I don’t know about you, but it feels like it’s getting harder to engage audiences in new and valuable ways. Sometimes I wonder what folks think when they’re on our website. Did they enjoy our featured content? Did they have any questions about our pricing? What did they think of our latest blog post? Did they have a question but didn’t want to fill out a form for fear of an immediate sales call? I can look at analytics all I want, but it won’t tell me the opinion or thoughts of a website visitor.

If you’ve been thinking about trying it, or are already exploring your options, live chat is a great solution to this problem…You get to connect with your audience in real time, and I’ve found that most people who come to the website have questions, but are too put off by the immediate sales pitch that happens if they fill out a contact us form.

Tip: Just because someone is asking questions about your product doesn’t mean they’re ready to buy. It means they’re curious and are in a learning mode.

In an effort to show how valuable live chat can be, and has been for us, we put together examples of our favorite live chats. However, you should be forewarned. Livechat is not for the faint of heart. You will have bad chats, and you will have really weird chats. Enjoy!

The Good

When someone just really loves your blog

When you get a “hot” question right out the gate…

You know you’re going to have a good conversation when they ask you these types of questions right away. This person already knew what interactive content was, how it worked, and how she could use it, but she needed more information on how it integrated with another part of her tech stack. Normally you’d see these types of questions being asked in sales calls or emails, but the fact that we were able to answer her question right away sped up the process of her booking a demo of the platform.

When you can come in clutch with the piece of content you know will solve their marketing problem…

This person came to our website in hopes of finding marketing ideas to try. Instead of clicking through the website and then scrolling through our resource section, I was able to provide the piece of content I knew would solve the problem. Our Spring Season Guide has holidays and themes for each month, so their seasonal marketing campaign can run all Spring long!

When it’s outside of office hours but you can still help a website visitor…

This is one of my favorite Drift features. In their platform, you can create “playbooks” for specific purposes. This featured playbook helps website visitors find what they’re looking for outside of our 9am-5pm office hours. The “I’m just browsing” response is actually a button they selected. That button is tied to a specific response that points the visitor to our resources page, and to sign up for our weekly marketing blog email.

When you get demos without actually talking to the visitor…

This is one of the best types of chats to get! This person came to the website, engaged with our playbook, and raised his hand to tell us that yes, he is ready and wants a demo. The responses he’s giving, “I’d like to see SnapApp in action” and “I’d like a Snapster to lead the tour” are both pre-crafted responses we offer in that button form. Just like the chat above, this visitor chose the response that fit what he was looking for, and we were able to send a pre-crafted message based on his choices.

One thing I appreciate about Drift is the ability to link out to content. When someone goes through this playbook, they are taken to our Demo Request SnapApp. There we can ask additional information like team size, priorities, goals and more, to set our sales team up for the best call possible.

The Bad

When you have a live chat feature, but it’s not really live…

This isn’t a SnapApp example, but it really grinds my gears. In my opinion, if you’re not going to have someone dedicated to monitoring live chat for real-time conversations, then it’s a waste of your budget. Seriously. How is that strategy different than email?

The whole point of live chat is to be there for on the spot conversations with your audience, and in a world where instant gratification is the norm, waiting 2 hours to respond to your audience isn’t going to fly. You’re there to answer the quick questions like “Which pricing plan would be best for me?”, or, “You’ve got so many great products, I’m not sure where to start.”

The only time not responding for hours is acceptable is when your office is closed, and even then, most platforms allow you the ability to craft helpful out of office messages with links to resources so that your audience isn’t left with nothing. (Like example 4 in the section above).

When your visitor doesn’t know who they’re talking to…

In case you missed it, we’re not Snapchat, though I understand how this mistake can be made. We’ve got similar names, and when Snapchat introduced polls to stories they were indeed creating interactive content. But at the end of the day, this person didn’t know who we were. Thankfully, Drift lets you qualify, or disqualify, chats. Since this person wasn’t looking for SnapApp, we disqualified them.

When students want you to do their homework for them…

And when they come back for the 4th time, still asking for help…

You might be reading this and wondering, “Kara, why are you responding this way? This isn’t nice, welcoming customer service.” I’d agree with you, but this visitor came back too many times and tried to ask not only our marketing team, but our customer service team for help.

I’m not about to let someone waste my, or my coworkers time. Marketers already have enough to do! I couldn’t help myself, and I’m also a firm believer of doing your own homework.

I also stand by my Lisa Frank suggestion. That was like currency in middle school.

When the trolls come out to play…

If we were looking at all the trolling I’ve had since launching Drift, this wouldn’t even make the cut of the worst chats I’ve gotten. I’ve had people engage with a chat just to swear at me, swear at Gus (the bot), I’ve been trolled by one person for multiple days in a row… While those instances are annoying, it comes with the territory of putting a chat feature on your site. It’s a big ‘ole can of worms. But thankfully with Drift you can block any visitors who cross the line.

When visitors have feedback to give…

There’s no getting around it, these folks had bad experiences and voiced their opinions. These chats are still important to get. Bad chats give you the opportunity to fix what isn’t working. The experience in the first chat (who, in our defense, was reading a blog and not our newsletter) can be fixed by adjusting the blog features in WordPress.

The second chat can be fixed by using Drift’s advanced playbook customization. You can set a rule that a playbook will be delivered (shown to the visitor) until someone reacts (engages or exits the chat) once, until they react once per website session, or it can be shown on every new page they visit.

The Just Plain Weird

For your enjoyment, here are some of the weird chats I’ve gotten…

Overall, The Good Speaks for Itself

Live chat is a great strategy to include in your marketing efforts, but don’t expect to have perfect chats the whole time. You will get bad chats and you will get weird chats. I’m a little biased, but I recommend Drift for the capabilities and the people. They’re good people.

P.S. – We found that live chat turned into a great communication channel for our customers, so we added two chat seats for support reps! Turns out that just like your prospects, customers really like having their questions answered immediately.