(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

Benefits of Chat (and 5 Ways to Increase Engagement)

by | Best Practices, Why Engage?

Before you implement a chat platform, it’s worth taking a step back to understand why you want to offer chat in the first place. This may seem like a pointless or even silly concept to ponder. The truth, however, is that you don’t want to encourage chatting for its own sake without a solid strategy in place. Chat is a tool designed for certain goals, such as to increase sales, build brand awareness, or make customer service more efficient.

No matter what kind of engagement you’re measuring, you’re doing so with certain objectives in mind. Think about your email campaigns, for example. You naturally want your subscribers to open and derive value from the content you’re sending. However, your real end goal is to get conversions. It’s the same principle with chat. Companies that implement chat should be intentional about why they’re adding chat with an overarching goal to generate specific results from those interactions.

To begin with, make sure you identify goals related to your chat strategy. This might include increasing brand awareness, getting more opt-ins for your mailing list or selling more products. Whatever your goals are in the beginning, make sure they are clearly defined, specific, and measurable.

Using chat to generate sales

Most B2B and B2C organizations implement chat to drive more sales, and the instantaneous nature of chat fits consumers of today well. Today’s consumers are often strapped for time, multitasking, and maybe even a bit impatient. According to the Nielsen Norman Group, most website visitors will leave in less than a minute if they don’t find what they’re looking for. Of course, keeping potential customers on your site is based on many factors, including your web design, page loading speed, and ease of navigation. Chat can make your site more user-friendly by helping shoppers quickly find what they’re seeking.

By chatting, customers can learn which product is most appropriate for their needs and get answers to commonly asked questions. Chat can increase conversions on e-commerce sites by providing customers with helpful information quickly. Keep your chat agents well-informed and up-to-date with your latest products and offerings. When your agents provide better customer experiences and quality information, your conversions will increase.

Using chat for customer support

Customer support is another useful way to use chat. There are several advantages to offering chat on your website for customer support (such as increased CSAT, reduced response times, lower cost-per-interaction, and more). Here are a few recommendations:

  • Make sure your chat agents are well versed in chat etiquette. They are a reflection on your brand so they must always be polite and courteous even when customers aren’t.
  • When chat agents can’t answer a question, they should make it easy for customers to connect with the right person or set up clear internal processes for transferring chats among teams.
  • Connect chat with other useful resources. In some cases, the customer’s question is already answered on an FAQ page, a training video, or on another page of your website. Rather than having your rep repeat these answers over and over, have them provide the appropriate links or redirect the visitor to the correct page. This frees up space for other customers to chat.

Chat can help you build your brand

One of the best reasons to use chat on your website is to increase brand recognition. Your website is your digital calling card and reflects your brand. When you introduce a chat feature to your website, this gives your website a real-time voice and personality. Visitors are no longer just passively browsing your site; they can now actively engage with it. It’s important, therefore, to make sure your chatbot reflects the brand voice that you want.

When training your agents, consider your buyer persona. Brick and mortar businesses (whether retail stores, restaurants, spas, or medical offices), consider their customers when they hire staff and instruct staff on how to interact appropriately with customers. The same training should apply when it comes to your digital representatives. Consider your overall brand image and the way your customers prefer to be treated. For example, some businesses have a more formal image while others are more casual or humorous. This should be reflected consistently in chat sessions. One way for chat agents to engage with customers is by using emojis during chat sessions.

Chat can reduce email and call volume

While chat can never completely replace other forms of customer support, chat sessions can address many common questions and issues. With live chat agents helping to sell products and deal with customer support issues, your business will have fewer calls and emails. This lets you improve efficiency as you and your employees can focus on other tasks while your customers get the answers they need via chat.

Where do chatbots fit in?

While live chat agents provide more comprehensive support than chatbots, there are also advantages to having a chatbot on your website. For one thing, bots are available 24/7. For most businesses, it’s not practical to have staff on hand at all hours. Chatbots can provide helpful information about frequently asked questions and capture important visitor information like email address.

A common misconception is that most consumers don’t like chatbots and would prefer to talk to a human. The 2018 State of Chatbots Report found that 69% of consumers prefer chatbots for simple questions. Of course, people still want to talk to knowledgeable technicians and consultative sales reps for more complicated questions. However, it’s clear that consumers are increasingly witnessing the value of chatbots.

Five tips to increase chat engagement

If you want more customers to engage via chat, you have to understand that chat is only a single element within your entire website. It’s essential to integrate chat with your website design so it feels natural for visitors to engage. Here are some guidelines to increase customer engagement for your chat function:

  • Chat button and window placement is key. Site visitors simply can’t initiate a chat session if they don’t know it’s available and can’t find your chat widget. At the same time, you don’t want it to obstruct the view of your main content. UsabilityGeek recommends placing chat buttons in the lower right corner of website pages for optimal UX.
  • Give visitors a chance to get settled. Rather than having the chat window open immediately upon page load (which honestly feels rather abrupt in most cases), give visitors at least 15-30 seconds to look around.
  • Unless you have a specific reason for hiding the chat button on certain URLs of your website (which is entirely possible), it’s generally a good idea to make the chat button and window visible on all of your web pages.
  • Make sure you have a clearly marked button for initiating chats. Many companies have started experimenting with using less-than-obvious icons for their chat buttons, leaving visitors second-guessing their true purpose. It’s best to stick with a chat button that’s designed with an obvious chat/chat bubble/etc icon, text, or both.
  • Track analytics for chat sessions. Whether you use in-app reporting tools (SnapEngage offers a full suite of reports), Google Analytics, or other reporting methods, it’s critical to measure chat platform analytics related to agent performance, visitor and audience information, chat activity data, and more.

A well-defined chat strategy can help you build your brand, get more sales, and provide better customer support. Getting people to actually take advantage of your chat function requires you to become clear on your objectives, pay close attention to how chat fits in with your website’s overall UX, and carefully track your results to see what might need tweaking. If you don’t currently have the kind of engagement you want, don’t get discouraged. Take a close look and see what you can do to make people appreciate the many benefits of chat.