Live chat is a lot like immediate interactive email and is great for your customer service. Live chat helps you support customers who need help. You can increase sales because customers can get their questions answered faster.
So what if you want to engage with customers 24/7 but you just don't have the people? What's a small business owner to do? Can you use live chat when you don't have staff 24/7?
Start By Deciding if Your Small Business Even Needs 24/7 Chat
What kinds if businesses need chat 24/7?
- If you're an online retailer selling products directly from your site, you need live chat. After all, customers may want to ask questions before buying from your ecommerce store so being available through chat might be the difference between making and not making that sale.
- If you offer a service -- anything from consulting to web design -- you may need to chat to answer questions about the service you provide before a client will engage you.
- If you take reservations like a restaurant or hotel or schedule appointments like a medical provider or real estate sales agent, you may also want live chat capability (though you may only need it during business hours.)
Find a Chat Platform to Integrate with Your Email and Mobile Device
If you fit any of the categories above, live chat is very doable for your business -- even without a huge staff. "Yes, you can absolutely do it. The key is to find a chat platform that iterates with your email and a mobile device." says Ivana Taylor of DIY Marketers.
You can connect the chat box on your website to an app so you get an update on your mobile device any time. This will allow even solopreneurs to be available for chat without needing to employ a team to handle questions.
Look for Alternatives if Live Chat Isn't an Option
But even if you feel live chat isn't feasible -- perhaps you are the only one in your business and simply cannot be available to chat with customers 24/7 -- there are alternatives.
Here are some other options to get customers the help they need.
1. Online self service
You can create anFAQ page where frequently asked questions are posed and then answered. If your customer's question is a simple one you get all the time, this solution should work nicely.
2. Knowledge base
To get a little more sophisticated, offer a support page where visitors can enter search questions to find articles that best answer their queries.
Take the content from FAQ pages and knowledge bases and make it available via messaging.
“Really the bot is on the front end but it’s AI on the back end,” says Brent Leary, co-founder of CRM Essentials LLC. Bots use AI to learn from previous questions asked by customers increasing their capability to answer future questions quickly and accurately.
One last point: Don't offer live chat to your customers unless you intend to respond promptly to their questions. Promoting live chat and then failing to respond when customers want to engage can be worse than not offering chat options at all.
- Make a list of all the things you will use live chat for.
- Go to sites like G2Crowd, Capterra or GetApp and filter your choices by the features you're most interested in.
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