Adding live chat or messaging services to your website

May 4, 2020

Customers (me included) love the live chat and instant messaging features available today to enhance customer experience but before adding it to your website you need to consider the impacts both internally and externally.

Adding a chat or messaging service without considering the impacts internally and externally could cost you more long term and negatively affect the customer experience.

Finding the balance

Do you have a small team? Are you concerned that adding live chat or a messaging service to your website would invite more contact and overwhelm your team?

You need to get the balance just right, if you are providing live chat make sure your team are responsive and have the capacity to respond to the channel, especially during periods when your customers interact with you the most.

Remember live chat is only one channel, they will still be getting telephone calls, emails etc. so work through a plan of how team members split their time effectively across channels.

Large call centres train staff to be multi-channel using CRM software to manage this, agents could be answering chats, taking calls, receiving emails and social media messages - work through options with your team, you may not have the tools to support this approach so try one channel at a time. Iterate your plan as your internal team becomes more familiar with real time chats, you may find they can answer more than one, increasing efficency.

Be available!

I probably don't need to dwell too much on this BUT it is really important. Having an unresponsive chat or messaging service does not provide a great user experience, it could lose you leads and drive your customers elsewhere. Think about times in the day when your customers are more likely to contact you, if you have metrics available on customer contact use them to iterate a plan.

When you are not online make sure you have set up your live chat to not miss an opportunity. Most chat and messaging services offer offline support that enable customers to leave sufficient contact details so you can follow up at a later date.

Some services also provide automation capabilities through a chatbot feature. The "bots", if provided with enough information, attempt to mimick a human, they can sign post and respond to simple queries. If you have access to chatbots, devise a plan to weave these into your offline chat/messaging strategy.

How can it help my business?

The top four benefits you can expect to realise by adopting chat and messaging services are:

  • Improved customer experience. Customers simply love chat - there are lots of studies and references to customers responding positively to real time messaging on websites.
  • Build trust - High availability builds trust and a loyal customer base.
  • Improve efficency - Chat and messaging services can be more efficient than telephone call or email.
  • Adding Chat or messaging could improve deflection rates, especially if a chatbot is effective.

What services are available?

When it comes to deciding on a service you will not be spoilt for choice. There are a number of free services, here are a few we have integrated into some of our web design projects:

  • Facebook Messenger
  • Whats App
  • PureChat
  • Hubspot Chat

Facebook messenger seems to be getting a lot of attention at the moment (May 2020) and why not! For small businesses that have an active facebook business page and active community it is a great way to get started at a very low cost.

How easy is it to get started?

In terms of integration, all of the above services are relatively straight forward to set up for an experienced web developer or technologist. Generally it takes two steps:

  1. Cut and paste some javscript code into your website - this is the chat window the customer will see.
  2. Login to configure the Web chat or messaging service on the providers plaform. This is normally a website with lots of options ranging from look and feel to chabot settings.

The documentation for each of the services listed above is excellent and can be useful to explore what features each service offers - they are all slightly different. Do your analysis, have your strategy, plans and requirements at hand when deciding on which service to try out first.

Give it a go!

Why wouldn't you add a chat or messaging service to your website? Using a real-time chat or messaging service provides customers with a new channel to contact you, one that many go to first, so aim to provide an excellent customer experience.

It will be a great addition. If you start small, with one of the free offerings the risk is relatively low. Implementation costs are small, mainly web development hours and configuration time, and they cant be turned off very quickly or hidden on the website.

If you are still unsure about adding a chat or messaging service to your website or would like help implementing a service then please contact us, we can help you with product selection and implement the service.

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