In a world where people want instant gratification, it’s important to find ways to connect and engage with customers when they are active in the market, rather than when your business premises are open.
The business value of having a strong online presence is widely recognised, but finding ways to really maximise its value and ensure that web visitors turn into customers is still often a challenge.
Live chat is playing an increasingly vital role in generating new business for estate agents who are striving to offer greater levels of customer service, build their brand and increase sales in a highly competitive market.
Live chat is exactly what it suggests – online chat with a customer service representative via your website. Giving your brand a voice and building meaningful relationships with customers, live chat is the fastest and most effective method of engaging with website visitors while seeing an immediate result in sales and service levels.
Whether managed in-house or outsourced in full or in part, live chat handlers will operate exactly as if they were part of your office-based team, armed with the relevant information and insights to help customers, whenever they get in touch.
To extol the business benefits of live chat for estate agents, here are the six most compelling reasons to better connect with your potential online customers…
1. Customers want convenience
The text-based nature of live chat allows us to multi-task and access information discretely – so live chat might be used while someone is cooking dinner, when they’re at work or while they’re searching for properties sat in front of the TV.
Our data certainly bears this out as the peak times for estate agency live chat are between 12 and 3pm each day, often when people are on their lunchbreaks and also 6pm and 9pm, as potential clients get home from work and start discussing their property needs and plans. At weekends, the live chat window moves a little later from 11am to 2pm.
Without the availability of live chat, some potential customers will go elsewhere – perhaps choosing an agent that can give them what they need in real-time. The digital age provides few second chances; live chat offers the all-important convenience we’re searching for.
2. Maximise every web visitor and increase sales
While the most popular enquiries agents receive via telephone relate to house viewings, 30% of live chat can be attributed to valuable new enquiries, most of which concern valuations, viewings and requests for additional property information.
By being able to help website visitors on their terms, it’s possible to maximise every single one and potentially convert them into customers and high value sales and commissions.
Without live chat, online sales opportunities are lost. Once you engage with every web visitor through live chat, you can expect to increase sales.
3. Build meaningful customer rapport and insights
Analysis of our estate agency live chats highlights just how much personal information people are willing to share through this channel, perhaps favouring the discretion that typing an enquiry rather than voicing one offers.
This is very valuable as the more insight you have into your customers’ needs, particularly during what is typically a stressful time, the easier it is to build rapport, add value and meet their expectations.
It is also important to recognise the value of live chat transcripts and the customer insights they hold, in shaping your wider sales and marketing activity and providing useful benchmarks.
4. Cost effective
The real-time nature of live chat makes it a particularly cost effective, quick and direct way to offer customer service and support people through the buying cycle as they make important purchase decisions.
Plus, it can turn traditional ‘out of hours’ periods of no-sales into key times to nurture enquiries and convert new leads without the costs of keeping your office open and fully manned.
5. Get ahead of the competition
The agent brands that enter into a helpful, timely and meaningful dialogue with customers when they need it, are sure to be the winners in a competitive age.
Peoples’ heightened expectations of customer service and being able to get what they need at the push of a button, means that live chat is not just a tool of opportunity, but one of business necessity.
In an ‘always-on’ digital culture, it is no longer enough for agents to be available during traditional office hours.
6. Customer experience – make them feel valued
Live chat, delivered by a customer service representative that really know your services and/or properties can provide a very genuine and human response to customers’ questions which in turn, impacts how they feel about your service and brand.
A positive customer experience builds confidence in your brand. It’s because of this that each and every one of Moneypenny’s 24/7 live chat handlers has been cherry-picked from our property team, ensuring that they not only have excellent customer-service skills but also valuable market knowledge to guarantee the best possible brand experience.
By entering into conversations that address customer’s queries swiftly, estate agents can enjoy improved reputation and positive word-of mouth referrals.
Live chat is already paying dividends for estate agents across the UK and many are increasingly relying on the medium.
With such compelling benefits, live chat is a business necessity that forward-thinking and growth-hungry estate agents cannot afford to ignore.
*Samantha Jones is Commercial Manager – Property at leading outsourced communications provider, Moneypenny.