Five Signs You Aren’t Getting the Most Out of Your Chat Tool

The usage of chat tools has increased by 67% from 2018 to 2020. Customers are becoming increasingly comfortable using chat and oftentimes prefer chat to an email or online form. And while a majority of companies see the value of chat (a recent report by Drift found that 74% of its survey respondents were planning to add a chat solution to their marketing strategy) unfortunately, most companies aren’t maximizing their investment.

Frustrations mount when you’ve implemented a chat tool on your site, but it’s considered to be “underperforming”. That definition is different for everyone, but generally it means that you’re not driving increased revenue through chat and the tool is doing very little to enhance the customer experience.

Underperformance happens when a chat tool is implemented without considering its full role in the customer journey. Chat is not just a tool through which users can request a direct response. Instead, chat should drive revenue by acting as an interactive channel that you use to nurture your buyers through the funnel.

If you’re unsure if you’re maximizing your investment, be on the lookout for one of these five signs that you’re underutilizing your chat tool.

Here are five signs you aren’t getting the most out of your chat tool.

1. You’re only using chat to serve one purpose

Chat should be holistically applied to your sales, marketing, and customer support functions. But most companies are using chat in only one of those roles.

People use chat tools for all sorts of reasons: to get their questions answered, ask about pricing and demos, solve a problem, speak to a representative, and more. Assuming your chat tool is only necessary for one of these needs, when your users expect more, will quickly derail success.

Instead, your chat tool should be actively developing a relationship with your prospects. It should be listening to questions and replying with helpful answers, routing leads to the appropriate next step with each interaction. Start expanding the purpose of your chat tool by understanding your buyers’ motivations and needs.

Read more: Eight Questions to Ask to Understand Your Buyer

2. You aren’t leveraging data to personalize the conversation

Buyers’ expectations for quick, personalized experiences continue to rise. If you’re offering the same canned responses to everyone, you are severely underutilizing your chat tool.

The best chat tools are capable of orchestrating personalized conversations based on information your prospects provide along the way. Integration into a marketing automation platform allows you to track and pass data back and forth in near real-time so that, as you learn more about a prospect, the chatbot can provide the most relevant next step.

To be successful here, your tool must be tied back to a strategy, a content model, and a lead management framework. You must know what informational needs a person has based on both their stage in the buying process and their responses to progressive profiling questions.

Unsure if you’re personalizing the conversation? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the tool tied back to a strategy, content model, and lead management framework?
  • Is user behavior tracked, attached to a lead record, and used to influence next steps?
  • Is the chatbot asking questions that move a person to the next stage of their journey?
  • Is the tool making content recommendations based on both where the customer is in your funnel and their personal interests?
  • Is the tool helping to nurture meaningful digital relationships?

If you’re not doing all of the above, you’re not getting the most out of your chat solution.

Read more: Anatomy of a Strategic Demand Marketing Plan: The Insights Phase

3. You’re only targeting either early-stage journeys or late-stage journeys, not both

If your chat tool is only offering late-stage actions like “speak to a salesperson” or an automated, early-stage action like “read this blog” you’re alienating a huge part of your audience.

Chat tools should take into consideration where a person is in their journey and dynamically serve the best next step based on that information. Yes, a late-stage user probably does want to book a demo. But an early-stage user does not. It’s critical that you provide the right options at the right time.

Reaching this level of sophistication with your chat tool significantly improves the user experience and allows you to push people through your funnel faster. Instead of letting the prospect sit in any given stage for too long, your chatbot is actively moving them forward in near-real time.

This is one of the biggest advantages of implementing a chat tool. Traditional email nurture programs can take months to move a prospect forward, but a chatbot has the capability to do it with just a few interactions.

Read more: Is Your MarTech Stack Orchestrating Engagement of Just Blasting Outbound Emails

4. You’re only using a live operator or a bot, not both

The best chat tools can respond to interactions either with a chatbot or a live person. But most companies don’t take advantage of this feature.

Your chat tool needs to know when to move a lead from bot to person. It’s not necessary to staff a chat tool with a live person for early stage interactions (in fact, that may cause friction as more and more people prefer a self-service model), but research shows that when users are ready to speak to a salesperson, they want to speak to a salesperson at that exact moment.

Your chat tool should dynamically be answering “is this person looking to buy now?” And if the answer is “yes”, it should route the lead to a live operator. If the answer is “no”, the bot should continue to respond and provide next steps to move a person through their journey.

To be successful here, you’ll need a lead management framework with clearly defined lead qualification stages, a robust lead scoring model, and appropriate SLAs to ensure that your sales team is prepared to handle incoming chats when a person is routed to a live rep.

Read more: Capturing Your Buyer’s Most Meaningful Online Behavior

5. Your sales reps aren’t leveraging the intel gained in chat interactions

Chat provides an amazing opportunity for salespeople to connect with qualified leads at a moment of high intent. But most companies aren’t training their reps to interpret the data gleaned from a chat interaction into a meaningful conversation, so the opportunity is wasted.

Because chat is expected to yield faster results, reps face pressure to respond immediately. It can be intimidating. They have less preparation time than normal and they haven’t yet built a relationship with this person. It can feel a bit like high-stakes cold calling if the rep isn’t prepared. Up until now the prospect has had a highly personalized conversation, and it’s up to sales to keep that going.

If your tool has been progressively profiling leads, tracking keywords, and storing engagement behavior, your sales reps have a treasure trove of information at their fingertips.

In the ideal situation, every interaction should be recorded within your CRM so that your sales reps and customer service agents can pull up a customer’s recorded chat interactions, understand their behavior and motivations, and use that intel to inform conversations in real-time. But it’s about more than capturing the online behavior: you must teach your reps how to find insights that can be leveraged in a one-to-one conversation.

Read more: Translating Your Buyer’s Online Behavior into Meaningful Conversations

Are you getting the most out of your chat tool?

There’s an enormous amount of potential for chat to create highly engaging, personalized experiences for your customers, but many companies haven’t begun to take full advantage of that potential.

If you’re simply treating your chat like a glorified answering machine, you will end up missing out on great opportunities to nurture stronger relationships with your customers and convert more leads into sales, faster.

To learn more about this topic read: The Three Stages of Chat Maturity

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