Updated: Apr 2
In a recent blog, we defined inbound marketing as a response to people’s preference to learn independently about products and services online, without needing to get companies involved. The recent trend among B2B companies to include online chat on their websites represents an interesting twist on inbound marketing – people who use it actually do want to get companies involved, but on their own terms.
Luckily, online chat often delivers. With 24/7 availability and much information served up via automated scripts, online chat can give seekers enough information to turn them into leads and increase sales while improving customers’ experience to boost retention.
There are some good reasons to consider adding online chat to the ways that customers can interact with your company. According to help-desk software maker Kayako, which conducted surveys of businesses and consumers, 79% of organizations said that online chat has positively impacted sales, revenue, and customer loyalty at their company. And online chat is typically less expensive for companies to manage than phone support, since automated scripts can respond to basic questions and when a chat agent gets involved they can handle more than one inquiry at a time.
According to the survey, consumers are fans, too – 38% said they’re more likely to buy from a company if they offer live chat. And when they have a good online chat experience they talk about it – 29% have told friends or colleagues when a chat goes well.
But there are downsides as well; survey respondents cited poor experiences characterized by long wait times for agents, ineffective scripted responses served up by chats, and frustration from having to repeat themselves. Online chat can also require the establishment of complicated procedures to ensure inquirers get the answers they’re looking for, according to TechTarget, and proper training and on-going skills development, which can get expensive. Also, because customer-support agents who take online chat inquiries that can’t be answered by automated responses are often also handling phone and email inquiries, burn-out among representatives is common.
If you’re thinking about adding online chat to your website, here are a few questions to consider to help you develop the right strategy:
What do we hope to gain by adding online chat (new leads, improved customer experiences that drive retention, lower support costs)? Can we provide enough information via automated chat scripts to deliver at least some useful information to site visitors?
Do we have the resources to monitor and respond to chats with live agents during peak visit times? This could mean 24x7, depending on what geographies your customer base spans.
When done well, online chat can go a long way to helping your organization create a conversational growth strategy that focuses on getting to know your prospects and customers better and giving them easy ways to interact with you.
Looking to implement or improve online chat at your company?
Software review site G2 offers a comprehensive list of online chat providers complete with overview of features offered, customer ratings, pricing (when available), as well as other information to help you create a shortlist of providers that may meet your needs.
For additional support, visit our services page to learn how Marketing Strategy Solutions can help your initiative be a success.
Learn more about how inbound marketing can help grow your organization from the new book The Principles of Inbound Marketing for Small and Start-Up Businesses