Should you include live chat with ecommerce/corporate web design?

Many of our clients ask us about specific features they need in their websites, and increasingly we’re asked about online chat.

There are many factors that change over time in corporate website design, and over the past year or two there has a huge increase in live chat — not just the number of websites using it, but the number of different chat platforms available.

What is live chat?

For the uninitiated, live chat is where a visitor lands on a website and within a second or so, a live chat box opens in the right or left bottom corner of the screen, asking if you want to chat with a company representative or a support person.

What types of businesses look at using live chat?

In Brisbane, our website developers are finding that this type of feature isn’t always necessary and can in fact just end up a waste of time and money for many businesses. In particular, we find this question coming up quite frequently with business owners who are talking to us about ecommerce website design. Brisbane small businesses can be busy enough as it is, though, without having to manage yet another business tool.

So while they may see live chat as one of their priorities for a new online store, they later come to realise what’s involved in providing this service to their customers, and decide that it might not be as suitable for their business as they first thought. While there are always exceptions to the rule, including live chat in corporate or ecommerce website design isn’t necessarily suitable for all industries.

As an example, live chat is generally a good fit for:

  • helpdesk/support (where support is needed quickly and via multiple channels)
  • sales enquiries on expensive items (where it’s a big decision and the customer needs to know the details).

On the other hand, it’s generally not as suitable for:

  • small websites with less traffic (where the number of chat sessions will be so low as to not warrant the time or financial investment of setting it up and managing it)
  • websites with lower cost items (where buying decisions are fairly easy).

The pros and cons of live chat

If you’re considering including live chat in your ecommerce or corporate website design, the following pros and cons should help you make an informed decision.

Pros of live chat

  • With live chat you can answer a customer’s queries immediately, and when customers are happy with their interactions they may tell their friends, creating a positive impression of your business.
  • Live chat can also increase purchases, sales and add-ons, and can be a very cost-effective strategy.
  • Moreover, when one employee can deal with more than one customer at one time, including live chat in your corporate or ecommerce website design is a win-win situation.

Cons of live chat

  • On the negative side of the equation, unless you have someone manning live chat all the time during business hours, customers can be left waiting, and may quickly become frustrated.
  • As an example, if you have a small number of employees or you run your business from home, then including live chat in your new ecommerce website design, might not be the best strategy for growth. These people may not have the capacity to operate a live chat line all day long, so it’s best if they simply fall back to using email support.

As you can appreciate, its best to first discuss your options with local website developers. In Brisbane or Logan areas, we go out to see our clients at their offices for a free consultation. Before going ahead with live chat, it’s important to know all of the facts, as the wrong decision can have significant repercussions for your business.

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