Adding Live Chat Support to Your WordPress Website: Pros and Cons
No matter how amazingly equipped your site is to entice, educate, or entertain your visitors, you may still find that it’s not always enough.
You do everything you can to maintain consistency and offer a high-quality experience, but sometimes you just want someone to give you the secret to converting more visitors to paying customers or subscribers.
What can I say? There isn’t just one solution that will give your WordPress website the power to convert every visitor on the spot. What I can tell you, though, is that there are a variety of methods and tools you can use to increase the likelihood that they do.
One of those tools I continue coming back to is the chat app. I’ve discussed how it helps you spy on your visitors and how it helps you declutter your website. Those are just a couple instances of how you can use live chat to improve your website, but how about how to use it to make your visitors happy? Because, ultimately, it’s their happiness that will lead them to your shopping cart, sign-up form, and more.
Let’s explore this connection between the live chat app and your visitors.
Will a Live Chat App Make Your Visitors Happier?
A number of recent surveys and reports have tried to make heads or tails of WordPress website chat apps. Do they really work? Are they just passing fads? How can they change the outcome of someone’s visit to a website?
Everyone’s asking the same questions about live chat, and you know what? Most of them report the same thing: some people really do like live chat. Sometimes.
- 44% of consumers surveyed by Forrester said that access to a live chat representative during the online purchase process was very important to them.
- 62% of consumers surveyed by Bold Software said they were more likely to return to a website and make another purchase after using their live chat app.
- 38% of respondents from that same survey attributed their purchase to the fact that they used the live chat.
- 56% of millennials preferred to ask a question over live chat instead of phone, compared with only 27% of people over 35.
- In that same survey from Software Advice, 49% of consumers chose to use live chat when questions were related to the online shopping experience. 74%, on the other hand, reached for the phone if the question was finance-related.
As you can see, the results of these surveys aren’t necessarily cut and dried. Sometimes the usage or success of a chat app depends on the visitors’ demographic. Sometimes it depends on the context of their visit. And other times it has to do with how satisfying the actual live chat experience was.
Despite the “mixed” reviews on chat apps, it’s up to every developer (or business owner) to decide whether or not a live chat module will make a positive addition to a website. Since every website’s success hinges on its ability to make visitors happy and, consequently, convert them, it would make sense then that the integration of chat software would be a given, right? It may not make everyone happy, but if it’s neatly tucked away, why not add it in in case someone does want to use it?
If you’re still on the fence about this one, let’s explore the pros and cons in using a chat app.
The Pros of a Live Chat App
Let’s start with the chat app wins.
Most other types of business communications require a lengthy and/or costly visit from the cable or telecom company to equip the premises with hardware, wiring, and activation. But this is WordPress we’re talking about. No third parties are needed. Find the chat app you want, and set it up right then and there.
It costs visitors absolutely nothing to use live chat, except maybe an email address. And it costs you practically nothing to get the app.
Do you know why millennials prefer live chat over other modes of communication? Because it’s fast and convenient. Faster support for visitors means less time they have to wait on hold for an operator and wonder if their time would be better spent going to your competitor’s site. Faster support also means quicker service turnarounds for your team and greater efficiency. Faster and nearly instantaneous support also means less time both parties have to spend playing phone tag or writing email responses.
When customers or prospects have questions that support or sales reps don’t know how to answer, they typically have to turn to a colleague or ask a manager for help. But that disruption in service can be jarring for customers. Live chat support representatives have the Internet, instant messaging, and the mute button at their fingertips. For online visitors who already have shorter patience thresholds, live chat is the perfect way to remove those service disruptions.
Multitasking isn’t always a good thing, especially when trying to attend to a visitor’s question or problem. But if that visitor delays in responding to a question or goes MIA, who’s to say live chat reps need to get stuck waiting on hold for them, losing precious minutes they could spend on other work or helping other customers?
The best part about relying on a website to share information about a business is the consistency factor. The content’s written, the design’s created, and it’s all compiled into one cohesive and consistent story. The same goes for the other elements that go into a website—including a live chat app. You can match the app to your branding. You can also provide support reps with scripts in order to ensure consistent responses to customer questions.
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Thanks to cloud-based systems like WordPress, we can now hire the most qualified and talented individuals regardless of where they’re located around the globe. Phone and in-person support generally relies on individuals who speak the native language of your company—and to do so fluently. Live chat apps mean that you don’t have to weed out the most qualified talent due to deficiencies in fluency, heavy accents, or even shyness.
For businesses looking to reach visitors worldwide, it can be difficult and expensive to provide live support if you don’t have someone manning the phones 24/7. With live chat, however, you can provide that round-the-clock support much more easily (if you want to).
If you use a chat app like WPMU DEV’s WordPress Chat plugin that includes real-time analytics, anyone monitoring and managing the app can see what action visitors took on the site before engaging them in support. A personalized service experience isn’t just good for improving the relationship with the visitor, it also helps cut down on time the visitor has to spend explaining what they were doing, where the problem was, etc.
As with other forms of live customer engagement, chat apps offer businesses the opportunity to actively upsell or cross-sell customers. The best part about this is that, because you have insights into what they’ve been doing on the site, there’s no need to wait until the purchase goes through and a follow-up email is sent. You can offer a relevant upsell opportunity right then and there.
While live chat isn’t the technology you typically think about when talking about exit-intent, it can be used for that very purpose. By being proactive and stepping in to help customers who are lost, confused, or in need of extra encouragement, live chat can help your website boost conversions by being more proactively attentive.
#12. Lead Generation
Sometimes you just won’t be able to convert a visitor. They might not be ready to purchase, they might be doing research for an in-person shopping trip, or they might change their mind. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still turn them into a future lead by asking for an email address or social media login before they access the chat app.
Chat apps come with built-in analytics so you can record and report on a number of things. I’ve already mentioned the visitor activity tracking above, but did you know you can also use chat apps to keep a record of chat reps’ productivity and success rates?
There may come a time when someone uses your chat app inappropriately. Unlike phone calls or even in-person exchanges where you’re unsure of the seriousness of a complaint, you can quickly ban frequent jokesters (based on the app’s records) or abusive customers taking up customer support’s bandwidth.
Surprisingly, not that many companies have jumped on the live chat bandwagon yet. By making this simple update to your website, you can boost your company’s reputation as the attentive, forward-thinking, and tech-savvy company that it is.
The Cons of a Live Chat App
And now the dark side of the live chat app.
#1. Learning Curve
Unfortunately, it’s not safe to assume that every person using the Internet and visiting your website will know how to use live chat—or that it even exists.
#2. Multi-Channel Communication
No matter how much your visitors enjoy live chat, it will never become the sole or primary form of communication. Some people will just always prefer the human touch from a phone call or the more passive approach via email.
Unless support reps start using emoticons to convey emotions during chat (which could be perceived as unprofessional if it doesn’t jive with your business’s style), it may be hard for visitors to believe there’s any real care or concern on the other end of the conversation.
A live chat app can’t really be managed while out and about, heading to client meetings, driving from work to home, etc.
As with any WordPress third-party integration, there’s always the potential that a poorly-coded plugin will interfere with your site’s performance. A poor quality chat experience could also seriously compromise your ability to deliver high quality communication to visitors.
Whether or not the chat app’s hours of availability are clearly stated on your website or not, visitors may be turned off by a lack of support when they want it.
Every business owner will choose to do this differently, but if they don’t have the right people or right amount of people monitoring the chat app, they may lose productivity while chasing down support reps or managing it themselves.
So, the question still stands: will a live chat app make your visitors happy?
Based on the pros versus cons, I think that answer depends on who your audience is and how you plan to make use of the chat app. If done properly, chat apps are a great way to make businesses happy, too.
With real-time engagements of your visitors, you can learn more about what they’re doing on your site while attempting to prevent site abandonment, generate leads, and convert more customers.