Have you ever visited a website and a little chat system pops up in the corner? There’s a picture of a person and you see the three little dots jumping up and down so you wait to see what they’ll say?

Usually, it’s an employee of the business that greets you and asks if they can help you with anything. They’re friendly and will bugger off if you say no, but still… It makes quite the impression, eh? But other than that initial wow, is there any value in a free online chat?

We got one of our writers to investigate.

What Are We Talking About?

The software goes by many names but, most often, it’s referred to an online chat system. You can get a developer to build you a custom system or you can pay a monthly fee to an existing software business. In most cases, it makes sense to get a subscription. The cost of building something like that from scratch can be astronomical.

What’s the Point of It?

We feel pretty good if a real human being answers our questions or helps us do something we want. That’s why bank tellers still have a job and businesses spend thousands advertising that their helpline is answered by a real human being.

Im hereAnd that’s also the point of the online chat. Customers might visit your website with a specific question or come up with one while they’re looking around. And if there’s an online chat, they don’t have to spend the extra energy picking up the phone to call you. They can talk to someone right now.

An ATG Global Consumer Trend study found that 90% of customers find online chats helpful and, even more interestingly, 63% were more likely to return to a site that provided a live chat. That means more website traffic and more lead generation opportunities for your business!

Speaking of Leads…

Online chat systems can also add a competitive edge to your sales strategy. Any good salesperson knows that timing is key and making a possible lead wait around could mean the death of a sale. Online chat systems capitalize on this and allow you to connect with interested parties instantaneously. No need to worry about getting a phone number or email – pure, simple communication.

Happy Customers

Some businesses have started to use online chat systems for customer service inquiries. Instead of asking them to complete a long form, customers are able to express their grievances right away to a person that will make note of it and take action. The time it takes for the resolution to come into effect might remain the same, but the customer will feel comforted knowing that they could communicate their problem to someone who would listen.

Why Isn’t Everyone Doing This?

No system is perfect, and the standard applies here too. The downside to online chat systems are the cost. If you have a small business, the added software expense every month might be too much. Especially if you consider the fact that a real human being will have to be paid to monitor the chat feed. After all, there’s no point in having the chat if there’s no one to chat with.

One other consideration: do you really need it? If your business offers a straightforward service or product, or you meet with clients on an appointment basis only, there’s no real reason to shell out the extra cash. We suggest you consider your business’s unique needs before making any final purchases, no matter how awesome the idea of having a chat system on your website.

Final Thoughts

Research only goes so far. We’ve experimented with adding an online chat system before, but it didn’t work for us. Instead, we opted for a ticket system that allows everyone on the team to be notified of an inquiry.

Now this doesn’t mean you should give up on the idea of a chat system for your business. For some, it could provide better work flow, customer service, etc. And others might want to try a ticket system. (If you’d like the latter, contact us for more information.) You never know until you try it yourself!

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