When competing with untold numbers of anonymous competitors, sometimes a face to go along with a name can make all the difference, when it comes to client loyalty and distinguishing yourself from the pack.

Live, real-time chat is one way to give a face to your company, thereby encouraging potential clients to delve deeper, ask more questions, and ease their concerns.

Abhiroop Basu is the Content Marketing Manager forĀ Zopim, an innovative, interactive live chat software. He took a moment to answer our questions about the potential of live chat and ways that it can be used to stand out from your competition.

How did Zopim get started, as a company? Where are you based out of?

Zopim started out in 2008 with a simple idea: “What if any website owner could chat with every single visitor on their website?”

Unaware that an entire industry had been trying to solve the “live chat” problem for over a decade, founders Royston Tay, Yang Bin Kwok and Wenxiang Wu started designing Zopim from scratch. In the next few months, they unwittingly disrupted the entire industry with a unique offering that leveraged the latest web technologies, while introducing a radically new user interface that was simple, intuitive, and elegant. In 2010, Zopim launched its freemium pricing model; and with it, an entire population of small and medium business users were introduced to a product that helped them improve sales and customer engagement.

Zopim’s focus has and always will be to assist companies in achieving “Customer Wow.” Zopim’s flagship live chat product is used by a wide range of companies.

Zopim is based in Singapore and was acquired by Zendesk in 2014.

What differentiates Zopim from the other live chat software out there?

Zopim differentiates itself by focusing not just on our customers but also their customers (i.e. the end-user). We strive to make sure that everyone interacting with our product has the best experience possible. We do this by coming up with intuitive designs for our chat dashboard and website widget, as well as building features which are useful for chat agents and their administrators. For example, our proactive chat features allows agents and admins to engage their customers before a question is even asked. This elevates our product to becoming a sales and lead generation necessity and less of a support afterthought.

What advantages are there to be had from interacting live with your customers? What about with potential clients?

The benefits depends on the type of website you are running; but in general, live chat offers the following: instant support, flexibility in engagement, extensive feature-set, and high ROI. I’ll discuss each one in more detail:

  • Instant support: Live chat has the fastest resolution time, beating out email, phone, and even social media. Unlike those channels, it’s possible to solve a live chat query in mere minutes and move onto the next one. This allows your support staff to serve more customers in the same span of time.
  • Flexibility in engagement: It’s possible to use live chat in a variety of scenarios, from ecommerce websites to help desk platforms to even internal communications. The benefit is that live chat isn’t a support tool that is limited or pigeonholed into one method of engagement. Further, live chat works on any device, including smartphones and tablets, as well as on any website.
  • Extensive feature-set: Unlike email or phone support, live chat allows you to use multiple tools and features to better serve customers. For example, agents can proactively chat with visitors who might simply be window shopping. The “Triggers” feature can be used to automatically offer a special rate to visitors who are idling on a particular listing. If the visitor is interested, the agent can take over the conversation. Zopim also incorporates automatic translation, which means that agents can talk to customers in a number of different languages – basically any language supported by Google Translate!
  • High ROI: This depends on the website that’s using live chat, but let’s say it’s for a real estate website. For real estate agents, each conversation with a customer can translate into a sale. Unlike other industries, each chat could be the critical difference between closing a significant deal or a customer leaving. Hence, the return on investment for live chat is much higher for real estate companies and is a big reason why they choose to use it.

How is this kind of personal interaction representative of the new way of doing business? How are human characteristics, like dependability and openness, being integrated into the world of bottom line business?

This is something we’ve discussed in-depth in a recent whitepaper: 1 to 1 Marketing. The gist is that companies are no longer controlling the conversations around their brand. Instead, customers are being influenced by external factors and deciding unilaterally when to interact with a company. In order to remain relevant, companies must put aside the traditional marketing funnel and embrace a customer-centric approach to engagement. This requires an increased focus on customers over products, a personalized approach to communication, and greater accessibility. These changes will enable a company to build meaningful long-term relationships with loyal customers.

Live chat can support all of these points by providing instant connectivity with a real person who has access to your past communications history, creating a more personalized experience.

You’re known to “obsess over the small details.” What are some of the details that you obsess over?

We focus on making sure that all Zopim users (and end-users) have the best experience possible. Sometimes, it can be things like the notification sounds that we use.

You have representatives available to chat for over 12 hours a day. What does this level of availability achieve as far as people’s impressions of, and connection to, the company? How important is it for a company to be available for their clientele?

We are now available to chat 24 hours a day, 5 days a week. We firmly believe that great customer service is vital for any online business. So, we take our chat support very seriously. Further, we want to demonstrate that not only do we take care of our customers, but also that live chat is a viable support solution for your entire business. Finally, we want to build the expectation for all customers that the company they are doing business with is always available at their beck and call.

Zopim has won a wide range of awards and been featured in a number of publications, from Businessweek to MSNBC. What did you do to earn that kind of attention? What has it done for your business?

We never chased awards or recognition. This sounds cliched, but it’s the truth! We’ve always focused on building a simple and easy-to-use product, while at the same time putting our customers’ needs first.

Why should people use Zopim?

Two reasons: We’re the best live chat company, and we offer the best pre- and post-sales support.

To learn more about Zopim and what live chat can do for your company, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.