We were all on a Weekly Tin Shingle #TuneUp call one afternoon, talking about how small businesses are tracking their clients, customers and readers on their websites, when one of our Tin Shingle members Peggy Li chimed in that she loves interacting with her shoppers via her Live Chat box on her website, which she's used for over a year. She mentioned how she could track where they came from (from Googling something, or from another website), and how that has helped her serve her fan-base better. I was curious about Peggy's use of the Live Chat box, so I asked her a few questions. Peggy was happy to provide answers to our small business readers. See below for our interview!
How much time does it take per day?
This type of tool I see as an asset to enhance my business, not as a new obligation to maintain, so I don’t set a schedule for when I’m online. I spend maybe only 3-4 hours total online a week and I feel that it doesn’t harm my site to not have chat active for most of the day. If users want to contact me, the chat window provides a quick way to send email. I think the number of folks who actually engage in the chat are far less than those who would say prefer to contact via email – just because you have the chat “on” doesn’t mean you’ll be bombarded with questions (hopefully your website can provide most of the answers!). For the time I do spend online, I try and line those times up with when I know people are online and on my site, or immediately after an email newsletter launch or other traffic-driving event to capture questions by those users who visit the website as a result.
Can you give some examples of questions you get from customers?
Questions can range from the mundane, like “Is it really you?” to familiar, “Hey Peggy, when is my order shipping?” to specific questions about product, which for me are things like necklace length, customization options, and shipping policies.
Are they the same kind of questions you'd get from your Contact Us page? Or do they tend to be of a different tone or nature?
The questions are very similar to the ones I get over regular email, but my impression is that people who use the chat are looking for an immediate answer.
Have you seen a purchase after you finish chatting? Either that moment, or a week or so later?
After answering a question via chat, I’ve seen customers make an immediate purchase. If it is a complex question, I will follow up with an email (or ask the customer to email me to capture their information), and follow up as soon as possible. There are of course a few “lookie-loos”, but the personal attention is always appreciated!
An added benefit, aside from the obvious customer service aspect, is that the chat window provides a great window into your website activity. You also get a feel for the kinds of questions that come up while customers are browsing your site. I can see in real time when a new visitor logs onto my website, as well as the pages they are viewing.
Does it get distracting?
I usually leave the chat on while I work and don’t multitask on anything that I can’t drop and answer a question, so it’s not too distracting to my day. What’s also nice is that Olark allows me to have the chat closed, but I can still see the real-time stats.
Adding live chat has definitely been a benefit to my website. I love being available to my customers so their questions can be answered (and answered fast) and lower that barrier to purchase.
How much time does it take per day?
First I looked at a few live chat options. I use Olark, but I also looked at Zopim, LiveChatInc and Livezilla. I compared pricing, functionality and ease of use. Most companies provide a free level of service and a free trial for any paid levels.
I choose Olark because it was easy for me to install on my website by myself and I liked the simple and functional interface I could use for my chat box. I subscribed to a paid version for the first few months, which allowed for unlimited chat sessions and statistics, but I quickly decided that the free level was powerful enough for me. With the amount of time I could spend online and the limited frequency of actual chat sessions, the free level would be enough for my business.
Have any questions about live chat? Ask below and I’m happy to answer!