Social Media Commerce: Use Web Chat to Connect with Your Customers - dummies

Social Media Commerce: Use Web Chat to Connect with Your Customers

By Marsha Collier

Social media provides lots of ways to connect with your customers and answer their questions. In the 2011 Avaya Consumer Preference Report, the preferred mode of contact for customer service matters was the telephone. (In other studies, such as the 2012 American Express study, telephone was preferred only for complex issues.) The second choice for communication was e-mail, followed by web self-service (such as FAQs), and then web chat.

In a live web chat, customers ask their questions or describe their issues and you (or your employee) provide immediate, specific answers. Web chat is a flexible (and swift) way to handle simple customer issues that come up — after customers have read your FAQs. This form of contact can be handled by someone in your office or through a mobile device or a smartphone.

As society becomes mobile (smartphone subscribers topped the 100-million mark in January 2012) and tablets become commonplace (70 million now, with a projected 133.5 million by 2015), more and more web visitors want a way to get swift and direct answers to their questions.

If you’d like to reach out to people who visit your site through web chat, check out an elegant yet flexible and easy-to-use app called SnapEngage. The web-based platform allows you to add an immediate contact action to blogs, websites, and your Facebook business page.

You can sign up for a free 15-day trial on the SnapEngage website. You can install the app on a blog or website in less than five minutes by placing a snippet of supplied code in the HTML footer of your layout. The app appears as a Help tab on the left side of the page (see the figure).


You (or your employee) can log in to SnapEngage’s online web client (see the visitor side view in this figure) to handle any incoming chat requests. If you plan to be mobile, you can answer chats through Google Talk or the Skype mobile app on your smartphone.


After you chat with the visitor, you can provide further information. For example, by entering a single shortcut command, you can automatically redirect the visitor to another page on your site to explain a service or demonstrate a product.

If you have books or products to sell on Amazon, for example, you can set up keywords that direct visitors to your book or product page on Amazon (see the figure), incorporating your affiliate code.


If you’re not available to chat (on any mode of communication — you do get to sleep) and someone clicks the Contact tab, a window opens suggesting that the visitor send you a message through e-mail.

You can also add a “Chat with us” icon to your Facebook page to invite visitors to chat. Granted, someone could contact you by using Facebook chat, but when you are contacted through a platform-personalized button, the visitor gets a far more personal interface, as shown in this figure.


A transcript of chats can be sent to your e-mail address for follow-up. SnapEngage offers a host of other options and configurations. Visit their website for more information.