Live Chat Lives on Amid Coronavirus Crisis

Live chat amid the Coronavirus crisis is rebounding as more businesses adjust to meet their customer’s communication needs.

The coronavirus pandemic is driving in-person interaction between consumers and businesses down to nearly nothing. But those with the right tools are keeping up conversations with clients and prospects. 

One thing is guaranteed amid this crisis: Other than e-commerce, toilet paper manufacturers, and janitorial services, just about every business across the board is hurting in some way. The coronavirus pandemic is forcing people to stay indoors except for essential purchases and work. 

General contractors, lawyers, colleges and trade schools, medical practices, and more are all looking for opportunities for revenue—or even assurances of work in the future.

At Blazeo (formerly ApexChat), we have millions of chats worth of data. And we decided to take a look at how businesses are managing to connect with customers and prospects alike as we all adjust to the ongoing public health crisis. 

We found that while everyone is taking some sort of hit, the conversations between businesses and consumers haven’t stopped. 

At least not when the right engagement channel exists. 

Website Traffic Is Falling, but Not Gone

Like foot traffic, website traffic is dropping as consumers pare back purchases. However, people are still visiting websites for home services providers, colleges, lawyers, dentists, marketing agencies, and more. We can see in the data that there’s still interest among consumers in connecting with businesses.

Average website visits-per-week for all industries dropped 13.9% from February to March, according to our internal data. Much of that month-over-month drop was due to a slide in traffic through the month of March. Between the first and fourth weeks of March, website visits fell 28.3%.

Visitors Are Still Engaging With Live Chat

Despite the drop in traffic, the people who are showing up on our clients’ websites are still engaging with them. They’re still visiting websites to learn more about whether businesses are open or when they’ll be opening up. Consumers plan to reenter the economy eventually. Right now, many of them have nothing but free time to research local attorneys or find the right trade school for their long-sought certifications. 

Other businesses, such as home service providers, offer essential services to their communities. For emergencies, contractors still need to be able to connect quickly and easily with homeowners—at all hours.

We saw this in the data. While most businesses are shut to foot traffic, people are still browsing their websites. Our clients held on to about three-quarters of their online traffic by the end of March. And it wasn’t just bored, web surfers. The traffic included qualified leads.

Overall, from February to March average leads-per-week fell slightly over 18%.  That’s about enough to account for the dip in traffic. However, it’s not enough to indicate that interest has subsided completely—at least on the internet.

And Websites Are Still Generating Live Chat Conversions

Qualified leads from websites haven’t gone the way of in-person business. Website visitors are still converting into potential clients for businesses at around the same rate they were before the pandemic, even if overall traffic has dropped. 

The shift in the average live chat conversion rate from February to March was barely noticeable. A drop of several hundredths of a percentage point. What does that mean? Businesses are still generating interest just as effectively as before. And consumers are still looking to connect with them. The digital traffic is just lower for the time being. 

Industries Feeling COVID-19 Effects Differently

Some businesses are harder hit by the coronavirus than others and we see that in the data. For example, contractors providing home services are often asked to do essential work. Meanwhile, uncertainty about attending classes is likely driving the more substantial impact colleges and trade schools are feeling. 

Let’s take a closer look at how specific industries have been affected. 

General Contractors and Home Service Providers

Compared to an overall drop of 18%, for home service providers average leads fell just 5% from February to March. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, our contractor clients have fared much better than other businesses with live chat. 

Similarly, traffic has not fallen much. It’s down just 8% from the first to the final week of March. Contractors often respond to problems that need fixing now. For that reason, there’s still relatively substantial interest in services from these businesses. That’s why we found conversion rates for contractors have remained the same from February to March.

Law Firms

While attorneys are definitely getting fewer website visitors, conversion rates barely took a hit. Average leads from February to March dropped about 20%. However, the conversion rate fell a mere 0.02 percentage points. 

Similar to home services, certain attorneys provide services that may be considered essential. For example, plenty of personal injury attorneys may offer necessary services and may be working amid the current crisis. The traffic and live chat conversion rates certainly indicate as much. 

Colleges and Trade Schools

Of all three industries we’re looking at, education institutions saw the most substantial slump in conversion rate. However, schools are still generating qualified leads through live chat. In fact, on average nearly 4 out of every 1,000 website visitors are still converting into leads.

That’s great because colleges and trade schools are still getting traffic. In fact, average monthly website impressions fell just 2.6% from February to March. 

Opportunity for Businesses With the Right Tools

How businesses engage with prospects and clients has completely changed. It will return to something resembling normal soon. But until then you have to ensure that you’re closing on every opportunity that comes your way. They’re rarer than ever, and it can take just one month of lost revenue to start problems for even a well-run business. 

We’ve found that live chat remains an effective way for businesses to connect with website visitors and collect their contact information. People are still looking to connect with their attorneys, their roofers, their schools, and more. Are you prepared to answer?

For more industry insights and news be sure to visit our blog.