Are you an Estate Agent who outsources your live chat?

June 21 2020

Live chat outsourcing (or managed chat) seems gloriously convenient. On the surface, it promises a golden offering of extended support hours and lead generation, without extra employee strain. By assigning your live chat customer service to an external vendor, you can take a step back and give your team one less thing to worry about– be this during or outside of normal working hours. Convert all those leads and watch the business roll in…….

Unfortunately, this lack of worry may be short-lived. While live chat outsourcing is an easy option, it comes with business-critical risks. Placing your chat sessions with outsourced agents means placing customer care outside your direct control. And that’s a dangerous dice to roll in any business. For many organisations, outsourced chat will often mean “capturing” a lead and emailing it to your respective sales or service team to follow up.

The concept of “Managed Live Chat for Estate Agents” exists because most Estate Agents are not contact centres. Estate Agents outsource, as they simply cannot respond to every potential lead within 30 seconds. Why 30 seconds you ask? Well, live chat is a synchronous form of communication. The customer is tied to your website and the chat window is a temporary chat environment for you to reply & engage. If you don’t respond, the customer moves on. This is why you have no choice but to outsource. Plus, if your nearby competitor uses live chat, then you often feel compelled to copy, just to keep up with the Jones’.

Then how will you follow up your leads? Play telephone tag and leave voicemails with each other. Send an email to a Hotmail account and wonder why you don’t get that many replies? The challenge of many agents is not just the quantity and quality of leads – the challenge is following them up and actually engaging with the customer. The lead value diminishes every hour that passes. Our Estate Agent customers concur that there is an approx. open rate of around 15% to 25% of emails, with a similar percentage of someone answering the phone first time of asking.

A digital platform where instant interaction is facilitated is much appreciated and almost a necessary requirement for the modern workspace. While IM & Chat is a well-seasoned technology in our personal lives – instant messaging applications tailored especially for professional communication are in their infancy . One could argue that Slack & MS Teams do the job well enough, but the multitude of channels offered by Slack’s format can make direct messaging confusing, to say the least. Many end users simply don’t adopt the platform.

Human nature is to simply follow the path of least resistance, thus falling back to good old WhatsApp with its trusted speed and ease of communication. Facebook – the organisation that owns the IM app recognises this and has even launched a business counterpart for the messaging app, WhatsApp Business last year. This is very much aimed at sole traders, and not the enterprise market. However, research conducted into the issue has yielded that although a good number of individuals use WhatsApp for communicating at work – they’d prefer an alternative messaging solution. Email & Slack (or Teams/Skype etc) don’t provide your workforce with the tools they need to collaborate effectively.

We’re not questioning the ability of the UK’s leading outsourced chat providers here – we’re questioning the concept of outsourced live chat for Estate Agents.

We completed a survey with consumers, with 228 responses. Take a look 👇

The alternative? No, its not a chatbot……its….

WhatsApp, or more specifically, its WhatsApp API.

What’s the difference between Live Chat and WhatsApp chat you ask? WhatsApp is asynchronous, which means the customer is not tied to a browser. The chat is within a messaging app already installed on their phone (and used several times a day). You, the Estate Agent doesn’t have to respond within 30 seconds, meaning you can now manage the whole process in-house. And you can respond to your customers in-channel! No more telephone tag. No more firing off emails that never get replied to.

Worried that you won’t be able to manage in house? Just look at this statistic – in a consumer survey, 81% of customers don’t expect a reply within 10 mins. This survey has been backed up by the real world experiences of our customers. Managing chats in-house is not a challenge to any of our Estate Agent clients.

Your customers just want a reply, in the channel they enquired in, from a person who can help them.

Furthermore, your sales & service teams need a customer focused communication channel to engage with prospects & customers in . Just look at the stats:

Consumers check WhatsApp 23 times a day

95% of messages are read within 3 minutes

98% of messages are opened, compared to 20% of emails

Worried about message volume? This is where some intelligent automation helps. We can qualify your website leads & portal enquires, to weed out the time wasters. Nothing overly complicated – just a few simple qualifying questions, that will ensure leads are dealt with correctly by the appropriate members of your team.

Worried about how to manage out of hours? Stitch have tried and tested automation flows that can pre-qualify, ask questions, even book meetings every hour of the day, every day of the week 24/7, 365 days of the year.  But this is where WhatsApp trumps live chat……in the morning, when you pick up the lead, you simply continue the chat. You see, WhatsApp is asynchronous. No need to call, leave a message. WhatsApp has a 90%+ open and read rate.

There’s more.

You can’t use Live Chat for sales progression. You can’t use Live Chat for outreach marketing. You can’t use Live Chat to arrange a viewing with your vendor.

WhatsApp API becomes a platform for engagement, sales progression, and marketing. Got a new property listed that you want to fire out to your contact list over WhatsApp? We have a tool for that, with an open rate 7 times that of email, plus with media rich 2-way conversational features that SMS can’t match, WhatsApp is the way for you to reach out communicate with your customers and prospects.

Quite simply, WhatsApp is a combination of Live Chat, Email, and SMS – all in one.

So the question we ask you is, are you really making the most out of your web chat?

To explore the range of WhatsApp API solutions offered by Stitch, please contact us at anytime.

We highly recommend getting in touch with us for an open, honest (and easy to understand!) conversation. We’ll get to know your business then explain the options available to successfully tackle the challenges you’re facing. There’s no obligation to take your journey further (although we think you’ll definitely want to!)

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