Imagine for a moment: you go to a local car dealership because you feel like you're ready to buy a car. There's an expansive lot with various models in every color. It's hard to decide what you want, and you have some questions.

But there are no sales people.

Instead, you find a kiosk with a telephone and a touch screen. You can send a message or call someone if you have a question. Does that seem improbable?

You might think that would never happen because in the real world, brick-and-mortar businesses are staffed by people. But why should the web be any different? Oftentimes we believe digital communication can be automated in a way that lets customers reach out to us and leave a message, but the real business happens on the sales floor, so that's where we put our people.

Why?

That was where the conversation went when I had the chance to interview Gary Tramer, Founder of LeadChat.

"Our service uses live chat to solve the important problems for people spending money on generating traffic, where we put human people into customer websites to start conversations and improve the conversions of all that traffic into more leads," says Gary.

But is that really an issue or is it more of a niche problem? After all, websites have been around for years, selling goods and services at a steady pace while companies used conversion optimization - not people - to push sales.

What makes the addition of real people behind a website's live chat feature so different?

How People Affect People

That's when Gary provided me with the car dealership example.

You would probably be confused and/or annoyed if you went to a dealership and there were no sales people to answer your questions and assist you. More than likely you would leave and find another dealership.

That's because at the deepest level of our internal operating systems, we crave social interaction with other people. It's hardwired into our brains.

In the book "Social: Why Our Brains are Wired to Connect", neuroscientist Matthew D. Lieberman cited over 1,000 published studies that confirm our predispositions to being social. These studies explain a variety of human behaviors, such as our need to interact with others through social media and mobile devices, as well as our fixation on things like reality television.

These findings also provide insight into why a human connection can have such a profound effect on the sales process.

"Human-to-human connection in marketing or sales is unbeatable," says Gary. "Regardless of whether it's B2C or B2B, people buy from other people. Behind every product and service are people. Traditionally, companies have reserved that human interaction for customer service - after there is a problem. Instead of being reactive with human interaction, we [at LeadChat] become proactive. We start the conversation."

Double Your Conversions by Leading the Conversation

LeadChat takes an old-school approach to sales, but it's tremendously effective. Responsive channels on websites, such as phone numbers or submission forms, are sufficient, but the inclusion of a live chat option can take sales to a whole new level.

Live chat keeps the user engaged on the website, where conversion can easily happen. This is important because visitors will take the path of least resistance. A statistical analysis by Econsultancy on the data from eDigital's Customer Service Benchmark survey found that 73% of customers prefer live chat, making it the clear path of least resistance.

Think about the fact that customers are online, looking for answers and information. A live chat interface sparks the conversation immediately. It provides the answers a visitor needs so bounce is reduced and time on the site is increased.

And according to Gary, the response shows in the revenue.

"Typically, we see lead volumes double, even more for some businesses that traditionally have lower conversions," he says. "It's not uncommon to see conversions go from half a percent to 6% in just days once this process is added. More conversations lead to more conversions."

In fact, 44% of customers said that having a live chat specialist available during an online purchase was one of the most important features a company can offer.

Human interaction provides a level of rapport you can't get with text and graphic elements on a website. Even if you don't score a lead, you can still garner a tremendous amount of insight from the interaction, such as why the customer visited, what their needs and pain points are, and other angles you may not have considered.

Those insights can help improve your USP, sales content, advertising, and more. Even without a sale, you still capture crucial customer information.

"Our agents are trained to get people into a conversation, then find out what the customer is looking for," says Gary. "The extra information is helpful, but the end goal is always capturing leads. That one-on-one interaction is more than just a conversation. It's validation, insights, more conversions, and the lasting retention that comes from improving personal engagement."

Tips for Implementing Live Chat to Boost Conversions

If you want to take the same approach for your website, you'll need a bit more than just a "Chat Now!" box on your site. Heed this advice if you want to add the human element to your sales process:

  1. No Bots - Don't try to automate your live chat with custom response bots. It's not authentic and you'll do more harm than good. Dedicate people to front-end conversations and service, or outsource it to a service like LeadChat.
  2. Customize the Interaction - Consider how people enter your funnel and think about the user intent based on funnel stages. Cater your messaging and the live chat engagement not only to the audience but also to their place in the buyer journey.
  3. Be Prepared - Arm your team with resources that they can reference and share with customers. They should be able to answer questions that arise and lead conversations, as well as have the authority to work autonomously so they can successfully guide each interaction to a conversion. This isn't the time to tie their hands with strict guidelines.
  4. Team Buy-In - Get everyone on board so your sales team can work closely with both the service and marketing teams. This provides the smoothest flow of information and adaptation as new insights are discovered. Encouraging teams to work closely and understand the value of personal interactions will allow them to serve each other better as your live chat program gains traction.

As you can see, there are a number of ways you can improve conversions by sharpening the copy, improving graphic elements, and simplifying the navigation and UX of a website.

Each method is effective in its own right, but none of these have the same potential for boosting conversions while also establishing and nurturing relationships with every new lead you make.

Do you use live chat as a means to engage with prospective customers and capture leads on your website? Share your approach and successes with me in the comments below:

Published on: Aug 19, 2016