More and more businesses are incorporating chat boxes into their websites. Clients love both the immediacy and the personal connection. A real human being standing by to answer your questions sure beats an email. There’s no doubt that chat boxes work well for both clients and businesses, but they’re a big commitment and need to be well managed. Read on for the low down on using them in the financial planning sphere.
How they work
It’s simple. You subscribe to software that adds a small box or button to your webpage. It only gives your clients the option to chat when you’re online and available. Otherwise, it shows an offline message form. The communication can be integrated into your CRM system for record keeping. The software also provides excellent analytical tools so that you can monitor your success in converting chats into clients and determine how the ‘chatters’ were driven to your site.
There’s plenty of reasons to love chat boxes.
Human connection: Live chats feel like real conversations. They allow you to establish the same kind of relationship you’d expect from a face-to-face interaction. You can get to know the person and build trust.
Efficiency: Real-time communication is the fastest way to answer simple queries and to give factual information on complex questions.
Speed: People can find emails tedious and never know when they’ll get an answer. Getting an automated message in response is always a bit of a disappointment.
Competitive advantage: Financial planners who use chat boxes have a competitive advantage and are more likely to convert website visitors to clients.
Cost: Live chats are free for local and global users, making them cheaper than a phone call.
Proactive: You can start the conversation when someone is visiting your site and provide additional quality information.
Adaptable: If you’re a one-man show you can switch off the function when you’re out and transform the chat bar into a contact form.
Staffing: You need someone available in real time to chat (but usually visitors aren’t disappointed if you stick to office hours).
Speed: You can communicate very efficiently, but you need to be prepared to respond quickly to almost any question.
Not mobile responsive: Not all mobile devices can support live chat applications.
Prank chats: You’ll probably get your fair share of not so serious chats and even abusive ones (but usually the software provides a system to block fraudsters).
Time zones: If you have offshore clients in varied time zones, you may disappoint them by ‘never’ being online.
The biggest bugbear
Visitors will feel let down if the person on the other end of the chat doesn’t know what they’re talking about. You simply cannot delegate the role of handling the chat box to an unqualified and/or inexperienced person. It’s very definitely a senior function, making it a potentially costly investment.
When chatting online, it’s very easy to become a little too lax and social and lose the plot regarding compliance.
Here are some checkpoints to keep you on the straight and narrow:
- Don’t give advice
- Be human but not overly emotive
- Remind yourself that you’re a brand ambassador
- Don’t attempt to pitch or sell
- Don’t drink and chat
- Don’t chat if you’re angry, frustrated or very tired
- Don’t comment on competitors’ products and services
- Use perfect yet engaging English
- Always express thanks for the conversation
If you would like a team to manage the chat box, you will need to plan. Develop a chat box policy and procedure, especially regarding the follow-up process. Also, be sure to put together a writing style guide so that you speak with one voice and project one professional and accessible brand.
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