Why Live Chat Is No Longer Just for Customer Service

Alacrity provides support and entrepreneurial mentorship to promising entrepreneurs, in addition to finding and connecting these individuals with the venture capital funding needed to develop a thriving tech venture.

It makes sense to use live chat software for customer service. Today’s consumers are bombarded with stimuli – from text messages, to email, to Slack messages, to pop-ups for social media, games, and more – and as a result their attention span (and patience) is brief.

When a customer has a question or concern, they expect to be able to have it addressed and resolved swiftly and painlessly – making live chat an ideal fit.

The risks associated with not providing a fast and convenient communication channel are big, including the customer abandoning the service altogether, swapping over to a competitor, and/or sharing a negative review with their friends or online.

Considering these factors that make live chat such a powerful tool for customer service, it’s apparent why so many successful companies are now leveraging live chat across even more use cases (and it’s surprising that others have yet to).

Companies dedicate significant time and resources into planning, creating, and optimizing CPC ads, emails, social media posts, and other marketing efforts, all in the hopes of bringing potential customers to their website. But strangely, once those leads actually arrive, many companies essentially sit back with fingers crossed – hoping the visitor will find their way around the website, answer questions on their own, and maybe (if the gods are smiling) fill out a contact form that the company can respond to at some point in the future.

All that carefully calculated effort invested at the front end – only to begin the tedious struggle of email tag to coordinate a time for a demo, gather enough detail to answer questions, or learn that the lead isn’t actually a fit for the offering at all.

Following up with someone a few days after they’ve filled out a form is like ignoring someone that walked into your store — and then mailing them a postcard hoping that they’ll come back and talk to you when you’re ready. – Drift

Intercom summarized some convincing statistics about the importance of responding ASAP to leads:

Fast response time is not only imperative for customer service, but clearly for communicating with potential customers too.

Live chat solutions are a relatively low cost and low lift option for making near-immediate responses possible. And, thanks to the innovations from competitors in the space, there are an increasing number of powerful live chat use-cases being made possible.

4 powerful use cases for live chat beyond customer support:

1. Address objections up-front and immediately

When speaking to a potential customer in person, you can immediately address their objections or hesitations, and continue guiding them towards the decision to buy. For example, if you see them wince when you first mention your pricing, it’s easy to explain why your offering is sure to provide an attractive ROI.

For a potential customer visiting a website, addressing objections can be much more difficult. But live chat can change this.

An increasingly common place to see companies leverage live chat is on their pricing pages. Without live chat, a customer might see a price that at first glance appears steep, and flee from the website never to be seen again. With live chat (and perhaps an automated chat prompt asking whether they have questions about pricing), potential customers can be engaged in a real-time conversation that helps to keep them engaged, and dispel any misplaced objections.

2. Qualify leads

Investing time into leads that have no true potential presents a frustrating and expensive opportunity cost.

It can take hours to weeks for sales staff to qualify (or disqualify) a lead that comes through a website via email or contact form. This is time they could instead spend working on real leads, closing real sales.

Live chat enables companies to not only answer questions for website visitors, but to proactively qualify them as a lead throughout the chat conversation.

Simple questions such as “What size of company do you work for?”, “What is your role/title?”, and even “How urgently do you need a solution?” can be posed and the answers seamlessly added to a CRM, to help valuable sales staff work more efficiently. And while it’s great to have a real person on your end asking these questions, several live chat solutions offer a bot to do this work automatically (even outside office hours).

3. Book sales meetings

The classic game of tag called “let’s schedule a demo” has caused many a gray hair for marketing and sales teams ever since website contact forms were first invented. It’s a game that results in lost time for everyone involved, and even in leads disappearing altogether.

With live chat, a lead can be taken from indicating their interest in a demo straight to booking that demo into their calendar, all in the same conversation. This saves significant time, and can help to prevent leads from wandering over to a competitor’s website while they wait for a response.

Similar to the case of lead qualification, solutions like Drift offer bots that automatically enable leads to schedule a time with your sales team – meaning salespeople can arrive to the office after an interrupted nights’ sleep with their calendars already booked full of demos!

4. Educate

Sometimes all a potential customer wants or needs is more information.

Most companies have helpful resources like blog posts, white papers, or case studies that help paint the picture of their solution’s value – but if website visitors don’t know where to look for them, or have to wait to receive them, these resources end up providing little value.

With live chat, leads can be provided with the information or resources that will help move them down the funnel, right at the moment they are ready to receive it.

Interested in adopting live chat for your company, changing to a new live chat solution, or simply learning more? Here’s our list of the best live chat solutions available:

Talkative – Offers an entire suite of tools for converting website visitors into customers, including Web Calling, Video Calling, Cobrowsing, and Live Chat.

Pisano – A “customer experience management platform” for companies that want to level-up beyond simple website live chat.

Loop Messenger by Benbria – Connects multiple messaging channels to a single inbox, enabling you to communicate with leads and customers on their preferred channel.

Intercom – A platform for customer messaging across sales, marketing, and support.

Drift – A “conversational marketing platform” that offers both a free live chat solution, and one of the more sophisticated chatbots.

ZenDesk – Live chat that integrates well with ZenDesk’s larger customer service platform.

Heyday – A powerful conversation-to-conversion engine.

Olark – A widely-used live chat solution, and one of the more seasoned players in the space.

Podium – Live chat that enables customers to connect via both website chat and text message.

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“Lots of companies still consider live chat to be a support thing — we used to have ticket trackers, now we have live chat. Right? Well, I don’t think so. Good customer engagement is an invaluable asset for businesses. Right up there with brand. And today, businesses need to provide excellent customer experience at ALL touch-points to survive — without great engagement and tools like live chat, I think that’s pretty hard.” Mike Soylu, Chief Marketing Officer of Pisano.

Is your company not yet using live chat to its full potential? It’s worth wondering: in the time it took you to read this article, how many potential customers might have slipped through your grasp?

Live chat isn’t just for customer service anymore. From addressing objections, to qualifying leads, to booking sales meetings, or simply pointing the way to educational resources – there are many powerful ways that live chat can be leveraged to fuel company growth.

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Alacrity provides support and entrepreneurial mentorship to promising entrepreneurs, in addition to finding and connecting these individuals with the venture capital funding needed to develop a thriving tech venture.

To explore more of our content, check out the Alacrity Blog, and Alacrity’s podcast on early-stage tech investment: Between 2 Term Sheets.

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