Small businesses leaders and solopreneurs who have their smartphone tethered to their hip envision it as their lifeline to prospects and customers. But you may soon discover the lifeline is an actual albatross that constantly sucks your energy from you and interrupts important conversations and work. At the same time, offering only traditional engagement channels such as phone or email can prove inconvenient and frustrating to customers, who want to engage with business providers through an engagement channel of their choice.

Benefits of Live Web Chat

Wondering how live web chat might benefit your business? I’ve written about the value of live web chat for sales and customer service in past posts. Let’s take a quick trip through some of the scenarios.

1. Customers Want Live Web Chat Options

Customers want to use the engagement channel that fits their circumstances and nature of their inquiry best. Live web chat ranks at the top of the list when it comes to engagement preferences, with more than half of customers indicating they prefer live web chat over other channels. 

2. Expect Live Web Chat on Your Website

Nearly one-third of customers expect to find live web chat on your website and become quickly frustrated (or worse, they simply leave) if you force them to use other engagement channels. For those visiting your website on mobile devices, the expectation for live web chat doubles. The takeaway is that while businesses could forego offering live web chat a few years ago, that is no longer the case. 

3. Gain Engagement Efficiencies

Unlike phone engagement where a sales or customer service agent can field on engagement at a time, live web chat enables multiple concurrent engagement sessions—up to five or six depending on the nature of your business and customer inquiries.

4. Better Web “Returns”

Failing to offer live web chat on your website diminishes the likelihood that a visitor will come back. Nearly two-thirds of customers indicate they are more likely to return if a website offers live web chat.

5. Real-Time Engagement (“seconds count”)

Seconds literally count (viz., 60 seconds or less) when it comes customer engagement. Phone channels can quickly clog, forcing customers into lengthy wait queues. The majority hang up after 60 seconds. Worse yet, most of them never call back again. For sales inquiries, these directly translate into lost revenues. For customer service calls, phone wait queues result in customers leaving you for competitors who provide more engagement options. 

6. Close the Sale

Studies show that three-quarters of customers will not make a purchase on a website unless live web chat is offered. Without live web chat, they walk out your digital storefront, never to return. 

7. Pile Up the Shopping Cart

In addition to being more likely to make a purchase, customers who use live web chat buy more over the long run—upwards of 4.5x. Average order value goes up as well—by as much as 10%. 

8. Conversion Rates

Studies show customers are 40% more likely to purchase online when they engage with the business over live web chat. This makes a lot of sense; live human-to-human engagement builds an emotional connection that cannot occur over a website only. 

9. Customer Loyalty

Frustrated customers translate into dissatisfaction and what is frequently deemed detractors—customers who feel no attachment and passively or actively seek alternative consumer or business relationships. In contrast, those who are engaged, not only are loyal but willing to advocate on your behalf. With live web chat topping all engagement channels when it comes to customer satisfaction, the case for it is compelling. 

10. Faster Problem Resolution

In many instances, customers who use live web chat for help in resolving problems see faster problem resolution than those who use other engagement channels such as phone, social media, and email. Specifically, the ability to share screens over live web chat sessions enables customer service agents to hone in on a problem quickly and efficiently.

11. Customer Convenience

Often, it isn’t possible for your customers to engage over phone. For example, while at work, a customer has limited—or sometimes no—time to place a call. But in the case of live web chat, they can multitask, continuing to work or fulfill personal obligations. Over half of your customers cite this as a key reason why they use live web chat.

12. Competitive Advantage

While the numbers of businesses offering live web chat on their websites has growing exponentially in recent years, there remain numerous outliers and variances across industry segments. Businesses that offer live web chat have an advantage over competitors that do not.

13. Proactive Engagement

Live web chat enables you to proactively engage with website visitors based on their identity and behaviors. This helps you hone with whom you engage and with whom you don’t engage. 

14. Harvest Data

Live web chat captures valuable data used to gain deeper customer insights such as top service issues, webpages that generate the most live web chat engagements, and customer service agents who generate the highest levels of customer satisfaction. Use of natural language processing (NLP) moves analysis beyond numerical data to the actual language used—both by customers and your customer service agents.

15. Quality Control

You can quickly and easily pinpoint product and service issues identify process breakdowns with customer service and sales agents using both numerical and NLP analytics. 

Evaluating Your Live Web Chat Options

With the above in mind, there are a few considerations to keep in mind when vetting live web chat options:

1. No Resources, No Problem

Many small businesses lack the resources—and expertise—to offer live web chat engagement. But outsourcing live web chat to third-party providers like Davinci Live Web Chat services provides them with a cost-efficient, scalable option. 

2. From Static to Proactive Engagement

Look for a live web chat solution that offers static and proactive engagement. The latter needs to be based on both the identity of the visitor (viz., account-based marketing) and their behavior. 

3. Live Web Chat Interface

Brand experience is critically important in the digital era. Thus, it is pivotal to customize the color, size, text, shape, and image of your chat button. 

4. Integrations

Customers want integrated engagement experiences. You require live web chat that integrates with your web analytics, social media sites, customer relationship management system, and helpdesk and ticketing systems. 

5. Reporting and Analytics

Understand what data analytics are required to generate the business insights you need. Some of the outputs to consider include transcription, numerical and natural language data, and reporting. 

6. Security Protocols

Protecting customer data is a nonnegotiable. But it has never been more difficult to protect against malicious intrusions and data breaches. Here, it is important that you confirm that your live web chat provider prevents unauthorized data access, has the right network security protocols in place, and maintains a data backup plan and disaster recovery mechanism.

I could mention other factors such as reliability and availability (amount of permissible downtime), customer support and service level agreements (SLAs), and elasticity (viz., ability to accommodate seasonal fluctuations, etc.). But the above will provide you with a solid foundation on which to build your digital engagement strategy.