Online chat is a tool that sits on your website that enables customers to interact with you directly in real time by chatting to you.
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 don’t have to use a live chat plugin; you can also 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.
What are the benefits for your business?
Apart from the obvious benefits of being able to interact with prospects live on your site and allowing you to turn the lurkers into bookers, there are other benefits such as getting insights about your customers.
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 potential 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
This is one of many business’s favourites: you can actually see on your Dashboard what pages people are on and therefore understand their problem and ‘chat the solution to them (note that you can’t do this if you use Facebook Messenger).
Being able to see what pages people are on, what you past chats were, how long they’ve been on a page and how they were referred to the website gives you a lot of business intelligence that will help you better serve their request.
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 rapport 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 is called Tawk.to and 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-task.
When you want to switch of the chat, it changes to take a message and delivers the message to your inbox.
You can also set up scheduling so it automatically turns on or off at certain times.
Which one do you recommend and how much do they cost?
Depending on your needs we will generally either recommend Facebook Messenger (yes, you can use it as a chat platform on your website) or Tawk.to. They are both free!
At TourismTribe.com, we use Tawk.to (we switched from Zopim/Zendesk). The reasons we love it are:
- it is ‘full features free’ which means that you get all the features for free (including unlimited user accounts)
- we think their their business model is entrepreneurial and we fully support this being entrepreneurs ourselves
- they also offer an internal knowledge base and some great integration with zapier as well
- their support is absolutely awesome, you can ask them anything via their live chat!
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 number of chats
- Calculate your conversion ratio (number of sales from chat / number of chats)
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 – with Tawk.to you can use their ‘ticketing’ system to respond to missed chats.
Finally, make sure you have a plan in place with regards to who is in charge of answering live chat (and missed chats) in the business!!
Connecting live chat to your website
These are the steps you’ll need to follow from go to wow. Were sharing with you the order of how we recommend you set things up.
- 30 minutes – Set up your account on Tawk.to (or go to your Facebook Messenger settings and configure it if you wish to use this as a live chat platform on your website).
- 30 minutes – Install the plugin on your website. For WordPress, you can use both the Tawk.to or the Messenger Chat plugin.
- 30 minutes – practice with a friend or team member chatting to your account learning how it works.
- 30 minutes – update your operations manual and brief your staff at the next meetings.
Live Chat is discussed in more dept in our 12-week course for tourism businesses.