July 3, 2019

Does Your Business Need 24/7 Live Chat Support?

Many small businesses are seeing benefits from live chat and can take that to the next level with 24/7 live chat support.

Of the many benefits of adding live chat to your website, one of the most exciting is the concept of “making money while you sleep.” Maybe not truly making money for most, but still, the idea of waking up the next day to seeing transcripts of chats with warm leads would be a nice dream for many businesses.

For this reason, small businesses adding live chat are often tempted to add a 24/7 component to their website so that the live chat system is going at all hours, every day.

This may not be necessary for every business, but the appeal is understandable. Live chat is a way to serve potential customers, and answer questions without devoting your staff’s time. So why not keep live chat open even during off-hours?

If you are thinking about moving to 24/7 support for your live chat, there are a few options to think about.

What does support look like during normal hours?

First, how smooth is your lead generation process during peak hours? If you have a dialed-in system that doesn’t rely on micromanaging from staff, you are more likely ready to explore off hours.

If Live chat is a powerful tool and part of your existing sales process. You should be able to analyze how users are interacting with your website. Do they prefer to jump into a chat? Or do many still pick up the phone?

If you are getting significant use out of live chat already, you may want to extend the hours you have it available as an option.

How hands-on is your live chat?

Live chat is a broad term that has a wide variety of methods for execution. Some teams use live chat simply as a way to communicate with visitors on their website.

Other companies are hands-off, using chat agents and bots to communicate with the visitors.

Obviously, going to 24/7 live chat support requires you to be hands-off with your use of live chat, at least to some extent. It either means using bots for answering questions, qualifying and capturing information, and scheduling appointments. Or, it means using chat agents that are available during off-hours. This would typically mean a service overseas with different time zones.

What experience will 24/7 live chat offer new & existing customers?

This 24/7 chat option could work well, but keep in mind potential language barriers in going offshore. You will also need to remember the training required to make sure your bots or chat agents are communicating in the desired (and on-brand) tone of voice. Many offshore chat solutions are staffed in the Philippines, India, and other countries where English may be learned and spoken, but won't truly give the impression of a native English speaker working in-house in your business, whether you're in Lexington, KY, or San Francisco.

There's a normal pace and parlance for doing business in the U.S. -- a certain tone and polish of U.S.-based support agents, whether they're staffing phone lines or website chats, and new and current clients are sensitive to offshore support thanks to decades of poor experiences with your big business counterparts. Be careful not to erode the trust of potential and existing customers early on by connecting them to representatives of your business abroad who aren't going to be adequately familiar with American norms and business practices.

Is 24/7 chat support necessary?

Ultimately, this decision to go to 24/7 should be data-driven. If your customers are primarily in the same time zones as you, their time of searching could overlap pretty closely to your typical hours.

You should check Google Analytics to see when your website traffic is most active. If you have a big drop off in traffic after typical working hours, it would be unnecessary to add the 24/7 chat support option.

If you have a global business, with many international customers, maybe live chat makes sense for you. If you see that traffic is relatively active even in off hours, you may find that a 24/7 chat support option could be a major lead generation boost for your business.

For most companies, the best strategy is to start by perfecting live chat from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. This is the peak time for doing business, and you’ll have enough to think about to execute live chat well during these hours. If you are getting great results in those times, and see traffic extending beyond those hours, then 24/7 live chat support could be a great next step.

The ideal strategy for off-hours is to have chatbots that can answer common questions and carry out basic workflows through the chat. For example, if a certain question is asked indicating the web visitor is a good lead, the chatbot could ask if the person wants to schedule a consultation, and then walk through a few more questions to get the right time, phone number, email, and other essential information that you would need for a consult. (Tools like Calendly and Acuity make sharing your calendar and outsourcing calendaring tasks easy.)

If you don't have an agent on the chat, using bots still maintains a strong experience for the customer and allows you to guide them in the right direction. Some businesses will have an after-hours chatbot, inviting a visitor to leave their name and contact information. Using a bot is a stronger method because you are able to give more helpful information to the prospect and are more likely to have a meaningful interaction that either helps a client get the support they need or captures a new web visitor who becomes a valuable lead.

Another bonus? It's probably obvious, but even the cheapest offshore live chat services are more costly than chatbots. Spend your hard-earned cash on top-notch U.S.-based chat agents during daytime hours, and then conserve those resources after hours with chatbots. Smith.ai offers free after-hours chatbots with our fully staffed live chat service, available Monday through Friday during regular (actually, a bit extended!) business hours, from 8am to 9pm ET / 5am to 6pm PT. Averaged out across a 24-hour period, the cost is very reasonable at $8-12 per relevant chat.

Get a Free Trial of Smith.ai Live Web Chat

It's time to try live chat on your website -- the right way. Just one new client captured via chat can pay for a year (or more) of Smith.ai's live web chat service. We provide fully staffed live website chat with professional U.S.-based agents. Outsourced live chat is best for small businesses like law firms, ecommerce businesses, IT consultants, financial planners, property managers, realtors, and marketing agencies (to name just a few!).

Our U.S.-based agents are highly skilled and can answer common questions about your business, qualify new leads, schedule appointments, take payments, and more. You stay in the loop when chat transcripts are sent to you after each conversation and logged in your CRM. There's no setup fee, services are month-to-month with no annual contract, and plans start at just $60/month. Learn more and get started with a 5-chat / 30-day free trial!


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