What is Live Chat for an Online Business

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What is live chat for an online business

Many business owners see live chat as yet another tool, just like email or phone, that can be used to contact customers. They either don’t see much benefit in it or they are not aware of its full potential. What is live chat for a modern online business then?

Live chat is one of the more flexible tools you can use on your website. It helps you support customers in need of help. It allows you to increase your sales by engaging the right prospects at the right time as well as by generating a ton of new leads. Finally, it also can be an invaluable source of knowledge about the state of your business, showing you the way you should take it.

Sticking a ‘contact tool’ label on live chat and leaving it at that closes a lot of opportunities for growth.

Here are a few different uses for live chat that will help you answer the question: what is live chat for your online business?

What is live chat: how it works

Live chat on your website allows you to have real-time conversations with your customers. People coming to your website can click on your live chat widget to start a conversation with you or one of your customer service agents. What’s so special about that? Let’s take a look at other communication tools your business probably uses to answer this question.

Email and phone give you the same contact opportunity. They both can be pretty fast, with phone allowing for real-time contact too. What’s unique about live chat is the fact that you not only get to talk with people on your website but you also see who is on your website. With email or phone, you only learn about customers when they write to you or call you. Apart from the number of your sales you make, or the number of monthly visits, you don’t really get to see people on your website.

Using phone and email is a bit like talking with people in a room while being blindfolded. You don’t know about people until they talk with you. Live chat takes that blindfold away. You always know how many people are on your website and how many conversations you could be having. What’s more, you also know who those visitors are: where they come from, what website they are on and, if they done business with you before, you can also know their names, what they bought previously and so on.


This means that you can switch from the passive waiting until someone contacts you to actively engaging potential customers on your website, which is huge in terms of sales.

What is live chat: support

Before going into sales though, we should touch on a more popular use for live chat: support. According to Customer Service Report, 58 percent of companies using LiveChat use it for both sales and support and 23 percent of those companies use it strictly for support. This is slightly more common use than sales-focused live chat use (19 percent companies).

What’s so special about using live chat for support? Once again, you could be using email and phone for that. Well, live chat beats email in terms of speed. You can provide help much faster to a customer who is on your website right now. However, phone can be as fast. What phone can’t offer you as a support tool is efficiency. When was the last time you were able to hold six phone conversations at the same time? With live chat, that’s not even that unusual. An agent with some experience should be able to handle this many chat conversations without breaking a sweat.

At times, live chat can be even faster than phone because you don’t waste time on the ‘meet-and-greet’ part of the conversations. A customer needs to simply click your live chat and type in a question to get an answer. And if they are dealing with an experienced agent that uses tools like canned responses and message sneak-peek, they can have that answer really fast.

What is live chat: sales

Apart from support, the other main use for live chat is online sales. And it’s of big help as 62 percent of customers say that they would buy more if a chat option is available. Live chat on your website can help your sales in a couple of ways.

Firstly, you get the aforementioned ability to see everyone on your website. And by everyone here I mean the people who might buy something from you. For example, you can see exactly who is looking at your product pages. If you notice that someone takes a long time going back and forth between two similar products, it doesn’t take much effort to start a chat with them and help them make a choice. The best part about the website monitoring aspect of live chat is that it can be automated. If you ‘tell’ live chat who is likely to buy, it can start a chat with that kind of visitor automatically. For example, if most of your sales come from people who spend more than 5 minutes on product pages, you can automatically start a chat with them and increase your chances of netting a sale.

Secondly, you can use live chat as a lead generation tool. After all, making sales is not just about converting potential customers who are ready to buy right now but also about learning about leads who might buy in the future. Every time someone starts a chat, they need to provide a set of personal details like name and email that can be later on used for email marketing. One or two targeted emails with a discount offer and someone who didn’t buy immediately after chat can be turned into a customer.

Finally, live chat can also be used as an upselling tool that can help you make the most of each sale. Whenever a customer who already wants to buy something asks a question, you can suggest other products that would go along with their order to maximize the value you get from the sale.

What is live chat: business intelligence

Live chat can be a huge source of feedback. With hundreds of chats being answered by your agents each month, you can extract a ton of useful information from them. If you employ a way to organize those chats, for example by tagging them, you could be looking at a way to get extra business intelligence completely for free.

You can use custom surveys that come with live chat to get even more information. Imagine you could ask each customer who starts a chat one question. This can be a question about your product, about the quality of the received service or about the way they reached your company. A month or two of such surveys and you can be rolling in useful data.

What is live chat for your business?

As you can see, there’s more to live chat than simply using it as a contact tool. It can provide a significant boost to your support and sales efforts. However, this is definitely not everything. My question is: how do you use live chat? What is live chat for your business? If you’re using your live chat to reach any other goals, please share in the comments!

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