How many times have you gotten into an issue with a company and wanted to deal with the issue right then, in real-time? I know I have. Here are a few examples I’ve dealt with recently.

  1. Problem: When we moved into a new office, I ordered a desk chair. When I received my shipment from Staples, my order did not contain a desk chair. Rather, it contained a clear plastic tub for file storage.
    Solution: Facebook Message Staples and talk to Customer Care in real-time on messenger to explain (with pictures) what I ordered and what I received.
    Result: I got my chair re-shipped, kept the silly plastic tub, and all was fixed within about a half hour.
    Happiness Index – high.
  2. Problem: I ordered a pair of underwear from a department store. When I received the box of boxers, a dead lizard was sealed IN THE BOX OF UNDERWEAR.
    Solution: First – panic and scream. Second – tweet at the company and request some sort of solution.
    Results – four days later, they responded to my tweet and issued me a store credit.
    Happiness Index – low.
  3. Problem: A client was having issues with their hosting provider so I live-chatted with their customer support team.
    Solution: My problem was fixed within ten minutes.
    Result – happy client, happy Courtney.
    Happiness Index – Very high.

As you can see, the longer I have to wait for a solution, the less happy I was. While I know I’m not known for my patience, I don’t feel that my results are atypical. In today’s world, we want what we want when we want it (now). This has facilitated a shift in the customer service (and marketing) industry toward real-time communication and problem-solving. Studies have shown that one of the most effective ways to “chat” with prospects and current customers is to meet them in a channel they most prefer. Today, that source is digital and the medium is on your website or social platform via live chat. After all, who wants to spend 48 hours waiting (with bated breath) on an email response that may or may not make it out of the Spam Filter?

J.D. Power found that live chat has become the leading digital contact method for online customers, as a staggering 42% of customers prefer live chat compared to just 23% for email, and 16% for social media or forums. A report by ICMI found that website visitors that engage with your company via live chat are worth 4.5 times more than visitors that don’t. And finally, Forrester noted that there was a 10% increase in the average order value when reviewing the sales from customers who engaged in a chat before making a purchase, than those that did not use chat.

So, we know that you need live chat. But how? There are a host of plugins, services, and outsourced channels that allow real-time marketing. Zendesk and Olark are two of the biggest, but there is a wide range of other solutions that run the gamut from pennies on the dollar to major investments. They require you to put in a snippet of code on your website (usually in the header) that enables a popup for people who can chat while scanning your website or within the purchase process. This article from Hubspot provides some unique and interesting ways for you to use Live Chat as a sales and marketing tool that takes your site to the next level.

For example, did you ever think to use live chat on a page if it 404’s? What about as a way to qualify a lead before they reach out? What about for customer support? There are a host of ways to use live chat and automation that bring more leads, convert those leads, overcome objections, and keep customers happy.

So- what ways are you looking to add live chat to your business in 2019?