Live chat services are one of the most prolific trends in digital marketing in 2019. Customer facing websites from a vast array of different industry sectors have been routinely adding this functionality to demonstrate their dedication to fast, efficient service. Though there are undoubtedly numerous benefits to this style of customer interaction, there are also a few downsides that should be considered before you decide to add live chat to your own site.
- Convenience for the customer
Most live chat services don’t require customers to log in or provide email details to ask a simple question. This means total convenience and offers website visitors the opportunity to find out more about the services you offer without having to pick up the phone or open their emails. Messages can be received instantly and providing y
- Immediate feedback, both good and bad
If something goes wrong with your website, ordering system or another essential element of your business, you need to know about it as soon as possible so you can fix the problem. Live chat gives you a direct, real-time connection to your website users, which means that your customers can actually alert you to any broken links or other avoidable errors. Though this isn’t an ideal scenario, it’s still preferable to finding out days or even weeks after the problem occurred.
Though customers are generally less likely to contact you directly to praise something, in some cases, this does happen. If you’ve provided a particularly good experience for someone, they may use the live chat functionality to let you know. Just like negative feedback, this gives you the chance to pass the information on to all of your staff to make sure they know their work is appreciated.
- It creates a professional first impression
Even if your website is pretty simple, a live chat functionality says you’re fully aware of the latest developments when it comes to digital customer service and is likely to instill confidence in a potential customer. Even simple, automated webchat services that are linked to things like FAQ pages can be a helpful way for your new users to explore what you have to offer. Though many businesses are starting to understand the huge potential live chat has, it is still something that a lot of small and medium sized business owners forget to include. Essentially, a direct link to something that feels human and immediate will create an experience that feels more personal than just scrolling through a simple one-page WordPress site.
- It can seriously help lead generation and even conversion
When somebody visits your website in the middle of a browsing session, it’s difficult to gauge whether they’re likely to convert from an interested party to an actual customer. Live chat services mean that they can make direct, specific inquiries that you or your customer service team can answer in a matter of minutes. (Or seconds, if you’re really on the ball.) Almost like an additional call to action message, the live chat section creates a sense of immediacy that encourages potential customers to make contact, rather than just passively browsing. For this to be effective, you’ll need to make sure that your live chat service is staffed at all times or at least during business hours. To avoid any missed opportunities, adding an automated response for out of hours contacts can be a simple but effective safeguarding tactic.
- It can be unnecessary
Not every website will benefit from the addition of live chat. Certain industries or types of business will have very little need for this level of customer service and in some cases, especially for those on a tight budget, this kind of additional extra can be costly, yet ineffective. As the technology begins to spread, live chat will become commonplace on most websites, but at present, it makes sense to wait until you have enough traffic to warrant the additional expense and set up time.
- Chatbots and Automation can still feel impersonal
There are several advantages to using live chatbots. You can provide an immediate response, immediate engagement and a gateway for urgent questions. This isn’t always the case in practice, though. Many companies use automation for speed and efficiency, linking chatbots to key sections of their website to answer any frequently asked questions. Though this is fine for customers who have standard inquiries, more specific requests should always be handled by a human member of staff whenever possible. Being directed to numerous links, none of which contain any relevant information can be as frustrating as getting no answer at all. Similarly, the language that many chatbots use can make the experience feel less authentic, so although this kind of approach can be helpful for managing out of our questions or during busy periods, it isn’t always enough to genuinely improve user experience.
- Abuse, spam, and unwanted interactions
The reality of the online world isn’t always pleasant and though it’s important for businesses to maintain a professional presence at all times, angry or abusive messages can be commonplace among frustrated customers. Unlike email or phone calls, live chat can make people sound abrupt, impolite or even rude. The immediacy of the platform means that users are accustomed to being given the information they are looking for quickly and without any fuss. If this doesn’t happen, people can become impatient. Live chat windows can also be another opportunity for scammers and spammers to make contact with you. Though this is thankfully quite rare, it can be extremely frustrating as blocking or banning people from these services isn’t always easy.
Like most things, live chat is only really worth considering if you are willing to put in the effort to manage it correctly. Companies who use staff members to answer questions and provide genuine, real-time support to their users usually reap considerable rewards by offering this service. Conversely, those who rely too heavily on automation or don’t invest enough of their time and resources into these projects can find they create just as many problems as they solve.