If you’re like most companies, you think of live chat primarily as a customer service tool. From a support standpoint, live chat can be invaluable. But it can also be so much more. An increasing number of companies are turning to live chat for unconventional uses, finding creative ways to meet the needs of their customers whilst also boosting sales and loyalty in the process.

Here are a few different ways you can think outside the live chat box for your business:

Double as a suggestion box
Customer suggestions are an important tool for helping you meet their needs and exceed their expectations. Use chat to proactively gather suggestions, requests or feedback about your website, products or services. For example, once a customer has completed an online checkout you could set up a chat pop-up with a simple invitation, such as “Tell us how we did!” or “Rate your online shopping experience”.

Not only does this offer valuable insight into your clients, but it also helps develop brand loyalty by showing that you value their feedback and opinions.

Report a bug
Your chat function can also double as a bug reporting tool. This is particularly helpful for situations where bugs are commonplace, such as introducing a new app, updating software or rolling out new tools. Many chat tools also automatically gather information about a customer’s system, such as domain, operating system or browser type. This can help your technical support team gather the technical data needed to address a bug even faster.

Take it a step further by following up with your customers once issues are resolved. Seeing a ticket through to resolution then following up to ensure customers are satisfied is a surefire way to get customer service brownie points.

Offer eye-catching promotions
Turn your visitors from browsers into buyers by using live chat to offer promotions. It’s a tactic that has proven effective in increasing revenue and customer engagement for clothing company Black N Bianco. “Zopim is an essential promotional channel to build brand loyalty,” says owner Lisa Chu. “Offering customers a discount or special promotion after our live chat has shown to be effective in converting a sale.”

The example below, which turned into an actual sale, shows how Black N Bianco uses chat effectively for promotions:

Black N Bianco example

You can also offer promotions via online codes following chat sessions. This helps close the sale and reinforces the use of online chat.

Collect leads on the down-low
If you want to collect leads without cluttering your landing pages, live chat can be a discrete but effective option. Zopim customer Michael Beck of Earth Class Mail uses live chat to collect leads when his chat function is in “offline” mode. In turn, his customers use the “leave a message” function.

Earth Class Mail example

“This call to action really works well and consistently delivers new leads that convert after follow up,” he says. This method works so well for Michael, his company often leaves chat in “offline” mode even when they are available.

Using live chat to collect leads can also be a better experience for the customer as well. Instead of being turned off by interstitial ads and lead forms as they navigate throughout your site, it encourages them to proactively reach out.

Tell your brand story
Live chat can also be an unconventional and fun way to tell your brand story. Zebecs, a coaching and consulting firm focused on connecting families and children, uses live chat to help customers interact with characters from the company’s children’s book.

“Educators have used it in the classroom environment to reinforce lessons,” explains Lisa Baker-King, author and consultant at Zebecs. “For example, an educator may reach out to us and want to create a storyline where the characters have to make choices. Students follow along in real time and help characters make choices as the story unfolds.”

Mulchden also uses chat in this way, encouraging children to use their imaginations as they interact with Yuk Yuk, an imaginary character from a fictional world.

Mulchden example

Customizing live chat, whether it’s a fictional character, persona or company representative, is a great way to help your clients and customers learn more about your company and brand.

Live chat has evolved from a customer support tool to an indispensable business tool. No longer just for answering questions, live chat engages your customers in new and creative ways. Whether your goal is to generate leads, increase sales or foster brand loyalty, live chat can help.

Learn more about how live chat can help both businesses and consumers, or take a virtual tour of Zopim by Zendesk.