Ditch the Phone: Why Adding Live Chat to Your Site Just Makes Sense

Ditch the Phone: Why Adding Live Chat to Your Site Just Makes Sense

Ditch the Phone: Why Adding Live Chat to Your Site Just Makes Sense

access_time Aug/10/2017

Millennials these days… they prefer texting over calling. They prefer messaging apps over voicemail. But I’ll bet you that they aren’t the only generation making the switch to text.

Not too long ago, web experts suggested -- no, required -- that a business has their phone number visible to site visitors, so that customers who needed an answer fast could get a hold of you or your staff. But in the age of multitasking, people now are willing to sacrifice a little bit of urgency for convenience.

Maybe you’ve already tried this. If you’re like me, you’re online banking and wire transfers with your bank and you have frequent questions. Using their online chat system, I’m able to take my time chatting with a representative while handling other important issues on the phone.

There are many other reasons why someone would prefer to message you rather than call you. And, there may be reasons why someone like you would want to add live chat to your business’s website.

1. Website visitors who chat may purchase more.

In a report published by Bold360, they found that people who engaged with a site via live chat were 4.5 times more valuable than visitors who did not chat. This means that you or your staff could easily focus on those engaged visitors and get them to buy more. This is basically a reflection of the Pareto Principle (or the 80/20 rule) in customer service.

2. Website visitors who chat leave more satisfied.

In addition to converting at a higher rate, customers who utilize your live chat system may also develop a better sentiment with your company. According to eDigitalResearch, a global intelligence firm, users had a higher sense of satisfaction after chatting with a company representative on the site, compared to phone and email contact.

3. You could free your staff up to do other tasks.

In my scenario above, I was free to do other things while I was waiting for a bank representative to take care of my issue. The same holds true for staff. Many live chat services have notification settings where it can alert your staff when a message comes in, so that you’re not waiting around looking at your computer. In between messages, staff could complete other tasks while waiting for the next customer.

4. You could provide a better response to customers.

Have you ever been asked a question you didn’t have an immediate response to? For many new or junior staff who answer questions over the phone, panic may set in and a wrong answer may be given. A live chat software could help your team provide more consistent service across the board. Most software will allow you to create libraries of canned responses so you know your staff is delivering the most preferred lines. Also, for the more complex answers that require a more thought-out response, there’s no need to awkwardly place the customer on hold. Your staff could simply ping their manager or you for the answer, or they could chat with colleagues in person while writing out their response to the customer.

Bonus: Some live chat software include features like canned responses that could potentially help you increase sales.  For example, a canned response could provide messages that may guide the customer to purchase more from your business. For instance, if you’re an online fashion retailer and a customer reaches out to you about a return policy for something they’ve accidentally torn, your staff could offer to sell them a convenient sewing kit that matches the color of their garment.

5. You’re providing more contact options to people who can’t call.

Since wifi is almost everywhere these days, some people have better data than they do cell service, so they might prefer to converse online. Some people may be working at a busy and loud coffee shop, so they may not want to chat on the phone. Maybe there’s a language barrier between you and the potential customer, and they may feel it would be easier to type out their concerns rather than speak. Or, it could be that today’s society simply does not like talking on the phone.

There is a variety of live chat software available, ranging dramatically in cost and features. Some popular ones are Olark, LiveChat, Zendesk, Intercom, and many more.

Of course, you will want to work with a web developer that can help you implement the software on your site and overall sales process. They may also have more insight into which software might benefit your specific business the most.
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How to Sell Anything to Anyone by Telling Great Stories

Whatever line of business you’re in, almost everyone nowadays is in the business of selling. Whether you’re trying to get customers to buy your product, pitch your company to investors, motivate your employees or get your teenager to do the dishes, your success will be dictated by your ability to influence, persuade and “close the sale”. 

And storytelling is arguably the most powerful tool in your selling toolbox. 

The best lesson I ever learned about the power of sales stories was during a vacation to Iceland last year. I was at the airport gift shop looking to pick up some last-minute souvenirs for friends. I was thinking of getting a couple of fridge magnets that would cost no more than 5 euros apiece. The store had a huge selection of those, ranging from Icelandic landmarks to elf figurines. They were all very pretty and I had a hard time deciding which ones to get.

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Then I noticed one magnet that looked cheaply made. It was a square piece of wood with a little magnet glued to the back. On the front there was a symbol painted in red, which looked like an eight-pointed star drawn by a toddler. 

“What is this?” I asked the store clerk, a 20-something blonde.

“Ah, this is a magic symbol for the Icelandic fishermen!” she said. 

She went on to tell me that when Iceland was first occupied by the Vikings, most people’s livelihoods depended on fishing. It was a dangerous occupation given the harsh climate. The Vikings worshiped the Norse gods, and this was the magic symbol the fishermen wore or carved on their boats to appease the gods and bring good fortune and protection to their fishing trips.

“How much is it?” I asked

“10 euros.”

I bought five of them. 

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If you think about it, what happened in that transaction was quite magical. Before the clerk told me the story about Vikings and gods, the magnet wasn’t worth a dime to me. After she told me the story, which blended elements of history, religion and exotic adventure, the little piece of wood suddenly had so much meaning that I had to get it -- gladly paying a premium price that doubled my budget.

Now when I gifted that magnet to friends, I’d tell them that story as well, so that they’d know I wasn’t gifting them a cheap piece of wood, but an embodiment of Icelandic magic and blessing. 

And that is the power of a well-told story. It gives meaning to a product that is otherwise impersonal. It differentiates your product offering from your competitors’ and makes it more memorable. It builds relationships and inspires your audience/customers/stakeholders to make decisions beyond pure logical calculation.

But, when should you tell stories in the selling process and how should you tell them? Let's start with how not to start a story.

1. Don't apologize or ask permission for telling a story.

Many people don’t know how to start telling a story, especially at work. They begin by saying things like “I’m sorry, but can I tell you a story about this?” or “I promise it will be really quick,” as though they were apologizing for doing something wrong. When you start a story that way, the message you’re communicating is “this story is not important.” Then why should your audience listen to you? If you don’t think your story is that important, don’t tell it. If you think it’s worth your audience’s time, don’t apologize. 

Related: The Secret of Storytelling

2. Don't use the 's' word.

The “s” word in this case is the word “story.” Don’t mention that word, unless your audience is a bunch of 5-years-olds. Many people in a work environment have a negative reaction to the word “story,” associating it with being unprofessional or inefficient. Don’t bias your audience by saying things like “Let me start today’s presentation with a story." 

3. Don't give away the ending

A main reason why stories make people pay attention to you is the suspense factor -- we all want to know what happened next. Don’t sabotage yourself by prematurely telling your audience how the story turned out. For example, in the middle of your story don’t say things like “Eventually what happened is [insert the ending], but at that time I didn’t know better.” You just ruined your story!

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This is the most effective way to start your story.

Storytelling coach Paul Smith explains that you should always start your story with a great hook. A hook in this case is a single sentence or phrase that demonstrates to your audience why they should listen to your story. For example, instead of saying, “Let’s get today’s meeting started. And I’ll begin by telling you a story,” try something like, “Let’s get today’s meeting started. Something happened last week that completely changed my thinking on how to run this department. I thought I’d tell you about that.” The former way is awkward and likely met with resistance from your audience. The latter way is an excellent hook that gets your listeners’ attention immediately. 

Another example of a hook: Remember that at the beginning of my Icelandic fridge magnet story I told you the best lesson I ever learned about the power of sales stories was when I went on vacation to Iceland? Yeah, that’s a hook. Did I get your attention? See!

Knowing when and how to tell stories is a powerful skill that will immediately boost your effectiveness in selling anything. 

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How Do You Keep Buyers and Sellers Inside Your Marketplace?

Here at the magazine, I’m always getting pitched new companies calling themselves “the Uber of” this or that. The Uber of lawn care, the Uber of bespoke suits. And I have to admit, most of the time I’m skeptical that a company like this will survive. That’s because they’re all going to face a problem called “disintermediation” -- or what I like to call the Handy Problem. Few of them seem to have a solution.

Handy is like the Uber of house cleaners. You sign up, and it’ll send someone to clean your home. My wife and I used the service a few years ago when we had a baby and no longer had time to clean our apartment ourselves. We were pretty happy with the result. A different cleaner would show up every time, and some were better than others, but they all basically got the job done. And then one day, a cleaner came, did a great job, and, before she left, she handed us her business card and said that if we hired her directly rather than through Handy, she’d give us a better price.

Related: 22 Qualities That Make a Great Leader

That’s a good business strategy for her, right? After all, when she’s booked through Handy, the company takes a cut of her fee. If she books directly with us, she doesn’t lose that cut and can give us a part of it and still make more money. It’s less expensive for us, and more money for her. And frankly, because we liked her work, we’d like to build a relationship directly with her. In this equation, neither side was incentivized to keep doing business with Handy. We canceled our membership with the company, and have been using this same cleaning woman for years.

Almost every company calling itself the Uber of something will face this problem. These companies are connectors -- they create a large pool of people who are offering the same service, then attract customers looking for that service, and just put them together. But how do you stay relevant once the connection is made? How do you be the kind of company people keep wanting to use?

Related: Inspiring Quotes to Help You Get Through Your Work Day

Jaron Gilinsky figured it out. He’s the Jaron founder and CEO of Storyhunter, a platform that connects media companies and giant brands to freelance video producers and journalists in 180 countries. How’d he do it? That’s what this episode of Problem Solvers about.

To subscribe on iTunes, click here. Or, click play to listen below.

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Shopify vs. Magento: The Tide is Shifting

Just a few years ago, it was virtually unheard of for an ecommerce site to use anything but Magento for their shopping platform needs. Certainly a platform like Shopify wouldn’t have been in the running for what most considered a “top-tier ecommerce platform.” Slowly but surely, though, these sentiments have begun to change and, in ever increasing numbers, marketers and business owners have begun to look to Shopify instead of Magento. Amazingly, in June of 2016, Shopify overtook Magento in terms of Google trends.

In fact, we here at Group 8A had one of our biggest months ever using Shopify and have been exceedingly satisfied with our choice of platform. Although, the decision did not come easy and we had to look at many different factors to determine which platform would best suit our needs.

Here are a few of the features we took into consideration when making our decision between Shopify and Magento.

Related: The 6 Best Ecommerce Platforms for Small Businesses

Ease of SEO

It might seem counterintuitive when there are so many other aspects to take into consideration, but for a business like ours that exists in an increasingly competitive marketplace, SEO is key (read: king). Furthermore, more than 35 percent of consumers begin their purchase through Google, so it’s no wonder why great SEO integration can make or break a business.

To be fair, both platforms easily allow the imbedding of page URLS, meta-descriptions, page titles, independent links, etc., which will allow your business to tailor your text to help boost the presence of a page or a site and with it your search engine rankings. But only Shopify has Traffic Control, a handy app that allows you to manage redirects so you don’t lose traffic or SEO rankings after migration. An app like this is absolutely imperative if you’re considering changing platforms.

Of course, Magento being open source, the SEO option could be unlimited if you have the technical know-how. If not, you might end up shelling out lots of money finding somebody who does.

Related: The Small Business Owner's Guide to Choosing the Right Ecommerce Platform

Pricing

Pricing should have probably been our first consideration (and for the folks with the money, it probably was) and both Shopify and Magento have their pros and cons.

Magento Community Edition is 100 percent free. Of course, if you want to upgrade to Enterprise Edition, you’ll have to request a quote from the company, which can be a hassle and potentially very expensive (in the $18,000 range).

Shopify has a few different pricing options for businesses.

  • $9/month + 2.9% + 30¢ credit card fees
  • $29/month + 2.9% + 30¢ credit card fees
  • $79/month + 2.6% + 30¢ credit card fees
  • $299/month + 2.4% + 30¢ credit card fees

Just looking at the raw data, it appears as if Magento Community Editon is the better option of the two, and it certainly could be if you’re looking for something a bit more rudimentary and hands on. But if you take into consideration what Shopify offers its users that Magento doesn’t— 24-hour customer service, tools for manual order creation, and fraud analysis features— it’s clearly a very good option.

Likewise, the price of hosting your site is included in your Shopify subscription. If you’re using Magento, you’ll have to sign up with a third party hosting platform, which could cost anywhere from a few bucks to several hundred dollars a month.

Related: Shopping Cart Throw-down: Which Ecommerce Platform Reigns Supreme?

Design

For advanced users, Magento can be the easier of the two to edit files, as it will connect you directly to an FTP client. But for less experienced users, this might be a bit confusing and possibly very difficult. There exists a decent theme marketplace but, unfortunately, many of the themes aren’t quality-controlled so using one could be dicey. Some are free but most of Magento’s themes will cost anywhere between $50 and $300.

Shopify has a good many more varieties of themes overall, which are easy to adapt without any knowledge of code or coding. A casual glance over the look of the builds show an abundance of themes that are sleek, powerful and, most importantly, mobile friendly.

Related: 5 Signs That You Should Upgrade to a New Ecommerce Platform

Support

As a business, we pride ourselves on always being available to our clients, and when we were looking for a platform, we wanted the same customer service made available to us.

To that point, and to vastly oversimplify it, Shopify has support and Magento doesn’t.

To be fair, Magento has a dedicated community support forum full of knowledgeable and helpful developers. But unless you yourself have a background in developing, or have hired someone that does, this may be of no use to you, especially if your site goes down at 3AM Christmas Eve and there’s no one to troubleshoot with.

Shopify’s customer support is unmatched. They provide 24-hour support staff available over live chat, email or phone, a blog -- Ecommerce University -- full of valuable advice, and, yes, even user forums.

Related: How Shopify Became the Go-To Ecommerce Platform for Startups

Group 8A isn’t the only business to have success with the Shopify platform. Others too have seen massive increases in site conversions after migrating to Shopify. Overall, yes, both platforms boast some great features and, in the end, it’s going to come down to which is more ideal for your specific business and will best serve your strengths. 

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Nap-Happy Spain Finally Gets Its First Nap Cafe

Spain is a country known for its long workday -- typically ending at 7 p.m. -- with a two-hour break in the afternoon to make up for it. These siestas are a time for Spaniards to eat a good meal and take a nap.

Increasingly, however, this tradition has been harder to keep for workers in urban centers whose employers don't pull down the shades during siesta.

Image credit: Siesta&Go | Facebook

Cue Maria Estrella Jorro de Inza, a Spanish entrepreneur who took a trip to Japan and was inspired to transplant the idea of a nap cafe to her native homeland, surprisingly for the first time in the nap-happy country.

Related: Staying Up Late and Sleeping In on the Weekends Is Bad for Your Health

"It's funny that we're known for the siesta, but we haven't been professional about it," De Inza told Bloomberg. "We get a lot of men in suits who just want to relax and women wanting to take their heels off. Lunch break is the busiest time."

The aptly named Siesta and Go opened in Madrid in May and features 19 beds and a coffee area. Staff provide about 30 customers daily with fresh sheets, earplugs and slippers.

Image credit: Siesta&Go | Facebook

There's actually a serious debate going on in Spain right now about the future of the siesta. In 2016, the country's prime minister proposed a law to end the workday at 6 p.m., which would effectively kill the afternoon nap. The shorter workday would allow working Spaniards more time to take care of their families in the evening. However, many are attached to the siesta as part of the Spanish way of life.

On a related controversial note, some argue the country has been in the wrong timezone since 1942, when Spain's former dictator, Francisco Franco, pushed the clocks forward in a gesture of allegiance to Adolf Hitler.

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3 Tips for Raising Your Kids to Be Empathetic Entrepreneurs

The recent upheaval at Uber offers a cautionary tale about what happens when founders don't prioritize empathy. The $69 billion company has clearly had success in its market, but its hesitation to address harassment accusations and reports of driver disputes suggested a lack of empathy toward its employees.

That's a shame because empathy lies at the heart of successful companies. Founders, in particular, must cultivate a strong sense of empathy because they’re beholden to so many people.

Employees, shareholders, customers -- everyone depends on them. And because empathy is a muscle one strengthens only over time, parents who want to raise entrepreneurial kids should begin developing that attribute now.

Fortunately, empathy is not a trait some are born with, and some not; everyone can practice -- and become good at -- understanding other people. Stepping into others' shoes begins with simple awareness, and parents are in the perfect position to model that for their kids. 

During these summer months, when your kids are around more than usual, you'll get plenty of opportunities to model good behavior. So, keep in mind: The way you interact with the world shapes your children's habits; if you're attentive to other people, they will be, too.

Related: How to Support Your Entrepreneurial Kids

Here's how to develop empathy among the future entrepreneurs in your family:

1. Make empathy a family habit.

You are your kids’ first teacher: Be mindful of the lessons you impart. When they fight with their siblings or friends, teach them to look at the argument from the other person's perspective. What might their brothers or sisters be feeling when they call them names or won’t share?

Do the same when you have conflicts with your spouse or relatives. If there’s a rift within the extended family, explain it to the kids while acknowledging the other side’s perspective.

In the business world, Costco modeled corporate empathy in an extraordinary way, following the 2008 economic collapse. Most companies were frantically searching for ways to cut costs, but Costco gave its employees a raise.

Rather than add to its workers' economic woes, it looked at the situation from where its employees stood and buoyed them during a difficult time. Today, Costco sees less than 10 percent turnover among its hourly team members.

2. Encourage emotional sharing.

Invite your kids to share not only what they’re feeling, but also why. Doing so builds emotional literacy and enables your children to communicate more effectively. Ever since our kids were young, my wife and I have made it a point to discuss our feelings openly and examine how we plan to act on those emotions.

We saw our children carry that practice into their own lives outside our home. When our son was 12, he stood up for a classmate who was being bullied, asking the young offender why he felt that he needed to act that way. Our son was not an especially outspoken type, but he told me he intervened because he didn't understand and couldn't accept why someone would treat a peer that way.

As kids grow into adults, they likely won't be sharing their deep feelings at work (founder or otherwise), but they will be sharing their ideas. Workers who feel comfortable offering input and pitching ideas to their managers are 54 percent more engaged than those who feel that they can’t approach their bosses, according to a Gallup study. Empathy is crucial for developing a healthy work environment, so the sooner future leaders learn to exercise it, the better.

Related: Dealing With Feelings: How to Be an Emotionally Aware Leader

3. Teach your kids to read others’ body language.

In a 20-year study from Duke and Penn State universities, researchers followed children from kindergarten through age 25 to observe how their interpersonal skills correlated with long-term success.

They concluded that those with strong social habits, such as empathy and conflict resolution, were more likely to finish college and land full-time jobs than their less socially adept peers.

Understanding body language is a core component of healthy interpersonal development, so look for opportunities to explain body cues to your kids. Use TV shows, movies and play-date interactions as teachable moments in this area.

Having company over is also a great time to practice paying attention to what people say through both their words and body language. When we had guests visit our home, my wife and I taught our kids to shake their hands and look them in the eye.

Our kids also paid attention to what a guest might need -- a glass of water or directions to the coat room -- rather than to scurry shyly away. As they grew older, that attentiveness helped them sense when someone’s feelings were going unspoken and to anticipate how to improve the situation.

Related: Here's the Work Help Gen Z Really Needs From Its Parents

Organizational change expert Manfred Kets de Vries wrote, “Empathy enhances our ability to receive and process information and to find solutions.” Nothing could be more important to future entrepreneurs, and parents have the power to instill this skill at a young age.

Teaching children empathy now lays the foundation for a successful, enriching and emotionally rewarding future. The best part? All kids can learn it -- they just need someone to teach them.

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