Four Common Concerns of Online Chat and How to Address Them

Jul 25, 2006 7:47 PM  By

This is part two of a two-part article. To view the first article, which addressed steps for maximizing online chat for b-to-bers, click here.

Sales leads are on your Website right now. Based on content alone, they are deciding whether to stay or move on to one of your competitors. So why simply inform them when you can engage them? In the May edition of O+F CONTACT CENTER ADVISOR, we discussed five easy ways business-to-business marketers can use online chat to engage prospects and close deals.

But if your company is still not convinced that chat is right for your marketing team, it’s not alone. Many b-to-b marketers have hesitations about integrating chat into their programs.

Here are the most common concerns voiced by marketers and how to address each one of them:

Concern #1: Visitor privacy

Some marketers are concerned that their Website visitors will feel as though Big Brother is watching. There are several ways to prevent this from occurring.

First, always offer visitors the opportunity to chat, rather than thrusting chat upon them. This will make them feel in control of their experience, as they can decide if and when they would like to participate in a conversation.

Second, establish your chat agents as experts who assist with visitors’ questions, so that they’re not perceived as annoying sales reps who simply want the visitors’ money.

Third, use rules to segment your Website visitors based on their browsing activity, targeting only those looking to buy. For example, if you know a person has been on the site five times in the past two weeks, he is more likely to speak with a rep than someone who is visiting for the first time.

Finally, and most important, never use or reference visitor data in a chat situation. Using such information will make the visitor feel uncomfortable and potentially turn him off to the site and your company.

Concern #2: “We have no dedicated staff available for chatting”

This is an easy issue to resolve by making use of people currently “dialing for dollars.” Some of the most effective chatters are also the most effective inside sales reps because they know how to keep a conversation going and to ask the right questions to get the person interested. Start with a few inspired agents as a test—even part time—and go from there.

Concern #3: “We can’t keep reps online all day”
This is even easier to address. Place a “chat now” button on the Website that visitors can click to initiate a chat. When no reps are available such as evenings and weekends, your chat software can automatically remove the button or change it to an “offline” version. This will prevent visitors from being frustrated when no one responds to their request to chat.

Concern #4: Web chat is a b-to-c, not a b-to-b, sales tool

Contrary to popular belief, chat has many more features that are optimal for the b-to-b sales process. For example, tracking features can provide reps with visitor history such as forms they have submitted, previous chat encounters, and browser data such as what pages visitors have viewed and materials they have downloaded. In addition, agents can be notified by e-mail or audio or visual alerts when a “hot prospect” is on the site and available to invite to chat. In the world of b-to-b, it’s about converting that visitor, turning him into a prospect and getting him into your sales process— not necessarily about closing the deal right then and there.

Engage now
Chat enables businesses to engage prospects during the consideration phase, when they may be researching potential solutions or comparing products. Being able to answer any questions or concerns they have while in the buying process could be the difference between converting that person and eventually closing them and losing that opportunity. By following these simple rules, implementing a successful b-to-b chat program is just a few clicks away!

Mike Zavershnik is product marketing manager for Toronto-based automated demand generation software provider Eloqua Corp.