Texting Is A Connection, Live Chat Is Just A Session
Real-time communication is growing in importance for leads and customer service. Explore why allowing prospects and customers to text you from your website has more benefits than live chat.
When Leadferno launched in 2021, one of our very first blog posts highlighted our position on text vs. chat for small businesses. It’s only grown from there.
Our take is that SMS, when deployed through a web-to-text widget to allow web visitors to start a text conversation from your website, is the best option.
This take on business texting over live chat is reinforced on many angles.
- Text is more familiar, especially for consumers: it’s their #1 channel
- Consumers are more accepting of much longer reply times with easier management for the business
- Live chat is leaky with 57% leaving a website if chat is “offline”
- Text is mobile allowing the freedom to message and move on, not be stuck in a chat window
While live chat definitely has it’s value (especially in e-commerce), it’s the long term benefits of developing the lifetime value of customers through SMS that should be explored by small businesses.
For us it’s just like how your business wants repeat customers, not just one-time purchases.
Texting can be a lifetime connection
Most decisions have trade-offs. The most common might be decisions impacting short term vs. long term plans. How do you win at one without costing you the other?
Text messaging is the right decision in the text vs. chat options because it balances short term needs with long term impact. Once you have a consumers mobile number, you now have a way to personally connect with them moving forward on that same channel. Since the FCC introduced Cell Phone Portability in 2004, more and more consumers keep their same mobile number regardless of phone or carrier changes.
Permission to text
When a prospect or customer reaches out to you, they are starting the conversation and giving their consent to text with them. They have chosen to opt-in by texting you. On top of that, most text widgets including our Leadbox (web-to-text widget), include consent when submitting their first message.
You are now set to text with this consumer, but be responsible with that permission. Having this personal connection with your customer via SMS is something to be highly valued and respected. Always err on the side of value when texting your customer and think long and hard about leveraging mass text blasts or campaigns.
We see the power of text messaging as an incredible conversion tool to turn website visitors into leads. Sending questions over text messaging to get answers might just be the lowest conversion hurdle to jump.
As we shared, texting is familiar, trusted, asynchronous, and efficient. You can communicate on your own time, get notifications for replies, and engage while doing everything else to run your business. That’s not true for a live chat, phone calls, or email.
A web-to-text widget is a powerful conversion tool to get the connection started. It turns every page of your website into a contact page. On average we see an increase of 15-20% for conversion when adding a web-to-text widget.
Once you have started communicating via text to answer questions, assist, or make a sale, the relationship doesn’t need to end. SMS and MMS can be used for many steps and touch points in the customer experience.
Just a few of these common texting touchpoints are:
- Auto-replies to new leads and threads for instant connection
- Setting a meeting, call, or appointment
- Appointment or meeting reminders ahead of time
- Reminders to upcoming deadlines or other events
- Notifications for your staff
- Updates on services, products, pick-ups, or deliveries
- Confirmations of services or products
- Customer service
- Requests for customer feedback
- Requests for online reviews
Your business can look at it’s processes to find how texting can strengthen communication and improve the customer experience.
Team / Staff Efficiency
Texting is also easier to spread wider and deeper in your organization than live chat. Since basically everyone uses text to communicate personally, it’s a very small move to activate them with business texting. Our app is designed to closely mimic personal SMS and messaging inbox apps for this very reason of being easy to learn and use.
The same isn’t true with live chat tools. While there is consistency in most chat software interfaces and feature sets, there are elements that are different and even daunting for users. The biggest of these is being online or live to accept the chat.
In having used live chat tools previously with small teams, I’ve seen firsthand the fear employees have over being live for the website and then being ready or focused to immediately react when a chat comes through. There is also the issue of leaving your chat on when you walk away or head to lunch and chats go unanswered. Ouch.
The pressure is in fact on. Our research showed that over 50% of consumers expect a chat reply in just minutes to be happy with the experience. In comparison, 51% consumers expect a text message reply to be same day (combination of same day and 48 hours choices). That’s much lower pressure and very reasonable to perform against.
For sure, the faster you respond and communicate with your customer the better, especially for new leads. But, the added pressure of live chat needing to be instant interaction can be too much for your staff and business.
For some businesses, that live chat pressure, per seating pricing, and software accessibility can lead organizations to only have one or two operators trained with access, decreasing availability. That limited number of users makes simple features like being able to transfer conversations to the right team member impossible. That leaves your customers in a lurch or needing to put in more effort to get help.
🏆 Get your team texting securely and with ease! Get a demo
Live chat is just a session
We’ve outlined the pro’s of business texting. We’ve outlined some of the differences between web-to-text and live chat. But here is the biggest one: live chat is just a tool for a moment in time. It’s just a session.
Live chat can’t be proactive. It can’t be initiated by your team or the business. If you’re working on delivering a product or service, you can’t reach back out to a customer with an additional questions or clarifications if the chat was closed. You won’t be able to follow-up days after your interactions to get feedback, ask for a referral, or request a review.
If your chat solution isn’t online or staffed, it’s likely defaulting to a email request form. And that’s the opposite of the real-time help they were seeking. Again, 57% of users from our survey say that leave the website when the offline agent message appears.
Once you are texting with a customer, you can stay in that real-time channel without the pressure of online chat. Live chat just degrades to email.
Live chat isn’t portable. As a consumer, how many times have you started a chat, waited, and then moved to another browser tab only to jump back and see you missed your opportunity to chat? Or you start a chat, it takes too long to get a reply, and then need to move on to other things and have to abandon it? Those situations are totally avoidable using a web-to-text widget and text messaging.
As mentioned, the instant connection live chat provides is valuable. But texting can do that too, while also allowing a more relaxed, reasonable, and forward connected channel for the customer experience and the future interactions.
Win right now AND keep winning long term
We have outlined how businesses like yours, or your agency clients, can use texting to improve the customer experience over live chat solutions. Improve from interacting with your customers in a single session and reap the benefits of connecting with customers for a life time through a well-managed, text messaging platform.
Texting with your prospects and customers gives you a great opportunity to both create and maintain a great relationship for years to come. In that way, you can win right now and in the future.