provide the discount they want. In addition, as live chat representatives talk to customers, they can find out ways to improve a company’s products and services.

Tips on Making Live Chat go the Extra Mile for Your Business

Live chat can obviously increase your business potential, but only if it’s executed correctly. Here are some important tips to ensure you make the most out of live chat software:

  • Train your team! Your live chat representatives have to be extremely knowledgeable about your inventory and website navigation. Provide cheat sheets and FAQs to improve their performance and to make it easier for them to answer your customer’s questions quickly.
  • Be aware of your shopping hours. If you own an online soccer shop in California, there is a chance that most of your visitors are international. Use analytics to determine when most of your visitors are using your site. Don’t assume 9 to 5 chat hours will work. If you have a problem sourcing local employees to cover off hours, consider outsourcing help using services like Odesk or Elance.
  • Don’t be too robotic. The whole point of having live chat available is to provide warm, human help to a customer’s shopping experience. Having robotic greetings or responses can kill the effectiveness of live chat.
  • Consider hiring people with sales experience. For the most effective use of live chat, consider using inside sales people and not just customer service representatives. People who have sales experience will more likely lead customers towards sales and increase the possibility of upselling.
  • Don’t forget to boost your social. When your live chat representatives receive positive feedback from online visitors and customers, consider instructing your representatives (or sales people) to nicely remind your visitors to Like your Facebook page and leave a comment on it.
  • Be prepared for surges in chat volume. Customers need to understand that they are in a queue and a representative will be with them shortly, if not immediately.
  • Give your customers helpful chat features. Customers will also need to be able to modify the font size and to request a transcript of the chat.

Thankfully, all chat software websites provide live chat support, so you can test their products while you shop around.

Besides finding the right software, companies using live chat will need to provide specialized training for their employees. Live chat is different from a phone call, since all replies must be short sentences that get right to the point. Long paragraphs don’t work in live chat. There is an art to knowing when to ask a question and when to offer solutions or additional products.

Choosing the Right Live Chat Package for Your Business

If you want to get started on live chat today, be sure to scan this list of chat software reviews. There are plenty of great options when it comes to live chat software, so choose the program that offers the best interface and simplest integration into your website. Here’s a small list of some of the best live chat solutions out there:

  • Bold Chat – Tends to focus on solutions for Ecommerce websites. Bold Chat serves 24 of the Internet Retailer Top 500 and 85 of the Second 500.
  • Livezilla – Features include: Richtext Chats, Global Canned Messages, File Transfer, E-Mail Transcripts, (Automated) Proactive Chat Invites, Operator to Operator Chats and more.
  • Live Person – Creates meaningful, real time customer connections that help businesses
    increase conversions and improve consumer experience.
  • Kayako – Help desk software that lets you manage email, tickets, live chat, calls and remote support.

Now It’s Your Turn

Have you use live chat on your website. What was your experience? Please let us know in the comment below!

About the Author: This guest post is written by Lior Levin, a marketing professional who advises for a neon sign store that provides custom made neon signs, and who also works for a psd to html company.

  1. We use it on our site http://www.kickofflabs.com. I agree with all these reasons. We use Olark for our service.

    True story that relates to sales. Someone was visiting our site and asked me to tell him what we did better than our competitors. I asked in return “Where you able to chat with any of them today online?”. He said “no :)”, signed up, and paid for our service that day. :)

    • How do you find olark? Iv been wondering whether to replace whoson with olark but cant really work out the advantages other than it looks pretty.

  2. I’ve used website chat many times. This article has inspired me to recommend that my wife start using it for happyherbivore.com diet plans. We are currently using kissinsights to ask for feedback but I think this will be better which has already help us sell more.

  3. Scott, be sure to read these post on KISSinsights – you might find more inspiration :)

    http://blog.kissmetrics.com/build-a-better-product-video/
    http://blog.kissmetrics.com/why-visitors-arent-signing-up/

  4. I been using snap engage for about a month or so and I love it, i’m converting about 10% of my site visitors to leads.

    and yes this is an affiliate link below, however I would never recommend something i don’t use myself
    http://www.snapengage.com/partner?ref=islickmedia

  5. Live chat really s better than any method of interacting with customers!!!

    As i am a customer, i prefer being in their most interactive and that satisfies me!

    Two thumbs up!

    Visit Crumblrr today!

  6. Great article Lior, you are so right, ever since we have started using live chat on our webshop, we have seen increasing sales and quite a few return customers.

    We have been using http://www.livezilla.net, but we found quite a few issues with it being a self hosted solution, the other solutions you have mention above all looks great, but are also quite expensive (kayako, live person).
    Right now we’re using http://www.zopim.com but it’s a flash based solution so there is quite a few limitations. So we’re looking at http://www.boldchat.com and http://www.csupporthq.com at the moment, which both seem to offer some nice features.

  7. I agree, live chat is a great feature for businesses to have. It minimizes frustration from long wait times or navigating through an automated system. Consumers these days are always looking for something quick and easy and live chat is exactly that!

  8. We use live chat on a daily basis and has increased the total volume of leads by leaps and bounds. However, the downside to this is that it’s created a ton of overhead due to low quality leads. We’ve found the best way to handle this,after a year of testing, was to create a position which explicitly handles our chat program.

  9. Great article and I have seen first hand how well chat translates into new sales. One of the top conversion points on my site.

    You missed a good candidate: snapengage.com. very easy to operate and deploy. Works with gchat. Just wish it had analyics integration.

  10. Nice article, but I am disappointed that it didn’t feature ClickDesk. But I guess it’s been a while.
    I prefer ClickDesk (www.clickdesk.com), which is a cloud hosted live chat service. The set up is easy. You can receive chats through your preferred IM like Gtalk or Skype and they also offer VoIP support. They also have plenty of customizable options; so far I’ve not had any problems with them.
    P.S – I don’t work for them; I am just a happy customer.

  11. The article is absolutely true and highlights why I am suggesting my clients to add live chat to their websites. Especially online retailers can have a lot of benefit through this contact channel. We have worked with Userlike (www.userlike.com) which offers a beautiful design and is specialized on small to medium sized websites. They offer a free version which I am also using for my blog.
    P.S – as Robert said: I dont work for them but I am a happy customer and partner.

  12. Hey, if you’re looking for a free solution you should check Denise Systems software. A free edition offers for example audio & video chat. More information you’ll find here: http://www.denisesystems.com/index.php/menu/products/live_chat

  13. I’ve had some experience setting up accounts and quick training resources with a few chat engines. Live Person was one (it rocks), I forget what the other one was. Hmm. Maybe that means something. We’ve all used a live chat in some form or other for customer service I’m sure and for myself I have to say it’s always been a positive experience. If I can add another aspect to the discussion though I also found (felt really, by the feedback) that the people behind the chat we’re 1) excited about the prospect, and 2) quite happy about the enhanced level of service they could provide. The operators, who traditionally don’t know what to expect when the phone rings, were all too happy to hear the beep of someone with an online query. Almost like a game, that beep means validation as an employee ensues (and easily juggling a half dozen clients to boot), as opposed to answering a phone, which we all abhor so much when it happens a hundred times a day that we’ve turned it over to phone bots (ARGH!).

    So my point is, it’s not only good for your clients, it’s good for your people too.

  14. This article is really nice, and informative to online businesses. Truly, online chat support is really a convenient way for customer to ask for help or support. Details can’t be miss out, you can communicate clearly and its convenient on both sides. I know of one a company that is offering a chat support who cater in generating sales and revenue, it really does help a lot to website aimingfor higher sales and revenue. You might want to check out yellowhead.pro – a friendly and professional agent is waiting on the landing page to answer any of your questions.

  15. This is a brilliant write-up, I can’t tell you how much live chat has helped my business. Hope to see widespread adoption in the future at least.

    My personal favorite for live chat is ClickDesk – http://www.clickdesk.com/

  16. If anyone needs a free live chat CRM plugin then give Desk Plugin a try.
    It’s a free ajax/jquery live chat plugin and fully customizable.
    Go to http://www.deskplugin.com and register.

    Customization is possible without any jquert/ajax/javascript knowledge.

  17. Very nice blog! Mentioned real good points. I totally agree with the article. Live chat has become the basic need for any commercial website. I am using one for my own use too named Banckle Chat. Real-time difference and increased traffic has been observed. I recommend you all to try this app. http://banckle.com/apps/chat/overview.html

  18. Some useful points. We use live chat and it’s fairly popular as a first point of contact for new clients if they prefer not to call – giving them another method of contact must be good! We’ve also picked up a few international clients through the chat system. We now recommend live chat to many of our clients whether in ecommerce or a service industry.

  19. I use http://www.imsupporting.com , The software is webbased so we can access it anywhere.
    Live chat has really helped us!

  20. Live chat is really helpful in an e-commerce site. Most of the visitors can be a potential customer/client of your product. There are lots of questions formulating in their mind and the best way to solve their problems is by having a live chat tool in your site. In this way, you can directly answer any questions in real time and convert this visitors to customers. One of the fastest chat tool and totally free is http://www.offerchat.com . Try it and make every visitors of your site counts.

  21. This post comes at the right time when I’m handling an e-commerce client. I shall make him read this article to challenge his reluctance to include a live chat.

  22. Thanks for posting a good article on the benefits of using live chat software. I don’t think many e-commerce owners understand the true benefits of offering another channel for visitors to talk to sales/support staff. Visitors often don’t want to talk on the phone, or wait for an email reply — they want a response instantly and anonymously (which live chat services can provide).

    Josh Seeley
    GotLiveChat.com

  23. This helped clarify what Live Chat is and how it could potentially help my business.

  24. Personally speaking, Chat4Support.com should be on the list of powerful live chat software. It is featured by live chat support and website and visitor monitoring.

  25. We have been looking into live chat for our website for a while. The boss was not too sure as he was worried it would take up too much time and not make much of a difference but after reading this i think we will be trialing a live chat system and i shall post back the results.
    Thanks very much for the information its been very helpful.

  26. Great article Lior. For those who are looking for just the chat software you have the right recommendations, but as a mid size company we shy away for long time because it was resisted by our staff who were already spread too thin. We couldn’t dedicate a full time resource unless the volume justifies, kind of chicken n egg.
    Luckily we found ViaLiveChat.Com which offers a solution free of cost to start with, and provided their own chat agents to take the online chats. Their business model is different and they charge /new lead basis, may not work for some businesses but worked perfectly for us. So far we are very happy with them.
    Keep up the good work.

  27. Timothy Cocores Feb 28, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Awesome article, it is good to read an article about live chat support software that isn’t biased on a company. :) I would love to see an updated version of this list with my company added to it. http://www.heybubble.com live chat software

  28. Very good article. We’ve recently started using Nero Chat and it works great for our site.
    Definitely will recommend it to the online businesses who wants to interact with their visitors.

  29. Awesome. Its very helpful for webmasters to subscribe live chat tool for website. I have started using live chat feature a year back and definitely helped us to enhance customer support which leads to increase revenue.

    Features versus Price, Live2Support is the best.
    http://www.live2support.com/features_live_chat.php

  30. Nice article! From our (practioner’s) perspective, several tools mentioned above are highly capable with proactive engagement features, but what’s more important than the technology is, the workflow, contextual knowledge, people hired and cost of managing it. So with so many options in place, you won’t goof up much with either of them, as long as you can create WOW! Good luck to everyone.

    James @planbpo

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