You Won’t Believe this Live Chat Question!

How does your business respond to “off the wall” live chat questions?

We recently integrated a “live chat” component into our business website. A few years ago, when I worked at a community college, my staff suggested that the college offer a live chat service. We investigated a variety of options, and we ultimately selected a live chat web service that I, together with various college employees, staffed during most hours of the days, including evening and weekends.

Before we discuss the “off the wall” live chat question a website visitor recently asked us on our website, let us articulate three distinct advantages of offering a live chat service on your own business website. (You do have a business website, right?) Indeed, if you’ve been considering whether to offer a live chat service through your business website, you’ll definitely want to read this.

  • First, a live chat service offers an additional communication channel for your customers. That is, live chat provides customers with an additional option to communicate with your business in real-time, and that, in and of itself, is a valuable benefit.
  • Second, Millennials, a growing demographic, prefer live chat because “it’s instant, it’s hassle-free, and it’s online.” Sooner or later — if not presently — your business will experience a growth in Millennial customers, and you definitely don’t want to inadvertently not offer their preferred method of communication.
  • Third, a live chat service provides your business with a unique opportunity to learn about potential “gaps” in your processes. For example, when I staffed the community college’s live chat service, I became aware of a few “communication gaps” that the college needed to address in order to provide a more streamlined customer service experience for prospective and current students.

Having said that, a website visitor — or any customer, for that matter — will occasionally pose an “off the wall” question that might not have anything to do with your business, which brings us to the particular topic of this email.

A few nights ago, a website visitor asked us where he or she could find the McDonald’s survey. Of course, we’re not remotely related to the mega-franchise restaurant, although, truth be told, we wouldn’t mind working with the company to show how it could improve its customer service!

So, how did we respond to the question? We had three options.

  • First, simply state that “we’re not McDonald’s, so we don’t know.”
  • Second, advise the website visitor to either call McDonald’s or conduct a Google search for the McDonald’s survey.
  • Third, undertake the Google search ourselves, and provide the website visitor with the appropriate link.

Now, given the fact that we train businesses how to offer exceptional customer service, what option do you think we pursued?

If you guessed the third option, you’re right. Once we confirmed that the website visitor was asking about the McDonald’s restaurant survey, we conducted a “behind the scenes” Google search and located the appropriate link, which we immediately shared with our website visitor. For all practical purposes, our website visitor likely didn’t know that we didn’t have anything to do with McDonald’s; however, he or she left our website satisfied that we answered his or her question in real-time.

The lesson is this: Even if a customer poses a weird “off the wall” question to your business — whether in-person, on the telephone, or during live chat — your business should do everything it can to answer the question without requiring the customer to “jump through extra hoops” to find the answer.

Although responding to “off the wall” questions likely isn’t in any of your employees’ job descriptions, doing so will leave customers with positive impressions about how your business responded to their immediate needs, and, in the long run, your business will reap the advantages of going “above and beyond” for customers — and non-customers alike.

Have a “customerific” week, and remember that we’re ready, willing, and able to work with your business or organization to offer stellar customer service! Just let us know how we can help!


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