If you’ve visited a business website, you know just how popular chat platforms have become. They enable businesses of all types and sizes to communicate directly with prospects and customers in near real-time. There are typically two types of chat functionality: live chat during business hours and after-hours chatbots for nights and weekends.

Adding chat helps business connect with visitors more efficiently, while reducing support costs and increasing sales velocity. Chat improves the customer experience by providing quick responses to basic questions and then routing the visitor to the next best action.

For today’s marketers, ensuring proper lead flow and attribution is critical for targeting the right audience and planning the next step in each buyer’s journey. Having a unified approach for website chat conversations is a good first step. But businesses need to extend this reach across every marketing channel so they can do a better job of routing search, email, and social interest into booked appointments. Chat is fine for handling simple website conversations while your team focuses on higher-value sales activities. But let’s face it, chat is a limited technology.

Significant business deals are rarely sealed via chat sessions. Closing a sale typically requires multiple meetings or calls for in-depth discussions. It’s been reported that there is a direct correlation between the number of meetings that occur and the sales close rate. For deals with five meetings, win rates increase to 66 percent or more. And for deals that involve seven or more meetings, win rates jump to a whopping 85 percent!

And don’t forget that for most businesses, meetings with customers don’t stop once a deal is signed. There’s onboarding and implementation, customer success check ins, support calls and more. That’s why it’s critical to have a single platform every customer-facing team can use for every CTA that is directly integrated with your CRM for scheduling meetings and calls.

Some chat platforms do offer add-on appointment scheduling, but here’s the reality: all scheduling apps are not created equal. For starters, it’s important to ensure the scheduling solution you choose includes the following key features:

  • Calendar integration to prevent double booking
  • Virtual meeting integration to automatically set up the online meeting room for calls and demos
  • The ability to schedule on-site appointments to drive customers into your location.

Just as important, scheduling appointments through chat means your organization isn’t taking advantage of the full benefits of Intelligent Appointment Scheduling. If you really want to maximize your marketing efforts across all channels, then you need to make it easy for customers to schedule appointments through your website, by responding to outbound marketing campaigns, via social media channels, and by engaging with digital advertising. That’s the type of appointment scheduling that a point-and-shoot scheduling solution bolted onto a chat application simply cannot offer.

At Engageware, we use chat functionality that’s fully implemented with our scheduling solution, which enables us to route conversations by region or appointment type.

During normal business hours, our business development reps use their individual appointment-scheduling links during each chat session. This automatically creates new contacts in Salesforce that include appointment details along with the chat history.

The after-hours configuration uses a round-robin (team availability) system utilizing a unique URL parameter for tracking campaign performance while also offering seamless routing, confirmation of booked appointments, and reminder messages that help ensure customers keep the appointments they’ve made.

Isn’t it time for your business to invest in a scalable platform that provides omnichannel experiences for prospects and customers across mobile, search, voice, text, email, web and your customer-facing app?

Interested in learning what top features are essential in any appointment scheduling platform? This post details the top 7 features to look for in online scheduling software.

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