6-ways-to-maximize-the-effect-of-live-chat-on-your-siteIn general, live chat resources can be a vital way to get more information into your business operation systems, and to attract a wider audience. But there are some common ways that companies really get maximum value out of this resource.

Get Geographic Data

One way to get value out of a live chat is to make sure that business systems capture data about where the individual web user is located. In some cases, this information may need to come from actual sign-ups where the user volunteers their location in a form submission field. However, it is possible to get some broader information from the automatic aggregated content, such as IP addresses and user operating systems, that gets generated when the user first clicks into live chat.

Another related tip is to craft a privacy policy that fully explains the use of data, to put the customer at ease and provide compliance with any applicable laws or standards.

Get Visitors On the Radar

A major value proposition of live chat, and one that’s been echoed by many executives and business leaders, is the idea that as soon as you can get a user to enter live chat, you’re converting that individual from a “lurker” to a “participator.”

The term “lurking” has become a fundamental way to describe non-interactive users on social media, business web sites and other digital platforms. Lurkers take in information, but never register any information about themselves. They are simply passive absorbers of information, and at the same time, entirely under the radar when it comes to their own presence online.

In social media, lurking is taken as a given, but in business digital media, it can hurt results. Most businesses using live chat and other tools want to be able to know more about their audiences that way. That’s why, in talking about buy-in for new marketing campaigns or other digital efforts, teams might talk about “return on investment” or ROI.

The best way to catch lurkers with live chat is to make it easily accessible, so that they are tempted to click in and participate. This can bring clarity to a previously fuzzy market research effort, and really show businesses more about the big picture of who is visiting their site and inspecting their products or services.

“I think that it helps us connect with the people who come to our web site that may not be ready to contact an account executive yet.” says Katie Meurin, Director of Marketing at Zco Corporation, explaining one of the biggest values of adding live chat to her company’s site.

“Before live chat, when visitors were just fact finding they wouldn’t contact us and we wouldn’t know who the visits were. Now, with live chat, a portion of those people will ask basic questions on live chat and give us their contact information. So now we can nurture them.”

Add Custom Fields For Validation

Many businesses have specific things that they want to know about their customers. These could be related to the market size of the company, the customer’s stage of awareness, or other indicators that are going to have a major effect on a deal.

Another way that live chat helps is with customized registration forms that many companies use in key ways to improve what they get from live chat systems. You can add a phone number field, and integrate with your business phone system, if you’re using a compatible business VoIP phone provider.

As mentioned above, if you want to catch lurkers, the live chat process has to be as simple and straightforward as possible. But for companies that value particular kinds of refined data, adding fields to a live chat form submission makes sense. In fact, some companies even add mandatory e-mails and phone numbers, so that they can build mailing lists right off of a live chat resource.

Use Translation Tools

Another way to use live chat is to reach out to an international or multilingual audience.

Even in isolated countries where most of the population speaks the same language, translation tools are becoming more important, because of the global reach of business on the Internet.

Maximizing live chat for translation starts with embedding world language tools that make the live chat a viable means of communication across international boundaries. But companies can go further than that, too. They can use a localization philosophy to create specific dialect support in live chat, which will make their outreach in specific language communities much more effective.

For example, a business could see that they have a lot of activity going on in places like Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic. Instead of using a generic Spanish language plug-in, the company can leverage unique local language resources on the live chat, and make that a primary platform for serving the local population and growing a customer base that way. For more detail on getting these kinds of translation tools into a live chat system, take a look at vendor services like WhosOn, a resource for testing foreign markets and more.

Connect Live Chat with CRM

In the last few years, customer relationship management or CRM systems have been hailed as a major stepping stone in building comprehensive digital intelligence, and making a business more impressive in its everyday communications with customers and others.

Modern CRM systems combine in-depth customer “dossiers” with accessible identifying pages, visuals and more, so that businesses always know who they’re talking to, and never forget or mispronounce their names. But CRM also works in the background, to develop the history of a customer or a pending deal, so that salespeople have a lot more to work with.

Integrating live chat with CRM means taking any of that information gleaned off of live chat registration and interactions, and funneling it into the CRM system, where it shows up as part of the customer history. This method will augment the general background files that a business has on its customers, breaking down information silos and accommodating better cross-indexing and sharing across the entire business architecture.

Connect to Deep Information Resources

Another major way to improve live chat for better results is to combine multiple tiers of service.

When the user first clicks in, they’re often connected to somebody who’s immediately available, but who might not know a whole lot about the technical specifications of products and services, or other in-depth details, because that person may not be chosen for their industry knowledge, but because they can be on shift and can type fast.

“Chat is incredibly cost-effective, allowing you to interface with multiple clients at once.” says Becky Korn with Tax Defense Network in Jacksonville, Florida. And lots of businesses use live chat this way, to, in a sense, handle customers in ‘bulk’ – but what about when one customer wants deep-level details about a company?

What the company can do is develop a tiered system where chatters with more in-depth questions can get assistance from someone with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field, or even get a call back from one of the salespeople. This requires a slightly more sophisticated chain of communications – it may require some talented IT professional or expert to be on call during certain time frames – but it allows the live chat to really serve customers who are interested in doing more than scratching the surface.

These are just a few ways that a live chat integration can boost a company’s bottom line, partly through handling valuable data that goes back into the sales process. Look for services tailored to a business’s particular needs and existing architecture to get live chat working for you.