Are You Using Chat Yet?

There are many chat applications available so that you can communicate with friends and family. What I’m referring to here are business chat apps – why you might think about them and the consideration of chat bots versus live chat. Some apps help small businesses to communicate internally; the list of the “best ones” will be changing frequently but as of 2018, the best chat apps (according to PC Magazine) for business teams or include: Slack, Microsoft Teams, Glip, Flock and Zoho Cliq.

For me, the bigger question is the external use of chat apps, the ones that pop up when you go to a website asking if you’d like to chat. For big ticket purchases, as well as servicing, it seems to me that this is a great idea.

 If someone is in the last stages of decision-making about a large purchase, not having a chat app can make the difference between making a sale and losing out to your competitor, who has the ability to chat. In the same vein, chat apps that can address customer service issues or questions seem important. This is where the chat world is interesting right now.

Boats, for example, are big-ticket items. As are many other types of services for the marine industry. According to Hubspot, many companies are using chat for marketing purposes as well as sales and customer support: 22% are now using Live chat for marketing and sales, with 29% using Facebook Messenger. This is compared to 35 – 37% using social media and community platforms and 75% who are using phone numbers.

There’s a new list of the “best” customer apps as of 2019; this linked article discusses the pros and cons of using Live chat. Often, the issue is the cost of Live chat and the frustration of chatbots. I will share with you my own personal frustration with chats: if I’m upset or need help and I click on the chat button, my first question is typically “Are you live person?” I’m frustrated enough without having to figure out what terminology a bot can or cannot understand.

Live chat is expensive, which is why many companies may opt for the less expensive chatbots. But are they working? Do they answer client questions or issues? Or are they just as frustrating? (I’d love to hear your experience with these!)

People (like me!) are impatient and want help immediately. According to Hubspot research, 90% of consumers rate and “immediate” response as important or very important when they have a customer service question.

The question for your business is this: is it better to have the capability to chat on your website to answer the easy questions? Or to pull in customer information when your office is closed?

No chat service or bot will answer hard questions – these have to be passed on to an experienced Customer Service person. What’s better for your clients:

  • Using website forms and phone numbers – the “old-school” way?
  • Having a pop-up asking clients and prospects for information?
  • Using live chat or a chatbot, so people can feel their question or issue is being addressed right away?

Only you can decide which of these is best, based on your business and your customers. It’s worth thinking about these options every new year, to be sure you’re not losing your clients and prospects to other sites that may have moved to automation!