I shared how we got our first 3 customers for our website live chat service, and ended up getting 20,000 people seeing the post and ton of questions.
The most common question was:
“How can you possibly answer questions for people on my website if you don’t know the inner workings of my business?”
The answer is surprisingly simple, so I thought I’d share it in a detailed post so you can outsource website live chat yourself, or hire a company to do it for you- ahem, we can help ;)
If you aren’t using live chat, or have tried it and not been able to easily manage it throughout the entire work day, then here’s the secret.
This is where most businesses over-complicate having someone else manage website live chat for them.
This over simplifies it a little bit, but consider this.
We manage website chats for businesses ranging from a manufacturer of custom parts for machine shops, a software company providing tools for adding supplemental information to large amounts of data, and even a website that sells blueprints to build houses.
It wouldn’t be realistic to expect someone to come in and have technical discussions about these things right away.
But we’re realizing that this is not what visitors actually care about.
If you can be there precisely when visitors need help, and show a commitment to helping them, then you can (easily) turn a visitor that was going to leave and never come back into a lead in your system that will remember you when they’re ready to buy.
I mentioned the manufacturer of machine parts that we manage website chat for. In short, it’s a super complicated industry, and something that takes years to understand.
“I think we can help, but I need to check with Ron (the owner) to get you the right answer. Is that ok?”
We always ask “Is that ok?” as that softens things up a bit.
Of course if we can answer the question, we will (and often can using the website info). But this shows that we are committed to getting an answer.
We take the visitor from asking the initial question, building some trust based on us committing to getting them an answer, to giving us their contact info so someone on our customer’s team can connect.
In a 7-minute chat that I happened to run from my iPhone while at my in-laws on Christmas (hey, we had just launched the company), I got a lead for our customer that will turn into a $800-$1,000 sale and repeat business.
There are quite a few tips and tricks we’ve learned managing website chats for a diverse group of customers, but here’s a simple workflow you can use if you want to run live chat yourself.
You can configure some website chat systems to trigger a message to a website visitor when they’re on your site for a certain amount of time or take certain actions.
If certain criteria is met, our chat tool pops up and says:
“Hi. Sorry to interrupt you, but I wanted to let you know I’m online. Do you have any questions I can help with?”.
The majority of the time, we end up in a chat. Or sometimes, we get a “no thanks, just browsing”. Sometimes people just close the box or reply with “no”, but the reception is positive 99% or more of the time.
Proactively offering to help is key — don’t just leave the “click for help” as the only option for visitors.
We also configure some rules to not repeatedly invite the same visitor, including if they come back in the future. This ensures we don’t repeatedly bug someone that doesn’t want to chat with us.
As soon as the visitor replies to our “sorry to interrupt” invite above (it’s automated), we reply in 3–4 seconds maximum.
This wows the visitor as they see that we’re actually here and ready to help.
There’s nothing more frustrating than to be offered live chat assistance, and then have to sit and wait for a response. We make sure that doesn’t happen.
Throughout the conversation, we keep them informed:
We don’t go more than 15 seconds without updating them if we’re searching for something in our notes or on the customer’s website.
Again, there’s nothing more frustrating than a slow live chat operator.
We’ve tested a wide range of approaches managing website chats for businesses, and the best approach for most chats is to end up at some variation of “I need to check with John Doe (the owner), but I’ll make sure to get you an answer by (time 2–4 hours from now)”.
And of course now you have a happy lead in your inbox.
Using a website chat system is a great way to turn your website visitors into leads, but it can be tough to manage yourself.
Use the above tips to streamline this if you do the chat yourself
If you want to take us for a test drive to see how we can manage your website chat for you, here’s an instant preview.