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  1. #1
    You Bet Your Life...Really lerxtjr's Avatar
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    How Do You Use Live Chat to Sell?

    I've had a live chat system in a secret area on my website for "paying clients" to have access to me whenever I'm online, which is pretty much day or night. And, it's worked great by cutting down on email, voicemail messages and phone tag.

    So, last week I thought I'd take the plunge and launch live chat on a website visible to the public to see if it would increase sales, figuring some people would rather just chat anonymously before deciding to buy.

    I know it's only been a week and we're in a Christmas month, but clickthrough's to the public chat have been pathetic and not at all what I expected.

    For those of you who have implemented online chat on your sites, what techniques have you used to get more of your visitors to begin chatting with you?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    winter is around the corner Tomer's Avatar
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    Well it really depends on your target audience. For tech savy users, it works great and many may use it.

    For me, my audience are mainly women aged 20-40 - thus usually not so tech savy. Not many people use the chat.

    But when used in the right place, it can be great!

    - Tomer

  3. #3
    You Bet Your Life...Really lerxtjr's Avatar
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    What I'm looking for is what you've tried to get more visitors to chat with you. For example, so far I've tried:
    - big chat button versus small chat button
    - male versus female photo on the chat button
    - shaded area to accentuate the area of the chat button
    - animated red arrow pointing to the banner
    - link below the chat button that takes visitors to a page that describes who they will be talking to, hours of chat operation, how the chat works

    What else can you add to the list?

  4. #4
    winter is around the corner Tomer's Avatar
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    Actually I have not yet added this to the main pages. For now I'm using the default image on the checkout and support pages.

  5. #5
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    As I see it, live chat really only has two good uses. 1. – to provide support and 2. – to give users a chance to talk to an authority on the site's topic. For instance, the friend of one of my client's will use a live-chat option on his forum to open a discussion within his market niche. I'm really hoping this fellow does some live chat promotion or his expert guest will be sitting by a quiet computer.

    Wouldn't it be great to be able to talk to an expert after the release of a podcast? I also think this might be a good use of live chat if, as I mentioned before, the podcast and the chat after the podcast received good promotion.

    As far as the support option for live chat, I really think it's a joke. I've been to several sites where live-chatters interrupt me with a message like, "Can I help you" and it makes me feel like I'm being stalked by a store clerk in a brick and mortar. Even worse, most live chat applications sit on a web site with nobody on line but "please leave a message" as if I had a question I wouldn't have enough sense to use their contact page to ask it.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  6. #6
    SitePoint Guru Rob_D's Avatar
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    If you are going to use livechat make sure that it is going to be supported.

    Demonweb have livechat support that works well: http://www.demon.net/helpdesk/techni...hat/index.html

    You could hide the livechat interface at different times of the day...

    Otherwise, adding to the list, you need to give incentives for people to chat with you. Also, say what times the chat will be online.
    It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value.
    Arthur C. Clarke

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    There are two ways chat works in a sales/ pre-sales capacity -- proactive and reactive (inbound) chat.

    What you've described and the tweaks you and most people in this thread are talking about is all reactive chatting. For this you certainly want a good sized button that stands out from the creative yet fits the site. When someone clicks the chat an agent must be there to answer them right away so set up your queue and out of office rules appropriately -- you have literally only a few seconds to respond before they abandon. Finally, go with a chat option that lets you only show chat when it's available. This doesn't mean staffing hours but rather real, live-time calculations of when an agent is free and when one is not. I never understood why a company would waste valuable site space stating you can't do something -- that space should be used for offline contact methods if online chat isn't an option. But realize, even with a great creative treatment, good placement and solid response time, inbound reactive chat is limited to the number of people who see it and want to start something.

    Thus the need for proactive chat. Proactive chat requires a lot more upfront thought, management and business rules than reactive chat because you are forcing yourself onto customers. So how to make it work? Using your analytics figure out what the curve is on various high impact pages (product pages, checkout pages) and setup chat rules to initiate an invite when someone breaks that curve. Proactive chat is also great to blanket over areas like your help section or about us. As with anything that gets in the customers "face" make sure your vendor and your creative allows people to easily cancel out and be sure you're setting a cookie or rule not to engage them every pageview.

    been to several sites where live-chatters interrupt me with a message like, "Can I help you" and it makes me feel like I'm being stalked by a store clerk in a brick and mortar.
    The most important thing to remember with proactive chat is to approach things softly. While some tools just open up a window, several vendors offer a much more friendly and passive invite that can easily be closed. Pair that with a helpful message and you have yourself a good way of feeding more volume through the funnel. I also recommend a post chat survey that asks if they found the invite useful as well as tracking of people who decline the chat to see if you're upsetting them and forcing bails that would not otherwise occur.

    And of course, as with anything, be sure to pick a vendor that tracks through to conversion so you can see the impact on your sales rather than just guessing as to the ROI.

    as if I had a question I wouldn't have enough sense to use their contact page to ask it.
    - Ultimately you may use it but how many people do? When websites have errors it's amazing how few people report them or ask for help and even those that do have relatively low conversion because of the delay. The power of the impulse buy is not something to take lightly (just ask the guy who sold me my new car ).
    - Ted S

  8. #8
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted S View Post


    - Ultimately you may use it but how many people do? When websites have errors it's amazing how few people report them or ask for help and even those that do have relatively low conversion because of the delay. The power of the impulse buy is not something to take lightly (just ask the guy who sold me my new car ).

    When I am browsing a website and see a question from a live chat I haven't queried, I immediately suspect their motives in "approaching" me and the method they use to know I am on their site. Generally I back out.

    One of the major reasons I believe people use the web is because it is a private way of browsing and shopping. If I want to interact with a sales person, I go to a mall.

    Now, I realize that's just me. But I can't help believe that I'm the only one.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  9. #9
    winter is around the corner Tomer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower View Post
    When I am browsing a website and see a question from a live chat I haven't queried, I immediately suspect their motives in "approaching" me and the method they use to know I am on their site. Generally I back out.

    One of the major reasons I believe people use the web is because it is a private way of browsing and shopping. If I want to interact with a sales person, I go to a mall.

    Now, I realize that's just me. But I can't help believe that I'm the only one.
    Yeah you're right. I tried a few times to invite people to talks, all of them left right away. :/ I just wait now till they come to me.

    - Tomer

  10. #10
    You Bet Your Life...Really lerxtjr's Avatar
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    as if I had a question I wouldn't have enough sense to use their contact page to ask it.
    Frankly, the main reason I got into this online chat thing is because I just got tired of sending emails through forms and never getting a response from companies. Or waiting several days for one. There had to be a better way. I view online chat as a way of getting immediate answers to questions...if the company is willing to actually staff their chat system!

    I also think you can get a pretty good feel for a company by chatting with their support people. You get an idea from their writing ability whether they are of your native language or foreign. You get the idea whether they like where they work or it's the worst place in the world to be around. You get to ask questions anonymously so if you don't like the responses to your questions, you can easily bail.

    From the comments and experiences shared in this thread, I'm even more convinced that online chat is misused by most of the companies using it and those companies have completely missed out on the real opportunity available to them through online chat.

    If we can put all these together into a system, and I will be the first to report what I find in my testing to make it work, we just might have a winner.

    Keep sharing, thanks!

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower View Post
    When I am browsing a website and see a question from a live chat I haven't queried, I immediately suspect their motives in "approaching" me and the method they use to know I am on their site. Generally I back out.

    One of the major reasons I believe people use the web is because it is a private way of browsing and shopping. If I want to interact with a sales person, I go to a mall.

    Now, I realize that's just me. But I can't help believe that I'm the only one.
    I couldn't agree with you more, which is why I hold the philosophy that you never do anything without testing.

    What I've found in my various jobs is that the exits caused by chat were minimal compared to the additional leads/ sales. However, that may or may not be the case for everyone and in many sites, the subject matter or type of consumer warrants using only reactive chat. It's not something you just set and forget -- not by any means.
    - Ted S

  12. #12
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    The important thing with a chat implementation is to make sure that it is not intrusive. Your visitors have to chose to chat. I did a usability test on event triggered chats and it did not go very well at all.

  13. #13
    You Bet Your Life...Really lerxtjr's Avatar
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    Your visitors have to chose to chat.
    YES!! Now You see my point of this thread. What can we try, what have you tried, what ideas to you have that you'd like me to try to get more people to engage in chat? The opportunity is there for us all if we just figure it out.


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