When does adding chat to your website make sense?

on Wed 13 Aug

You may have seen on some websites a little tab in a corner that says something like "Chat with us" - look below on this website to see one. This is a widget that allows a business to chat in real time with visitors to their website.

Do you need live chat?

Well first off let's look at what they do and what they can help with. For this article I'll be looking at one specific chat provider - Olark. We've assessed a few, but this is by far the most intuitive and affordable (they even have a free version).

What exactly does live chat software do?

When a visitor to your website clicks on the tab it opens a little box. They can then type a question. As the website owner you have the chance to respond to the question straight away.

How do you know when someone starts chatting?

You'll need to be logged into either the Olark website or an instant messenger  software like Messages for Mac or Pidgin for Windows (these are called chat clients).

You'll need to set yourself to be available and then any new chats will be seen in your chat client.

When is it useful?

I guess you can ask this the other way round, when isn't it useful? If there is a potential customer looking at your website and they have a question, you can answer it then and there. If that potential customer can't find the answer they are looking for they may well use the back button and return to google's helpful list of a 1000 other websites to try and find it.

You have the opportunity to genuinely amaze a potential customer be being so responsive. For many websites the primary goal is to encourage and facilitate an initial contact - chat makes this even easier. You have already started your conversation and the journey of making a browser a paying customer.

What sort of local business does this suit?

Well perhaps the biggest barrier to live chat is the need to be sat in front of a computer. If you're not then live chat isn't live. However, when you're away you can set the chat tab to be a contact form, so all is not lost.

If you do spend much of your time at your desk in front of a computer, then live chat is great. You can just leave it running in the background while you get on with your day. When that prospective customer does ask a question you can get straight onto it.

Other cool stuff

With Olark's paid plans you can also do other things, perhaps the most incredible is the ability to see the webpage as your customer is seeing it. Huh? That's right you can see exactly what they are seeing - this can be incredibly useful if you have a shop or booking engine on your website. You can then call your customer and talk them through whatever they are doing. It's called co-browsing and sad as this may sound I get really excited talking about it.

Can I put it on my Smart Little Website?

Yes. Just copy the chat box installation code from your Olark page and paste it into the Olark box on the Connections page of your workshop. Simple!


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