Engagement in the digital age happens in a blink. No longer are customers willing to wait on an email response in 24 hours or to place a call and wait in a queue to speak with a live sales or service agent. This wasn’t the case before the advent of the digital age, when customers relied almost exclusively on voice as their engagement channel with vendors. However, with the advent of the digital age, expectations changed quickly. Customers expect their vendors to offer them the same digital engagement channels that they use in their personal lives. 

At the same time, digital first impressions for customers are pivotal. A decade ago, first impressions were associated with initial human-to-human interactions—either voice or face to face. But the digital age completely transformed this paradigm. Often, the first interaction is now via a digital channel; everything from email campaigns, to online banner ads, to a company’s website. And it takes a matter of five seconds or less for that first impression to form.

Customers Want Digital Engagement Options

Having a great website in terms of aesthetic appeal and navigational design is a must and critical starting point. Three-quarters of users admit making judgment about a company’s brand credibility based on web design. 

But it is more than just website design that you should be worried about. Customers want engagement options—whether buying, seeking answers to a question, or looking for help to resolve a problem. There are various factors that small businesses and solopreneurs need to consider. In an earlier blog post, I delineated nine different digital considerations, with website design as one of them. 

A big mistake that too many small businesses and solopreneurs make is to think they simply need to offer visitors customized web content, along with voice and email contact options. Rather, customers want the ability to reach out in real time, using the device and engagement channel of their liking, for help questioning and solving issues. And even though self-service continues to score high with online visitors (increasing from 67% to 81% in recent years), live web chat—and even chatbots—are frequently the preferred primary channel after self-service options fail. Anytime, anywhere, and any channel on any device is quite apropos.

The above doesn’t mean that voice doesn’t still garner sway with online visitors. Rather than viewed as an entry-point or primary engagement channel, customers see it as an escalation mechanism. They want to solve simple, straight-forward issues with self-service knowledgebases and leverage live web chat as the initial engagement channel. Digitally savvy customers turn to voice as a last resort when none of the above answer their question or solve their problem. 

Live Web Chat Is a Must

Live web chat, however, isn’t feasible for every small business, let alone solopreneurs. It requires that you are always on and available to chat with customers. It also assumes that you have the expertise and bandwidth to configure and manage the live web chat solution. Furthermore, with live web chat only resolving a portion of inquiries, customers expect to have a seamless experience as they move between digital engagement channels. This means that you must have back-end integration between your voice, email, live web chat, and other digital engagement channels. Time and cost quickly become prohibitive, and you remain at a competitive disadvantage to larger businesses that have the resources to build and manage omnichannel engagement models.

The good news is that you can outsource live web chat to providers such as Davinci Virtual. In the case of Davinci Virtual, its service and sales agents are configured in teams that serve multiple customers, enabling Davinci Virtual to offer cost-effective options that accommodate small business and solopreneur budgets. Additionally, its various engagement channels are integrated, thereby ensuring customers’ customers have a seamless experience regardless of engagement channel—email, text, voice, and live web chat. 

Business Outcomes of Live Web Chat

The benefits businesses of live web chat are well documented. Following are some of the ways live web chat generates value:

• Bounce rates.

For e-commerce companies, reduce bounce rates. Fifty-three percent of U.S. customers say the will abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to a question. 

• Advocacy.

Valuing and respecting customers’ time cannot be underemphasized. Seventy-three percent of customers indicate valuing their time is the most important thing that a business can do when providing them with a good digital experience. Offering live web chat as a virtual real-time human-to-human engagement mode goes a long way in assuring customers that you value their time.

• Cost.

Research shows that live web chat is cheaper than voice by at least 33 percent—both for organizations managing live web chat in-house and for those that outsource it.

• Cart Abandonment.

Sixty-nine percent of online carts are abandoned. Over half are more likely to make a purchase if they have assistance via live web chat. 

• Sales.

The amount of additional revenue live web chat can generate for an online retailer varies, depending on the study in question. For those using live web chat, upwards of 20 percent of revenue often occurs after live web chat. Without live web chat, this revenue would not have been realized. 

Live web chat can be quickly and easily added to your website. Get started today by determining which Live Web Chat Plan from Davinci Virtual is right for your business.