6 Tips on Live Chat for Non-Retail Marketers
Lennarz relates his experience with why prospects prefer live chat to initial phone or e-mail contact: "With live chat you get people who come who, for whatever reason, have chosen to … remain anonymous. And they can remain anonymous for as long as they choose. There's less at stake … for them on a live chat than there is through a phone call, where they may have to say to someone, 'No, I don't want to tell you what we do.' vs. the chat, where they can just sort of ask questions and give you bits of information that they want to give you. It's less of a confrontational way for a prospect to decide how much they're interested in your services."
• Think of it as a customer relations management tool. While some may think live chat support is passé—perhaps assuming it is only still relevant to software companies that provide ongoing technical support—Tharp says this method of CRM is again en vogue.
"You can only communicate so much information [on the static Web] before people inevitably either run away from your website, screaming about all the text, or go to the next website," he says. "They want information quickly."
Tharp cites a large nonprofit organization that supports people with illnesses and houses a great deal of information on its website. The organization uses live chat to guide site visitors to specific pages, provide links to information and offer advice within the chat.
Another point Tharp makes: If companies don't provide good customer support, Web-of-mouth will surely let consumers know right away.
• Consider live chat a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. Tharp says while many retailers make live chat an effective conversion channel, that may not work as well for non-retailers. For non-retailers, live chat mainly provides a channel for an effective call to action by answering questions, engaging with prospects and eventually getting information from them.