So you’ve decided you need live chat on your website and are weighing whether to host the live chat yourself outsource the activity.

Your initial response might be, “I can do this myself.” And this sounds great…until the phone is ringing, the web forms are coming in, emails are hitting your inbox and visitors are demanding your attention via the live chat widget you installed on your web site. Sound hectic?

It is. Time allocation is your most precious resource. As a business owner, you already are time challenged by a number of factors, including increased business complexity, decreasing margins, increased client demand and the need to focus more time on building a positive customer experience. Adding live chat to your business is more than a way to increase your lead volume and potential revenue – it’s an opportunity to truly build a customer relationship with a web visitor before they walk in your door. What appears to be cost effective – doing it yourself – actually may be more expensive in the long run.

What is your time (or that of your staff) worth?

Monitoring live chat requires training, time and dedication. Not all visitors who initiate chat conversations are looking for assistance – some chats may be pranks, or people who want questions answered for free. Some may even want to discuss a topic that has no relevance to your business focus. Skilled in problem solving, live chat operators train specifically to identify between legitimate chats and those generated by folks with too much time on their hands.

Keep in mind, too, that relevant chat conversations may last more than 30 minutes before you gather enough contact information to move to the next step. Do you, or your assigned staff/team member, have the time to dedicate to a protracted conversation?

Is your team member dedicated to live chat?

As we discussed in our blog post, Why Lead Response Time Matters, response time is critical – with live chat, it’s even more so. Live chat is instantaneous and the visitor expects a similar response from your business. When you engage people in real time as you do with live chat, you need to manage and meet expectations.

This is important. With live chat, the 5-minute rule becomes a 5-second rule. As we mentioned, lead response time is critical in real-time environments. Not responding within 5 seconds may cost you a potential client. If the team member assigned to live chat isn’t available or balancing multiple tasks, response time decreases dramatically. And if a visitor clicks on your live chat window only to receive a message that no one is available, they most likely will leave and not come back.

Are your chat visitors showing up after office hours?

Life – and live chat – happens in a 24/7/365 environment. Online retailers deliver purchases within 24 hours. Food delivery services bring tacos to your doorstep in minutes. And 45% of live chat conversations happen outside of your office hours.

If your staff leaves the building at 5pm every day and has weekends off, no one is there to answer questions and perform intake. No chat operator = unhappy potential customer.

With externally-hosted live chat, an operator greets your web visitors as they arrive, regardless of time or day or day of the week. The chat operator engages the potential client in an interactive experience that, ultimately, provides you with contact details, a description of the situation and a concept of their needs. Whether they’re using a smartphone, tablet, laptop or other device, the prospect actively participates in a conversation and your business becomes established as a helpful resource.

Does your staff have the skills to convert visitors into leads?

The timing, tone, and language in a live chat can be crucial in terms of whether or not a visitor is willing to share their contact information.  The type of visitor who is chatting may have a different personality type or situation as compared to someone who calls up your business or walks in the door.  There are proven best practices in terms of converting a live chat visitor; Ngage has converted over 5 million live chats to date. It is important to consider that a band new live chat representative may not be as well versed in these practices.   

As you can see, there are many variables to consider when implementing live chat. The reality is that most businesses simply don’t have the time and resources – not to mention training and expertise – to effectively implement and manage it in house. Outsourcing live chat is a cost-effective solution that allows you to build your pool of experts who can be quickly trained in your products and services and, ultimately, serve as a positive, helpful resource to your potential customers.