Should You Use Live Chat On Your Website?


1200x630 Banner 17As part of my client work, it’s common that I deal with software recommendations for best results. By far, one of the most common questions that I get is asking about live chat software: how to use it, what tool to pick and if it’s an effective tool for generating bookings.

Like many answers to the questions I get from my clients, I give the same answer: it depends. In this post, we’ll cover the most common questions that you’ll likely having when deciding if live chat is right for your vacation rental, hotel or B&B business.

Learning If Live Chat Right Is For Your Business

The research is clear: guests like using live chat. Live chat currently has the highest satisfaction levels among guest and customer service interactions according to eConsultancy. As a result, we know that providing a fantastic guest experience can happen with live chat. In my experience, there are a few things that we’ll need to make sure are in place before we have a successful outcome with live chat.

Setting up live chat for success is important for both your expectations as well as that of your guests. Guests will have a negative experience with your company if there’s a live chat box on your website that nobody ever answers or responds to. Considering guests will have over 38 browsing sessions before booking a hotel or rental means that they’ll probably be back: make sure to provide a great experience on your website.

Live chat is all about answering questions quickly and responding to the needs of your guests quickly. In terms of time invested, many guests (especially the millennial segment) aren’t used to calling your reservationist team on the phone and waiting for a response. Instead, the “texting”-like feel of live chat mimics the personal communication often used by your guests today: text-based messaging that’s fast and answers their questions quickly.

When getting started with live chat, consider the following questions to see if your operations allow for live chat to be successful.

  • Are you in the same or a similar time zone to most of your guests?
  • Can a member (or multiple members for larger property managers) of the reservations team dedicate a significant portion of their day to operating the live chat sessions?
  • Is it reasonable to commit at least 60-90 days of testing and effort to implementing live chat into your lead management processes?
  • What is the budget for live chat testing, software implementation and ongoing training costs (both in terms of time and financial costs)?

While you don’t have to know all of these answers right now, it’s important to be thinking not just of the simple act of picking a software chat vendor. It’s about how this is a new way for you to interact and perform one of the most fundamentally important tasks for any accommodations business: the guest experience.

Performing The Right Training With The Reservations Team

While it’s often the CEO or decision maker at the company that’s deciding about live chat software, bring in your reservation team for training before you pick the software. It’s possible that someone on your reservation team may have already had some experience with another live chat software or experience with live chat guest support and can lend better advice that applies directly to your company.

Success with live chat goes beyond just which software to use. It’s important for you to not just “assign” live chat to a reservationist with both the proper training of the software as well as the time budgets in place for he/she to be successful. Just adding “live chat agent” to the todo list of a member of the reservations team is a lose-lose situation. It’s likely that your guests will often find the live chat slow, unresponsive and frustrating to use while the reservation team will feel stretched too thin. Of the companies I work with, the ones with the most success dedicate a team member’s day to live chat. If there’s not any live chat sessions open, you can also have this reservationist working through a lead email inbox as well.

Another element that can make live chat successful is to make sure that you’re training multiple members of the team on best practices. While you never hope to lose an important member of your team, it’s a possible outcome in any business that you should be prepared for. Additionally, you’ll want to be cross-training those who deal with guests to keep their skills sharp and even help get new team members up to speed with how live chat works.

Picking The Right Software

Let’s say you’ve decided that live chat is right for you: now you’ve got to pick a platform! With the myriad of choices, it’s unlikely that one single live chat solution is perfect for every single vacation rental or hotel business, but I’ve got some great suggestions for you to begin your research.

Olark$49/month (4 users)Custom colors, easy install, Google Analytics tracking, integrations.Olark
Zopim$20/per userAPI, guest website tracking, reporting, themes, Zendesk integration.Zopim
SnapEngage$60/month (4 users)Custom colors, easy install, integrations.SnapEngage
Pure Chat$50/month (5 users)Mobile apps, custom colors, custom integrations, transcripts reporting.Pure Chat
Intercom$58/month (700 guest contacts)URL targeting, group staff chat, email lead capture, saved replies.Intercom

Tracking The Results Of Live Chat Software In Google Analytics

At this point I am hopeful that you’ve decided on perhaps 1 or 2 options for live chat software for your business. Now, it comes down to installing, configuring and tracking the results of live chat. That’s where Google Analytics can come in.

Using built-in event tracking, many live chat softwares can show off the performance of how guests use and interact with your live chat software. The screenshots below are from one of the recommended software providers above: Zopim.

Using event tracking, you can learn how often the chat was used.
Using event tracking, you can learn how often the chat was used.

With event tracking in place, I am able to see that 436 sessions triggered the live chat modal to come up. All told, this is 6.9% of the website traffic to this client’s website for the past 30 days.

Diving into the data for event actions, I can learn even more. Zopim has added other key data like live chats accepted, served, busy forms submitted and more.

Dig into the data to find the exact results of your software.
Dig into the data to find the exact results of your software.

From here, it’s easy to turn each of these Google Analytics events into goals that we can report on through our marketing efforts. For example, we can learn the number of sessions that lead to successful chats come from organic, AdWords, Facebook, email traffic and more. You can empower your marketing when you know how it works.

Need more help? Feel free to reach out.

Take The Next Step
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