By Rachel Hartman
OFFERING A LIVE CHAT feature on your website
as part of your customer service department can lead
to more than just conversations—it can boost customer satisfaction and, ultimately, your bottom line.
Fifty-two percent of online shoppers reported
accepting an invitation to live chat, according to a
2013 BoldChat survey that covered the United States,
Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Mexico.
“By being able to communicate with current and
potential customers right away when they need help,
you drastically improve their experience with your
company,” notes Casey Armstrong, a Costco member and partner at webbROI, a full-service digital
marketing agency based in Laguna Beach, California.
Also, chatters are 7. 5 times more likely to buy
than visitors who don’t chat, reports BoldChat.
Follow these guidelines to create a live chat feature that makes it easy to engage with visitors and
Make it known
“The more visible the button, the more likely
Web visitors will use it,” says Steve Smithwick, president and COO of Teledini, a company that offers
multichannel engagement tools for websites that
help convert Web visitors into customers. Place a
live chat box where it will be easily spotted, such as
the top of every page on your site.
If you have a live chat button pop up, delay its
appearance for 30 seconds, suggests Armstrong. In
doing so, you’ll give visitors a chance to first peruse
Help customers find information
“Sometimes a visitor needs more product clarification or pricing information,” says Zaki Usman, a
Costco member and owner of ShoutEx, a Web marketing firm based in Ottawa, Ontario.
When using a live chat feature, take note of the
questions visitors ask.
“That way, you can create some ‘preapproved
scripts’ for your support team to more easily handle
many customers,” explains Armstrong.
You might also add explanations to common
issues in a Frequently Asked Questions (or FAQs)
section of your site. Employees using live chat can
draw from this information or point customers to it.
Be available at the right times
Smithwick, a Costco member, says that custom-
ers love to have their questions answered immedi-
ately. “Giving visitors a way to interact the instant
they are interested will improve customer satisfac-
tion,” he notes.
When Damien Sanchez, a Costco member and
owner of Mosquito Squad of Greater Washington,
D.C., an outdoor pest control company, wanted to
add a live chat feature, he found one that came free
with his 24-hour phone answering service.
“Most of the chats come in during the evening
or off-hours,” says Sanchez. “If visitors know we’re
not open, but can shoot out a quick chat and get a
response back, it makes the user experience that
much better, and makes us as a company that much
“Visitors sometimes want to double-check
product ingredients before purchasing,” notes Doug
Mitchell, a Costco member and founder of
UltimateSteakSeasoning.com, which offers a live
chat feature. Through a quick chat, Mitchell can
answer questions right away, and then point visitors
to the checkout.
In addition, Mitchell has product information
and samples that can be sent to customers who
want to share with others, thereby generating more
leads. “Where else can you interact in real time, for
only the cost of your time, with a customer who’s
willing to engage?” he says. C
Rachel Hartman is a freelance writer who frequently
covers topics relating to small businesses.
MOST LIVE CHAT software
options can be installed
within minutes. Here are a
few to consider.—RH
• Start with a free plan for
one operator, with up to 20
monthly conversations and
up to five concurrent chats;
upgrade at any time.
• This plan is free for one
agent and one chat at a
time; upgrade as needed
and get rewards for referring others.
• Begin with a 30-day free
trial; rates then start at $21
a month. You can opt to
monitor visitors and view
reports on data collected
through live chat.
• Following a free 15-day
trial, monthly plans begin
at $21 per operator for
unlimited chats. You can
create a pre-chat survey,
track visitors and offer
• After a 15-day trial, plans
begin at $60 for four
agents. You can customize
the chat box and include a
“Call Me” feature for customers who want to talk to
the agent they’re live-chat-ting with.
Making your business more available,
and more successful, with live chats