Though the Internet is an incredible place for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to sell products and services, the outlet certainly provides its fair share of challenges.

One of the biggest stems from the potential disconnects that take place between an SMB and its customers.

While the popularity of brick-and-mortar shopping is certainly on the decline, one advantage of the traditional business model has always been the face-to-face communication that takes place between an employee and a customer. Concerns are heard, questions are answered, doubts are resolved and sales are made—it’s really that simple.

However, all is not lost for SMBs looking to better connect on a more personal level with potential clients. Thanks to brands like Olark, ClickDesk, SnapEngage, Intercom and WhosOn, there’s now a solution to such a pervasive problem—live chat software. If your website has yet to include a live chat box as part of its main user interface, there are a few reasons you may want to take action soon.

Convenience Is Key for Customer Conversion

You don’t need to be a UX designer to understand the importance of convenience in new customer acquisition. In fact, according to a recent Forrester study, 44% of online consumers reported that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase or commitment is “one of the most important features a website can offer.”

The reasoning behind this finding is simple. When shopping online, it’s common to encounter technical problems, content confusion or questions about what’s being delivered. With a responsive online chat system in place, finding an effective solution takes only a matter of moments.

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Contrast this experience with having to dial a 1-800 number for help. After listening to a canned list of responses and navigating a phone tree, if your call hasn’t accidentally been dropped, you can speak with another person. But in a digital age, response time, informational accuracy and on-demand availability trounce the value of chatting with a phone rep.

Constant Availability Boosts Sales

To improve sales using live chat software options it’s important that your SMB have a team of respondents on-call should a user become confused or a system malfunction take place, to ensure your team can help site visitors instead of losing them.

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But that’s not everything live chat can do for you— you can leverage your team’s social, psychological and sales skills to both provide excellent customer service and suggest additional product and service options, when appropriate. The end result is obvious—a welcomed boost in sales.

Discover New Customer Pain Points

Most SMBs already use email lists, surveys, social media or industry-specific forums to discover pain points. It’s another thing, however, to do the same thing while speaking directly to your ideal customer in a real-time conversion moment by way of live chat.

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Think about it—when customers take to live chat, the topic of conversation is often about the efficiency of a product or service, promotional offers and discounts or to share their complaints with an official company representative.

To maximize the efficiency of your live chat services, don’t only train your staff in the ways of subtle upselling techniques. Make sure you teach them how to handle customer critiques and grievances, both extracting and organizing as much valuable information as possible in the process.

An Additional, Unexpected Benefit

Still not ready to devote a corner of your home page’s precious real estate to a live chat box? Take a moment or two to consider how live chat could very well help your SMB save money. This is made possible in two different ways.

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If you’re like most SMBs, you have a contact center. Believe it or not, live chat has been known to noticeably reduce average interaction costs.

Also, live chat allows multiple conversations to take place at the same time with a single rep. As such, by making live chat a cornerstone of your client communication program, you won’t need to staff nearly as many customer representatives.

Using live chat software for your SMB’s conversion-driven website is great for connecting with customers, but the addition could also very well be the advantage your business needs to gain a competitive edge over your larger, more experienced competitors.

Ready to start chatting?
Hopefully you see the potential value that live chat can offer to small and mid-sized businesses. If so, you’ll want to stay tuned, because coming soon we’re going to tackle the design and development of deploying live chat on your website. Don’t forget to subscribe, so you receive the post in your inbox!