Should you add Live Chat to your business website?

June 6, 2013

We’ve recently been asked to include a Live Chat addon for a client’s new website. As a result I thought I’d spend a little time looking into the pros and cons of Live Chat for businesses.

What is Live Chat?

Live Chat basically adds instant messaging to a website. It allows typed messages to be exchanged between a visitor and a website representative - typically from either the sales or customer services team. Live Chat is becoming increasingly popular amongst business owners its usage has grown steadily over the last few years. As shoppers have become used to shopping online their willingness to engage with addons like Live Chat has also increased as seen here.

Benefits for shoppers

It allows shoppers to engage with the retailer very quickly to ask questions that they might otherwise have to wait for answers for, for example if you email a retailer you’re never sure when you might receive an answer and if you phone you may have to wait in a queue for 10 to 15 minutes. Live Chat is instant and if there are no agents available the chat facility is disabled, when in place can speed up the communication process dramatically.

Benefits for retailers

For retailers the biggest benefit is that they can directly communicate with a shopper who is looking at the website. If they are looking at say a product, the retailer is in a position to ask if the shopper has all the information they need, check stock in realtime, confirm delivery information etc. If the shopper is looking for something else in particular the representative can direct them to it or give them choices that might better suit the shopper.

Furthermore Live Chat can help the development of your website as outlined in detail by Sky in this article by Econsultancy which outlines how when shoppers get stuck in a part of a website it indicates that there is either a problem there or a lack or calls to action to guide the shopper.

Options

There are a lot of Live Chat services out there

  1. SnapEngage At first glance a really nice system, with one flaw (at time of writing) which is no mobile specific experience. Trying to use the chat on a phone was the thing of nightmares... and would have to be turned off on any website I built once the screen got below the size of a ‘standard’ tablet. I have been in touch with the company and they are saying that the mobile UX (user experience) is coming soon.
  2. Zopim Having worked out that SnapEngage doesn’t have a good mobile experience, I looked for some other systems, that worked as well as SnapEngage but with a good mobile experience. I found Zopim and had it running on my demo site in no time... the system works really well, at least from my perspective - you’d have to be a business owner to give a more complete answer but as a developer it certainly ticks all the boxes.
  3. LivePerson Thinking that I should find another system to compare to I wanted to try LivePerson. It has some big clients and a good reputation. I tried it both on desktop and mobile and it worked well. I couldn’t see the dashboard as I was unable to run a demo on my own; you have to be shown a demo :(. That said this is not a system to ignore but I suspect the pricing is higher than the other systems I have talked about.

Decision time

If you want to be able to interact with shoppers and help them make decisions and solve their problems in a timely manner then you should definitely consider Live Chat. It has been indicated that it has helped many customers increase sales and total sale values as a result of a representative upselling. A couple of companies on the SnapEngage website indicate that sales conversions as a result of using Live Chat are over 50%, pretty cool stuff.

Conclusion

I’m suggesting that our client try these systems to see how they fit with their infrastructure as ultimately they are the ones who will have to use it on a daily basis. Personally I like Zopim from what I have seen. I’m going to be interested to see how well the Live Chat platform performs on the new website

Richard Wendon

Written by Richard Wendon for Yoyo Design

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