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What is Live Chat? Overview, Benefits & Best Practices

A cartoon image of a computer monitor with chat bubbles, answering the question of what is live chat

What is Live Chat Support?

Live chat is an online feature that enables businesses to chat and drive conversations with website visitors and customers in real-time. Companies mostly use chatbots and live chat widgets as a customer support channel and prospecting tool. It’s the online equivalent of talking to someone at the counter of your local store. Some common live chat use cases are:


  • Answering questions about products, services, and/or pricing.
  • Directing customers to your business’s online review sites or social media.
  • Resolving any customer issues or complaints.
  • Requesting and collecting customer feedback.
  • Providing general customer support in a direct and immediate way.
  • Scheduling appointments.
  • Converting prospects to clients.


Today, 75% of customers prefer live chat services over any other communication channel. Businesses also recognize that live chat can go beyond acting as a support channel. It can directly boost customer engagement rates and grow conversions in the long run, bolstering your business’s marketing efforts! 


In this article, we’ll take you through the significant benefits of live chat messaging and how you can ace your prospects and customers’ chat experiences today. 

Service businesses of all sizes use Signpost to win more business, communicate with customers, and drive loyalty. Start your demo today.


The Undeniable Benefits of Live Chat Messaging

Technology has changed the way we use the internet and the scope of digital marketing automation. If your website isn’t equipped with the best live chat software, you’re missing out.


Here are the benefits your business can gain from offering a live chat solution for your customers: 


Engage all your website visitors 

Can you remember a time where you visited a website and had questions about a product or service, but couldn’t find an answer to your question anywhere? Instead of calling and waiting on a long hold just to speak to an automated machine, you might have just left the site and engaged another business who had a live chat option on their website.


This is the risk your business faces when it doesn’t implement live chat. Your business fails to capture and engage all your website visitors who very well might have become a paying customer or lead.


Enabling a proactive chat tool allows you to connect with all website visitors at every key touchpoint and helps your business to secure more leads or sales. And if that’s not enough to convince you, studies have shown that website visitors engaging with your business via live chat are worth 4.5 times more than visitors that don’t.


Save on traditional customer acquisition costs

Acquiring customers through traditional marketing strategies can be a costly undertaking for small or local businesses. From initial marketing activities to capture their interest to the final stage of the buyer journey… it can be a long and expensive journey. 


Implementing a live chat feature can make all the difference. With live chat, you can let customers come to you, give prospective customers a nudge, and answer questions that will do some of the heavy lifting marketing for you. 


When a traditional print ad can cost your business anywhere from $2,000 to $163,000, it’s no wonder why businesses are turning to live chat for marketing support.


Provide answers to visitors in real-time that help convert browsers to buyers

Did you know that the average response time for emails is 12 hours? With live chat, the average response time is just 23 seconds.


A live chat service provides your visitors with an instant solution to their questions/concerns. Implementing live chat support means you never have to worry about losing a potential customer because they couldn’t find the answer to their question. This leaves them satisfied and even better, they may return to purchase more products or services when they’re ready. 


Hit more of your business’s KPIs 

Your business targets may include boosting customer satisfaction rates or reducing response times. With live chat, you can do both. Because you make your business immediately accessible to your customer base, you naturally stand to hit more critical KPIs such as your: 


  • Close rate
  • Average ticket cost
  • Return customers
  • Marketing qualified leads 
  • Sales by contact method
  • + So much more!

Pro-tip: If you choose to automate the function, you can empower customers to a self-service route and satisfy their needs around the clock. Overall, this will help you meet your KPI targets and improve your personal workflows. 



Personalize the customer experience

Aside from being a useful sales tool for your business, a live chat session is a great way to build a strong rapport and foster long term relationships with your customers. With live chat, you can provide the personal service that your customers deserve and provide your business with a brand voice.


Start by training your support team to interact with each customer on a human level and lead engaging chat conversations. This shows each customer that they are valued and important to your business. Then, ensure your agents nail your brand voice and represent your business the way it should be. Together, these things should help your business personalize the customer experience!


Gain more qualified leads

Live chat support is an excellent way to filter in more qualified leads. On-page live chat support allows you to engage in conversation with your website visitors in real-time (which also happens to be something that search engines take into account when ranking websites in search results). 


Thus, qualified leads actively looking for the solution your business provides will more likely find you. Plus, those customers engaging with your chat agents already show a keen interest in your business offerings. Your sales team and support agents can collect this data and enable better conversion rates in the future.


6 Live Chat Best Practices to Provide Customer Support

Whether you’re using live chat as a stand-alone chatbot for basic questions or as an all-encompassing customer service tool, it’s important to keep your customers happy. The following tips can help you utilize live chat for customer support and lead nurturing:


1. Make it personal! 

Did you know that 69% of companies use scripted and canned messages in their live chat? Believe it or not, many of your customers will be able to see right through that. Personalization is a critical part of the customer experience. Don’t shy away from adding personal touches to live chat. Even something as simple as addressing them by their first name can make a difference.


2. Place your live chat window strategically

Make sure your live chat window doesn’t take up all the real estate on your web pages. While you want to capture the attention of your website visitors, you never want to take away from their user experience or block critical information. For most web pages, the bottom right-hand corner is a safe bet.


Further, ensure your live chat window is visible on key web pages, including landing pages, popular product pages, and the customer support page. These are essential touch points where your customers may turn to your business for more guidance.


3. Always be transparent with hold or wait times

No customer likes being put on hold for a long time. If your chat reps can’t get to your customers immediately, they must be transparent with them from the get-go on how long it will take your business to address their issue. Odds are, customers will be willing to wait so long as they know for how long they’ll be waiting. If you predict it’ll take 5 to 10 minutes to service a waiting customer, tell them or you risk simply losing them!


In the case that all your chat agents are occupied, you can enable automated notifications so that your customer is alerted when a chat agent is ready. 


4. Create answers ready for your most common questions

It’s essential that your team is ready with all the right answers, especially to the most common questions your customers have. This is one way to streamline your agents’ workflows. Develop at-ready scripts and answers for your FAQs, such as: 


  • Do you provide 24/7 service? Are you open for the holidays?
  • What is your service area?
  • I’m unhappy with my service, what should I do?
  • Do you provide any discounts or special offers?

Pro-tip: You can go a step further and even put together a knowledge base on your website (Signpost offers this, by the way!). Encourage customers to use self-service options in addition to engaging in live chat!


5. Capture visitors’ contact information

Integrate live chat with the rest of your touchpoints, including email, text marketing, and phone call support. Encourage customers to submit their contact information and any other data you might require to better service them in the future. In the long run, this can help you build a handy customer database!


6. If possible, staff your live chat with real humans

If you have the capacity and budget, staff your live chat with real humans—people who can make suggestions, talk to customers on a human level, and solve problems quickly. Real people create a sense of urgency and personal touch that a chat box can’t always replicate. If you’re not able to staff with live humans, we can help! Our live receptionist agents can not only answer missed calls, but respond to website inquiries in a timely manner… so you don’t have to!


Win More Business with Signpost’s Chat Feature

Every business has a story to tell. Your website is your digital storefront and your virtual salesperson that can answer prospect and customer questions and connect with them on a deeper level. 


When you meet potential customers in a live chat session, you need to present yourself as they would expect to find you in person. It’s all about replicating that face-to-face experience online.


This is where we come in. Signpost’s live chat tool can help you enhance the customer experience. With our live chat tool, your business can get the lead and get the job done. 


Ready to start? Let’s chat about it.


Service businesses of all sizes use Signpost to win more business, communicate with customers, and drive loyalty. Start your demo today.

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