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The surprising ways small businesses can be more efficient using live chats

Understanding customers has always been the key to improving conversion rates. Live chat is one more tool available to make this possible — you just need to use the functionality to its fullest potential.

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Customer experience is the single biggest differentiator for brands. It separates the wheat from the chaff, as they say. You can offer the greatest products around, but you won’t get far if your service fails to meet customer expectations. In fact, Ubisend found that 51 percent of customers now want 24/7 service from businesses.

Live chat allows businesses to meet this demand. When people visit a website, chances are good they’ll have questions. Live chat makes it that much easier to get answers. It enhances your brand story, supports your authentic voice, and levels the playing field for small businesses. Besides, more than 30 percent of customers expect this functionality.

How live chat can increase conversions

Even though customer service seems like the biggest advantage of live chat, this communication channel can do so much more for small or midsized businesses than answer questions and field complaints. Through a variety of means, live chat can help you make more sales faster.

Based on live chat conversations, you can often get an idea of how close participants are to making purchases and whether there have been any pain points along the way. This information is useful for improving customer service, removing any obstacles to purchase decisions, and as a supplement to other customer data.

But perhaps even more importantly, SMBs can gather a treasure trove of customer information via live chat — it can perform market research for you.

You can learn how long visitors have been on your site, what pages they viewed, and how they landed on your website in the first place. You can also pull their geographic location. This information can give you a better understanding of your target audience, which can help inform pricing, marketing, sales, and a bevy of other business functions to better position your brand in the marketplace.

This wealth of information is a tremendous asset for SMB owners, who might not have the time, resources, or money for lengthy sales cycles (or to chase down leads). You’ve opened up another channel to communicate with prospects. Handled correctly, it can increase your conversion rates.

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Perfecting the art of live chat

Live chat has incredible potential, but navigating these online conversations to convert average consumers into loyal customers requires a certain degree of finesse. Here are three great ways to begin optimizing your live chat platform:

1. Respond in real time. No one enjoys waiting — so much so a survey by Arise Virtual Solutions found that nearly two-thirds of consumers will hang up the phone after being on hold for two minutes or less. The average response time for a live chat can be longer than this, clocking in at 2 minutes and 40 seconds. If you aren’t responding to customers as quickly as possible — ideally within seconds — you aren’t taking advantage of your live chat functionality.

Businesses should prioritize taking care of their customer experience. (Source)

However, it might not be feasible for SMBs to have employees ready and waiting to answer live chat inquiries around the clock. It might make sense to outsource this task by relying on a company with expertise in the chat field, which can go a long way toward improving user experiences on your website. No matter the time zone, you’ll be able to offer around-the-clock support with a human touch often absent in the virtual space.

2. Move sales leads to the phone. It’s tempting to field all customer questions through live chat. You have the functionality, so why not use it? While live chat is great for simple questions about website UX issues, product descriptions, and order tracking, it has limitations.

What should you do when your live chat begins to catch leads? Get them on the phone to work toward conversion.  HubSpot reports that 41.2 percent of salespeople say the phone is the most effective sales tool.

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How you go about doing this is entirely up to you, but I’d suggest gathering the necessary information via chat, then scheduling a five-minute callback window. A lead response management study found that the odds of qualifying a lead decrease 21 times when a salesperson calls the lead in 30 minutes rather than five minutes. In this situation, haste does not make waste. 

3. Maintain the human touch. You might be using live chat to automate customer service, but it ends up bringing a human element to your website’s functions. Give customers the option to chat with live agents, and take the time to provide your agents with the information they need to handle customer questions.

To make the most out of this opportunity for human connection, identify the most-asked questions and come up with practical yet personable answers that employees can rely on for faster, more reliable service. Use appropriate slang, emojis, or other ways to show off your brand’s personality in text responses. Loop in a salesperson or marketer to ensure the responses properly address common pain points and serve the user. After all, 44 percent of online consumers say live support is one of the most important features of this functionality.

Understanding customers has always been the key to improving conversion rates. Live chat is one more tool available to make this possible — you just need to use the functionality to its fullest potential.

DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation for writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.

Shay Berman is the CEO and founder of Digital Resource, a full-service digital marketing agency located in South Florida. Shay’s clear-cut approach to internet marketing has driven his clients’ businesses to new heights and allowed Digital Resource to land on the Inc. 500 list after just four years. Digital Resource provides exceptional service in social media marketing, organic search engine optimization, responsive design, and much more.

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