There is a reason that telemarketers still blow up your phone while you watch Law & Order: SVU reruns in your sweatpants while eating frozen dinners (that’s not just me…right? right?). Nothing converts like a phone call. On the phone the seller can communicate confidence in their product and talk their potential customer through the benefits it offers.
There are already some excellent plugins that let you (or your robot) perform instant messaging-style chat with your users, but those don’t really replace the ability to speak to your users with your voice. To address that deficit, some clever developers have already created a number of good plugins which take advantage of Skype to allow your users to call you easily.
However, not everyone wants to use Skype to chat. Some feel that Skype is a less than ideal choice because of:
- the occasional unreliability of the platform,
- the time and trouble of logging into their account versus simply picking up their mobile phone, and
- privacy concerns surrounding sharing their Skype ID.
If there is one option that comes closest to satisfying everyone, it is ClickDesk. Easy to install, simple to use, straightforward to configure, and with a wealth of options, their plugin enables a popup window that offers the visitor the ability to instant message you, call you, or engage with you on Twitter or Facebook.
Once you have installed the plugin, you will be required to create an account with ClickDesk and designate an “operator” who will be the one to communicate with your customers using either GTalk or Skype. ClickDesk allows you to create multiple operators so that you can ensure that a representative is always available to speak with visitors.
Visitors can choose whether to phone chat with your “operator” using their computer, their phone, or through their Skype client. Should you choose to upgrade your account, you can customize the chat window, add additional operators, perform an unlimited number of chats, and even create a helpdesk.
If I had any reservations, it would be that:
- The plugin doesn’t immediately direct the user towards the calling function, but instead asks the user to first enter their name and email address. Although they can skip this step, many users have been cowed by spam into being selective about who they give their email address to and might be scared off.
- The button to begin chatting by phone is small and somewhat difficult to see. Since all interactions must begin with a live chat and only then can be moved to a phone chat, most users, I suspect, would default to simply continuing with the instant messaging and not even realize that phoning was an option.
The integration is a bit complicated (you have to create a Twilio app and add an XML file to your site), so make sure to follow their tutorial on how to install and configure their plugin exactly. It will also require that you have a Twilio account and you will be charged for each phone call made at the standard Twilio rates.
Nevertheless, it gives you a customizable application with a simple, clear interface that makes one-touch calling incredibly easy for any user to do.
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Call Now Button
Call Now Button is designed to work exclusively on mobile-optimized websites. Simpy install their WordPress plugin and head to their Settings menu where you’ll find a check box to enable the plugin and an input field where you can enter your phone number. Save the settings and a small green phone icon will appear at the bottom of your page; the phone icon will only appear, though, on a mobile device and will not be visible on your site when the page is displayed on a desktop or laptop.
When the icon is tapped, a push alert pops up asking the user whether they would like to call the number you had entered earlier. All they have to do is press OK and the call will be initiated.
The one problem with most call-to-contact extensions is that they direct every user to the same number, regardless of the visitor’s actual intent. Wouldn’t it be better if the calls could be directed instead to the person who is most suitable for each call: the sales guy gets the product questions, the tech support gal gets the product problems, and the billing questions go the staff member who is most comfortable with being verbally assaulted?
The plugin itself creates a customizable widget with fields for:
- The API key. You will have to sign up for their service (you can also request a Trial API key if you are unsure) to use the plugin.
- Configuring the name, button name, and widget CSS (configuration tutorial here).
- The text-to-speech script that directs the users to the right channel.
That text-to-speech script is really the heart of the plugin. It uses CDYNE’s own specifically designed, and very straightforward, markup language to allow you to direct your users and give them calling options. You can create your own script using their Advanced Commands functionality, modify one of their sample scripts, or go without a script to transfer the call directly.