Imagine seeing an advertisement for a new financial advisory office that just opened in your area, and when you walk into their establishment there're no actual advisors are walking the floor, no clerks behind the counters, there's even nobody there to greet you.
What makes the situation even more puzzling is that there's no information about the most fruitful investment options, no one to paint a vision about the profits, talk about advantages, and tradeoffs of one opportunity over the other. Although it appears to be the same place you saw in an advertisement just a few moments ago, it looks more like a deserted island.
Suddenly you find a form hanging on the back door that says – "Fill this out and we'll contact you later". Wait a moment... What if I’m interested right now? You ask aloud, but no one is listening. How can there be no way to receive advice or talk to a business representative right there and then?
This situation might sound surprising at best, but it's still happening on many professional websites today, not just financial advisors. Visitors have to jump through hurdles to get the information and advice they are interested in or get hold of a relevant business representative. They often leave messages that that never get answered, send emails to get a response after several days, or contact by phone and often wait on hold.
We intuitively understand that situations like this lead to dissatisfaction and turn potential customers away, yet somehow it's still widely adopted. No financial advisor would agree to pay for ads and generate buzz only to ignore potential customers when they come in.
Chatbots vs. Website Forms
Rather than directing customers to a traditional landing or contact us page with a static form, it's much better to use a conversational chatbot that can answer natural language knowledge base questions, gather information, assess their needs, book an appointment or hand them over to the most appropriate business representative
Chatbots offer more context awareness than forms and adapt quickly to ever-changing customer needs. They can uncover pain points, intent, and potential services that are going to be most suitable to a buyer. Using intelligent conversations is one of the fastest and most effective ways to move customers through the sales process.
Problems with Website Forms
Website forms make it harder for people to get access to information, and require visitors to give information about themselves before a business agrees to talk with them, both of which stand in contrary to the customer-centric approach where people expect companies to be as helpful as possible. These are the main problems that are a result of using website forms:
Forms Block the Natural Flow of Interactions
Imagine a situation like this: a potential client hears about your services from a friend, she does some research online, and goes to your website and is intrigued by a free guide that offers tips and tricks to achieve the best results when doing something in your area of expertise, but before they can read it a form appears.
Now imagine the same customer has decided that your company fits her needs and would like to schedule an appointment with an expert to talk about all the various approaches that could be taken to fulfill her complex requirements, but when she clicks a schedule an appointment button another form shows up.
Instead of artificially blocking customer actions with forms you should strive to make the buying experience as seamless as possible. When your customers are on your website and are interested in your products and services you should engage them in real-time conversations to increase the chances of success.
The Follow-up Experience is Far From Perfect
Even when prospects have enough perseverance to jump through the obstacles set up by website forms they still have to wait for the follow-up, and the longer they wait the more frustrated they become and less susceptible to accepting your proposed solutions to their problems since today's customers expect immediate answers to their needs.
This is not the only problem that is a result of having to wait a long time for a reply, because when they finally receive a phone call they might not be able to answer it or be in a situation when their mind is focused on something else rather than what you are trying to tell them or even worse than that, someone else has already solved their problem.
Instead of letting customers decide how and when they interact with your business, the traditional approach with website forms forced them to stop and wait for a follow-up. Rather than continuing to do that you should switch to responding to your customers in real-time to improve their satisfaction which has a direct impact on the bottom line.
Website Forms are Impersonal
Another problem that is caused by using forms on your website is that they don't treat potential customers as people and more like records in a spreadsheet. It's important to remember that every interaction a customer has with your business shapes their overall experience.
Long gone are the days when all customers could be treated in the same way. Now more than ever they expect one-to-one personalised communication tailored to their unique tastes and demands. Website forms don't fit well into this picture because they treat every customer in the same boring way.
Unlike a person using real-time messaging or a chatbot, a website form cannot answer questions, it can't route your client to the right business representative, and it can't find the next available appointment date, all of which leads to the overall experience feeling cold, impersonal and inefficient. For companies that want to delight their customers, this is a major problem.
Replacing Website Forms with Conversations
It's vital to truly connect with people and tell an authentic story. Adding live chat to your website enables you to communicate with potential customers in real-time. By supplementing it with chatbots you can improve that experience further and keep your website open for business at all times. You can leverage these real-time, on-demand buying experiences today's customers expect and ensure your website feels always welcoming and full of life.In recent years the balance of power has shifted from business to consumer and website forms are an outdated approach from before it had happened. Installing real-time messaging and chatbots on your website is easier than ever before, it takes just a few minutes to copy and paste a snippet of code. Adapting to change in how your customers prefer to interact isn't only about taking advantage of the latest technology advancements, but also about knowing when the retire an outdated one.
If replacing website forms with conversations seems to happen too fast, you can slow down the process and make it more gradual and start by enabling them alongside forms on your website. In this scenario, real-time conversations become a progressive enhancement giving your visitors and yourself more time to feel comfortable about the transition from a previous generation technology to natural conversations.
Adding Real-time Conversations to Your Website
The most common argument against adding real-time messaging to a website is, that a lot of the time will be lost by having to talk to people that are not the right fit for the business and as a result, are never going to buy. By looking at the history of real-time conversations it's not much of a surprise. Although companies were able to engage website visitors in real-time, there was no way for them to manage the incoming flow of conversations systematically.
Once they opened the door for any visitor it often led to random spikes of messages that needed immediate human attention. While this might not be an issue when you're just starting or gaining initial traction, it can quickly become a problem for more established companies with higher volumes of website traffic because business representatives who have to manage the incoming flow of conversations can quickly become overwhelmed.
What makes things more complicated is that some people starting the conversations are undeniably going to be good prospects, but the amount of work needed to identify them among other random visitors that are also using the same communication channel is challenging at best and often feels like searching for a needle in a haystack. This often leads to decreased employee efficiency and overall job dissatisfaction.
Luckily, all of these problems can be solved by adding steps to the communication process that don't require human attention and can be managed systematically. The days when you had to treat real-time messaging as a one-size-fits-all communication channel on your website are over. You no longer have to offer it to every visitor and can target only the most promising ones by letting a chatbot start the conversation and decide based on the contextual cues to pass only some of them through.
How to Integrate Chatbot with Your Website?
Customers used to be far more explicit when expressing their demands online, but things have changed and now they expect most of the information to be inferred from the context, interpreted, and acted upon in real-time to let them receive responses tailored to their current needs.
When people ask about something, they often anticipate a generic question or phrase to do the job. In other words, when a client looks for information, they expect it to be delivered in a way that doesn't make them work any harder when you should already know what they need.
What your customer is after is an equivalent of a real-world human-to-human interaction when the business representative listens and responds with information that is tailored to their needs based on their context and other cues expressed in either verbal or nonverbal way.
That's certainly easier said than done, nonetheless, clients are far more likely to buy from a business that meets these expectations successfully. To offer a seamless experience to your customers you need to transition efficiently from the pages they visited to a relevant conversation.
Starting Conversations with Website Visitors
When transitioning from traditional web experiences to conversations it's best to think of the intent-rich moments that have led your website visitor to this particular location and start with a tailored welcome message initiating a conversation. By targeting high-intent pages, you can avoid talking to random visitors that you would normally encounter on your home page, and focus just on those visitors that are more likely to buy. When done properly it helps to establish a connection with them based on mutual understanding and sets a solid foundation for the upcoming interactions. There are the four main types of pages you should focus on:
Starting Conversations on Informational Pages
People visiting informational pages are doing initial research on how to solve a particular problem they're experiencing, and more often than not got there from a search engine. Since they're just exploring it's important to start by building trust and providing them with extensive and unbiased information about potential solutions to their problems. It's best to start the conversation by answering their initial question and then suggest follow-ups that might be useful.
Starting Conversations on About Pages
People come to these pages to make sure that you have the right qualifications to help them solve their issues and to find out how your past customers felt about the services you provide. It's often a due diligence step that's meant to assure them that they're going to make the right decision to engage your company. It's often good to start by showing pictures of your team and letting them know that they can ask questions about your qualifications, experience, and customer reviews.
Starting Conversations on Contact Pages
Potential customers visit contact pages to ask a variety of questions, so it's a good idea to greet them, ask what brought them there, and then try to match it with an FAQ from the knowledge base. If there's no good answer the next best step is to infer the nature of the question to find out if there's a suitable business representative to route the conversation to. When no one is available there's no better option than to gracefully degrade to the traditional experience and let them leave a message.
Starting Conversations on Pricing Pages
Prospects tend to visit cost-related pages when they're getting close to making a purchase decision. It's best to start by assessing their needs and making sure that they're the right fit for your business. Then either let them check your availability and book an appointment right there and then or start a real-time conversation with a business representative to create an express lane for them to become your customers.
Adapting Messages to Visitor's Behaviour
Targeting users based on the page they visited enabled you to start a tailored conversation no matter if they were first-time or repeated visitors. You can think of this type of targeting as a solid starting point, but when you have additional information available it's best to leverage it to further adapt messaging to better reflect their needs.
The number of pages visited before landing on the current one, as well as the amount of time spent actively engaging with the page, and the number of visits in the past are all good examples of useful metrics that may be useful to trigger and adjust a welcome message and make it feel personal. Instead of saying "welcome", you can say "welcome back", which is an equivalent of the experience they get from repeated visits to the same brick-and-mortar store.
Another behaviour that has the potential to bring benefits happens when the user is about to change the tab or close the browser. When this happens the cursor leaves the browser window at the top of the screen and it's a signal of disengagement, which is often called exit-intent. When it happens you don't have much time to grab their attention before they leave, so a good idea that might convince them that it's worth staying is to offer some discount or promotion to make them feel special.
Website forms are technology from the past that still exists in many websites today. Although it makes it easy to collect contact information at scale, it causes the customer experience to suffer. By replacing forms with conversations companies can deliver more human experience, get closer to their customers, and have a direct impact on the bottom line.
The constant flow of incoming conversations might be what you're after when you just started but can quickly become overwhelming when your website has higher volumes of traffic. When this happens it's important to target only the most promising visitors and let the chatbot do all the talking for the rest. This strategy helps to improve the efficiency of human efforts and their well-being.