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  1. #1
    Member AmericasFootprints's Avatar
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    Does anyone use Live Chat on their sites?
    Hey gang,

    As a merchant I am thinking of offering a live chat service that would allow visitors who meet certain criteria (e.g. click through several pages or stay on the site for more than xx minutes) to engage in a conversation with us to ask any questions. My main goal is to get a 'face' to the website and give visitors some level of live assistance if they need it.

    I've been doing some research on the topic and opinions as to whether or not it helps are mixed. So I was just curious if anyone here is using a live chat service on your website. And if so, if you've found it to be worth the expense.

    Thank you in advance for your input! -Joe

  2. #2
    Full Member Lindy Rig's Avatar
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    Joe... there was discussion about this a while back.... See this thread, and note the discussion near the end about the uses of chat on a site.

    http://www.abestweb.com/forums/midni...te-171948.html


    Lindy

  3. #3
    Member AmericasFootprints's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lindy Rig View Post
    Joe... there was discussion about this a while back.... See this thread, and note the discussion near the end about the uses of chat on a site.

    http://www.abestweb.com/forums/midni...te-171948.html


    Lindy
    Thanks Lindy. I had tried searching but didn't come across this one. Appreciate it

  4. #4
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    FWIW, we have live chat and there's a pretty clear/direct link between the level of chat activity and revenue... So on that basis I'm thumbs-up for online chat.

  5. #5
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Serious affiliates tend to shy away from merchants who have live chat on their sites. Chat is thought of as a "leak." Much like having a large PHONE NUMBER on the top of a site will keep many affiliates away.

    Merchants with more sophisticated programming can suppress the chat and/or phone number(s) from a site where an affiliate referred the shopper. That attribute can help attract the better affs.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill View Post
    Serious affiliates tend to shy away from merchants who have live chat on their sites. Chat is thought of as a "leak." Much like having a large PHONE NUMBER on the top of a site will keep many affiliates away.

    Merchants with more sophisticated programming can suppress the chat and/or phone number(s) from a site where an affiliate referred the shopper. That attribute can help attract the better affs.
    Bill - Help me understand a bit here.

    How would livechat be a 'leak' the same way a phone number is? The phone number takes folks offline, away from the 'pixel' and the mechanism by which the affiliate gets commission.

    Live chat typically doesn't... the transaction (if any) is still going to occur online, pixel-tagged, and generate commission...??

    Just trying to understand since chat-as-leak is a new concept on me...

    Kris

  7. #7
    Beachy Bill's Avatar
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    Some (many?) chat operators will take the order directly. I just checked (asked) and your chat does not. However others do - and that cuts out the referring affiliate. Some affiliates will not take the chance of sending a customer and (possibly) having them diverted.
    Bill / Marketing Blog @ 12PM - Current project: Resurrecting my "baby" at South Baltimore..
    Cute Personal Checks and Business Checks
    If you are too busy to laugh you are too busy.


  8. #8
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    PS - Don't get me wrong, if affiliates think it's a leak and avoid it, then whether it is or not really doesn't matter. I'm just curious as to the thought process as we're considering suppressing our chat for affiliate links...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill View Post
    Some (many?) chat operators will take the order directly. I just checked (asked) and your chat does not. However others do - and that cuts out the referring affiliate. Some affiliates will not take the chance of sending a customer and (possibly) having them diverted.
    Ah. Gotcha. And I suppose one could always refer folks to the 800# via the chat too... I must tell you it's VERY unusual for either to happen (for us), but as I said... it's the perception that counts.

  10. #10
    The slot machine that IS paid! Billy Kay's Avatar
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    Assuming you have what the person is looking for... chat is an extremely valuable selling tool. If you look at it as a car salesman would - "If they're on our car lot, they must need a car"... they it's a done deal if you have the right pitch.

    My experience - as a one-person company was...

    1. Chat customers are lazy. "Do you sell picture frames?" And you want to respond "Do you NOT see the left hand side links? It's the third friggin' link lady!

    2. Chat customers are too specific. "What's the density of the wood in this picture frame? What country does the tree come from?"

    3. Chat customers are salesman. "I see you sell picture frames. We're a fine-art company from China looking to expand..."

    4. Chat customers are time wasters. I see you sell picture frames. Do you know a good book about Pablo Picasso?"

    5. They come in bunches. If you're actually helping someone via chat, an irritating door bell sound starts because 2 other people showed up to chat at the same time

    6. If you're a one-man company, you can't go to the bathrroom (and turn off chat), because you will get a review somewhere that says "I don't trust this company. I've been to the site 5 times. It says they have live chat. But it's always off!

    7. Robots!!!!!! Half my annoying door bell sounds were always spiders crawling my links

    Best,
    Billy


  11. #11
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    If anyone would be willing to help me double-check that the developers got it right, we've added an 'affiliate link/visitor chat exclusion'...

    If you come to the site "regular" (e.g. http://www.pearls.com) you should see chat in lower-right.

    If you come on any "affiliate link" (e.g. http://www.pearls.com/?SSAID) you should not

    If you come back "regular" again after visiting the affiliate link, a cookie has been set and you should STILL not see the chat.

    Thanks,

    Kris

  12. #12
    Pimp Duck popdawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pearls.com View Post
    If anyone would be willing to help me double-check that the developers got it right, we've added an 'affiliate link/visitor chat exclusion'...

    If you come to the site "regular" (e.g. Designer Pearls | Quality Pearl Jewelry | Pearl Earrings | Pearl Necklaces | Freshwater Pearls | Tahitian Pearls) you should see chat in lower-right.

    If you come on any "affiliate link" (e.g. Designer Pearls | Quality Pearl Jewelry | Pearl Earrings | Pearl Necklaces | Freshwater Pearls | Tahitian Pearls) you should not

    If you come back "regular" again after visiting the affiliate link, a cookie has been set and you should STILL not see the chat.

    Thanks,

    Kris
    Worked as defined for me in multiple browsers.
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    Been away, now I'm back. Not as much, but I'm back & starting from scratch. Where I was, was fantastic. Where I am now, less so. Things have changed, become harder. So have I. Game ON!!!
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  14. #13
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    Thanks, popdawg. We tested it pretty thoroughly but you never know...

    Question for all: What's the best way to convey to prospective affiliates that the chat is suppressed for their traffic?

  15. #14
    Member AmericasFootprints's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Kay View Post
    Assuming you have what the person is looking for... chat is an extremely valuable selling tool. If you look at it as a car salesman would - "If they're on our car lot, they must need a car"... they it's a done deal if you have the right pitch.

    My experience - as a one-person company was...

    1. Chat customers are lazy. "Do you sell picture frames?" And you want to respond "Do you NOT see the left hand side links? It's the third friggin' link lady!

    2. Chat customers are too specific. "What's the density of the wood in this picture frame? What country does the tree come from?"

    3. Chat customers are salesman. "I see you sell picture frames. We're a fine-art company from China looking to expand..."

    4. Chat customers are time wasters. I see you sell picture frames. Do you know a good book about Pablo Picasso?"

    5. They come in bunches. If you're actually helping someone via chat, an irritating door bell sound starts because 2 other people showed up to chat at the same time

    6. If you're a one-man company, you can't go to the bathrroom (and turn off chat), because you will get a review somewhere that says "I don't trust this company. I've been to the site 5 times. It says they have live chat. But it's always off!

    7. Robots!!!!!! Half my annoying door bell sounds were always spiders crawling my links

    Best,
    Billy
    Yeah these pretty much encompass many of my concerns as well. From your experience alone it sounds like something I might shy away from. Appreciate your input! -Joe

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericasFootprints View Post
    Yeah these pretty much encompass many of my concerns as well. From your experience alone it sounds like something I might shy away from. Appreciate your input! -Joe
    Honestly, and I say this as an itty-bitty entity ourselves, it hinges a lot on the 'one-man-show' factor.

    While some of the objections apply to anyone (e.g. chatters wasting time/resources just want someone to talk to), it's a different game for larger entities with a standalone customer-service team who can support the hours, absorb the wastage more efficiently, etc.

    FWIW, we've elected to discontinue the live chat on Pearls.com. Partly due to the factors cited here, partly due to the fact that half our average page load-time was the chat widget which didn't help our SEO.

    But the fact remains that chat clearly was a transaction driver for us... just not at a scale to justify the time/investment/downside as a small-team entity ourselves. Put another way, I think I'd have had to hire 2 more FTE's to support it properly. I did see benefit... but not enough to hire more folks.

    If I was scaled up and had a larger team, we probably would keep it.


  17. #16
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    PS - That many affiliate partners see chat as a "leak" didn't help. We did/do have code in place to suppress chat for affiliate clicks... But it was still a consideration: Affiliates considering joining the Pearls.com program probably came to the site and saw the chat without realizing it would not be "in play" for their visitors/clickers...


  18. #17
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    FWIW...

    It does feel nice to no longer be 'slave to the chat' in fear that someone will gripe about it not being staffed 24/7...
    Last edited by Pearls.com; January 23rd, 2015 at 11:10 AM. Reason: typo

  19. #18
    ...and a Pirate's heart. Convergence's Avatar
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    As an affiliate we use 'Live Chat'. However, we use it differently than on a merchant site - we use it to 'pop in' if we feel someone has been on the site too long or is having problems finding what they came for. The ability to take control of their browser (while on our site) is a priceless tool as we can direct them to the exact product they are interested in. Or, we can send them to a merchant via an affiliate link that does have the product. This does creep some folks out, of course, but most are appreciative. We also use it for live monitoring of traffic.

    Now, as a merchant, we also have 'Live Chat' on our sites. But, instead of having a live chat icon that says 'Offline - leave a message' (never good to see ever - even after hours) we substitute the chat icon with our standard 'Support' link which redirects the user to our support ticket system. But when WE feel chatty, we'll simply make ourselves (the operators) 'available' and the icon becomes present.

    Both of our scenarios found mixed results. On the affiliate side people would ask us where their order was, can they get a manual, how do I return, etc. Having an icon was not a good idea, but the functionality to chat is. On the merchant side, it is GREAT for sales - a little more work as we take the entire chat and opened a new support ticket so there was an easy, at-your-fingertips, history of what was discussed. However, existing customers would also pop-in to simply bullsh!t - a huge time waster. The live monitoring is good as, over time, the software would/could identify the chatty customers versus prospects.

    Now - for merchants we would promote as an affiliate who have live chat: Easy fix. A simple 'priority code' under the chat icon will help identify the affiliate, IE: Priority Code: <SAS Affiliate ID>. With most live chat systems the operator can view the page the visitor is on (seeing the code) as well as the referring URL. The operator at that point can take an order and assign it to the affiliate - either by viewing the priority code/referring URL and/or asking the visitor for the priority code which can be entered into your modified shopping cart software (to help assign sales/commissions to the proper marketing channel) You can also assign unique priority codes to your PPC campaigns, natural search traffic, and other media buys. No need to hide/suppress your live chat on affiliate links. Another benefit to this 'Priority Code' is you can track phone sales as well. BOTH are great selling points, not deterrents, for recruiting affiliates. All you need to do is show/say this on your merchant profile page so affiliates, who actually read before joining, will get excited.

    Live chat is good...
    Salty kisses, Sandy toes, and a Pirate's heart...


  20. #19
    Affiliate Manager eliteflyers's Avatar
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    Live chat is great!! We use it on our site and at times its overbearing with as many requests we receive. But nonetheless, it's a great tool to help guide a client through check out and or help answer any questions or hang ups a client encounters. Yes, you receive some requests that waste time, however with keen customer service and sly replies you can get them on and off in no time.

    Lastly, our chat program allows us to see our visitors, track their visit, and gives us information on their location, ip, how they found us all in real time.

    It's nuts how many posts I'm reading where affiliates have been burned by advertisers either by not paying or sneaking sales. One would think that affiliates would screen their partners better.

  21. #20
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    I've been using live chat when I had more time to dedicate to it. It's like having a pet you know, has tons of pros but requires attention. Offline live-chats add "abandoned" look to your websites so make sure it's available within indicated time-frame if you have one. Or outsource some customer rep.

  22. #21
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    Yes! saves a lot of time rather than having it by email.

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