Live chat tools work like this: install a third-party code on your site, place a floating “help” button somewhere on your page, and when users click it, they can chat with your team. Your team is notified via Google Chat or Skype. This week we took it a step further and added “Proactive Chat,” which means the chat tool pops up on our homepage if a visitor lingers for 30 seconds.
Live chat is a double-edge sword. On one hand, visitors are pleasantly surprised when they talk to someone (especially when they reach the CEO), it can build trust, and it can increase conversions on the site. On the other hand, if your team steps away for even a moment and misses the chat, customers grow livid. They learn to actively hate you, and some will go so far as to write you a nasty email afterwards.
We’re working out the kinks with live chat but we’re learning that live chat tools are only as awesome as your team. If your team’s Skype hygiene is bad, with people disappearing for hours on end, do not use these tools. If you’re disciplined about updating to your Available and Away status, then go ahead and use it.