Live chatting is indispensable if you want to turn your website into an interactive communication tool. There’s no better way to prompt visitors on every page to enter into a dialog.
You are probably familiar with the live chat function on a website: at the left or right bottom of a web page there is a button, often shown as a speech balloon. When you click it, you can ask the support team a question that you expect to have answered as soon as possible.
Sometimes, the chat application will automatically ask a question as soon as the first page is loaded. This is, however, rather pushy. After the cookies notification this is yet another pop-up that your visitor wants to get rid of as soon as possible. Not the right approach!
If you want to take the first step in initiating a conversation, you need a smart approach. For instance, offer assistance 5 seconds after your visitor has landed on the page showing your rates and fees or another well-converting page. It is also a good idea to adapt your first question to the context, instead of using a "one-size-fits-all" text like "How can I help you?".
Here is a list of some typical live contact options that you can find on websites.
Study conducted by Kayako (2017)
The visitor wants an answer as quickly as possible. If you can offer a good answer in an automated manner, after analyzing his or her question, you should certainly make use of this possibility. As a robot can do this quickly you will be able to serve more visitors.
If the automatic answer is not satisfactory, the visitor must be able to indicate this and receive assistance. Your visitors should certainly know when they are speaking to a robot, and when they are being helped by a real live employee.
Chatbots are on the rise, but it is difficult to make them sufficiently user-friendly and collaboration between chatbots and real live support staff members is also hard to achieve.
A live chat should not be restricted to a support channel for your existing customers. You can also offer it on your marketing-oriented website, similarly to providing a telephone number or a contact form.
Live chat is a low-threshold form of communication. Visitors can even remain reasonably anonymous when asking a question.
It can be the beginning of a sales pitch. A positive experience during a live chat session on your website will guide the visitor further along through the sales funnel: doubts are alleviated or limited, advantages are emphasized even more strongly and trust is created between both parties. These are all important elements for a successful sale.
There is a great deal of chat software around. Often, it is part of a CRM or support software package. There are, however, also some stand-alone applications.
Some tools are available free of charge. Usually this is only offered as a first step towards a paying subscription. Most live chat tools are based on a subscription formula with a variable price. The price depends on the number of agents who answer questions online, or extra functionalities like artificial intelligence or integration with other tools.
Here are several tools with a free chat application:
An interesting free chat software application is Tawk.to. You can use this software free of charge, but for only one dollar an hour you can hire live agents to answer the incoming chats.
Please note: if you enter terms like online chat, live chat tools, or free live chat into a search engine you may be directed to XXX-rated websites. Certainly if you also want to add a WebCam functionality to your live chat button. NSFW!
If you are looking for live chat software you can also make use of the following comparison websites:
At Husky, we have been making use of live chat from the very beginning: first for support in the application itself, later on also on the website. After all, when using an online application you should be able to get help quickly if you have a question about it.
In the meantime, we are on our fourth tool, which we have been using for more than two years: Intercom. Highly recommended, as far as we are concerned.
It also took us some time to find the ideal location. Chat buttons are usually located at the bottom of the page, on the right-hand side. However, in our app this is where you can control a contextual sidebar (e.g. to add tasks and milestones, or to participate in discussions). That is why our chat button is located at the bottom left.
Always being able to respond to questions quickly is a challenge. Answering a support question during a meeting, or while driving, is quite difficult, for example. I sometimes park alongside a road to answer a question on my smartphone while opening my laptop with my free hand, ready to dig deeper when a customer has a question, or to offer clarification by using screenshots and screencasts (brief videos showing what is happening on your screen).
We want to respond super quickly, particularly during but also outside of office hours. A holiday period is even more challenging, but as many of your visitors will also be on vacation there will be fewer questions.
The live chat function certainly contributes to positive customer response to our support, as you can read in the reviews on Capterra.
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