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My honest answer to "Should I have a live chat feature on my website?"

Clients often ask me whether a live chat on their website is a good idea to improve their website experience and connect with potential clients.

Chat features are traditionally seen with product-based businesses that need strong customer support, but I see more and more service-based businesses wondering if they too could benefit from a live chat.

And I can see why. Incorporating a live chat to your website can have great benefits:

  • They can serve as a seamless extension of your business and delight your prospective clients with a great experience before they’ve even hired you.
  • They can help increase lead generation: it’s a great way to build rapport with prospects and build trust.
  • They’re great for market research: potential clients are more likely to get in touch with questions which can help you understand their pain points.

But as with everything, just because something sounds great on paper doesn't mean it's absolutely necessary to get those same results I mentioned above. And although live chats offer great advantages, they can have devastating consequences on your client experience if not managed properly.

So today, let me guide you through the exact questions I ask my clients when making decisions around implementing chat features on their website. Let’s get started!


1// Do you actually need it?

The first question to ask yourself is whether your business can benefit from a live chat feature and whether you want to be more accessible for your website visitors.

If your main goal is to build trust with your potential clients, I have an entire blog post sharing 7 ways to build trust on your website. I believe nailing each of these will already put you miles ahead of the competition, because it's going to help you form connections with clients before they even hop on a call with you.

But ultimately, I believe that if you’re a solopreneur selling mainly 1:1 services, a live chat isn’t necessarily what’s going to build trust with potential clients in the most effective way.

Instead, I often suggest my clients focus on building rapport throughout their website with:

  • A connection-driven About page, so prospects feel like they already know you and want to hire you.
  • An easy way to contact you, so they don’t hesitate to take the next step towards working with you.
  • An up-to-date, comprehensive FAQ page, so they know you understand their goals and their struggles.
  • A library of informative blog posts that answer your ideal client’s main questions and establish you as an expert in your industry.

But if you have a more varied offering, a live chat can definitely be useful. Let’s say you’re a business coach selling multiple types of courses and group programs in addition to your private coaching services: a live chat can help you point your website visitors to the offer that best suits them, eliminating confusion and making it more likely to result in a purchase.

2// Do you have the resources to manage it well?

When you incorporate a chat feature on your website, you immediately raise your customers’ expectations. People expect quicker responses because chats are meant to be an instant solution.

So the question is - do you have the resources to live up to those expectations? Can you manage a live chat effectively? If you are the only person in your business, a live chat feature would probably be too much to handle which could create frustration with your customers.

Let’s say someone sends a chat message but then you don't have the resources to respond for 48 hours. You're giving them a taste of the customer experience of working with you, and they may not be thrilled with that response time.

The other aspect to keep in mind is whether you are located in the same timezone as your customers - if not, can you realistically provide support to someone located on the other side of the globe, when it’s 3am where you live?

If limited resources and time zones are challenges you’re likely to face, then it’s important you set expectations around response times in your chat feature.

3 // So you want a live chat. How do you make it work?

If you decide that the pros outweigh the cons and a chat feature would be an asset to your business, your next step would be to decide how you’re going to make it work for you.

Here's what I recommend to my clients:

  • The first thing is to add a welcome message that lets people know whether you’re available. I suggest setting business hours and making sure you communicate those hours. Adding your time zone is also a good idea so people know when they can expect you to be back online.

    Here’s an example of a greeting message you could add to your live chat:
    “Thanks for reaching out! I’d love to help, but I’m currently offline. My business hours are 9am to 4pm (GMT time), Monday to Friday. Please leave me a message and I’ll get back to you within 24 hours.”
  • The other thing is to prompt people to leave you a message if you’re not available. You can set up a short contact form asking for name, email address and their question so you can easily get back to them by email.
  • Another tip is to point visitors to the right direction by including Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) within your chat feature - so that people only come to you with specific questions and you can help them more effectively.
  • I also suggest my clients don’t overcomplicate the process. If people need to spend 10 minutes filling in a pre-chat form in order to talk to you, it's a huge turn off because the expectation of a chat feature is that it's a quick and easy form of communication.
  • Last but not least, you may even want to consider hiring a ‘virtual receptionist’ who can take over the live chat during working hours. My main advice here would be to ensure you train this person so they understand your business’ tone of voice, so you can provide a seamless experience to your visitors.

THE BOTTOM LINE

In summary, I don't believe a chat feature is going to be a make or break in your business, but if you have the resources available to manage it properly it can be a great way to build trust with prospects and increase conversions.

I also truly believe a website should work for you 24/7 and that any feature you implement should save you time and money so you can focus on booking dream clients and growing your business.

And ultimately, a chat feature is only one aspect of the overall flow of your website.

If you find your website experience isn’t satisfactory and your website isn’t converting the way you’d like to, then I’d love to help you get to the bottom of this so you can book more projects through your website.

I’d love to invite you to join me on a free call where together, we will:

  • Review your existing website and identify what’s working and areas for improvement so you can understand where your website is holding you back
  • Talk about the main mistakes people make on their website and the 3 easy ways you can improve yours to obtain more engagement and conversions
  • Leave the call with 3 personalised action items you can implement immediately so you can increase your conversions, feel more confident and ultimately grow your business.

I love connecting with business owners who want to take their business to the next level and am so excited to support you with your website.

Book your free call

Author: Chloé Meresse

I’m Chloé, the designer and web strategist behind Milk Tea Web, a creative studio specialising in strategic branding and website design. 
With nearly a decade of communications experience in my back pocket, I help purpose-driven businesses create strategic brands and websites that clearly communicate their mission and everything they stand for.

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