There are hundreds of live chat programs on the market – each one claiming that they’re the easiest, most affordable, and most-used services on the web. But what does that mean for your customers?
As a business owner, you need to be able to translate live chat conversations into measurable sales. Live chat software is one of the many ways you can do that.

But just putting up a “Live Support Available” button and calling it a day won’t work. Here are five benefits of a live chat program to more effectively increase sales, improve conversion rates, and grow profits.

1. Live Chat Offers Immediate Solutions
One of the main reasons to consider implementing a live chat program is the on-demand nature of the web. Prospects will seldom call or even email a company with their questions, simply because they don’t want their personal information added to some email list that’s going to continually pitch them products.
Live chat gives them the ease and comfort of chatting right from their computer, with some degree of privacy. This in turn compels them to be more open with the live chat customer support representative.
Live chat can also save you a lot of time that would ordinarily be spent fielding emails and answering questions. You can set up what are commonly called “templated” responses and URLs that provide answers to your visitors’ most common inquiries. With just the push of a button, they immediately get their answer. Plus, you can even send greeting messages automatically – letting the customer know that someone is there to support them and will be ready to help them momentarily.
All of these minutes saved add up to hours of extra productivity for you and your business.
Tip: Be certain that your support is staffed during normal business hours – customers are discouraged when they see a “Live Chat – Unavailable” image, and may interpret it as a sign that your customer service may not be there for them when they need you.

2. Live Chat is Convenient for Customers
Getting an immediate answer to their question or issue is a huge confidence booster for potential customers. In fact, according to a Forrester Research study, 44% of customers stated that having a question answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer.
A good live chat software program gives the customer added convenience too – with things like visual and sound alerts when they receive a reply. This way, they don’t have to remain tethered to the chat window as they’re working. They can go about multitasking and get a notification that there’s a new reply the moment it happens.
Plus, to avoid having the customer repeat themselves and the steps they took that led them to the chat, you can use the visitor footprint feature – a staple of the best live chat programs, to see which pages they visited, how long they stayed and whether or not they’re a return visitor to your site. Imagine knowing this kind of detail about them before they ever send their question – it saves them time and frustration, and makes you look like a hero!
Having a kind, helpful and knowledgeable customer service representative can make or break a sale during this point. Hiring a representative with a sales background can be even more lucrative to your bottom line, because armed with this information they will close more deals.

3. Live Chat Opens the Door for Upsell Opportunities
This is perhaps the biggest profit-booster of all, and an opportunity that is overlooked by most companies. After solving the customer’s inquiry or problem, most live chat sessions end there – but there’s much more to gain.
At this point in the conversation, you could let the customer know that there’s currently a sale going on, or a discount coupon available for the very thing the prospect wanted to purchase. This swings the upsell door wide open, since the customer won’t have to go offsite looking for coupon codes, or to comparison shop at other sites.
Top live chat programs also provide invaluable analytics and metrics with which to measure sales performance, as well as integration with the most popular online platforms including WordPress, Joomla, Salesforce.com and many more. For live chat on the go, look for programs that are compatible with tablets and mobile including Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android and Blackberry.
A live chat representative can also let potential customers know about guarantees, warranties or any other helpful policies that could help the buyer feel secure about their purchase, which in turn leads to our next point.

4. Live Chat Boosts Buyer Confidence
When armed with enough information to make a solid buying decision, live chat can be the difference between pressing that all-important “Place Order” button or abandoning the cart.
What’s more, with the right live chat software, customer inquiries can be used to build a full-fledged knowledgebase, helpdesk and more – helping prospective shoppers find the exact solution they need, right when they need it most.
Any new customer wants to know that the trust they place in your company is well-founded. Having a knowledgeable, fully-staffed live chat helps quell any concerns they may have while projecting your business in a positive light. Good live chat programs also let you see transcripts of chats as well as offline messages left for you, so that you and your marketing team can learn from and improve the quality of your answers.

5. Live Chat Gives Your Business a Noticeable Edge
Perhaps one of the most important reasons to consider adding live chat functionality to your website is that it sets you apart from the competition. All other things (product, pricing, etc.) being equal, live chat could be the differentiator that wins you customers.
Ideally, you’ll want to test drive any solution you choose – to make sure that it’s customizable, fast-loading, seamless and fully supported by the company that sells it. Most live chat providers have a free trial or a lite version of their program, so that you can put it to the test to see how well it performs.
For best results, it’s recommended that you choose the top three providers that you’re considering, and then split test each one to determine things like loading speed, server availability, ease of use and more.

6. Live Chat Reduces Costs
Live chat software has consistently demonstrated that it can save on both employee task time and phone expenses. Some of the most notable cost savings are:
• Live chat reduces overall contact centre costs by lowering average interaction costs.
• Increases efficiency by allowing live chat representatives to handle multiple chats simultaneously, thus reducing the need to hire more people.
With employees spending less time on the phone, they can multi-task during chat conversations and cut the waiting queue to a fraction of its former size when compared to a traditional call answering results. Not only is this a process improvement but it increases the chances of overall sales.

Now It’s Your Turn
Have you use live chat on your website. What was your experience? Please let us know in the comment below!

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