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!
These days, you can use Facebook Messenger as an online chat tool on your website. Whilst it requires people to have a Messenger account to chat, it simplifies the management process for busy tourism operators as the chat request lands in your Messenger inbox, that you probably manage well already.
Why do you need Online Chat?
Quite simply, it’s all about customer service and reassurance. By engaging with your customers online via chat, you can;
- Direct them quickly to the information they require
- Explain what you mean in another way
- Upsell your product using your personal product knowledge
- Provide additional information by providing links to external sites
- Build meaningful relationships
It’s just another way of communicating with your potential customers and as it’s reciprocal, more powerful. And truly, it is expected these days.
What are the benefits for your 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.
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.
“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?
Most of the tools have a free plan that’s sufficient for the majority of tourism businesses.
Which one do you recommend?
If you’re happy to use your Facebook Messenger on your website, we recommend you sign up for a free account with ‘ManyChat’. It will allow you to further customise the chat widget and even add some automation (if you wish). This works well on self hosted websites (e.g. WordPress). If you’re on Wix, we recommend you use Wix’s own system.
If you don’t want a Facebook Messenger integration, you could use Zendesk Chat, Tawk To or similar.
How do I set up Facebook Messenger on my website with ManyChat?
1. Go to ManyChat.com
2. Click “Get started for free”
3. Sign in with Facebook
4. Connect the Facebook account you want to use
5. Fill out the steps until you get to this stage
6. Go to Growth Tools > new growth tools, select ‘Embed Facebook Customer Chat’.
7. Edit your opt in message, e.g. Welcome “First Name!” Thanks so much for your message, we won’t be long.
8. Click publish.
10. Click next
11. Copy the code.
12. Paste it on your website (you’ll generally find where to by looking at your theme settings)
13. Click finish
14. Activate your ‘ManyChat’ chat, (top right, move the gauge from draft to active)
15. Head over to Automation > default message. Disable it (very top)
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.
- 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.