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Theodore Lowe, Ap #867-859 Sit Rd, Azusa New York

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I’d really like you to think about installing live chat on your website, what comes to mind? Who will run it? Which platform to use? Will it cause more admin or expense? You may remember a certain meme which has been circulating, since probably the 80s, of a landline phone with “Pick me up, I make you money” taped to it. Live chat needs to have its day in the sun, “Use me, I will make you money or save you money”. Let me put my case forward, from a different paradigm than a business owner, and I’m sure you can learn to love this incredible tool.

Why am I a live chat advocate?

As a search marketer I absolutely love live chat – firstly, I’m biased and I want every single sale-enabler active on the site to amplify my ROI, secondly, it can provide validation on the quality of traffic. This conversation may have happened in your place of work, covering the topics that the people engaging in live chat are not ideal customers. Well guess what? turning live chat off will not whittle out this traffic, probing acquisition channels will. If you are having conversations with more people who are not potential customers than are, you have an acquisition problem – this isn’t a live chat problem. You can use live chat as a canary on how well your acquisition marketing is grabbing prospects and driving them to engage.

It’s just another outlet to complain, right?

Yes, and you should be relishing this. Live chat covers a spectrum between customers who are not wanting to email, call in or search for resolution. The window of opportunity often filled by live chat is quick fire questions which could dislodge a prospect from the fence into the customer camp. This position can cause frustration, if you hear ‘where is my order’, ‘I’ve been trying to do something’ or ‘this isn’t working’ – this untapped live feed from customer feedback can be incredibly valuable and reporting on key themes and key issues can really stir up internal dialogue.

Does it make commercial sense?

We’re likely talking spectrums here; low traffic website? live chat coverage should be easy. Having one or two members of staff logged in to deal with ad-hoc live chats can be easy to manage, a single sale will likely push additional profitability from staff. If you are in the ‘Choke’ stage, whereby it isn’t warranting full time coverage but can have spikes over being overwhelming, I’d consider having several agents logged in taking small amounts of chats. 1-2 chats over 5 agents is better than 1 taking 10. Gamify it too, give rewards to the highest rates chat agent or largest revenue driven, this will likely support with reluctance.

The final stage here, is often one I’m working on if I’m driving acquisition, the full time live chat. Deploying a sales agent on live chat often holds different dynamics to a dedicated live chat hire – why? Efficiency, typing speed and concierge. A typical sales agent will divulge into tactics they execute offline, either trying to drag prospect onto a call or email; not being fluid to what the customer needs. Also commercial passive-aggression to really drive sales can take away the helpfulness of live chat in general.

The bottom line from me.

Live chat gets a bad rap for problems it neither instigates or eliminates; it often sheds light onto key areas requiring attention. Conversations are not leading to the right outcome? Maybe an acquisition problem. No staff to cover live chat? What would you say if you didn’t have staff to answer the phones? Grade the volume and act accordingly. Ineffective staff on live chat or reluctance? Make a dedicated hire; it’s not a job you can be seconded into given the pressurised elements.