March 3, 2015

Live Chat Mistakes: Avoiding DIY Pitfalls

Avoid DIY pitfalls with insights into live chat mistakes. Enhance customer engagement and satisfaction. Learn more.

Jon Tucker
CEO HelpFlow
Live Chat Mistakes: Avoiding DIY Pitfalls

We run live chat for a lot of e-commerce stores (i.e. we chat with their visitors on their website). Most of them already had live chat before working with us, but saw huge improvements by having our team start running the chat for them. It’s important to recognize and address common live chat mistakes to achieve such improvements.

You might be thinking - “Why can’t I just manage the website chat system myself?”

Unless you have a team exclusively dedicated to chat and available all day every day, you're going to miss opportunities. In this post, we'll share the most common mistakes we see and the impact they have on your business.

Armed with the facts, you’ll make the right decision to have a dedicated chat only team.

Live Chat Mistakes: Avoiding Disconnections When Visitors Seek Assistance

Visitors are on your website at all times, including nights and weekends. If you're not available to help them, then you're going to miss out on a lot of sales opportunities.

After business hours, prospects will still be browsing your site.

Research-based sites with a personal focus often see a big spike in the late evening.

Live Chat Mistakes avoid disconnection


B2B focused sites spike in the morning, but do have strong volume in afternoon and late evening, including slight growth in the evening in some cases.

Live Chat Mistakes avoiding


Apparel / fashion focused sites seem to be pretty consistent through afternoon and evening, sometimes increasing late evening but not noticeably.

Live Chat Mistakes mistakes


The weekend is also a popular time for website visitors, even on B2B sites. Below is a screenshot from one of our B2B customers that sells to machine shop in the US.

Live Chat Mistakes pitfalls


What if you're not online enough? Visitors that chat convert 4-10X higher than visitors that don't chat. Even though you might be away from the computer at 645pm on a Wednesday evening, your prospects and  customers are still on your site. Don't ignore them.

The best live chat schedule - If you’re going to maximize the results that you get from managing website chat yourself, vs having us manage it for you, you should be online from 8am CST - 11pm EST (15 hours per day) every day of the month (including weekends).

If you only manage it during business hours, or “when you can”, then there will be visitors on your website that don't get the help they need and you’ll be missing opportunities.

Don't Force People to Fill Out a Web Form

If you walked into a brick and mortar retail store and wanted to ask a question, how would you feel if the store employees refused to speak with you until you filled out some paperwork...

Why would you do that on your website? It's a horrible experience for your customers.

Live Chat Mistakes fill out form

Yes, it makes sense for you as the business to have their name, email, phone, and more info about what they might want to buy from you - but you can get that in other ways during the chat.

And if you're doing this just to automatically add them into your email list or marketing system, you can do that during the chat too.

In short, don't put a wall in front of prospects and customers that want to ask you a question ; )

Don't Only Use "Click to Chat" - Use Invites

If someone is on a single product page for quite awhile, but still browsing around the page, they’re probably looking for specific information they’re not finding.

If someone puts something into their shopping cart, but then hits the back button, they might have a hesitation that is stopping them from completing their purchase.

In these situations (and many more we track), you need to be there at the perfect time to offer help.

According to Zendesk, 44% of consumers say having a live person available to answer questions while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important things a website can offer.

  1. We configure greetings to ask the visitor if they need help based on what they’re doing on your website.
  2. We track the effectiveness of these greetings to make sure that we’re not bugging visitors that don’t need help and we’re connecting with visitors that do need help at the perfect time.
Live Chat Mistakes click to chat

Image Credit:

Only having a“Click to Chat” button on your website means you’re missing out on a lot of conversations with otherwise interested prospects. Log Me In, Inc. published a study showing that chatters who engaged via a proactive chat are 8x more likely to convert than visitors who don’t chat.

If you’re going to manage the website chat system yourself, make sure you configure really personalized greetings and track the effectiveness of those greetings over time.

Don't Have (Awkward) Long Response Times

Next time you go to a restaurant, ask the server a simple question and watch how the service is.

  1. For example, ask the server before ordering “is there peanuts in this dish? I’m allergic”.
  2. Let’s assume he doesn’t know, and needs to check with the kitchen.
  3. He will finish taking your drink order or other food orders, go to the kitchen to check, and then come back to let you know.

This would probably take 1–3 minutes max.

Would you be angry or frustrated if he went back to the kitchen, then served another guest their drink, then chatted with another staff member, then took a smoke break, then finally came back and gave you an answer after 15 minutes?

When you don’t respond quickly to your website visitors questions, they get frustrated or angry.

While some tech-savvy website visitors will browse around while you look for an answer, the majority will sit there and watch the chat box waiting for an answer. It’s important to be aware of this behavior to avoid common live chat mistakes and ensure prompt and efficient service.

You need to answer their responses fast, and keep them informed the entire time re: progress.

  1. The first message someone asks on your website chat system should be replied to within 4-6 seconds max.
  2. Every response after that should take a maximum of 30 seconds. That doesn’t mean you need to find a complete answer in 30 seconds, but you do need to keep them informed.

If you take longer on your responses, it's not just ineffective. It will hurt sales. People that would've otherwise purchased without chat will get frustrated with the lack of response and leave.

Your Team Can't Run Live Chat All Day, Every Day

If you’re doing website chat and using the above best practices to maximize results, you are going to get a lot of chats throughout the day. If you're not getting enough chats to fill someone's time, then you're doing it wrong...

If your team is 100% dedicated to being available on the website chat and engaging with visitors, then you’ll be fine. But if they do any of the below, you’ll be leaving opportunities on the table or damaging the reputation of your business. It’s important to address these live chat mistakes to ensure optimal performance.

  1. Don’t take meetings at the office
  2. Don’t take phone calls
  3. Don’t spend time with family after business hours

This sounds extreme, but in each of the above situations, you only have two options and neither will produce a good result for your business.

  1. Option 1 - Go “offline” so that the chat box has a “leave a message” option. If that happens, you’ll miss opportunities for website visitors that have a question now.
  2. Option 2 - Stay online and manage website chats as they come in while you’re doing other things (meetings, calls, time with kids, etc.). This will lead to slow response times, short responses that aren’t that helpful to the visitor, or prematurely asking for their contact info to contact them later.

At Help Flow, all our chat agents do is website chat every day, all day. We manage 1,000’s of website chats per day for our customers, and constantly improve our systems and processes to make sure the visitor is having the best experience possible.

If you can’t do the same, then it may not make sense to manage the website chat system yourself.

The Economics of Hiring Us - It's A No Brainer...

Now that you’ve seen the best practices above, we’ll share the simple economics that make having someone manage the website chat for you a no brainer.

Compare our costs vs doing it yourself:

  1. We’re online for your website visitors 24 hours per day, every single day. That’s over 150 hours per week.
  2. The cost of our plans vary based on your website traffic, but the effective hourly cost is around $2.50 - $3.50 per hour.
  3. Compare this to your internal costs of doing it yourself. If you use the best practices above, you’re going to spend most of your day managing chats. If you have a secretary-level employee do this, it’s going to cost around $11/hr (source: while a Sales and Marketing Assistant level employee could cost as much as $14/hr (source:

We can increase your site wide conversion rate by 10-30% - here's real results from customers.

Regardless of how you look at a Help Flow plan, you’re getting a huge value compared to the costs of managing this yourself in house without leaving opportunities on the table.

Your Store Needs a 24/7 Live Chat Team

HelpFlow can drive sales by having our team of human agents available on live chat 24/7 to predict and save abandons before they happen, proactively reach out and engage with visitors via SMS and email after they abandon, and by answering visitor questions live on your website to convert visitors.

Learn More
Need Help Run CX Operations While Driving Revenue?

HelpFlow can help make your CX Operation world class.  We can also help level up every aspect of your business with insights from CX that drive higher revenue, lower cost, higher customer LTV and customer happiness.

Learn More

Ready to grow your company? Get in touch today!