More and more practices are adding live chat capability to their websites. While first impressions of this new communication portal can seem somewhat intrusive, live chat actually breaks down the barriers with customers and potential customers. It allows customers to ask questions or book appointments without having to use the phone, which research shows customers prefer.
At Advice Media, we’re big fans of this growing functionality. Here’s why.
More fingers, less ears
People are texting more than they are making voice phone calls. A 2015 report from Infomate Mobile Intelligence found that people would rather text than talk. Check these numbers. The average American spends 26 minutes texting as opposed to six minutes on the phone every day. As you would assume, this trend is strongest with millennials, who average 67 texts per day, but it crosses age groups.
Think about your own experience. Do you want to call your spouse and say you’ll be home in five minutes, or do you simply send off a text? Texting is easier, quicker, plus you’re less likely to get bogged down in other side conversations.
Engaging your site’s visitors
As pay per click advertising with Google and Bing gets more expensive, you want to make sure those click-throughs that visit your practice site don’t simply take a look and then “bounce” away. That’s called bounce rate — the percentage of site visitors that leave the website without doing anything. Research shows the bounce rate to be around 50 percent.
You want to engage those visitors. First, this means having a landing page that is interesting and relevant to their search. Second, you want to make it easy for your visitor to ask a question or, better yet, make an appointment.
Live chat allows them to do that in a less involved way than over the phone.
A few chat stats
ApexChat has compiled some statistics on live chat.
- Businesses experience an average 40 percent increase in their online leads when they add live chat to their sites.
- 42% of chat leads took place after business hours.
- Monday morning is the busiest time for chat volume.
- Saturday evening has the lowest chat volume.
- Chats last nine minutes on average.
Why do your patients and potential patients like live chat?
As we noted earlier, people are texting more and talking less. That’s because texting is less intrusive than talking. Live chat is the same. There are a variety of reasons live chat works.
- It’s private
When online at work, live chat is private. Many people work in less than private spaces these days, particularly the “open environments” where no one is in an enclosed office. Making a phone call for these people could be frowned upon and certainly isn’t private. Think of the aversion involved to making a non-private phone call when a potential patient is considering a cosmetic procedure such as liposuction or breast augmentation.
- Think of it like online shopping
The same holds true for live chat and its comparison to online shopping. Most people working wouldn’t dream of giving away the fact that they’re shopping for their sister’s birthday present at work by doing it over the phone. But no one knows the same person just went on Amazon, did some research, and made the purchase. Utilizing live chat with your practice has the same private attraction.
- A phone call takes more commitment
Questions your potential patients want to ask, say what’s the difference between a tummy tuck and a mini tummy tuck, can be an obstacle to a person booking the procedure. A phone call isn’t as easy as a live chat to have those questions answered. If they like what they read in the chat, then they may book the consultation, where the more intricate information will be delivered. The chat services we provide answer basic questions from potential or current patients, and then if more involved information is needed our representatives can refer the patient to a staff member at the practice.
- Sets your practice apart
Live chat differentiates your practice from others when potential patients are “window shopping.” And once they engage in a chat, they spend more time on your site. Plus, when the chat is finished the potential patient now has a connection to your practice.
- Just say no to being on hold
People hate being put on hold. While this may not be as true with a practice, where phone traffic isn’t the same as tech support for your satellite TV provider, over three-quarters of consumers prefer live chat for a simple reason — they won’t get put on hold (from Business2Community).
- Builds confidence
Whether your practice is plastic surgery, dentistry, or dermatology, there is often an inherent nervousness about having a procedure. This applies to a facelift, or a root canal, or having a melanoma removed. When the potential patient can ask some questions in the non-threatening, non-committal realm of live chat, their confidence builds. This makes the person more likely to take the next step and book his or her appointment.
Different options and extensive expertise
At Advice Media, we add live chat functionality to more of our practices every day. We offer various options for the actual chat interface that you can test — things such as floating chat bars, pop-ups, static chat buttons, and myriad other options. We’ll provide resources to manage your live chat and provide statistics on its effectiveness.
Let’s add live chat to your practice website. Talk with your Advice Media representative to get the ball rolling.