Growth / Apps & Tools

Using Live Chat for Your Small Business

Jeff Cole, Sir Drafton, Twila Grissom, Arielle Hurst & Sujan Patel

Updated: May 27, 2020 · 9 min read

Toolkit for download in this article

chatbot for website

The benefits of live chat are well established. When used correctly, these systems help give customers the instant information they crave. This helps build trust in your company while also minimizing the costs associated with building out fully-fledged customer service departments.

The appropriate applications of automation for your business—including those found in the list below, among others—will depend on the complexity of your live chat needs and the available resources within your organization.

Live chat lead capture

Lead generation is not just about driving visitors to your website. It’s about qualifying those visitors, engaging them on your site, and capturing their information. Easier said than done, right?

Not necessarily. Live chat, or a chatbot for small business, is a simple, low maintenance tool that your small business can use to instant lead capture qualified leads.

Chat conversations

When a visitor comes to your website, they want someone to connect with right away. Fortunately, live chat software makes your team instantly accessible by automatically engaging visitors on key pages of your website.

When a potential lead chats with your team, you can instantly collect their information and determine where quality prospects are coming from by checking out the referral source.

Then, at the end of a conversation, you can do two things to keep them moving through your sales funnel:

  • Include a call-to-action button that encourages them to sign up for your newsletter, download your e-book or schedule a demo.
  • Use a live chat app in the Keap marketplace to create or lookup an Keap contact, add a tag, send the transcript to the system and trigger automation.

Email capture

When your team isn’t able to connect with prospects in real time, the chat box turns into a lead capture form that allows you to grow your email list by making it easy for site visitors to send you their information.

Social chat links

Social media can be a great place to reach people who are talking about topics related to your product or service but haven’t made it to your website yet. Rather than limit the conversation to 140 characters, you can tweet out a chat link that allows potential customers to start a chat straight from social media.

These chat links can also be added to email signatures and embedded on Facebook pages to engage leads in instant conversations wherever they are on the web.

Word-of-mouth referrals

Word-of-mouth referrals are the highest converting lead source for most small businesses.

Because people are usually inspired to make referrals for emotional reasons, providing amazing customer service is one way to connect with them on a personal level so they’re more likely to tell their friends.

Facebook messenger for business

Facebook Messenger, as of July 2016, hit the 1-billion-user milestone—and still counting. Reaching your audience just got easier with a 100 percent deliverability rate, unlike your Fan page posts. With numbers like these, this channel can’t be ignored for marketing.

These days, brands use email, text messages, social media, and websites to facilitate most marketing campaigns. With Facebook Messenger chatbots, all these methods can be effectively combined into one channel.

Facebook Messenger marketing examples

  • Traditional lead capture method: create messages to capture emails to help build your contact list. Allowing users to opt-in to become subscribers enables successful notification delivery. These lead capture messages can also allow downloadable content as an incentivized action.
  • Active engagement method: try running a quiz, assessment test, poll, or survey as a marketing campaign. With these concepts and some creativity being able to segment and funnel your audience becomes a lot easier.
  • Online advertising: If you’re running any Facebook or Google ads, arrange for your chatbot to be the landing page. Facebook has an ad unit option which allows the ability to integrate with Messenger, i.e., enabling Messenger to become a fully native experience for the user.
  • Traditional marketing methods: allow users to get or download discount codes or coupons for your product. Having content with value for your audience can help initiate engagement.
  • The Chatbot Messenger experience: have your audience engage with your chatbot and obtain information about your product. You don’t want to overdo the amount of information, but this gives your potential lead a few more options for engagement.
  • Share new content: allow the content to be accessed or scheduled to be delivered to your audience through Messenger.
  • Running a contest: build and grow your list of subscribers by having a giveaway sweepstakes.
  • Customer feedback: Chatbots give customers a channel for constructive criticism, or compliments, without having to directly face a person. Sharing thoughts via Facebook messenger can be less intimidating for customers and gives you the opportunity to view your business from their perspective.

These are just a few examples of how you can use a chatbot with Messenger to help in bolstering your lead generation campaigns. This might be a trial and error process discovering which strategy works best for your company but will be well worth the investment in the end.

Chat automation

Initiate conversations based on automated triggers

Adding automation to your live chat for sales system requires a certain level of finesse. Rather than simply auto-launching your chat window, you can control when it’s presented to visitors with automated triggers.

For example, you might want to automatically launch a chat window whenever a visitor

  • Has spent a certain amount of time in your help section or knowledge base
  • Appears to be exploring different product options or price points
  • Exhibits any other behavior that seems to indicate they need help

Many live chat tools offer this functionality, though it goes by different names with each. Ask your chat tool’s support team for the correct process for setting automated conversation triggers.

Enable chat based on country or language

Robert Brandl of ChatToolTester shares "Typically, websites in English attract visitors from all around the world. But that doesn’t mean that you are able to sell them your products. You may not be able to ship to their destination, or you already know that your payment gateway won’t work in their particular country."

Implementing rules that deactivate your live chat tool for visitors in countries you can’t ship to, according to Brandl, means that “your chat agents can focus on the most important customers without having to answer questions from visitors that you cannot service anyway.” Similar automated filters can be set up based on detected language to prevent chat requests your team can’t adequately service.

Integrate live chat with your CRM

The Chat Shop offers another live chat automation that’s easy to implement: sending transcripts of your chat sessions directly to the customer’s record in your company’s CRM.

Many chat tools offer this as a built-in functionality with popular CRMs. If yours doesn’t, however, it may be possible to create these connections with API coding.

Payments: Accepting payments in a conversation format

With more and more users and business interacting online, social media networks have developed direct instant messaging payment methods, instead of sending customers to a third party external page to process payments.

Facebook Messenger’s over 30,000 business-partnered chatbots accept payments in conversation format, asking what type of payment method a visitor would like to choose and even confirming the billing address.

For example, PayPal ingeniously teamed up with Slack, a business instant messaging app, to create a chatbot that accepts peer-to-peer payments:


Experiment with chatbot for website and hybrid chat solutions

Chatbots are something of a sensitive subject within the live chat community. Some experts claim that automating direct customer interactions leads to the kinds of flat, impersonal interactions website visitors are trying to avoid.

Others, on the other hand, insist that today’s latest crop of AI-driven chatbots for small business can be nearly indistinguishable from live support.

The answer—at least, in light of today’s technology—may lie somewhere in the middle, in the use of hybrid chat systems that can answer simple questions and refer more difficult queries to a live service representative.

A chatbot can be programmed to answer frequently asked questions and save you time. Because it’s on your website, it also saves visitors’ time—they no longer need to contact you to get their questions answered. The result is a win-win: more satisfied web visitors with less time spent.

24/7 virtual customer service support

Nocturnal people are used to skimming around the internet for services that are active and available during their shift and skipping over those that don't provide when they need it. This is a larger percentage of potential lost sales than you may realize.

Since your website is running 24/7, you need to be able to accept inquiries from web visitors 24/7. The solution most businesses resort to is a Contact Us form.

Your virtual chat customer service assistant not only give your web visitors the satisfaction of an immediate response, but they can also hand off the lead to the right member of your team, instantaneously.

Appointment booking

From doctors offices to skydiving lessons, there are hundreds if not thousands of business plans that involve booking appointments. While many companies have adopted an online calendar system, these often have just enough of a learning curve to lose a few potential leads in the process of finding and managing the interface.

At Sephora, for example, customers don’t even have to pick up the phone to book makeup consultations. They can schedule one at their local store through Sephora’s Facebook messenger chatbot:


The real-time nature of chatbots empowers visitors to book an appointment right away instead of waiting around for a response or shopping around for a faster alternative.

Relief assistance

Sometimes the support queue gets deep and your current team of support staff just isn't getting to everyone fast enough. A virtual chat assistant can be a huge help in these bogged down situations simply by taking the triage position.


While prospective clients may be the majority of your web visitors, prospective employees shouldn’t be ignored.

As a growing business, you might be the owner and the HR manager, and you might be stretching yourself thin between prospective clients and prospective employees.

Let your chatbot be your HR manager. You can create a custom script that asks candidates questions, collects their information, and screens them for you.

Identify the right live chat solution for your company and your customers, then find ways to automate the process to make your systems even more efficient. Test regularly, and you’ll enjoy all the benefits of live chat solutions that make website visitors feel heard and that translates to more conversions for your business.

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