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Rightsizing Your Website Chat Feature

If you’re a marketer or sales director you’ve probably received the directive from your ownership team that “Hey, we need a chat on our website!

 

No doubt you’re down the rabbit hole of which chat option to select and should it be ChatGPT?

First, as of now, ChatGPT isn’t a chat option for your website, though technology is advancing swiftly. Tools like it may become viable options in the near future as they continue to develop.

Second, give your OSC Team a call right now (or forward them this article), they need to be in on and driving the decision, as they’ll be the primary team managing this feature.

When making a decision on the right chat feature for your size and needs first consider these things:

  • What’s your goal here? We have three categories: reactive, proactive, or passive. Are you seeking to provide quick answers for customers, capture more leads, or provide guidance through a complicated website?
  • Who is going to manage the chat and do they have the bandwidth to do so?
  • What’s your investment range for this and what resources can you put towards it?

It may or may not surprise you to know that web traffic in the building industry is a little… low. Comparatively to other industries, a builder might see a thousand impressions in a day, whereas ecommerce and other industries see tens of thousands. Because of this, more robust chat systems are going to struggle to provide you accurate data on potential success if you use them. Think about this when reviewing your options: what is the rate of conversion of web leads to contacts via chat? If the chat provided a 1% increase from your web traffic, how would that increase your potential sales? Keeping that in mind may help you to decide which level of chat you want or need.

 

Below, we’ve organized the primary chat options available into three distinct categories, examining both their advantages and potential frustrations.

 

Reactive Chats

This is going to be your lowest cost solution. There are many CRMs that have their own chat features now, heck, even phone systems are offering this – you can throw a stone and find one for under $100/mo.

This would be your basic chat set up. There might be a few canned responses available, an auto-reply and the ability to view folks trafficking your website. You’ll often have the option to log in and coach during a chat and route to multiple users.

 

What’s good: This is the ideal solution if you need a chat option quickly but don’t have a lot of time or resources to invest in set-up time. The user interface is simple and a savvy OSC can operate with minimal training. This is cheap! You get what you pay for, but can you really beat $100/month?


What’s frustrating: Often you have to have a welcome greeting and can’t control how that shows up for the end user. You’re often only chatting with folks who reach out to you, as opposed to proactively attempting to capture them based on their page activity. These options don’t always integrate with your CRM and documenting chat logs can be challenging.

Passive Chats

The next level would be an automated chatbot feature that has pre-designed canned responses and behaviors. It acts as a guide for your website and provides quick answers. It will learn from the content on your site.

This is clearly a robot and your consumer knows it. They’re offering information already found on the website, in a chat channel where it can easily be accessed. The chat manager can jump into a conversation, but depending on the interface, they may not be watching chats engage in real time with the ability to interrupt as a real person.

 

What’s good: if you are a large builder with multiple markets and complicated website mapping, users can utilize this guide to get the information they need right away. It will also capture contact information and deposit it into your CRM. There is little oversight needed into these programs, your OSC probably won’t do much with this which can be great if they’re wearing multiple hats or have high volume.

What’s frustrating: These AI-powered chat types typically don’t allow for adjustments to the conversation style or options. It’s an information source rather than a place to gather discovery details. These have a high investment commitment.

Proactive Chats

A proactive chat tool is designed to convert more of your visitors to leads through engagement with your OSC and casual and intelligent conversation styles to qualify leads. These provide for completely custom conversation skills, routing, and behavior management. Look at it like this: depending on your current market conditions and sales capacity you can change what the bot asks and does up front. Heck, we’ve even changed out our bot for holidays so our customers know we’re not there. Once a lead hits the minimum level of qualification, it gets handed over to your live person. There are countless options here, because you’re designing it to suit your needs. The interface takes a little more training and know-how, but the investment pays off in conversions.

What’s good: Higher website conversion rates, automatically move non-lead chats out of your OSC’s hands (example: redirects a trade to your trade registration form or a warranty customer where they need to go), and integrates well with CRMs that offer app or API connections. While the investment here is also a bit higher than $100/mo, it really does the work of a half person, which is what you’ll pay for it. If your OSC just needs a little more support but you can’t justify a whole second person yet, this can transform their lead capture. Multiple playbooks based on availability provide your OSC the autonomy to address everyone’s needs in real time. We love the flexibility of these tools and the ability to change in real time without having to go to a support team.

What’s frustrating: Honestly, this is the crème-de-la-crème. It can be tough to build out the playlists or workflows initially, but once in place you’ve got an excellent program. Maintaining and freshening up those should be an ongoing process. You’ll need to be sure you have an SOP in place for how to do that. Cost can be a prohibitor as well.

 

A chat feature is a great option for most builders. You have to trust your OSC to manage it, including having the discernment to turn it off when they are busy. You need to know when to throttle it and when to slow it down – like capturing or not capturing contact information in a pre-chat form.

We believe the future of chats for builders will include true AI technology and interactive communication before a human gets involved. Maintaining the essence of discovery is paramount. The goal is to find out what the lead is seeking, and the OSC is pivotal in guiding them to the right next step – a human touch that AI and chat tools will never replace.

 

It’s important to note that mastering chat isn’t something OSCs achieve overnight. If you find your team needs training to learn to use these tools effectively, we can provide that training to ensure they are well-equipped to harness the full potential of your chosen chat tool.

 

Balancing chat tools with the essential human element of your OSC team will keep your interactions personable and focused, leading your prospects smoothly on their path to purchasing a home from you. If you would like further guidance in finding the right tool for your team or in training your OSC(s) in how to effectively use these tools, don’t hesitate to contact us. Click here to schedule a call, we’d love to help.

Written By

Diana Wallace

Shared Drive | Executive OSC