When building a site to engage your customers, you actually want it to be able to interact with them. Sure, compelling words, pretty pictures, and entertaining videos can provide a lot of reasons for people to visit your site, but what if they need to talk to you? What if you want them to have a way to get an answer to their question right now, instead of a few days later (after you discover their email in your spam folder)?
One of the reasons WordPress became so popular is its simplicity. Anybody from beginner to experienced developer can build a beautiful website using the ubiquitous content management system (CMS). Still, sometimes it can feel a little too simple. Some users fear that WordPress may not allow them access to features they find on the sites of larger brands. However, WordPress has grown in its capabilities since its early days as a mere blogging platform. Today, few features exceed the capabilities of a WordPress site, and most can be added via a plugin by even the most novice of site builders.
One of the most important features for amplifying a site’s engagement with its audience, live support, can take your brand’s reputation from good to great. To that end, we present three clever ways to add live support to any WordPress website.
Though it may sound like science-fiction, artificial intelligence already exists and has made its way into the mainstream. A number of powerful plugin tools for WordPress already exist. These plugins bring artificial intelligence, or “AI,” to any site through the use of chatbots. By far the most common use of AI on the web today, you can find chatbots on thousands of sites already. A very easy way to create live support for site visitors, simply install a chatbot plugin on your WordPress site and train it to answer support questions. It will even respond in a manner consistent with your brand’s voice.
Be aware, AI plugins vary widely in quality. Choose a plugin that can handle the tasks you have in mind and that interacts in a natural manner with customers. Some high-end chatbots can fool human site visitors into believing they are real people. But, these usually come with a higher price tag and the requirement of greater technical prowess on your part. Most sites will benefit from more affordable AI that can simply analyze questions and spit out appropriate answers (even if not in a convincingly human manner).
While this provides a great, cost-effective solution for live support, some guests find automated systems like this cold and impersonal. Consider A/B testing it against the following two solutions to find which works best for your situation.
Outsourced Support Center
Outsourcing a support center can offer a second, entirely human option for adding live support to your WordPress site. Most commonly, site owners take advantage of international monetary exchange rates to find very affordable labor overseas. These personnel usually work for a company specialized in providing support. As such, they will have the right infrastructure, training, and management in place to get the job done. However, because overseas labor rates can be much lower than in the United States or Europe, you will probably pay far less than if you hired a similar service domestically. Better yet, you may get an entire team of operators instead of just one or two people. And, because the support center company employs them directly, you do not have to worry about payroll taxes or benefits.
Typically, such services offer either a proprietary plugin or a bit of code that you install on your site to activate their service. When visitors surf your site and encounter an issue, they seamlessly contact your outsourced support team via chat, phone, or email. Someone usually remains available to your customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
These outsourced support services normally charge on either a time-used basis or on a flat monthly fee. Pick a plan based on expected use volumes. Many newer and smaller sites have fewer customer support interactions; a situation appropriate to a time-used billing model. Larger, more established brands, on the other hand, may save money on a flat monthly fee.
Again, remember to think about how your customers will perceive your outsourced support. Some customers may feel turned-off by thick and difficult to understand accents or perceive your company as having overseas ownership. Test the service yourself so you know what customers experience. Also, as before, consider A/B testing this approach to other solutions to make sure it provides the optimal solution.
Finally, for the true do-it-yourselfer, you can achieve great results using a simple live chat plugin. This provides the most direct customer interaction, ensures your message stays on point with your brand, and allows the greatest expert on your products (you) to answer the questions. However, it also takes a lot of time.
WordPress has a broad array of plugins for fully-functional live chat support. You can obtain some of these plugins for free, but more powerful ones generally require some sort of fee (either one-time or recurring). With such a plugin, you can engage with your customers while they visit your site in real time. No chance of losing them to the competition because you took too long to respond or provided an impersonal interaction.
When selecting the right live chat plugin for your needs, consider these questions:
- How frequently does the plugin developer updates the software?
- Does it offer the features you want/need at an affordable price?
- How will the plugin look on your site? Will it blend well, or stick out and look amateurish?
- How well have other users reviewed the plugin? How many people use it?
The drawback of trying to handle support yourself: your own time. Before implementing your live chat solution, remember that somebody needs to be available when a customer has a question. Research when people visit your site to ensure you or your staff remain available at appropriate times to answer questions. If you cannot offer around-the-clock support, clearly identify hours during which you do on your website. Also, be prepared to change strategies for supporting customers should you grow to a point that individual hands-on responses no longer make sense.
While any of these solutions could work, you will need to find the one best suited to your customer base, budget, and traffic. While they should work on virtually any kind of hosting, any of these that require additional software (like a plugin) can lag without the right environment. InMotion Hosting’s WordPress Hosting offers the advantage of a hosting platform built specifically for WordPress (and its assorted plugins). With it, chat and AI applications run smoother and faster, making for a better user experience. To learn more about the power of WordPress Hosting and what it could do for your site, visit our WordPress Hosting Page.