Live chat: what is it and what you can do with it?

Live chat is still a relatively young addition to the communication mix, but nonetheless, it has existed for a while. In the nineties, we used the then-highly-popular ICQ (do you remember?) or MSN, which was around for a lot longer but is now part of Skype. Nowadays, we have Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, but the principle has remained unchanged: conducting a conversation or sending a short message via (short) text messages.

Chat has undergone considerable changes over the years. Where previously it was only a platform to send and receive letters, numbers and punctuation marks, it can now also be used to send photos and videos. You can even use the application itself to take photos and record videos, and even to make phone calls. The latter is possible via Skype or Facebook Messenger, for example, which includes video. We cannot tell you where live chat will be heading in the future, but one thing is certain, developments will not stand still.

Chatting for companies

People spend a lot of time chatting these days. This is why we previously stated that digital customer service is the future. We are spending less time emailing and more time on WhatsApp. You have the world in your pocket, wherever you go. Quickly sending a shopping list to your sweetheart or sending a video clip at the last moment before he goes past the supermarket after work is all very pleasant and easy, but what use is it to companies?


What can companies employ live chat for?

Chatting with customers can take many forms and have many objectives. You may only want to provide a service, but something not everybody thinks of is that live chat can also be employed for sales. First, let’s talk about the goals of live chat.

Providing customer service

You can employ live chat as a customer-service tool; something like a call centre. You display a small window or button on your page and visitors know that, if there’s something they’re having trouble with, they can use that button to contact you in the same way that they could also dial your telephone number. Customers come to you and you assist them. You could also start talking to them if they’ve been on your website for some time, because that’s a sign they’re having difficulty making a choice.

Generate leads

Another reason to employ live chat is to generate more leads. This is effective if you have a website that sells articles or products with a high value per unit or per order, such as lorries, kitchens or shopping interior. Nonetheless, other websites can also profit from using live chat to generate leads. You can save a lot of time with it, because the chat operator can filter visitors and only send truly interested parties on to the sales department. This saves the valuable time of your sales representatives.

Increase conversion levels

Additionally, we must not forget to mention that live chat can be used to increase conversion levels. This does not necessarily have to be an objective, but could be a positive addition to the service you provide. Because you’re directly able to assist customers in their purchase, you can provide them with adequate advice. This gives you influence over the purchasing process. You can “direct” customers towards a purchase, resulting in more sales. You even have the chance of upselling.

How can you employ live chat? 

We’ve now arrived at the manner in which it is employed. Live chat can be employed both passively and actively. Both methods can be effective, but that depends on your company.

Passive chatting 

As previously mentioned, you can show a button that says something like “Chat live with us now!” or another attention-grabbing text. This passive approach can be highly effective, because you only need to take action when a message comes through from one your website’s visitors. This could be a good method if you do not have many chat operators on standby, because the number of chats will be lower.

Proactive chatting

But, if you have a team of varying, well-trained chat operators on standby, a more active attitude towards chatting might be the better choice. A lot of chat software allows for the sending of automatic messages to visitors who have been browsing your website for a specified time. In this way, you are the one who starts talking to your customers, which means they do not have to open the conversation. When customers would prefer to just browse, they will not respond and you will not be required to spend time on them.

So, there you have it: what live chat can do for your company. Another useful thing to know is that live chat can be used to collect data about your customers. Are you interested in live chat for your company? Please have a look at our tips for the successful implementation of live chat.

Click here if you would like to download our whitepaper about lead generation with live chat.