Add Real-Time Instant Communication With Visitors To Your Home Care Website
What Our Client Requested
Recently one of our home care company clients asked us to add a “chat tool” to their website. What they wanted was a way for visitors to their website to interact with the client’s personnel via an online text-based “chat” tool.
The client wanted to do this for the sake of being able to help visitors ask simple questions without having to call or send email to ask those questions. They were thinking mostly about this being a way to help prospective clients ask questions and get them engaged in a way that was “lightweight” and “easy”.
Another reason for using a chat tool was that the client can interact with visitors without requiring the visitors to divulge any contact information, making it more likely that visitors might feel comfortable asking questions without being subjected to a “hard sell” over the phone or something like that.
Chat Tools That We Considered
We considered a pretty wide range of available chat tools that would work with WordPress (which was the foundation for the client’s website).
There are other tools to consider, by the way, that are not truly “chat” tools. For example, there are a number of tools that behave the way that chat tools do when the chat attendant is “offline”, offering to take the user’s name, contact info, and question, for a later response. These tools are not really two-way chat or IM (instant message) communication tools, but they can be a good fit for some situations.
In this case, though, the client wanted a true chat tool that allowed for instant two-way communication.
A partial list of the choices that we considered included the ones shown below. Some were discarded because they cost too much, but others on the list were free but not as fully featured as the one that we finally chose.
- Snap Engage
- WP Live Chat
What We Chose And Why We Chose It
The tool that we chose was Tawk.to, which you can find at the tool vendor’s website at, naturally, https://www.tawk.to/.
Here are the reasons why we chose Tawk.to:
- It is free.
- It has a very rich feature set in terms of these items and more:
- Support for schedule of “online” and “offline” support times
- Support for taking messages when offline, for follow up / response later
- Support for multiple “attendants” (those who respond to chat requests)
- Filters based on IP address and other parameters
- A mobile app for iPhones and Android phones to support after-hours support responses
- The vendor provides excellent 24×7 support via, of course, chat
- It is very simple to implement in WordPress
- It is very easy to configure for basic operational use
The chat tool itself installs as a WordPress plugin with very easy default configuration settings
The chat attendant “dashboard” installs as a standalone Windows application and may also be run as an online cloud-based app by logging onto the Tawk.to site.
You can run Tawk.to as-is, “right out of the box”, but you’ll probably at least want to consider whether to set up schedules for your “online” and “offline” times.
- The system works very well, and the availability of the smartphone apps makes it ultra-easy to provide 24×7 chat support if you wish to.
- You can create filters to limit chat access by visitors’ IP address, geographic location, and more.
- Support is very good.
- It’s free. It’s hard not to like free.
- There really aren’t any major problems with Tawk.to
- It may not have a few features that we wished that it had, but they are pretty good about receiving, reviewing and (in some cases) implementing new feature requests
What We Learned After Implementing The Chat Tool
The client’s original goal was to be able to receive and respond to questions from prospective new clients, around the clock. This goal was met and the client is satisfied that it has accomplished this purpose. The client is very open to responding to legitimate inquiries about possible new business at any time, around the clock.
There was an unexpected additional impact from implementing the chat tool: a significant portion of the chat requests are from current and prospective employees, asking about everything from how to apply for work, to how to get a replacement for a lost paycheck and more. This is a good thing, because the client is in a market where it is very difficult to recruit enough qualified caregivers to satisfy client demand.
The client is very open to responding to these HR chat requests, but would prefer to handle them in two different ways, depending upon the time of day when those chat requests are made:
- During normal business hours: the client’s HR department wants to respond to them immediately, in real time
- Outside of normal business hours: the client’s HR department wants to have the visitor leave their contact info and a brief description of their question, to respond to them on the next business day.
The client is one of the largest home care agencies in a major metro area, and so they find that they receive many (perhaps more) chat requests from current or prospective new employees than they do from prospective new clients.
For that reason, the client would like to have the chat tool provide a way to filter the new chat requests by asking whether the visitor is going to ask about services or about employment, and then branch off to either an email-based response for the employment questions, or a chat for the new service questions.
So far, we have not found a way to do that with Tawk.to nor with any of the many chat tools that we have looked into, including the ones of the list above regarding the chat tools that we considered but did not choose.
One other thing that we encountered was that there were many chat requests that originate from visitors outside the USA, from prospective new employees and from businesses wanting to sell the client goods and services from other countries. Fortunately we were able to use features in Tawk.to to disallow chat requests from visitors who are not located in the USA.
See This In Action On Our Site
We have set up Tawk.to on our own website at https://eldersell.com. Please feel free to visit our site and take a look at how Tawk.to works there.
Be sure to say hello to us via chat while you’re there!
We will continue to look for ways to provide the initial visitor intent triage mentioned above, as well as looking for other chat tools that are somehow better or more efficient to use. Until then, the Tawk.to implementation has proven to be a very satisfactory choice.