How well do you listen to potential clients?
Nowadays companies do their best to serve their customers, which also means that most of them have very high expectations when it comes to the services offered by businesses. Moreover, it became extremely easy for clients to compare services and products. That’s why it’s so important for companies to really differentiate themselves and go the extra mile for their clients.
One way to set yourself apart is by playing with new forms of digital contacts. Technology has made huge improvements and offers so many ways to stay in touch with your clients. However, despite the huge demand from customers, many companies tend to forget the importance of listening to their audience. Instead, they put their priorities somewhere else.
Too much focus on generating traffic
Most companies put all their energy into attracting new clients. Average marketers spend as much as 90% to 95% in brochures, flyers, SEO, TV and radio ads, Google ads, retargeting billboard and so on, and so forth.
They do all they can to bring more and more people to the website. When they finally have these precious visitors they do two things: A/B testing and optimization. And then what? They wait for visitors to magically convert in clients!
Companies spend so much money in generating traffic, but almost no one invests resources in potential customers that are already on the website, or maybe a small percentage, however rarely. The truth is that website visitors are lazy and don’t like to spend hours looking for information. Very simply, they need help converting.
A shop without staff
Visitors of your website have an intrinsic interest, otherwise, they wouldn’t be on your website in the first place. Therefore, it’s really important to get in touch with them. A simple chat can help you discover the needs, questions and pain points of your potential customers. In brick and mortar shops that’s exactly how it works: as soon as you enter a shop, an assistant will promptly ask if you need any help.
Strangely enough in 90% of online shops, there is no “shop assistant” to help you out. This is really a missed opportunity, especially considering that studies like the one from Forrester Research show that 44% of online shoppers want realtime help with their purchase. And as much as 57% of them say that they wouldn’t even buy if they don’t get instant help.
A change in customer expectations
This focus on customer contact is mainly due to a change in customer expectations. As competition is so high, most companies are definitely spoiling their customers. Companies offer a free return of their items, others offer delivery the following day or even just 12 hours after placing the order. It’s normal that consumer behavior changes, also when it comes to contact preferences. Customers are not satisfied only with fast delivery, they demand fast answers to their questions.
Another research from Forrester Research shows that 33% of consumers expect companies to have a live chat. And on mobile, it goes as high as 62%. In response, only 9% of companies use this powerful tool.
Customers look for the live chat
Analyzing our data we found out that many customers now proactively look for the chat by themselves, instead of waiting for the chat to pop-up. We compared the data from the first half of 2019 with last year. What we noticed is that in 2018, 77.6% of visitors would chat after a pop-up message whereas in 2019 this was only 67.1%. This means that modern consumers don’t wait for your chat to pop-up, but they actively look for it to start a conversation.
Below you can see in red the distribution between proactive and reactive chats in 2018. While the black circles are the data from 2019.
Need for direct contact
The fact that consumers now prefer using a chat has to do with the need for a more direct, realtime contact. Research from the CMO Council shows that a fast first response is now a critical feature of any good customer service. Sometimes it’s not even essential to get an answer to their questions, as long as they feel heard and taken care of.
The characteristics of real-time contact
The customer demand of a real-time contact is not something you can just wing. There are actually many factors you should take into account if you decide to start with live chat. For example, it’s important to be strategic about the timing your chat is displayed to your customers and of course, you need to pay attention to your way of communicating with them
When should you get in touch?
If you offer realtime contact, your visitors will expect you to answer very quickly (within 30 seconds) and of course, that you’re available at any time, including off-working hours. This is related to the fact that – contrary to a physical shop – online shops don’t have a closing time!
In fact, we constantly see that visitors make extensive use of chat also outside working hours.
With my team, we analyzed data from chats between 7 am and 11 pm, and in the weekend between 9am and 11pm. Surprisingly, we found out that the peak in the chats is actually between 11 am and 12 pm. Just before lunch there are about 8,8% customers using chats.
Right before lunch and outside working hours
The reason is that people tend to focus less when it’s about to be lunchtime, therefore get distracted more easily. Moreover, during working hours it’s way more complicated to make a private call. How many times did you get the message: “sorry, can’t pick up. I’m at work!?” It seems they are not that busy after all, so start a chat instead!
Furthermore, the table below shows that a big part of chats takes place outside working hours, up to 36.5%. The biggest amount (32.6%) takes place between 5-11 pm, while in the morning 3.9% of chats take place between 7-9 am. Actually the number of chats taking place outside working hours is a lot higher as the time span is of 7 days, and of course, all the chats in the weekend are naturally outside working hours.
In which way do you stay in touch with your customers online?
Live Chat thrives in direct and fast contact. Visitors who can’t find the information they’re looking for need a quick answer so they can just continue with their day. One big mistake that chat operators often make, is to give too extensive answers. And whenever you give too much information, you will naturally get a lot more questions in return.
In this way, chat operators become less efficient as chats last too long. Considering that operators need to handle multiple chats simultaneously, this will reduce the first response time. Therefore, it’s really important that chats don’t last too long in order to maximize the chances to convert visitors
Why should you use real-time contact?
Is chat a good tool for customer service? Of course! Many visitors typically have first and second line questions which are not really urgent to justify a call or an email. Without a live chat, companies would never be aware of these questions and never answer. The point is that these questions can actually be the ones to discourage your visitors to buy from you.
Answering these questions can be the trigger to push your visitors to convert. In this sense, chats can be definitely considered as a sales channel, and at the same time as a filter to redirect visitors to the right department.
In any case, clients that need support will still contact you by email or phone because for these issues, it’s not a big issue to wait 10 minutes on the phone for your reply.
Watch out for opportunities
I started this article talking about the change in customers’ expectations. They became a lot more demanding and one of the ways they like to be delighted is by having a quick way to contact you on your website.
Real-time contact in the shape of live chat is still a brand new concept. This also explains why many companies still don’t know when or how to use this channel. When starting with chats, it’s very important to ask yourself some questions. When is the best moment to chat? How do you communicate to keep the quality high? And you should only use this channel if you’re sure you can do it right. In fact, if you don’t commit to doing it right, you’re better off not doing it at all!
Do you already use live chat on your website? What’s your experience with it? Share your story in the comments below.