Laptop computer, phone and coffee in the garden - freelance or remote work concept. small depth of field, focus on the keyboard

With Online chat, your work environment can be more flexible.


What is online chat?

Online chat enables customers to interact with you directly in real time. The benefits include the ability to offer personalised service, to create a unique relationship and ultimately increase your sales.

It’s the little box on the right hand side of the Tourism Tribes website that enables you to chat with me online!

Why do I need Online Chat?

After all, everything I need to say is written on my website and I have installed Online Booking functionality.

Quite simply, it’s all about customer service and reassurance. By engaging with your customers online via chat, you can;

  1. Direct them quickly to the information they require
  2. Explain what you mean in another way
  3. Upsell your product using your personal product knowledge
  4. Provide additional information by providing links to external sites
  5. Build meaningful relationships

It’s just another way of communicating with your potential customers and as it’s reciprocal, more powerful.

What are the benefits for my business?

Once you start using the chat you start to develop your own business intelligence. For example, you can choose to initiate the conversation after a certain period of time. From my experience, if you serve them too quickly they disappear, around 3 minutes seems to be about right.

You can also tell where they are from, where they came from and what operating system they are using. Repeat visitation is a sign they are interested but not quite ready to commit. So you can approach them, using a different tactics. You can reread previous conversations and pick up where you left off.

I don’t have the time or the staff to monitor a chat

The chat we use at the Tourism Tribe has and app so you can switch to your mobile phone, this gives you the flexibility to carry on your business and still manage the chat line. It also has sounds that alert you of a question, so you can multi-skill.

When you want to switch of the chat, it changes to take a message and delivers the message to your inbox. In my opinion, it looks much more professional than a “contact us” form.

How much does it cost?

At the Tourism Tribe we use Zopim and it’s free but there are many on the market, you’ll find the top 12 reviewed here. We suggest you do your research and pick the one that best suits your business needs.

How do I install Online Chat?

That will depend on what you decide to use, most of them are relatively easy and offer instructions and support.

What are the Business benefits of having Online chat?

Increased customer satisfaction

The main benefit is increased consumer satisfaction, a live conversation is a more efficient use of your time and more likely to end in a conversion. The immediacy of your response tells your customer you’re serious about your business and their needs. It enables customers to ask specific questions and source additional information that may or may not be on your website.

Development of trust

When establishing a relationship with a potiential customer, especially if you are requiring payment online, the development of trust is essential. Your business is no longer faceless it has personality, a person behind the technology.

Removal of barriers

Every time you ask a potential customer to “do something” like picking up the phone you are adding a barrier, especially if they have to leave a message. The same applies to contact us form and email. The removal of barriers and steering them towards a purchase is important in improving conversion.

More efficient use of your time

For small businesses, the reduction in effort required to make a sale may not be evident, but if you consider the time spent to respond to several emails required to engage a customer it adds up over the year it adds up.


By using chat and developing a repour with your potential customer you have the opportunity to up-sell. Find out if it’s for a special occasion and offer an additional service, just like you would on the phone.

Instant feedback and customer intelligence

When managing the chat you’ll quickly learn what customers are looking at on your site and where you can improve your content. If you see them searching you can offer to assist and provide exceptional customer service.

What should I look for in my Online Chat?

Like all tools you use in business, start with a list of requirements.

What do you need the system to do? Is it important for it to be flexible and work on your mobile? Are you looking for something that is easy to install? Is cost an issue for you? Do you require more than one agent on at any one time? Are you interested in analytics? Can you email the conversation to the customer?

Use reviews to narrow your list

A simple Google search will return recent reviews of Online Chat products with an independent reviews, this should help narrow your list. Once you have narrowed it down to 2 or 3, find a website using this product and gather a consumer perspective.

Measure the success

Once you’ve made a decision, I would suggest a trial period of 4 weeks and then review whether it is working for you or not.

You could:

  • Record the amount of chats
  • Check if there is a reduction in emails
  • Examine the number of bookings against the same period last year, to see if you are converting more visits to guests
  • Ask your customers what they thought (via the chat line)

Some other tips

It is important to set customer expectations. Make sure they know who there are speaking with and what time and days you are available. Remember to respond promptly to offline messages by checking your emails twice daily at a minimum.

In some products, you can pre set your responses, personally, I wouldn’t recommend this apart from the initial opening conversation. It’s all about relationship building, developing trust and responding to their specific requests.

Why not give it a try?


Head of Customer Service

@Tourism Tribe

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About fabienne

AvatarFabienne Wintle is Chief Digital Strategist and is an advocate for digital self-sufficiency, having empowered thousands of small businesses with the knowledge and tools required to make a living from tourism. Her special blend of digital know-how, tourism knowledge, coaching skills and a natural gift for communication make her a sought-after consultant, workshop facilitator and speaker.
She lives on Australia's Southern Great Barrier Reef in Agnes Water, Queensland where she volunteers her time to help local businesses use the internet.


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