Pros and Cons of Live Chat in 2018

The Pros and Cons of Live Chat

More and more companies are adding live chat apps to their websites to help customers easily start a conversation. But should you be adding one too?

Here some advantages and disadvantages to consider before you go ahead.

The Pros of Live Chat

Leads & Enquiries:

This is the main advantage and the obvious reason to add live chat to your website.

And, In most cases, if you add a live chat app you really will get more enquiries. Even if you’re offline people still tend to leave details that you can follow-up later.

This does have to be balanced by the disadvantages later in the post but it’s a pretty compelling reason to get going.

Expense & Ease:

Further to the above, adding a live chat is normally pretty easy – especially if your website is on a platform with a lot of developer support like WordPress or Magento.

It also doesn’t have to be expensive. Quite a few apps – like Drift – use incremental plans so that if you’re only chatting with a small number of customers, or operating within reasonable limits, then you don’t pay anything at all.

This means that if you’re a small company it’s affordable. And if you’re a major brand – with a lot of website traffic – then the relatively small monthly investment is usually more than matched by increased enquiries anyway.

Culture & Experience:

Companies should speak to visitors to their website in a language that they understand, using technology they expect. We think so anyway!

As such, live chat rides the zeitgeist. When customers’ patience and spare time would seem to be going down – and more plainly when customers just expect to have a live chat – having live chat is a great way to meet expectations. Compared to a clunky contact form, it can also reinforce the human side to the business by connecting people.

This harmony develops enquiries, mentioned earlier, but also just improves the user experience, maybe even brand advocacy. And if competitors are still lagging behind and using oldskool contact forms then even better.

The Cons of Live Chat

Noise & Nonsense:

Ideally, every live chat started would be the first stage of a valuable enquiry or booking. In reality, more than half of all live chats can be mundane questions about half-related topics – or even completely bemusing questions about unrelated topics.

Here’s a sample of some live chats that came through for a travel client of ours over the past month.

  • Hello, my family is staying in town this weekend and I would like to visit them but I can’t remember there address is there any why you can help me?
  • Hi, I’m just looking for a nice vegetarian restaurant or café to eat at today
  • Hi Rob, how are you? (there’s nobody called Rob working at the company)

 
To add to that noise, live chats can also give current customers an easy way to get in touch about all manner of issues that can then drain resources, which brings us onto…

Time & Resources:

Lots of live chats require lots of resources to react to the chatter. And if you can’t react then you could lose that enquiry and leave a bad impression.

Most live chat apps do allow various team members to be added, as well as apps for Android and iOS. However, going back to the earlier point on expense, you might have to fork out for a paid plan to add a lot of people.

There is usually a settling in period and then it becomes easier to manage. The more visitors you have to your website, the more difficult it can be. But be prepared to have a reactive team in place for an established brand or website.

Abuse & Anger:

With the rise of trolling and Internet unpleasantness, online conversations have become far from polite.

You wouldn’t expect a live chat conversation to become as aggressive as a YouTube comments stream or an antagonistic as a Twitter debate. And this is normally the case but we have seen a fair amount of abuse come through live chats to our clients.

This can come from angry customers, impatient prospective customers, time-wasting competitors, or even just from the same anonymous, abusive mindset that sometimes taints the rest of the Internet.

So, be prepared to have a thick skin and occasionally deal with abuse. Make sure staff expect the odd torrent of expletives. And don’t feed the trolls!

Data & Analytics:

This is a bit of technical issue but live chats can potentially lose you a lot of data because they still don’t link so well with analytics packages like Google Analytics.

What this means is that it’s difficult to work out where live chats have come from – and assess the ROI of marketing channels like Google Adwords, or even content marketing. Compared to contact forms, it’s not so easy to track live chats.

However, things are changing. Quite a few apps, like Olark and Drift, have added Analytics integration – and more apps are now including this integration as standard.

If you’re one the many companies or consultants that wants data on your live chats, we recommend checking the integration features first before selecting a system.

Ready to use Live Chat?

Consider the disadvantages we’ve mentioned but if you’re in the mood to try, here are a few of our recommended Apps…

  • Drift: free for up to 100 active contacts and easily added to WordPress – reliable, slick, and pretty affordable. Good integration with Google Analytics too.
  • Olark: Another widely used paid app – pay per operator, per month, with simple integration with Google Analytics via event tracking.
  • Tawk.to: this one claims to be completely free although we confess to not trying it yet. It does seem to get some good reviews though!

 
And now we can shamelessly segue into letting you know that you get in touch with us via live chat if you’d like to discuss this issue, or any other digital marketing problem that you might have…