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The Benefits of Live Chat on Your Medical Website. (But Does Healthcare Marketing Need It?)

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

chat keys for help text

Talking by Text

Live Chat—also called Live Help or Live Support—is getting some traction with healthcare marketing websites. More commonly found on retail sites, Live Support is that extra service feature which allows a business to open a real time text-chat conversation with online visitors for customer service and/or sales support.

Some of the early adopters we’ve spotted include ophthalmology/Lasik, chiropractic and dentistry/orthodontics. And several hospitals use Live Chat, including Cleveland Clinic’s Chat with a Health Educator, as one example.

The primary purpose in providing a Live Chat option is to immediately help the online customer while they are poised to get information, make a purchase decision or take the next action step. In medical marketing, perhaps that means making an appointment request, even if they are at your website after office hours. (Retail sales people would call this “lead capture” or “lead conversion.”)

This has a strong appeal to busy doctors and other providers who want to attract new patients, but don’t have the staff time (or skill set) to “chat” with online visitors during business hours, much less 24/7/365. Outsourcing makes sense, and there are a number of companies that will handle the chore professionally.

Who needs Live Chat? The practices or healthcare provider websites that have a lot of visitor traffic—and want more conversions to actual appointments—may benefit the most. Practices and facilities that advertise, online or otherwise, may want to consider testing Live Chat. The investment, although not expensive, probably doesn’t make sense for everyone.

What do you get with Live Chat? Various companies package and price their Live Support bells-and-whistles in various configurations of software, features and functionality, but five of the basic features are:

LIVE, REAL TIME INTERACTION The best time to help a website visitor is while they are "in the market," actively looking online for information. An all-the-time service often makes sense; something an outsourced service can provide 24/7 or as needed.

TRAINED OPERATORS Initial training and set-up is needed for a service bureau to handle frequent questions, prepare scripts and lead a visitor to the next action step. They’re experienced and equipped to handle these sales process steps. (They would not be giving medical advice, of course.)

VISITOR TRAFFIC ANALYSIS This is tracking is invisible to the visitor, but it can be highly useful to know demographics, referral sources, times of greatest activity, etc.

SECURE CONTROLS This provides the website/client with administrative controls for getting reports from, and giving instructions to, the service provider.

DEFINED DELIVERABLES Some services provide chat transcripts and/or reports for business-hour follow-up for appointment setting, additional information requests, etc. It’s a means to measure actual Return-on-Investment.

Having a Live Help or Live Support feature on a healthcare website could be a useful tool to engage online visitors, reduce “abandonment” (when visitors leave a site without taking action), and best of all, increase conversions from high volume site traffic.

Among the many companies that provide this sort of service, some are better qualified in healthcare marketing and professional services than others. Fortunately, we know an experienced company that can handle Live Chat services if it fits your online needs. If you’d like to know more, connect with us here and we’ll point you to an expert resource.

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