How Your Small Business Can Benefit From Live Chat

Building Relationships / November 21, 2019 / Admin

Not sure if adding a live chat option to your website is right for you? Check out this post.

I run a small business and in the last year, half of my new clients have come through the live chat widget on my website. While I wasn’t initially sure about whether people would actually want to ask questions over chat, I’ve had a surprisingly positive response from website visitors.

My first tip to anyone that asks for advice on running their small business is to add a chat or messaging window to their website, and here’s why: 

    • More than half of potential customers will abandon their search if they can’t get an answer to their question quickly. Offering live chat means that you can help customers when they need it – or at least follow up shortly after! 
    • 63% of readers are more likely to return to your website simply because you offer live chat – even if they don’t use it! Appearing available is the most important thing to show that you are trustworthy and worth doing business with. 

live chat for small business

Providing live chat can help you acquire more customers, convert more casual browsers and save you time answering questions over other customer service channels. Interested in giving it a go? Here are six tips to make live chat work for your small business: 

The myth of 24/7 support

If you offer live chat, you do not need to always reply immediately, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This perception can be worrisome for small businesses (or solo entrepreneurs) that just don’t have the time to be online all the time. Have no fear – just offering a messaging option on your website will boost your business, even if you’re not always available to reply right away. 

In fact, most chat tools have great workflows available when you’re offline. When a visitor sends a message and no one is online to reply, the chat tool will ask for an email address so someone can follow up as soon as possible. You’re able to respond over email when you are available.  

As long as you set the right expectations with your customers, and follow up with customers as soon as you can, having chat available on your website makes you more available. 

Capture leads

Nearly 50% of potential customers say that having a live person available to answer their questions in the middle of their buying journey is incredibly important. If your website visitors have questions about your services, they are far more likely to reach out over chat than to send you an email or pick up a phone to call. This is because chat is a low-effort experience. 

While searching for a phone number can take time, a friendly face popping up to ask if you have any questions is easy to respond to. Once your website visitor has asked a question and provided their email address, you have a new lead! 

Be strategic

If you’re nervous about the volume of chats you might receive from customers, consider only placing the chat widget on a few strategic pages. You don’t need to launch chat on every page – or even your home page! When you start with chat, you can experiment with what works best for you and your customers. If you’re hearing from too many people to keep up with, start by celebrating your success. Then, remove chat from a few pages until you’re ready to start talking with more customers again. 

On the other hand, if you want to hear from more customers in a specific area (like your pricing or services FAQ pages), consider proactive chat. Pop-out the chat widget to ask if they are finding everything okay at just the right moment, and you might be able to convert a casual browser. 

Go mobile

If you’re a small business owner, you likely have a million things going on. Plus, part of the magic of owning a small business is flexibility. If you need to go pick up your kids from school or leave early for a weekend holiday, you can do that sometimes! That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go offline. 

Many live chat providers have mobile apps that allow you to talk with your customers even when you’re on the go. So even if your next big lead comes in when you’ve stepped away from your computer, you can get back to them quickly.  

Adapt your messaging

Chat is a different type of communication than email or phone. It’s a lot less formal, which means you can let your personality shine through. When customers send you messages over your live chat widget, consider your conversation like more of a text message than an email. 

    • Send shorter messages, rather than long blocks of text. 
    • Use emojis and friendly language, especially if your customer does! 
  • Link out to longer explanations if your customers need more help or visual information. 

Because everyone is becoming more familiar with messaging (over Facebook, text message and WhatsApp), it’s a more natural way to build a relationship with your customers. A surprising 90% of customers want to use messaging to contact businesses – so using this communication method effectively is a must! 

Find a free and easy option

If you’re excited about trying out chat, but don’t want to invest a lot of time or money in getting started, there are many options available for you. Most chat tools have a free plan for small businesses. When you’re just getting started, this plan likely has everything you’ll need to talk with customers that visit your website. 

Here are four excellent tools with a free starter plan: 

To set up a chat widget on your website, you usually just need to copy a block of text and paste it in your website’s template. If you need help, talk to the support team of the chat tool you use and they can walk you through step by step – it’s easier than you think! 


Even if you just try it out for a week, I highly recommend adding a chat widget to your website. It helps customers ask any questions they might have, and allows you to connect with visitors who might otherwise just pass through. 

With many free live chat tools available, and no requirement to respond instantly to every message, it’s time to give chat a try. 

About the author:

Sarah Chambers is Editor-in-Chief for Chatra, a messaging tool for small businesses. She also runs Supported Content, a boutique marketing agency for customer service businesses. When she’s not furiously typing away, she’s climbing, knitting or snowboarding in the mountains of Western Canada. 

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