Does My Site Need to Chat?

Customer communication through websites is evolving.

It used to be that someone could get in touch with you by filling out a form on your site. But now, people have come to expect immediate answers.

The invent of chat apps has made it easier for customers to get what they want, when they want and for businesses to meet growing expectations for round-the-clock service.

A 2016 study found that 42% of consumers say that they prefer live chat functions because they don’t have to wait on hold.

If customers are looking at your site to determine if they want to buy your product or service, then live chat should be used on your site. Otherwise, you may have potential customers going elsewhere to get answers.



There are numerous options out there for adding real-time chat software to your site. Popular ones are Zopim, Olark, Tawk, and Zoho SalesIQ. All of these options require that someone on your end is available to answer the chat request.

Zopim and Olark allow you to have triggers on the chat. For example, you could automatically start a chat with someone who has been on your site for a certain period of time. This focuses your team on those who are already engaging with your site, and adds a new level of personalized experience for the potential customer. Zoho SalesIQ offers something similar to triggers by offering automated messages based on user behavior on your site.

Zopim, Olark, and Zoho SalesIQ also allow you to integrate into other software, such as Zendesk and Salesforce. If you don’t need the advanced features and only want to have a basic chat, then Tawk is a free alternative.

The pricing and plan features vary, but the big differences to pay attention to are how many chat agents you can have, analytics, and advanced features like triggers and software integration.

Artificial Intelligence

There are also some new options out there with more advanced artificial intelligence (AI), such as Drift, Intercom and Chatkit. The chatbot can be programmed to handle initial contact with a potential customer before a live person steps in. This could save time for your customer service or sales team.

What does this look like? When someone clicks on the bot, you can provide a general greeting and ask the customer a question with options to select from. Based on their answer, they are given another pre-programmed message with a targeted question and more suggested answers.

This process continues, as needed, and creates a personalized conversation. It can save time for your customer service team who is most likely asking similar initial questions at the start of all conversations with customers. They’ll already have that information in hand based on what the customer provided to the chatbot. It’s also possible the customer could skip talking to customer service all together by getting the answers they needed directly from the bot.

For a sales team, you can use the information provided to the bot as a means to qualify how interested a potential lead really is. This will help ensure your live staff would only get the best leads.

One thing you want to be clear about with site visitors is that the chat functionality is not a real, live person. Communicating with a pre-programmed computer is very different from a live conversation with a human. Potential customers are going to get frustrated quickly, if the interaction isn’t genuine or helpful.


Advanced Functionality

Beyond a simple conversation, there are also several actions that a bot can take.

One of our clients, Infosystems, uses Drift on their website. A button on their blog pages is used to offer the option of signing up for a blog subscription. And on landing pages, there is the option of downloading an eBook, signing up for their email newsletter, or scheduling a meeting with a staff member. The bot is programmed to automate these tasks without a human having to step in.

Drift, and other similar chatbots like Intercom and Chatkit, can also integrate with customer relationship management (CRM) software to keep a record of customer interactions.


The Right Fit

So chatbots are cool, right? But are they really right for you?

If you already have chat, or have considered it, then you might also consider using a chatbot. It could save time for your staff, answer questions, qualify leads, and automate tasks.

But since it’s using more advanced technology, it also comes at a higher price tag. And you would need to take the time to program the bot for the desired conversations you want it to have and automated tasks you want it to perform.

Base your decision on the predicted value to your business, the cost of the software, and the effort needed for initial setup and ongoing maintenance.