With lockdowns the world over in 2020 and a good amount of 2021, you might be wondering if live chat on your company website is a good idea. We explore the options when it comes to live chat, why you might want to consider using live chat on your website, where AI or bots might work and when you shouldn’t include live chat at all. We’ve experimented with live chat and found it didn’t work for us - we’ll tell you why.
Live chat is when you have a little icon (usually on the bottom right of your website) that your website visitors can click on to start a conversation with you. Some companies incorporate this with a chatbot that can answer basic questions. The idea of using live chat is to provide another way for your prospects or customers to make contact with you. Live chat can be helpful to manage multiple conversations at once compared to a phone call and is often viewed as faster than email-based support systems.
Chatbots are fantastic for transactional questions. Where do I find information about e-commerce? Do you have an e-commerce guide? What does it cost to build an e-commerce website? All of these questions are easy to answer, and you can write a simple one or two sentence reply which a chatbot can quickly provide in response to such questions.
A more sophisticated AI-powered chatbot can answer more complex questions. These kinds of chatbots are usually reserved for larger corporations that integrate their chatbot with back-office systems. These bots can answer questions like these: What is my account balance? When is my next bill due? How much will my next invoice be? Can I change my flight? Those questions require more logic, often some user-validation to ensure privacy is maintained and need a developer to help set them up and likely to retain them. This kind of chatbot is probably not what you have in mind for your small business.
If you get a lot of traffic to your website that generates many phone calls or support emails, you likely have a good case to set up a chatbot on your website. Websites that don’t get a large amount of traffic or are not already generating leads with many questions probably don’t need a chatbox or chatbot on their website. The time and cost likely could be used to focus on other areas like SEO that will increase traffic to your website.
Back in 2016, we thought we would put a chatbox on our website as there was plenty of talk about them at the time. The code was easy enough to install, but we didn’t get any chats. We thought this was just our website as we don’t get lots of traffic, but it wasn’t. We have another client that gets a LOT of traffic to their website, and they get calls all day about products they sell online; surely it would work for them. But, no! It didn’t work for them either. They found either they couldn’t staff the chat, so it was offline all the time, or they didn’t get any enquiries at all. When we redesigned their website in 2019, it was agreed we’d remove this function.
We don’t think so. Unless you're a big corporation serving customers across the country, have a lot of traffic to your website, and want to staff a chatbox all day long, the chances are you could probably write better product descriptions to answer common questions. Many of our clients have a frequently asked questions page on their website, which helps customers with common questions. Otherwise, we’ve found most people prefer to email or call to get these kinds of questions answered.