The idea is great! I had it installed on my previous website and, boy, did I 'see’ people’s faces light up when making use of it. It is the surprise-and-delight element that can, in some cases, make the difference between a prospect and a client.
The idea I am writing about is called “Live Chat” and it enables visitors of your website to reach out and chat with you instantaneously, in real time. It can be downloaded and used as a smartphone application or installed on your laptop and operated from there. It records useful statistics, such as who contacted you along with basic details about that person, who comes back, and it even keeps a log of the conversations you are having with your prospects and customers alike, which you can always revert back to. Information is power (if it is up-to-date, that is).
For the brand new www.MichaelVirardi.com website, which has gone live a couple of months ago, I had to part ways with my beloved “Live Chat” after our web designers decided, solely for design's sake, to take out the "Live Chat” feature. After having won my trust with their awe-inspiring design work, not a single eyebrow was raised from my end in response to this request of theirs.
And, lo and behold, as I was starting to forget all about the “Live Chat” feature, an Australian company infiltrated my Inbox realm, offering “Live Chat” as a proposed website service! As soon as I saw “Live Chat” on the email’s subject I got excited. Very excited. I even started questioning why our designers wanted to get rid of it in the first place. But excitement gave way to sobered reasoning, after I read the content of their email.
Below is the body of text of said e-mail, verbatim:
G’day from Australia!
We came across MRV Simple Techniques' website and noticed it does not have a 24/7 live chat support and you are losing customers because of it.
We're an Aussie company that provides live chat support for websites 24/7. WE study your business and then engage with each visitor on your website, provide them customer support and then SMS and Email you leads.
This will help MRV Simple Techniques grow and you will never lose customers such as myself who failed to get in touch with someone. If people don't have immediate access to live chat on websites these days - they leave.
You can visit us at XXXXXXXXX. and chat to a professional straight away.
(Name of the Australian company)
The analogue answer to the digital threat
As you may already know, I am an ardent supporter of personalizing your service. For brick-and-mortar stores, personalization is the remedy to the Amazon era, the analogue answer to the digital threat. For us solo-preneurs, a fast, reliable and personalized service represents, not only a differentiating factor in itself, but also a concrete reason for maintaining our fee levels, thus avoiding price-dropping and, as a result, securing a healthy margin. As I have written in the past, 90% of my customers, when presented with the question of why they hired me, they reply back by saying that I was hired on the grounds of being the promptest among the competition. And with promptness, deservedly or not, comes an array of qualities which are ascribed to a professional on the sole grounds of being prompt (e.g. reliability, consistency, dependability, etc.).
Even though the Australian company had good intentions (and I know that for a fact after visiting their website and interacting with Ella, one of their Live Chat representatives), it nevertheless failed, in many respects, to personalize its service and create a memorable experience.
How to create a memorable experience
- Personalization: Greeting me with “Hi guys” tells me that you did not invest the time or go into the ‘trouble’ of looking me up and finding more about me. If you did then you would have referred to me as Michael and not as a company (MRV SIMPLE TECHNIQUES). Even if you search hard enough you will only find my company’s name in small print (!) whereas the brand name “Michael R. Virardi” is painted all over the website. How can you convince me that you will PROPERLY engage with each and every one of my clients under the "personalization" umbrella (in their words “engage with each visitor on your website, provide them customer support and then SMS and Email you leads”) when you did not invest the time to find out more about me as a person and you referred to me as a company? This, in my opinion, is "depersonalization", not "personalization" of service.
- Promptness (speed): Responded back to the Australian company’s email within my 7 x 7 x 7 rule, by adhering to the second 7 (read here about the 7 x 7 x 7 rule). Four days have gone by and I have not yet received a reply. In terms of promptness (punctuality) and speed of reply through e-mail, I will rate them as 0 out of 10. On the other hand, when I visited their website and opted for their Live Chat feature as a means of reaching out to them, Ella responded back within 7 seconds, thus adhering to the said rule. Rating: 10/10. But promptness can only be essential and redeemable if all the other pillars receive a height score as well. It should also be consistent across the board, not only ascribed to a particular means of communication (in this case, their Live Chat feature) with the other such means being neglected.
- Patience: Patience is a virtue. The Australian company rushed into its (probably mass-mailing campaign) correspondence without investing the necessary time to personalize its email for each and every prospect of theirs. The same holds true with Ella, who rushed and jumped into a probable conclusion by asking me “if I am looking for live chat support as a service". She could have engaged with me in conversation for a few seconds longer. Refrain from jumping into conclusions, as this habit tends to make the other person (not yet your client) feel that he or she is just a number in a long string of numbers, and not a human being. It also gives the idea of a "fast-food" type of service offering, not a boutique one, thus coming in direct contrast with what is argued. ‘Patience’ is also of vital importance in the writing etiquette of the Australian company in terms of the way their message comes across to me, the recipient. If you tend to generalize i.e. “If people don’t have immediate access to live chat on websites these days - they leave.” then you give people the chance to prove you wrong with the first exception. Lawyers tend to say "when you lose your head, you lose your case". In Ella's case it becomes "when you lose trust, you lose your game".
- Positiveness/Politeness: People can make or break a case where a decision needs to be taken, as in my case. Ella did a good job compared with the mass mailing that her company employed as a route to engage prospects. “Allow me to have a look and revert back... is that ok?” was one of Ella’s lines that hit home with me, that is politely asking for your approval to service you in the best way possible. She even complimented my website by saying “Great website!”
One of my best friends, who is making a living selling bikinis online to over 60 countries around the globe, says that “Trust is tone”. I say that, if trust is tone, then tone is “personalization”, “promptness”, "patience” and “positiveness”.
If you are the owner of a company, a solo-preneur approaching prospects both on-line and off-line, a customer representative, an ambitious entrepreneur who contemplates using mass-email in order to get seed capital pouring into your venture following the completion of your new App, invention or gadget, then you need to take a good look in the mirror and ask one burning question in the course of having a “live(ly) chat" with yourself - “how do I come across to others?”
Below is an amended version of the original e-mail that I received, modified in such a way as for it to be personalized and prospect-centric. It is, basically, how I propose (or any professional who cares about how he is coming across to his target audience) going about reaching out to a prospect:
G’day from Brisbane, Australia! Bet you it's warmer here, this time of the year, compared to Limassol, Cyprus!
We came across your website and were very impressed by its content and design. We specifically like the home page and how the animation adds to the design as well as the blog and video sections which contain some real gems in terms of posts and clips, respectively. There is one feature we noticed which, although its lack does not take value out of your website, its addition could really add tremendous value to it, by complementing your existing features and working synergistically and dynamically with them. The feature I am referring to is none other than the 24/7 live chat support. In certain cases it can be the determining factor of turning a prospect into a client and, since the service you provide revolves around people and their development, mostly in the field of communication we strongly believe that said feature will be warmly embraced by them, whether they be prospects or existing clients of yours.
We're an Aussie company that provides live chat support for websites 24/7. We first perform a thorough study of your business so as to fully understand its mission statement, objectives and mechanisms, and then we engage with each and every visitor on your website (with your permission of course, once we commence our win-win collaboration), provide them customer support and then SMS and e-mail you leads that you can turn into converted clients.
This, our experience has shown, will help you grow your business and remove a major bottleneck that causes entrepreneurs or businesses to lose customers.Studies have shown that if people have immediate access to live chat on websites these days, they are more likely to engage and buy (see research link here).
You can visit us at xxxx and chat to a professional straight away.
A name and a surname of the person writing all of the above (more personalized)
A phone number and other contact details i.e. a direct email address (even more personalized)