LiveChat : A new-age tool for new-age businesses

Posted Mar 20, 2012 | ~7 minute read

Go make a cuppa, this one's a biggy!

Those of you that follow me on Twitter will have seen my flurry of excited tweets about LiveChat, a service I'm currently trialling on the codepotato site. I've been researching different live chat systems for about 2 months now, and chanced across the LiveChat early last week. From the outset I was impressed and I wanted to take a moment to explain why I'm so impressed, and how it could be used by any modern-day financial advisory firm.

The user journey

I'm sure you'll agree that sometimes signing up or researching about web services can be a pain in the ass. Information is hidden away and sometimes certain stuff is held back until they've managed to prise one form of contact from you. Similarly, online web-apps often want to take your billing information when you sign up for a trial. For a lot of people, this is the point they say enough-is-enough, and leave the site. And I don't blame them!

There has been a lot of emphasis in the web industry over the past few years on user-interface design and the client journey. Put short, this is trying to get companies to forget about them, and think more about the visitor's needs (sound familiar?). It can be hard work getting it right, and often a costly exercise, but for those that invest the time and do it right, it'll pay dividends.

Such is the case for LiveChat. I'm not going to talk about my feelings towards it, as you can easily say I'm biased, but I want to relate the experience I shared with a client of mine that I was introducing the service to earlier today.

This client was Mark (@edinmortadv), from Edinburgh Mortgage Advice. Mark has an interest in technology, but certainly isn't a "techie". He phoned up to ask about this LiveChat service I had been using and what I thought of it. I ran through my thoughts and related the elements that I thought would be of most use to his business. Spent about 5 minutes talking and Mark asked how to get this setup on his site. I said "Go to the site, and just signup".

Naturally, Mark was wondering what loop holes he would have to jump through to "sign up" and was pleasantly surprised to see that all he had to do was add his name and email address. Next on the agenda was integrating the service with his site. I mentioned that they had already thought of that and that when logged in there's a massive button that says "send these instructions to my web developer". There was another pause followed by Mark agreeing that they really had thought of everything. In short, whilst on the phone Mark was already experiencing the incredibly well thought out journey to sign up for this fancy new service.

It didn't end there. I popped the code onto Mark's site, and left him for five minutes whilst I made a fancy brew of Cuban coffee from @wearekopi (thanks guys!).

When I came back, Mark has already extensively customised his version of LiveChat, with no help or guidance. The interface was clear enough that he could setup what he believed to be an engaging experience for the visitors to his site. Within approximately ten minutes he had created a customised chat-entry form and post-chat survey. When I took a look at what he had managed to do within a short period of time, I was seriously impressed.

I popped Mark a message through his site to make sure he was okay and quickly left him to it as it was clear he was in geek heaven. And here's why :

Everything you need, nothing you don't

I could exhaust tens of virtual-pages writing what this tool can do, but instead will focus on what I think are the key features :

  • Working fully-functional trial within 5 minutes. No joke!
  • Entirely customisable
  • Ability to see what people are typing before they send the message
  • Full chat-log history
  • Integration with leading CRMs, support and invoicing web-apps.
  • Full suite of (free!) apps to manage your account (mac, windooozzzzzeeee, iOS, Blackberry, Android included). And did I say for FREE!
  • Canned responses using hashtags. (twitter-land rejoices!)

If you want to see more of what it can do, I heartily suggest you go setup a free trial of it and just play with it. If you need a hand setting it up, do shout!

Just the ticket for advisory firms

I have thought for a long time that LiveChat tools have been massively under-utilised in the advisory profession. Historically, I've only ever seen them be used by web-hosting companies, trying to flog you their wares. Sure, they work but their appearance has always been very "cheap" and "tacky" in my opinion. Over time, I've grown to shudder whenever I see the overly bright white teeth of the blonde in corporate attire inviting me to chat. Until now.

The very look and feel of this tool is professional, eye-catching but not distracting. The fact that you can then customise its appearance (colours included) makes it very easy to incorporate it into your existing site / brand.

Each advisory firm is different and I would advise you to spend a fair amount of time tweaking the language used in the LiveChat tool. From your control panel you can change the labels used to prompt a chat, even down to the title given to your profile. This level of customisation means even if a potential client had visited another site using this tool, it wouldn't be obvious it was the same product.

Audit trails are incredibly important for any advisory business and I'm sure your compliance officer would be impressed with the level of detail logged by this app. Every message is saved, and it even remembers the details of visitors you've engaged with previously. If you use Highrise, it can even integrate and create new contacts or deals from your conversations. When you've finished a chat with an individual, it will automatically save the transcription into Highrise.

For me, the coolest thing this could do for an advisory firm is lower the barrier of entry for visitors on their site. Don't wait for the visitor to call you, you call them (virtually of course!).

LiveChat are just about to release an update to their service (which they've shared with me) that makes it possible to tailor the invitations sent to a visitor on the site. These invitations look just like the chat window above and replace the corny implementation they had before.

So how could an advisory firm use it?

Imagine someone local to you has searched for an investment IFA. When they click through to your site, you can see in the desktop app provided by LiveChat that this visitor has typed in "purbrook investment IFA". Rather than waiting for them to engage with your live chat tool you can send them an invite to ask what elements of investments they're looking for advice in.

Boom. Tailored engagement, with a more personal touch.

I've tried this myself on the codepotato site, and the first time I tried it, I converted the visitor into an enquiry. I believe @edinmortadv did this earlier as well and converted a visitor too. It works and isn't just a gimmick.

I would love to talk to any firm that might be wondering how they could use this for their business. Feel free to pop me a question from the LiveChat window in the bottom right...