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Time for small businesses to rethink live chat

casengo.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/cross-channels-image.jpgCasengo applauds small business owners. They have many hats to wear, from mail room attendant to CEO - and everything in between. It’s understandable that most of these brave men and women don’t even consider adding live chat to their website - they’re not like the larger retailers with numerous well-trained staff resourcing the chat conversations. That's why they probably share the views expressed in this article: live chat isn’t for them, because ‘you have to stay glued to your computer to handle customer support, which kind of defeats the purpose of running your business online in the first place.’ Watertight reasoning. Or is it? We believe it’s all about managing the customer’s journey.

Website tactics for managing the customer experience

  1. Anticipate the questions your customer may ask, and ensure the answers are easily available at at every decision point. The above article provided a perfect example: “One of the most common questions we get is: ‘When will I receive my order?’ So we place this information on every single product page and on the shopping cart page as well.”
    (Image courtesy of My Wife Quite Her Job).

    1. Underpin your Frequently Asked Questions portal with an accurate, reliable search engine. In the long run, customers will spend less time contacting you, and more time helping themselves. (Support software providers, my company included, can provide you with a knowledge base platform - all you need to do is add your data.)After all, 57% of customers first browse through the internet looking for an answer before they get in touch with the company itself. We're in the DIY age - adapt to it.

    2. Set expectations for live chat with tailored ‘offline’ messages. There are going to be times when, even with smartphone or tablet in hand, it just won’t be convenient to respond to customers. Turn this into a promise rather than a knock-back with a message like this: “As a small webshop we’re thrilled that you found us! We’re tied up trying to source the best home furnishings for you, but leave a message and allow us to inspire your decorative side.” Still not sure if it makes sense to include live chat on your website or not? Consider this: the likelihood of converting a first time customer is 6.3 times higher for online stores with live chat than those without. And 61% of new visitors are converted after the first chat conversation.

    3. If you’re still struggling to come to terms with the advantages of chat support vs your time to resource it, try hybrid messaging. Although it's totally common sense, hybrid messaging is brand-new. I don't want to be promoting the company I work for too much, but I'm afraid I'll have to: Casengo is the only customer support software offering hybrid messaging. So what is it? Basically, hybrid messaging is chat and email combined. Communications between you and your customer will be instant (in real time) when you’re both online. And when that's not the case, the conversation continues via email. It’s all handled from the one application, which means you can chat when you’re available, and email when you’re not. All communications are recorded on one seamless timeline, so you’ll never miss a beat. Try hybrid messaging for yourself. In essence, customer support isn’t an ‘all or nothing’ concept. It’s a combined approach between self-service, email, and chat. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole, and bit by bit you can reduce the number of enquiries and resolve them quicker with a flexible approach.