When you visit a website for the first time, your eyes are naturally drawn to the bottom right-hand corner for a small chatbox to pop up and visually poke you for engagement, but it wasn’t so long ago we would look to the top right to check for a phone number.
The growing popularity of Live Chat and Live Chat outsourcing is fast becoming the accepted communication method for online interactions, and the way people communicate is to change further with the increase in more efficient messaging apps and social networks. Live Chat among small businesses will grow past 5 million by 2022 and Live Chat adoption by SMEs is set to grow by 87% in the next two years.
Advancements in mobile phone technology, social networks, apps and games are surreptitiously conditioning us to accept instant gratification as the new norm. A consequence of this is that the virtue of patience is fading and waiting more than a few minutes for anything can feel like a lifetime. That’s precisely the reason 42% of people regularly choose Live Chat over other methods of communication.
As a champion of all forms of communication, I’m happy that there are more and different ways of connecting with your fellow human being but it’s only in certain circumstances that physical phone calls are actually made. I’m not here to say that this communication shift is right or wrong, and phone calls are not dead. There’s still very much a need to have phone conversations, but these are often not the first point of contact and phone calls are pushed way down the priority ladder.
The fact is that time is now a precious commodity and phone calls require a time resource that people are not willing to give up without pre-qualification. As a business, we now have to embrace this evolution and tailor our businesses to use these different forms of communication and be at-point with what’s happening right now.
The reason this shift in communication culture is so important is because of the ever-increasing cost of online advertising and therefore the cost of customer acquisition is going through the roof. It’s now imperative that businesses engage with website visitors before they move on. It’s not that customers are fickle, as I mentioned earlier, this change in consumer culture means that prospective customers are more discerning, more demanding and more time-sensitive. If they don’t find precisely what they were looking for within a few seconds of visiting your site, they’ll hit the back button and move on the next search engine result.
If you can capture them at this point and engage your visitors proactively and with the right message, you might just keep them on your site long enough to convince them you’re the company for them. Live Chat is proven to increase online purchases by 35% and increase website conversions by 49%. These benefits are purely down to being able to present a human element to your visitor at just the right moment. You need to see your website as not just an online presence, it’s also your shopfront in the digital and infinite shopping mall and if your website is unmanned then your shop has no staff.
The rise of outsourcing
The adoption of outsourcing certain business activities has been thriving and the recent pandemic has acted as a catalyst for this growth. With staff reductions, home workers, lockdown and furlough. Companies are outsourcing their communication as a necessity and those who have used these services initially in a moment of urgency have now begun to see and appreciate the reduction in their operating costs.
The uptake of outsourcing has also grown in-part to the emergence of the gig economy. This new form of employment is changing the way we see employees and how independent workers are used for efficiency in an ever-competitive market. This mentality has naturally overflowed into mainstream business and it’s not just financially where outsourcers are benefiting. Their remaining and often reduced staff numbers are now more able to focus on the jobs they were assigned to.
All types and sizes of companies are now starting to reap these benefits of outsourcing their Live Chat. The larger businesses are capitalising from the reduction of staff numbers and reduced overheads, and smaller companies can now capture a sale ahead of their competition whilst they get on with what they’re best at.
A few things to consider.
You have a few choices when it comes to implementing in-house or managed Live Chat, and there are plenty of vendors to choose from. Ranging from free and open-source software that you staff yourself to high-end staffed solutions with all the bells and whistles.
Most third-party or outsourced Live Chat vendors can mitigate 90% of your visitors' frequently asked questions such as shipping costs, payment queries, returns, order status and stock availability or, you can use this a pure, lead generation tool to engage with visitors before they leave.
If you are going to answer your own Live Chat, then you should ensure that you have the right chat agents in place. You’ll benefit from seasoned contact centre veterans with top keyboard and grammatical skills and you need to ensure they’re managed closely to optimise your ROI against wages. You could also consider siloing off existing staff members to be at-point with this activity which may compromise their current duties.
If you don’t have Live Chat then you need it, period. If you do have it and it’s offline, then you need to do something about it otherwise a good portion of that money spent on advertising and marketing is being wasted. With more than 30% of customers expecting to see Live Chat on a website and having the highest satisfaction levels of any customer service channel at 73%, you should make this a priority.
If you have an abundance of staff, then you can staff this yourself and if you don’t then outsourcing is a great option. If you’re unsure about outsourcing, remember that Website creation, HR, call answering, managed Live Chat, marketing and legal matters are all frequently outsourced as these companies do this day in and day out.
These companies have refined these specific skills and have highly trained staff who are great at this one thing. These companies can be held to account with contracts and they benefit from scales of economy. If you have one in-house Live Chat agent and they’re on holiday, who answers your chats? Or if you get five simultaneous chats at once, quality might start to slide.
Don’t get trapped into thinking this is only about only using Live Chat to answer the odd question about delivery times. It’s about the trust this small square box on the bottom corner of your web page instils in your visitors. Live Chat initially shows that you care about them and knowing that there’s a human presence available at all times gives the consumer a warm, comfortable feeling that you’re real and serious about customer service.
The second benefit is pure lead-generation and minimising the visitors bouncing from your website by proactively engaging with your visitors which is just common sense. Once in place, review the feedback regularly. Look at the transcripts and use this to drive changes to your business and website. This feedback is an invaluable insight as to your customers’ wants and needs.
Treat your customers with a new way of communicating with you and you might just find that it benefits your business in more ways than one.