Chat is a tool that has made great strides over the years, in fact, it has particularly exploded in this last year as a lot of businesses are gradually moving towards having more conversations online. Who doesn’t prefer to chat online over picking up a phone? I sure do!
Chat is an incredible lead magnet, allow me to illustrate this potential by taking you on a great customer chat journey. I always install chat for any clients whom I take on board with consulting, first I run them through the pros and cons as I will do through this article below.
A business we consult for had a customer contact us one evening on chat, it was in the summer during a heat wave and the individual wanted to inquire about air conditioning options. Of course, he wanted to know about pricing as most customers do, and while I tried to guide him as best as I could, without having an in-home estimation there was only so much I could offer in terms of accurate pricing. If you aren’t in the business, you may not know that the size of the air conditioning unit depends on a few factors including square footage of your home, if your air conditioner is not the correct sized unit (in tons) for your home, then you will have issues in terms of efficiency and cooling the space appropriately. As such, I again suggested having an in-person estimator come out to this prospect’s home to provide a targeted quote. While there was persistence in wanting a chat-based quote, I pivoted to assuring the individual that not only are we committed to no pressure sales, but we also advocate second opinions. While the individual was still a bit hesitant and sceptical, he agreed to at least having an estimator call him the subsequent day. The result of the estimator working with the client over the phone the next day? The customer was so thrilled with being guided to the appropriately sized unit, combined with impeccable follow up customer service, that he bought two units totalling $18,000!
What’s the moral of the story? Chat works, in fact our chat program was paid for within that sale alone (perhaps even three times over). The affordable $20/month subscription turned into an $18,000 sale because it gave an opportunity for a prospect to feel comfortable in beginning an inquiry and eventually being supported to his comfort level in getting exactly what he needed. Next time someone tells you chat doesn’t work, is a headache for your customer service team, or that your CSRs have no time, I truly ask you to think twice about what you are losing out on as a business owner. Many people are hesitant or do not prefer to pick up the phone, so as a business owner you need to provide multiple opportunities for your targeted audience to begin conversations with you that can result in sales. With an extra $20 a month towards your marketing, you can really allow your business leads and sales to grow.
Here are some key tips for exploring chat for your business:
- Always stick to an actual chat-based program opposed to SMS based only tools. Our personal favourite is Intercom (https://www.intercom.com), Tidio (https://www.tidio.com), followed by Zen Desk (https://www.zendesk.com/chat). There is even a free based tool called Tawk.to (https://www.tawk.to/) that works well too.
- Again, avoid text-based (SMS) chat tools. While they do their job as intended, text-based chat is not a true online chat system. Online chat produces more leads, and offers the ability for customers to directly ask their questions, it is exactly like having an actual conversation. Another point to keep in mind is if you are exploring the text-based option is that customers may not be so inclined to give out their mobile phone number.
- Should you ask for the lead information? This is a sticky point, so I would personally do A/B testing. We have had far more success actually NOT asking for personal information (i.e name/email), and we find customers are more inclined to ask questions if they don’t have to give out personal information first. Remember, as individuals decide to be contacted (or become your lead, which they eventually will do), they will provide their information to you. We have found that there will be a higher chance of obtaining a first engagement if the request of contact information comes after allowing the ability to chat. Also, most programs offer the ability to request email or SMS (mobile number) if your company isn’t fast enough to answer, so this takes the pressure off of your team depending on their workload. A lot of consumers will leave their information too which allows you the ability to easily respond as time allows. [ insert screen shot below) – BOT / OPERATOR. ]
- Being personal WINS the day and WINS the customer over. Always train your CSRs to understand that chat is like having a conversation with your customer, it’s not just a casual text message with your “friends.” While this is business, you can still use emojis which customers love. Always use a person’s name while having a chat session (presuming you have this information) and close the session as well by thanking the customer by their name, it’s these personal touches that really begin to create customer relationships and eventual loyalty.
- Upload photos of your CSRs. Chats with photos get more initial engagement and your company looks much more professional in doing so. Most chat programs have this feature, be sure to activate it, yet again having a personal touch to your communications.
- Respond to chat’s as quickly as you can; always remember that chat’s close leads. When you respond as quickly and accurately as you can, a customer remembers this interaction as part of their customer journey. We’ve heard from several customers who have explicitly stated the CSR “looked after me, so I know the company will be there for me in the future.” Chat’s lead to sales, don’t ever underestimate this lead opportunity. When you answer questions thoroughly, even if the prospects tell you that they are still shopping around, you’ve already left them with a great experience.
- The biggest hurdle for any business is what will I do with chat after hours? It’s a huge question mark. Do you answer your chats in the evening, leave it closed and only take messages, hire an outsourcing agency? What’s our best advice? If you can manage it at night, depending on your business, you will get leads and it’s great to respond accordingly. However, many businesses may not be able to handle this coverage (especially small businesses owners who do not want to infringe on their time off from work or cannot afford to hire an employee for evening hours), while this is a valid issue, just be precise in letting prospects know the hours in which they can expect to have their messages returned. It is our emphatic advice that you DO NOT outsource your chat unless you are a massive corporation with a lot of customers. Keeping things as personal as possible always drives the best results. Our experience as a small business who has trialled a few outsourcing companies, resulted in poor quality of responses and ultimately client frustration. It all comes down to industry expertise and the ability to authentically answer client questions. Chat is a frontline impression with potential customer, make sure it represents your company effectively.
Have you used an online chat tool you are really happy with? Have you outsourced your chat program? Let us know in the comments below.