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Initiating live chat sessions

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Friday August 31, 2007 )

I’ve been wanting to find a good strategy for initiating live chat sessions with visitors to one of the sites I work with; but not at the expense of annoying those people and sending them screaming for the back button

It can be rather distracting to some to have a request to chat suddenly pop up in front of them while cruising a site. It can make a potential customer feel like they are being watched (well, they are), which can be a little offputting.

Given the lack of time to experiment, it’s something I really want to get as right as possible the first time. The little bit of testing I have done has been too hit and miss to really learn from it. Thanks to an article on Marketing Sherpa about a company who dramatically increased their sales through initiating live chat sessions; I now have some solid direction.

If you’re considering implementing live chat software, or have a system already in place; the article is a must-read.

In summary, this is the criteria for the company’s customer service officers to initiate a chat:

– The chat operator has access to the search query that brought the person to a specific landing page. Then if the person just stays on the page for a while, a chat session is initiated and the CSO already knows the original point of interest prior to communicating.

– Constant comparison of two products on the site. This could mean the person is confused and would welcome some assistance

– Customer on help related pages – as above

– Abandoning a cart checkout page but coming back to the product pages

– Extended time on a single page. This could mean that the customer has been distracted and has another browser window open on another site – and perhaps it’s a competitor’s. By initiating a live chat session, you may be able to draw their attention back to your site.

A couple of other important points aside from having your live chat team well trained in sales related areas, ensuring they can cope with multiple simultaneous conversations and have the required typing skills:

– If a customer declines an initial invitation, don’t bug them again during that session
– Check customer IP’s before intiating a chat that the visitor’s country of origin is one your company serves; otherwise the CSO is just wasting time.

I also discuss some other related issues in my guide to IM and live chat etiquette.

If you’ve not tried implementing live chat on your site before and would like to give it a go – instead of spending a stack of cash and finding out it’s not for you, give this free trial a whirl.


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