#Hunt: The value of web chat

Some customers don’t want to pick up the phone and so why not make it easy for them to make initial contact?

#Hunt: The value of web chat

Paul Hunt is a marketing consultant

It was interesting to see Legal & General launch a web chat service for their members last week and it raises important questions.

What functionality do people now expect on websites and how do people wish to interact with businesses?

Over the last few years, we have definitely seen a trend for major service providers to hide telephone numbers and offer web chat as an alternative method of dealing with customer queries.

There are multiple reasons for this (some undoubtedly relate to cost), but it is clear that customers are comfortable in using this method and so that leads me on to what this means for mortgage brokers.

An arbitrary review of broker websites showed that none have a web chat facility.

However, neither do most lenders, although some of the new challengers do.

Is there a reason for this or is there an opportunity here?

Definitely regulation plays a part, as you are restricted on the conversation you can have and obviously nothing constituting advice can form part of the chat.

But and it's an important but, some customers don't want to pick up the phone and so why not make it easy for them to make initial contact?

Once people are on your website, you want to convert as many as possible into leads and so offering a web chat service may help your conversion ratio and it's not expensive to adopt, although careful thought should be given to what you can and can't say, plus the hours of working.

Incremental gains are vital to the growth of any business, so why not ask your current website provider about web chat, you never know until you try.