Marketing

Maximize Live Messaging ROI with These 6 Steps

Turn more of your website visitors into sales appointments with the correct approach to website chat on your website.

Chris Handy Chris Handy on January 26, 2018 • 9 minute read

Throughout the past eighteen months at ClosedWon, we’ve helped 25+ companies implement or improve their website chat efforts.

When we start talking to the folks who have had live chat “live” for a while, we always ask them how it’s going. Unfortunately, they usually can’t tell us much more than the number of chats they have per month.

While this is an important metric to consider, it is certainly not the only one to be thinking about when it comes to measuring the success of a live messaging program.

To get to the root of it, the next question we ask is, “What does success of your program really look like for your company?” For most B2B organizations, live messaging success is about connecting with more prospects.

So how you should companies actually measure their live messaging initiatives? In two ways:

  1. How many chat conversations are you having with good-fit prospects who are likely to become customers?
  2. How efficient are you at doing it?

Sound like things you want to improve? Here are 6 steps for efficiently turning more of your website visitors into revenue using live messaging.

1. Use Live Messaging to Connect Buyers with Salespeople Quickly

Traditional methods of reaching sales staff and setting up appointments take considerably more time than most people first realize. Most companies force website visitors to request a call by completing a form on their website. That request then gets sent to a salesperson. With some luck, a member of the sales staff will be able to contact this potential lead the next day, although in most cases the true response time can be much longer. From there, setting up a time to actually talk about anything usually involves a bit of back and forth as both parties try to settle on a time that is mutually agreeable. Then, anywhere from a few days to a few weeks later, the meeting actually happens.

Now, a typical sales meeting usually takes anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes on someone’s calendar. So, at this point, you’ve lost a week or more in scheduling the meeting, and you’re dedicating a not-insignificant amount of time to this prospect whom you still don’t know much about. There is a chance, of course, that the meeting will go well, but, the unfortunate fact is that the majority of these meetings will be fruitless. Even worse, it’s often discovered that the entire process could have been avoided by asking a simple question in the beginning that would have disqualified the prospect quicker.

Many of these fruitless encounters can be avoided if the prospect is engaged through live messaging instead of web-based forms or emails. The time saved is an often overlooked feature of live chat. It’s important to remember that when it comes to business, we’re looking for things that reduce costs and increase sales, and costs don’t just mean direct expenditures of cash. Time, resources and manpower all drive costs up, so it’s definitely a win when we can reduce or save on any of them.

Time is also saved when it comes to turning prospects into real leads. When dealing with a prospect through live chat, setting up that appointment for a meeting can happen much faster. The back and forth exchange of emails and voicemails is eliminated. The bottom line is that things move from wasted time to real-time.

2. Have Conversations That Qualify and Close Deals

Taking advantage of this new way of communicating might mean that your sales team needs to make some adjustments in how they deal with prospects and leads, but in the end, everyone should be much happier with the live engagement and faster results that come with live messaging.

What should change?

It’s tempting to immediately try to get an interested party out of chat and into an appointment as quickly as possible, but that’s not really the right approach. It’s much more effective to try to answer questions the person may have, and then ask a few questions of them.

Anyone who’s spent any time in sales should know that the first question anyone asks is never the real problem. The real issues they want to address are often three or four layers deep, and there’s no reason not to have that dialog over chat. If there is an open and honest two-way conversation about their needs and your service, prospects will often ask to have a call.

3. Make Chat Available All The Time (Well, kinda…)

First and foremost, for live chat to be a successful part of your sales toolbox, it has to be available. Many companies overestimate the number of live message requests they will receive when the system goes online. Fears that live messages will overwhelm staff often spur many restrictions on its use, like making it available only during certain times, and limiting access to just a few employees.

Doing things this way inevitably creates a negative outcome. You end up with a situation where there are not enough people involved to respond quickly — which defeats the purpose — or the chat system is simply not available at all when people need it.

In most cases, it’s better to start with an “always on” mentality and then scale things back if needed. Plan to have the chat system available for the entire work day and assign a few people to be available to take requests and answer questions. If things become overwhelming quickly, then perhaps some restrictions are, indeed, in order, but that outcome is very rare.

In reality, if your company only has its live messaging system available for one or two hours every day, you won’t determine the impact it can have on your revenue very quickly. Any numbers you compile aren’t really measuring the entire week or month, for example. They’re only measuring that one or two hours every day when the system is enabled, and those hours might not even be prime hours. In this scenario, the numbers can be very misleading.

Instead, start by having your chat window “wide open” during your business hours and then take steps to slow it down if it becomes too overwhelming. For hours when you don’t keep staff online, you can usually have an “Away Message” show that says you are still available to receive messages, but are not responding until later.

4. Respond Immediately to Chat Requests

Aside from the chat program itself, there must be staff available to respond. There is a very limited window of opportunity to answer a request when a prospect hits that chat button on your website. People may be willing to wait a minute, or two, or even five, for someone to connect and speak to them. When that response time gets into ten or more minutes, you’re really pushing people’s patience.

Worse, on the other side of that chat window, it doesn’t look like you’re too busy to answer, it looks like you don’t care.

It’s a common problem that the staff, or the company as a whole, just doesn’t make the time for live messaging opportunities. There’s a perception is that it’s going to take too much time.

The reality is that it doesn’t take much time at all, and with today’s technology, you don’t even need to be sitting at a desk, tied to a screen, waiting for something to happen. The right staff can answer questions from their mobile devices as they’re doing other things. They might not even need to be in the office at all. Being available doesn’t have to be difficult. It can be as simple as keeping a monitoring app installed on your phone.

Response time is definitely a key metric to keep an eye on, and the availability of people to answer requests is probably the single most important factor affecting response time.

Further, in most companies, we see patterns in the questions being asked. We often scour chat logs to identify improvement opportunities for the website. Getting a question about a specific product feature regularly? Write a blog post on it.

5. Schedule Additional Staff During Peak Volume

Another thing to monitor is when most messages and requests are coming in. When you know what your prime hours are, it becomes much easier to schedule the right number of staff to handle the workload. Fewer people can be on-call when requests are low and, obviously, more people should be available when requests are commonly high.

Also, by tracking when your company is receiving requests, you can tie the high points with different events where it makes sense. For example, you might see a normal increase in requests on the weekends when people have more time to talk and ask questions. If, however, you get a sudden spike in chat requests on a Tuesday, you can look back at what was happening that particular day that might have caused the increase.

6. Track & Improve the Right KPIs

Assuming you’re going to follow my advice above, here are the KPIs I recommend you track:

  1. First Message Response Time – Popular messaging platforms like Drift and Intercom give you detailed metrics on response time for new incoming messages.
  2. New Contacts from Messaging – Having messaging on the website is going to generate new contacts that aren’t currently in your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system or database. These are “net new contacts” that you probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
  3. Number of Overall Conversations Per Period – Different from “New Contacts from Messaging” this focuses on the number of conversations that you had with people during a time period. These folks can be part of that net new contact pool, but also current customers, leads, or opportunities.
  4. Conversation Volume by Day of the Week – Your response time depends on your capacity to respond. Track which days of the week are high-volume days to schedule staff appropriately. Your first message response time will start shedding weight pretty darn quick when you get this right.

Once you’ve set the right goals for each of these metrics, you’ll be sure to effectively leverage Live Messaging to help you hit your sales and business goals.

While you can use other tools for website chat, most of my customers use Drift. If you’re already using Drift, here’s a report template that will help you monitor these key stats inside Databox.

How are you measuring and improving your live messaging results?

About the author
Chris Handy
Chris Handy Chris Handy is co-founder at ClosedWon.com. He believes most companies have forgotten when and how to start meaningful conversations that drive new business. Connect with him online at handythinks.com or @handythinks
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