Live Chat On Your Accountancy Firm Website: Why Bother?

31967410_lIf you’ve visited any of the websites we’ve designed for other accountancy firms, you’ll notice that some of them have live chat set up.  (You should also see it on our own site, too!)

We offer live chat as a ‘bonus extra’, a part of our monthly Outsourced Marketing Packages.  If we’re doing monthly marketing work for your accountancy firm, and if we manage your website, live chat is available for you to use.

This week, I thought I’d share the answers to questions I’ve received about live chat – what it is, why (or whether) you should use it, and how it can help with your accountancy firm’s marketing.

What is live chat?

It’s a way for your website visitors to talk to someone in real time as they are perusing your site. Our team act as ‘agents’ for your site and can talk to your site visitors on your behalf, and you can choose a team member to be available to do the same.

How does it work from a website visitor perspective?

We add a bit of website code to your site, and a little box is available at the bottom right hand corner of your site visitor’s screen.  If they want to talk, they start a conversation.

How does it work from our perspective?

You assign one team member to be an ‘agent’ for your firm. That person just has to download some software to their computer.  Once they’ve done that, they can set it up so they are automatically logged in as soon as they turn on the computer. It runs in the background, and when someone wants to chat, it pops up on the team member’s screen, and they can choose to accept the chat, send it to someone else, or ignore it.

How much does it cost?

We currently only offer this as part of our Outsourced Marketing Packages, because this is one of those nice extras that accountants would struggle to “see ROI” from.  There’s not much point in setting it up on its own, and then after a few months you’re thinking, “Why am I paying for this? What am I getting from it on its own?”  So we don’t offer it as a stand-alone service.

What results does live chat provide?

As with most marketing, it works best in combination with all the other marketing work you are doing.  Some of our clients have gotten new clients as a result of having live chat. Others have connected with strategic partners, or hired new team members for their own firm. Some have gotten nothing at all yet.  It varies massively.  One thing we have noticed is that the more often you are online with live chat, the more chats you get.  And the longer you have it, the more your site visitors are used to it, and they begin using it more.

Does it bring me more business?

It can – in combination with all your marketing.  See above.

Doesn’t it take a lot of time?

It can take absolutely zero time, if you just want us to manage the chats. Our team will act as agents for you, as though we are your team members.  We’ll get confirmation about what the visitor is asking or wants to know, and if we can’t answer their question easily we will pass them on to you.  You get an instant chat log any time one of our team talks to your visitors on your behalf – so you have full visibility of what was discussed, as well as your visitor’s contact details, if they provide them.

Should I have more than one of my team as a live chat agent?

If you have a very large firm, it might be wise to have two or three agents – but it’s entirely up to you, and you can make changes or upgrade at any time.  Our Outsourced Marketing Packages allow you to add one agent (team member) from your firm, and if you wish to add additional team members, there is a monthly fee per agent (this is simply a direct cost that we pay through the software).

I don’t want the live chat box to pop up instantly.

No problem.  We can change the website coding so that it never pops up, but just sits there in case anyone wants to use it.

What if no one uses it?

Then you’ve lost nothing.  A nice little “chat with us now” box sits quietly and calmly on your site, and no one is bothered.

What if too many people use it, and we spent all our lives talking to people on our website?

Gosh, what a terrible problem. All these website visitors who want to talk to you, and your team, and want to do business with you and ask questions and consider working with you!! You’re right. Best not have live chat, and just keep doing things the same way you’ve been doing them.  Let all the other accountancy firms have those new leads and new conversations.

What if website visitors waste our time?

You and your team members are pretty smart. If someone is a time waster, you’ll spot it immediately. You can either answer their question quickly and move on, or even ignore them.  It’s rare that we get “spam” chats, but if it happens you can block that person with one click using the software.  And if the time-wasters talk to our team, we’re well able to handle them too.

What if people just want free accounting advice?

Just use the same process you would use over the phone.  Ask them some key questions, give a very quick general answer if you can, and let them know that you’d need more information and probably a call or a meeting in order to answer more fully.  If they leave the chat, you’ve done all you can.  If they set up a meeting, great.

Can your team answer technical accounting questions?

Probably not.  But then, if one of your team was on the live chat, they would probably need to ask a few questions first to ensure they’re giving the right advice – so that’s what we do, too. We ask a few questions to make sure we understand the issue, and get the person’s name and email address so one of your team can get back to them.  It does help our team immensely if you have a “Frequently Asked Questions” page on your website – we can refer to that if need be for quick or easy questions.

Is live chat a fad?

We don’t think so.  Fads come and go pretty quickly, and there are many companies who use it very successfully. Interestingly enough, those who find the greatest success with it tend to be service-based organisations, and the chats are either based around some level of customer service, or sales questions.  The beauty of live chat is that it makes your accountancy firm just that little bit more available than other accountancy firms – and that leaves a good impression for your website visitors, and prospects.

Do other accountancy firms use it?

Some do – not many. That means it’s a huge opportunity for you. In about two years’ time everyone will be on the bandwagon, and it won’t be a bandwagon anymore. It will just be normal business.  See also my blog post “Stop staring at your competitors and look at your clients and prospects”.

If you’re on one of our monthly packages and are not yet using live chat, feel free to try it out. One of our team will set it up for you.  If you’re not on one of our packages but would like to consider it, drop me a note.