As a business owner, you've probably heard of the term "live chat' by now, but if not, you're seriously missing a trick! Live chat is the latest development in the world of business communication. It consists of a pop-up box that you have installed on your website, which prompts customers to type out any questions they might have. The main benefits of this method of communication over, let's say email or telephone calls, is that it is highly efficient. For the customer, there is no waiting for your call or email to be answered; you get an immediate response from a real person. 

So what kind of businesses would benefit the most from a live chat feature? Well, there aren't many that don't fit the bill, but those that rely on fast communication with customers would really feel the difference. Today, we'll be focusing our advice on estate agencies in particular, to show how this fast-paced field could be transformed with the help of this nifty new tool. 

An Approachable Communication Channel

Live chat has taken the business world by storm thanks to its ease of use, the fact it facilitates fast, efficient support, and the fact that it asks very little of both company and customer. A surprising number of people struggle to pluck up the courage to make a phone call. Calls have an element of unpredictability about them; the conversation could end up becoming confrontational, or there could be miscommunication and confusion. 

Not everyone is blessed with perfect social skills and as a result of the recent pandemic, people are becoming more and more intimidated by lengthy vocal communication. Many find the nature of a live chat function far easier and less daunting; you have the time to formulate thoughts and responses, and clearly communicate your questions and answers. Live chat has the highest consumer satisfaction rate at 92%, so businesses that aren't tapping into this lucrative resource are going to be missing out.

You can use live chat to persuade customers who might usually shy away from getting in touch about a problem, to let you know and give you the opportunity to improve, rather than losing their business. Similarly, without the barrier of no live chat, a customer who might choose a competitor company over yourself, thanks to a more approachable customer interface, would be able to consider you too. They could base their decision on the aspects of your business you have worked hard on to perfect instead.

Hectic Environments

The offices of estate agencies are known for being lively, busy environments. There's fierce competition when it comes to buying and selling houses and this is reflected by phone lines ringing constantly and employees trying in vain to attend to consistently replenished email inboxes. However, the majority of those who are trying to get in touch, have relatively basic enquiries to make. Whether they're asking for a quick update on how their sale is going, or they want to know if a house has a gas meter, the amount of time they spend waiting simply doesn't match. 

Live chat is the perfect solution for this dilemma. It offers an immediate response to basic questions and allows a far greater number of requests to be answered in a shorter period of time; solving unnecessary wait times and overflowing inboxes simultaneously. Condensing the amount of time spent handling customer queries has the added benefit of quickening the pace of the entire buying and selling process. The faster this process becomes, the more sales an estate agent will be able to clock every month, in turn, boosting company profits. It's a win, win. And it's not only larger companies who benefit from live chat services, in fact, 74% of organisations implemented live chat when they had less than ten employees.

Chipping away at the number of incoming calls and emails in the office will result in a calmer, less chaotic working environment for your employees. They will then be able to focus more on delivering a better quality of work, which will also benefit the company. A common concern amongst those who work in the estate agency field is the challenge of trying to handle the huge amount of customer interaction as well as things like paperwork, record keeping and data input. Mistakes when booking viewing appointments, or when filling out legal documents for sales can have disastrous consequences, so introducing live chat is a must when it comes to maintaining a peaceful workplace conducive to productivity.

Fast Responses 

Compared to other sectors, the kind of communication required by estate agencies is notably pressing. For example, the workforce is made up of a number of field workers; those who spend their working day out and about carrying out viewings or valuing properties. The in-office staff organise their schedules based on customer requests that come in, but the field staff's ability to keep to them is often in jeopardy. They can be affected by anything from traffic, which they and those who they are going to meet get stuck in, to demanding homeowners and viewers. 

As a result, many of the office's incoming queries are things like homeowners wondering where their valuer is or, vice versa, viewers letting the agency know that they're going to be five minutes late. This kind of communication requires a fast response to keep things running smoothly. This is another reason why live chat is a great option for estate agencies. You can take the message and relay it straight away to those it affects; altering the schedule and informing anyone else that could be impacted. Such a feature and such successful organisation would have a great impact on the reputation of your business. 

Many estate agencies also have a lettings department, from which they manage a multitude of rental properties. This comes with the inevitability of lots and lots of tenant enquiries, giving yet another reason to install a live chat service into your website. However, a number of these enquiries will be of an emergency nature such as reporting gas leaks, electricity cuts and burst pipes. Not only would a managed live chat service provide a fast method of communicating this important information, but it would also free up the phone lines for those who wish to get in touch that way instead. 

Property management services have to follow strict guidelines when it comes to handling emergency situations. For example, you cannot leave tenants without electricity for more than 72 hours. Doing so could result in legal action and may negatively impact the reputation and future success of your business. All the more reason to make sure you have an effective communication system in place.

Written Proof

Whether you're handling the sale of a property or an agreement between the Landlord and tenant, working in an estate agency involves handling a significant amount of legal documentation. Therefore, it is imperative that you take an incredibly stringent approach to your work. Discussions with customers over various aspects of agreements are a big part of this, so it is hugely helpful to have a written record of what has been said. This helps to avoid disagreements in the future over details that can have a huge impact, and which could threaten the reputation of your business. Furthermore, 50% of consumers say that having a live person answer questions in the middle of a purchasing decision is one of the most important features a brand can offer, showing how live chat could also help to ensure that sales go through.

Live chat is an ideal way to communicate when you need evidence of important conversations that have taken place. For example, a buyer might specify that they would like the seller to leave certain pieces of furniture in the house for them, and this would need to be included in the sales agreement. If there is no record of this discussion having taken place, the buyer could later claim that the seller had left said items behind without permission. 

Similarly, you could agree over the phone with a potential tenant that they will rent a property for 12 months, therefore solidifying the agreement that the property can be assigned to them rather than the other interested parties. Without written proof, the potential tenant could then go back on their word and say they only want the property for 6 months, causing frustration for the Landlord and those who have been turned away.

Question Types 

Lastly, live chat is best suited to the kind of queries that require short responses but may be complex in nature. These are exactly the kind of questions that come into estate agencies. For example, they often require answers that only the valuer would know about a particular property, or that only a property expert would know about the sales process. So, while live chat allows the answer to be given quickly and calls kept to a minimum, it also ensures a quality response.

Likewise in the lettings department, live chat can allow you to respond to a query about room measurements in a house you have seen yourself and book in a viewing as a result, all in record time.  Live chat is a great middle-ground between a chatbot that has a limited number of topics that it can offer help on, and a lengthy phone call (if the caller ever gets through).

A Helping Hand

Despite the many benefits that live chat has to offer, once it becomes a popular form of communication for your customers it might be the case that you need an extra pair of hands in answering requests. We've got a solution for this too. You can now outsource your live chat to companies like Cymphony who have a large body of staff ready to respond on your behalf. You can train them in the key information they will need to know, and benefit from their excellent customer service experience without the cost of a full-time employee. And don't worry, the integration with your company would be seamless.

Hopefully, we've given you some solid reasons why a live chat feature on your website could really help to boost your business. It eases the pressure and hectic nature of offices with busy phone lines and email inboxes, allowing staff to focus on the other aspects of their roles. It allows for smooth, effective scheduling which, in turn, helps you to create a great reputation, plus it ensures that legal documentation and arrangements are flawless with no future comebacks.

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