Should I have a chat box on my website?
This question is asked more times than you’d believe when I’m having discussions with business owners regarding their website.
Recently, I interviewed Scott Lorenz, Development Director at Hudson Business Lounge, on the topic of chat! This was an impromptu decision to interview Scott only after I personally had a great experience engaging with the chat on their website. My curiosity into how it’s been working for them lead to a great conversation and understanding of how they’ve been using chat to really grow their room rentals.
Lori Highby: Tell me about Hudson and what you offer.
Scott Lorenz: Hudson is a co-working, meeting, event space in the historic third ward of Milwaukee. Meant to be a creative ground for people to come, start, and grow their business: a professional playground. We try to have fun here, keep it light. Make it an escape from the mundane boring cube life. 3 years ago, it really evolved into a space to be productive. It starts with the people at Hudson, making it a place to serve their business’s needs. We have solopreneurs and start-ups to companies that have outgrown the kitchen table and home office but don’t want to commit to the commercial lease space.
LH: At what point did you decide to start considering adding a chat box to your website?
SL: I was in the midst of creating a side project with a developer friend. There are all these websites that don't have the feature of chatbots. A lot of sites don’t have it automated. I started doing general research on chatbots, the development behind them, and then I reached out to a car dealership friend and drew up plans for a website redesign to pull live feeds and through an automated messaging, find the car you want, schedule an oil change, etc. This got me thinking about chatbots from Hudson’s perspective.
LH: How did you decide which software to use for the live chat?
SL: I relied heavily on the existing market reviews of the platform. Implementation, coding, marketspace usage, and inexpensive implementation. Ultimately found a tool that was $15/month. It was very much a plug and play tool. No additional development behind it besides just plugging it in. And it pulls into the FB messenger app as well. Tidio Chat is the tool that we are using.
LH: What pain point/issue is a live chat solving for Hudson?
SL: Before the chat, we had a lot of static dead air on the website, people would get to a point on the site where they were confused about the offering. They didn’t know what to do next. Our bounce rate was high. Certain pages ended up being dead ends. Tidio chat solved a lot of that. We were able to see which pages they were landing on, we could help drive what the question is based on the experiences they've had.
We have restarted the interest in terms of our site, visitors are now having an outlet for the questions to get answered. If they didn’t get answered, they would leave.
LH: 5 - 10 years ago, if someone would have said you’d be using a chat feature on a website that your run what would you have thought about it?
SL: No. Didn't see it living on the web pages. The simplicity wasn’t there from the sense that the general public could grab and engage with it. I guess that 5-years ago, people thought it was a huge risk in putting someone behind the keys with direct access to the consumer. Phone call centers have scripts and a tree on how to engage. A trained employee can be provided with that for a chat conversation.
LH: Do you see live chat dominating the way we communicate with businesses or do you think that the “need” to call someone and talk to someone will still always be there?
SL: You call in case of an emergency. It will definitely steal market share from the phone call.
LH: What’s your most favorite instance of a live chat you’ve used?
SL: This conversation! Most impressed about the fact that the website is a good website, but it is even more powerful because of the human capital behind it because we know what people are asking for before they even ask for it.
Chat has become a bridge between the member and guest experience. Guests schedule on demand. I get a ping when someone pops on the website. Simple automated message that goes out right away. Then the conversation migrates to a more personal message.
LH: Are you leveraging any bot technology with automation in your chatbots?
SL: Yes. We have quick responses. The initial message is automated. We have one that edits the endpoint that will draw you to call in or type in an order during business hours for lunch. It can recognize keywords such as lunch, hungry, café. It will then give a link to the menu. When the user is ready to order, we tell them to give this number a call.
We don't have automation on the meeting side because it gets complicated quickly.
Quick responses are set-up to help get the conversation started. "Hi, I’m Scott, I'm here, let's chat" Easy to select the one needed. Pre-scripted messages, I double click the one I want, and I send it off. These are meant to start the conversation. It can get expensive to flush out the conversation trees. We don't want to get into a major situation of our guests or members pressing prompts on a phone for 5 minutes before getting what they need.
We do have an away message that is put up: no one is actively here right now, if you leave information, we will get to you when we get back.
LH: How has using a live chat changed the communication for new and current Hudson customers?
SL: Primarily guests or new meeting room bookings, we do have an internal message board for current customers.
LH: What is the frequency that you are getting pinged on the chat?
SL: Some days are radio silence. Some days we have 10 conversations. It's fun to figure out why people are coming on. Total messaging for the last 5 months was 2,300 total messages. Never received a spam one. Some are very blunt with questions. Some are more casual with the conversation.
LH: Have you seen an increase in conversions since adding your live chat?
SL: Yes. More for meeting rooms than memberships. It’s a great spot fix for that. In lieu of calling in, the meetings are getting booked. I’m multitasking while handling the reservation. October & November 2018 were the best months for the business.
LH: Would you recommend other businesses utilize a chat on their website?
SL: Especially B2C businesses. From a B2C perspective, we need to engage the public. Huge avenue to engage contact with people we may have otherwise lost.
LH: Any final tips for those who are considering adding chat to their website.
SL: Do your research, there are chatbots that focus on different areas, sectors, technologies. Do it! It is very inexpensive at the base. The value is there, because of the ease of use for people. We all have many other responsibilities during the day. You never know what people are going to ask. For as inexpensive as it is, in a transactional business, it’s worth the money.
Interested in discussing how adding chat to your website could improve your communication with new and current customers? Let’s have a conversation!