5 Ways Live Chat is Reshaping the Behavioral Health Field

(Last Updated On: November 21, 2016)

Live Chat Extends Helping Hands for Recovery and Treatment Centers

In collaboration with guest author Sheldon Michael, Founder & CEO of Netjumps International

Immediacy, privacy and trust are just a few of the many benefits that live chat offers across a range of industries. However, when it comes to recovery and treatment centers in the behavioral health field (such as those focusing on drug and alcohol addictions), these priorities become critical requirements in the visitor experience.

Treatment centers across the world are beginning to turn to live chat software to bridge critical gaps and provide essential services to those in need, saving lives in the process. To learn more, we chatted with Sheldon Michael, CEO and Founder of Netjumps International, a drug treatment marketing industry leader.

live chat for treatment centers

Here’s a look at five ways in which live chat software is reshaping the way people seek and provide help in the behavioral health field.

1. Breaks Down Barriers

When those in crisis make the pivotal decision to seek help, the window of time they are willing or able to seek that help could be very limited. Rather than leave patients to navigate a maze of phone trees, live chat provides immediate access to a professional who can answer their cry for help without revealing some of the ‘lump-in-the-throat’ feelings that can accompany vocal communications.

According to a Harvard study, 92% of those suffering from severe addictions have an introverted personality; therefore, they are less inclined to seek help via the phone or other more direct methods. Live chat breaks down barriers and provides those who might otherwise feel uncomfortable seeking help with a safe and anonymous environment to initiate that first critical conversation.

“We’re in the business of saving lives”

-Chris Foust, Recovery Ways

Chris Foust, Director of Web Marketing for Recovery Ways, says, “We’re in the business of saving lives, and a first cold phone call can be ‘scary’ for many prospective patients.” The initial anonymity of live chat breaks down that barrier and is often a more attractive, alternative mode of communication for those seeking treatment during a time of stark vulnerability and uncertainty. These live chat conversations foster a sense of trust and often lead to phone calls between prospective patients and counselors, further assisting those in need.

2. Addresses Patient Pain Points

There are two main pain points that treatment centers face when first interacting with a potential client. First, a phone call may feel too personal (at first). A person wrestling with addiction is usually in a highly fragile state of mind upon their initial search for treatment, and therefore a full phone conversation can be daunting and mentally taxing.

A second pain point is that a simple form submission is often not personal enough. Mike Burke, SEO Manager of Aid in Recovery, says that “those seeking help often prefer to appear “faceless” and “nameless” at first due to feelings of fear and/or shame surrounding their addictions.”

People – addicts or otherwise – are generally cautious about providing personal information. The goal in these interactions is to connect on a person-to-person level with someone who needs help, and forcing an impersonal form submission risks making the addict feel insignificant. Live chat alleviates both of these pain points by giving those seeking treatment a safe, private, and anonymous (at first) outlet to find the help they need, while balancing the mental state he or she might be in.

Conversion rates jumped 225% per admission representative when leads interacted via a live chat engagement as opposed to a contact form engagement.

-Data provided from Netjumps International

3. Cuts Down on Expenses and Improves Agent Workflows

Live chat software can significantly cut down on an organization’s expenses by saving on phone operator costs and reducing the time employees spend on completing tasks. Representatives can handle multiple chats simultaneously, unlike phone support where agents are often reduced to assisting one person at a time. This increases agent bandwidth and results in lowered costs across the board, which creates more room in the budget for creating programs that assist those in need, hiring additional staff, upkeep of treatment facilities, and more.

Another key benefit that live chat software offers is its ability to integrate with other CRM, Help Desk or scheduling systems. Following a chat, live chat transcripts can be automatically sent to many 3rd party systems for more efficient and effective follow-up.

Foust also highlights the ease with which his agents are able to learn to use tools like SnapEngage. “Within ten minutes, agents are effectively navigating the software.” This allows agents to use their skills to serve those in need right away instead of wasting precious time learning a new tool.

4. Provides a Competitive Edge

Addiction centers in the behavioral health field have two goals. First and foremost, the goal of any addiction center is to help patients overcome addiction and improve their quality of life. Second, addiction centers seek to brand themselves as a program that works. When addiction centers build up their reputation as effective treatment centers, both goals are accomplished simultaneously.

An average of four treatment centers open in the United States every day; and in this crowded space it’s important for treatment centers to do anything and everything they can to differentiate themselves from those offering similar services.

So it’s somewhat surprising to learn that the adoption rate for live chat services remains relatively low in the behavioral health field, with many treatment centers having yet to implement live chat software on their websites. In a space where client relationships and personal connections are key, providers and patients alike are missing valuable opportunities to lend and receive help.

Due to the highly private nature of live chat interactions in the behavioral health field, treatment centers also have the ability to choose live chat services that are compliant with the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This precaution ensures that Protected Health Information (PHI) transmitted via live chat software remains in compliance with HIPAA statutes. In addition to addressing security concerns, many live chat services offer customized branding of the entire visitor experience (chat buttons, chat box, etc) to present cohesive branding across the board and create an exceptional first impression. This further instills confidence and trust in prospective patients and leads to increased call volumes and higher admittance rates.

HIPAA Compliance Guide

5. Offers Measurable Data

If a treatment center is trying to scale up, it becomes crucial to beta test and understand what is working (and what’s not). A huge part of this process involves gathering data across a treatment center’s website(s) and other digital channels to identify opportunities for improvement.

Live chat software gives treatment centers access to a wealth of insights in the form of live chat transcripts. This insightful information can be used to help gather feedback and identify trends, including:

  • Which proactive chat messages lead to visitor engagement and increased admissions.
  • Where visitors might be getting stalled in your site flow.
  • Speed in which care and information is delivered.
  • Which qualitative content funnels and communication paths lead to conversion.
  • Feedback from clients and prospects.

Live chat metrics also inform other critical business decisions such as staffing levels. Burke and his team routinely use SnapEngage analytics alongside call volume data to determine optimal staffing levels month-to-month, day-to-day, and hour-by-hour to ensure they are providing adequate and quality assistance to those that need it most, at the precise time they reach out for help.

“If there wasn’t an option for live chat on [the Aid in Recovery] website, I would not have reached out for help.”

-Aid In Recovery patient





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