By Brendan Bilko

This post is sponsored by Relay, a live chat solution with simple automation from Dexter.

The benefits of live chat have been extolled for years now. It’s about time to get started. So how do you get started with live chat in your small business? We answer some common questions below to help you on your way.

How can live chat help a small business?

There are many ways with which live chat can help small businesses, but three that stand out — higher customer satisfaction rates, lower overhead costs and real-time market research.

Higher Customer Satisfaction

According to a report by Zendesk, a customer service platform, “Customers who choose live chat for customer service are satisfied a higher percentage of the time than those who call, email, or use social media channels.” The report had live chat scoring a 92% satisfaction rate, easily surpassing the other mediums. With generally lower wait times and the ability to move at their own pace, it’s no wonder that live chat scores so high with customers.

Lower Overhead Costs

While most small businesses don’t employ large customer service teams, that doesn’t mean they won’t experience the same cost saving benefits. McKinsey & Company, an American worldwide management consulting firm, reported that switching to these solutions can reduce operating expenses by 25- 30%. For a small business owner, these savings can make a big difference.

Real-Time Market Research

Perhaps our favorite benefit at Dexter comes in the form of real-time insights from your customers. Let’s say you’re a flower shop that primarily specializes in roses and tulips. A user comes to your website and asks about snapdragons. If it happens once, it’s an outlier. But if you’re asked dozens of times about your snapdragon offering, you’ll know that it might be time to start carrying that beautiful bloom. Whatever it is your users ask, you’ll be able to log it and use the information later to improve your offering.

Is live chat safe and secure?

When it comes to customer data, security is of the utmost importance. Live chat can be a perfectly secure medium, but you must make sure of a few things.

Check Security Standards

Not all providers publish this information in the easiest of places, but you should always be on the look out for it before signing up. For example, Relay, a live chat solution with simple automation from Dexter, encrypts messages in transit and at rest. This means that messages and files that are processed through their system are done so in such a way that only authorized parties can access them, while others cannot.

Don’t Send Payment Information via Chat

While encryption goes a long way to preventing unauthorized parties from viewing information, it’s important that you limit what you pass through a live chat. For example, never send a credit card number or payment information through chat. If you need to process a transaction, send a user to a checkout page on your ecommerce website, or send a payment request through Stripe (or other payment processor). These transactions should be handled by those that are sanctioned and licensed to do so.

Is live chat worth it?

Live chat is absolutely worth it, provided that you have the right platform and the right conditions at your business. If you are a coffee shop and don’t have a computer available for someone to work at for their shift, then maybe it isn’t the best solution. If you’re a yoga studio and have a front desk agent answering emails about appointments at the computer all day, then it’s right in your wheelhouse. Using a tool like Relay, you can get started quickly for free, see how it improves your customer experience, and keep evaluating from there.

How do you add live chat on a website?

Installing live chat on your website can be done a number of ways. If you want to install live chat on Squarespace or install live chat on WordPress, you’ll first need to see what the chat provider requires. Relay allows you to get started for free in five easy steps. Once you fill in some basic information, you’re provided with a small snippet you can cut and paste into your website.

If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, there’s an option to email your friendly web developer with just one click to have them help you. Once installed, you’ll see your live chat working right away. Just head to the agent portal in Slack to start replying to your customers in real time.