Why outsourcing chat support on your website is a bad idea

There are now several online services available to small business to install chat directly on your website, so when a user visits your site, they can directly engage with a person to make an enquiry or ask a question.  Typically the user clicks on a chat button, which launches the chat window. 

In principle, this sounds like a great idea, as the user can quickly connect with someone 24/7.  In fact, live chat can increase your enquiry rates if done properly.  Below are some examples of live chat windows that you might see on websites.

However, in many cases, small businesses are taking up offers to outsource chat support to a third-party that has no knowledge of your business, and will be dealing with enquiries from several websites at any one time.  It is obviously a bad idea to have the person on the front line of your business not able to answer simple questions about products and services you offer.  At best, the chat operator can take a message, which they can then send to you via email.  So given the advantages of chat support, what is a good way to make use of it on your website?

1.  Chat support in-house across multiple staff

There are now a number of online services, some with introductory free versions that enable you to manage your own chat requests from your website.  These can be configured to be part of a chat-room, so several members of your staff can be notified to respond to a given chat request.  So during business hours, this can work well, if you have a team that are in front of their computers at work.  Chat can also be easily turned off after business hours.  In this case, the chat button is replaced by a form to take a user message.  

For the sole operator, I personally don’t recommend using chat support on your website.  However, if you want to give it a try, there are services that will follow you around, providing chat requests through smart phone.

An example of this type of service is https://www.purechat.com.  When you have this installed, the chat window will appear on your website as seen in the graphic below.


Another example is https://www.heybubble.com, a live chat software that you can have installed in your website.  You can then assign in-house staff members as operators of the live chat.  Here is an example of how the live chat window appears:


2.  Employ a remote worker to manage your email and chat

It is now cost effective to employ a remote overseas worker to manage your email requests and chat requests, similar to offshore phone support.  This staff member can be trained in your services and prices, enabling them to communicate effectively with your clients online and in some cases close the sale directly on the site.  For more information on how to source an effective remote staff member, please contact us, or stay tuned for future articles on this subject.

3.  Use email forms

Regardless of the use of chat, it is important to have easy to complete forms on your website to take a user message or question.  This can be done in the same way as chat support, with a popup or call to action button on your website.

In the example below, when customers click on the Get a Quote call to action button, they will be taken to a very simple form which they can complete quickly.  Once they submit this form, it will then be emailed to the business and from there, a delegated team member will be in touch with them to discuss their enquiry.


4.  Make it easy for customers to call you

Ensure that your phone number is displayed prominently throughout your website, usually at the top of each web-page, so that your customers can easily call you.  You may also link your phone number to an app or program such as Skype that will allow your customers to call you when they click on your phone number in the website.


Some final words

Having a live chat support on your website can be a great way to quickly provide assistance to your customers or to answer any enquiries they may have.  Whenever possible, keep your chat support in-house as you and your team are the best people to effectively engage your customers.  

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