Implementing Live Chat For A Local Veterinary Clinic

I do a little work on the side helping local businesses get leads. Most often this is related to some very basic SEO. And when I say basic I mean very basic like setting Google My Business and just making sure the basics are set up. You can actually get a lot of leads just through Ad Words and some conversation rate optimization. I don’t talk about it much but I thought I’d share one of my strategies for easily increasing conversion rate. I recently asked by a friend and veterinary practice owner about what she could do to increase basic conversion. She didn’t ask because she knows I’ve helped small businesses in the past she asked because she knows I have a technical background. I am the “technical guy” in my friend group and so I get called on for all kinds of projects like this. It’s kinda like being the only person you know with a truck. When someone has to move, they call the guy with the truck. If you have any kind of technical or IT background it’s basically the same scenario.

But, I’m always up for helping a friend. This post is going to be about how you can use live chat to increase conversions and we will talk about the user interface of my favorite software because I just can’t help myself. Its relevant too. The user interface is a key part of anything related to conversion. 

First off, realize that there are a huge number of live chat options out there. Many of them distinguish themselves from the rest with a lot of bells and whistles that may be valuable to some enterprise or corporate level businesses but my friend wants her veterinary clinic (Parkside Animal Health Center) to just have some basic live chat for increasing her conversion rate. She pays for traffic through AdWords from time to time and she wants to make sure she is doing everything in her power to convert that traffic. So we need live chat that can do the following:

  • Look good for both the user and the business side
  • Affordable
  • Simple

There are several great options out there but my favorite is PureChat. They focus primarily on…live chat. And by that, I mean that many companies add a lot of bells and whistles to what they do to try to add value. But what we really want is live chat. While they do offer additional analytics for an extra cost (around $15 a month) you can actually use the software for up to 15 chats a month for free. Pretty good deal and pretty smart too since it allows business owners to try it out and see how it work. Once a business owner converts one visitor to a client I’m sure they’re all in for live chat.

Let’s take a look at the UI:

Pretty slick. Does it look similar to anything else you’ve seen? It looks very similar to the UI of text messaging on an iPhone or any other smartphone. You can’t go wrong with a proven concept and the Apple iPhone is more than a proven concept.

The image of a real person for the user gives them the sense of an advantage since they get to the see the person they’re talking to but not the other way around. Like a one-way mirror. And we aren’t talking about the power struggle in any kind of weird way just but it’s a reality of online communication. The noises made by pure chat are noticeable but not annoying. Too often live chat notifications are pretty obnoxious and repetitive. PureChat has a couple of options that business owners can use but the best is a simple bell.

Do People Actually Use Live Chat?

Yes! Have you? Well for my friend’s veterinary practice they saw an increase of 2.5% for their conversion rate. Well worth the cost for the most part but a lot of those chats take a lot of time. Especially in the case of an animal hospital. Some of the conversations walk a fine line. While people ask for it all the time, any good veterinarian isn’t going to over major medical advice over the phone. Let alone over live chat. Not everyone gets this and sometimes live chat becomes a more difficult venue to have this conversation. 

A Competitive Advantage in The Aurora Veterinary Clinic Industry

When you’re dealing with a small pool it can be a lot easier to get a competitive advantage. In the case of local businesses, not everyone is doing the same thing. And when businesses owners are also doing advertising, marketing and the actual work you end up with a lot of bare bones approach to things. That means that with a little effort of your own you can end up with a solid advantage over other businesses in your field and region. Once Parkside Animal Health Center decided to launch live chat, that made them the only vet in 80015 that actually used live chat. Again, the 80015 zip code isn’t huge but it does give them a clear advantage over other clinics in the region.

What Type Of Live Chats Came To The Veterinary Clinic?

Over a month period here are some of the questions that came to the animal hospital via live chat:

  • Are you AAHA accredited? They are (AAHA stands for American Animal Hosptial Association) and it says it right on the website but people want to track this information down. But that is part of what live chat is about: convenience for the user. 
  • My cat is sneezing a lot more than usual. Do I need to take him in? These are someone tough questions. You don’t want to give medical advice but you also don’t want to come off as just blowing off the client. My friend’s animal clinic offers a cheap one time check up exam to address these types of concerns. They always had this but they are advertising it more after live chat. That’s one of the good things about live chat: it lets you see what the user is wondering or looking for when they see your site. 
  • How much does it cost? This one came in when no one was manning the chat and is truly a mystery.

Worth The Trouble?

I would confidently say that live chat is worth the trouble of setting up and managing. The benefits to conversion rate, even if minimal, are worth it. It also opens you up to a whole new set of information. The other major factor is if you’re operating on the local level there is a good chance that much of your competition will not be using live chat. When you have a much smaller market its easier to find advantages that other guys don’t. In fact, Parkside Animal Health is the only vet in 80015 that has live chat. Is it a huge advantage? Maybe not. But is it an advantage for sure? Yes, no doubt about that and that’s enough.