If you’ve been online recently then you’re likely to have come across ‘live chat’. It is a relatively new way for businesses to interact with website visitors - including potential buyers and existing customers.
The benefits of the software as a B2B marketing tool are increasingly being recognized and there are two very good reasons why its popularity is growing - according to Insite Software, live chat increases conversions by 20% and customers who chat are 3x more likely to buy.
But the impact of live chat for lead generation doesn’t stop there. From helping to qualify leads to shortening the sales pipeline, such tools can have many advantages if used strategically.
Prospective customers can be supported when making their purchasing decisions and current customers can also easily get help with a product they’ve already bought, aiding onboarding and ongoing relationships.
So, how does it work? And what can B2B companies do to ensure they are making the most of its potential?
What is live chat?
There are a few ways live chat can be used. Often, a website visitor will be presented with a chat box that asks them if they need any help, or if they would like to speak to a member of the team.
Alternatively, a pop up box may appear where someone introduces themselves and tries to initiate a conversation. There may also just be an icon promoting the live chat function, usually found in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.
If a visitor types a message or question into the text box, then a company agent will be on the other end to respond in real-time. The box itself usually keeps the visitor updated on what’s happening, by saying things like ‘Agent typing…’ so they know a response is on the way.
How does it work?
Live chat offers website visitors an opportunity to have a live chat with a customer services representative. But rather than being over the phone, or submitting a query by email or through an online form, the chat is instant. It is delivered in real-time, with the transcript of the conversation often then made available to download or receive by email at the end.
For many people, the option to type in a quick question and get an instant response is very appealing, especially compared to the effort of making a phone call. There are no menus to navigate, no details to hand over and they don’t even have to stop what they’re doing, as the chat box can just be open while they continue working.
The best thing about it for businesses is that it offers a way for you to solve issues, questions and objections instantly. It can take you straight to a customer’s pain point.
The key benefits
- Reduces website drop outs – if a visitor can’t quickly find what they want on your website, they are likely to leave. Live chat can help with this by providing access to an answer instantly
- Takes pressure off phone lines – no-one likes to hear they are twentieth in the queue
- It’s quick - picking up the phone to a company often means facing menus and queues, whereas live chat is quick and instant
- Gives visitors options – we all like to have a choice, some people like the phone but others don’t. The more choices you can provide, the more likely a web visitor is to get in touch and not just move on to a competitor
- Provides useful analytics – live chat can provide useful data that can be analyzed to help improve the website and other processes
- It’s free – it’s free for visitors to use, which can encourage them to get in touch versus the potential cost of a phone call
- Language barriers are reduced – the potential impact of accents and language barriers are reduced when using live chat
- You can help more people quicker – a number of queries can be dealt with simultaneously by one agent
The golden rule
To use live chat effectively, there is one golden rule you must follow. The agent who responds must do so in a very timely manner. If someone posts a question and has to wait too long for an answer, all that will do is annoy them. They will abandon the chat and are likely to move on, with any opportunity for business going with them.
Equally, it’s just as important that the agent carefully reads what is being asked and gives an appropriate answer – seeking clarification or further information if it is required. Again, the result of not doing so could be that you make a very bad impression.
Who already uses live chat?
We do, here at Lead Forensics!
While live chat is being used by many large businesses, particularly within the world of B2C, it is a tool that can work just as effectively for SMEs and B2B organisations. The software is now very easy to use and add to a website, with many options available for you to choose from.
How do you introduce it?
There are many live chat tools available and prices and features vary, but it’s actually quite simple to get started. You just need to add some code to your website.
Things to think about when choosing a live chat tool are:
- What options there are for customizing appearance
- What automation it offers
- How easy the interface is to use
- What data and analytics are available
- Price of more seats (in case you want to scale up)
Top tips for Live Chat and B2B lead generation
Live chat can also help you with your B2B lead generation, if you shape and manage the tool with that aim in mind. The main benefit being that it can provide you with an opportunity to get in there early.
Here are some pointers:
1. Have some form of qualifying process in place – don’t just try and chat with every website visitor that comes along, instead focus on those who display certain behavior, such as looking at key pages or visiting your site multiple times (Lead Forensics customers have an advantage here as you’ll have a clear picture of what each lead has done on your website)
2. Think about the demographics of your potential customers – do you need to be offering live chat services in different languages and covering different time zones, what hours do you need to cover (as office hours isn’t always enough)
3. Integrate chats within your CRM – think how you might integrate the conversations within your existing CRM
4. Is chat enough? – consider whether it would be beneficial for you to be able to combine screen-sharing options with your live chat function
5. Security – also give some thought to security and how chats will be protected and held
6. Training – is key to using the tool successfully and for any chats to be managed well
7. Communication – show they are talking to an actual person not a robot with a script
So, if you’re not already doing so, then it may be time to consider introducing live chat. Work out how best to use it to support your sales process and you could see your results increase.
You may also be interested in:
- Analyzing touchpoints to create a top customer experience
- B2Bs: How to get your customer-centric approach right
- Top 10 ways to improve your ‘customer experience’