Communicating and interacting with potential customers and patients is critical. We want to be available to answer questions, accept orders and book new customers/patients! But what are the best tools to do so beyond your website and phone number? There are a number of cool options available that can either work with (or separate from) your website.
Website chat software
You’ve no doubt experienced/seen this if you’ve visited websites – especially large consumer sites such as auto dealers or mobile phone providers. The chat box may suddenly appear on the side or corner of the screen and you’re invited to chat with a representative or ask a question.
Does it work? According to online studies, it can be very effective.
A recent post in Kissmetrics reported, “…live chat on a website can generally lead to improved sales numbers…The key is that customers have someone who can immediately walk them through a sale if they become confused or have a question that can make or break a sale. This helps eliminate bounces away from retail websites and ensure that full shopping carts make it through check out.”
If you are counting on online sales as a big part of your bottom line, you might have even more incentive for including online chat on your site. Online shoppers are more likely to chat online:
A report by E-Marketer found: “Almost two in 10 live chat respondents did more than 75% of their holiday shopping online, compared with 14% of those who did not chat. A further 25% of chatters made 51% to 75% of their purchases on the Web, versus just 10% of those who did not participate in the chat service.”
What do you need to use this software? There are a ton of software options out there to select from depending on your type of website. But the biggest resource you’ll need is making sure you have a representative available to chat. If you’re only able to staff the chat line for limited hours, make it clear and make sure you respond to questions as soon as you’re back online!
Text to chat software
Text to chat is a newer entry that is similar to website chat software, but the process is a bit different. Like chat software, a pop up and/or window appears on your website. But what’s different is that a user can either click to send a message or text a message to you using a special phone number. The message can then be delivered to you via text message on your phone – or it can be sent via email.
You can also configure the software so that the messages can be instantly delivered to multiple team members. As soon as one person responds the rest of the team know that matter is resolved. This is great for customer support and feedback. The downside? It tends to make visitors lazy and they sometimes text questions that can easily be found on the website.
Here’s an example of how it looks/works on our own website:
Oh yes, contact forms still exist and they are still entirely helpful. As a matter of fact, one of the biggest pet peeves of website users is when they visit a site that doesn’t have an easy “contact us” process.
You have two choices for users to reach out via email on your website. You can install a “Mail to” link or use a contact form. Our recommendation? Use a contact form. If created properly, it can be the beginning of a new relationship between you and the user. In addition to asking for the basic info (name, email, phone) you can also request additional information (what kind of help do they need?). This will help you tailor your response appropriately and determine if they are indeed a potential customer. If they are a potential customer, you can begin a drip email campaign to stay on their radar and provide them with useful information and special discounts.
Virtual Business Phone Systems
You want customers to be able to call you, but you don’t want to invest in a phone system. But you also don’t want to use your personal cell phone as your business phone. There are now a number of inexpensive virtual business phone systems available for small businesses to utilize.
How does it work? With most systems, you can select a phone number for your business, record a custom greeting, add departments (or employees) and have the phone calls, messages and faxes forwarded to you. Make sure you have your phone number prominently placed on your website so people know how they can reach you!
So there you have it – some quick, easy and inexpensive tools that help you stay better connected to the people who matter most: potential clients, customers and patients. What do you think? Do you have a favorite tool we omitted? Let us know!
Kaufer DMC provides online and mobile marketing and reputation management services for small and medium-sized businesses and the health care industry. Founded in 2010, Kaufer DMC has offices in Seattle and Edmonds. Visit www.kauferdmc.com to learn more.
— This column is sponsored by Kaufer DMC.