Business is Great; I?m Just Not Selling Anything!

Awhile back you had a great idea. An idea that you thought could make you a decent income, with very little effort. Then, you had another great idea-to sell your first great idea on the Internet! What better way is there to market and sell your idea to the world, you thought. So, you bought a domain name, found a web host, and hired a high-priced web designer. Before you knew it, your new business was up and running on the web. With the help of a search engine optimization firm, your site shot to the top results of Google and Yahoo. Plus, you added an affiliate program, along with some other marketing ventures. Soon, tons of targeted traffic started flowing to your site?

A couple of weeks went by and the euphoria of owning your own business on the web began to wear off. Sure, your site looked great, your product/service was the best, and you had tons of traffic hitting your site, but where was the income you expected? You'd made a few sales, but really you were expecting more-weren't you?

Unfortunately, you're business isn't starting off as the stunning success you had hoped for. But, there's good news! You probably aren't that far off. This article will tell you the one aspect of your online business that can help you convert more sales than any other!

One advantage that most business owners like about the Internet is the opportunity it provides for them to take a hands-off approach. Get a website up-and-running, come up with a marketing program, and you can make money even while you're sleeping-especially if you offer a service or software product. Internet businesses are great part-time or side businesses, because they can take as much, or as little, time as you want to devote to them.

The problem is that while spending a very small amount of time on your Internet business is great for you as the business owner; it can be not-so-great for your customers and potential customers, thus limiting your sales potential. Think about your product or service. Now, picture setting up a brick-and-mortar location to run your business from. Would you buy or build this building, set it up for business, and then leave it sitting there with the door locked all of the time? Would you leave the door unlocked so customers could come in and look around, but not have any staff available to assist them? Would you leave the door unlocked so customers could come in and look around, setup a self-checkout aisle so they can make purchases, install a security camera for safety, but still not have a single staff member on hand to assist customers. Hopefully, you answered 'no' to all of these questions, and you probably found the ideas ridiculous. Yet, is this how your run your online business? Most websites let visitors look at products, and make secure purchases, but they don't offer assistance to the visitors. That is why providing customer service is the key to making an online business successful. Buying and selling on the Internet can be different than in brick-and-mortar locations, but in some ways it is not that different. Customer Service is one of those ways. Customers want to be treated a certain way before most will buy your products and services, regardless of whether or not you are selling them from a building or a website.

If you provide top-notch customer service on your website, the same way you would if you had setup a brick-and-mortar location, you will take your business profits to the next level. Will it take a little more of your time and attention? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes.

You see, visitors come to your site because they are interested in what you have to offer. But, they also have questions and concerns before they buy. Will this product meet my needs? How do I checkout? Is there a return policy? Is this business even credible (a particularly challenging issue on the web)? If you aren't there to answer these questions, the Internet most likely will offer this consumer several other sites that they can buy the same products from. Just like that, they're gone-and probably forever.

At this point, you're probably wondering what is top-notch customer service? The answer may surprise you. Many sites offer phone and email support. However, this is not the most effective support online. Phone support can be expensive, either for you or the customer. If you have an 800#, you're paying for all the calls. Plus, you (or your staff), can only handle one call at a time. If you don't have an 800#, your potential customer has to pay. Plus, the customer may only have a dial-up connection. So, they actually have to leave your website to contact you (or use up their cell phone minutes). Your #1 goal is to NOT have customers leave your website-even to call you!

Providing email support is equally ineffective. The reason is because the customer never really knows if and when you're going to get back to him/her. They may need a product sent today for next day arrival. If so, they'll probably be hesitant to email you simply because they don't know if you'll get back to them in an hour, a couple hours, a day, a week, or ever at all. They'll go somewhere else where they can be assured that the product will meet there needs and can be shipped for arrival next day. Email can be effective at times, but it can cause concerns for the customer, and it is ineffective when time is critical.

So, what is the best way to provide online customer support? The answer is live chat. I know you're probably thinking that live chat is time-consuming for you as the business owner. You don't want to sit in front of your computer all day, or hire someone else to, just waiting for customers to chat with. That is understandable. However, with most live chat software, your customers can leave a message if you're offline, and it at least gives the impression to them that you care, and that customer service is important to you. So, even if you can only cover live chat a couple hours a day, it is still worth it! And, the more that you can cover live chat, the more successful you will be.

Live chat provides an opportunity for your customers to have their questions and concerns handled immediately. Plus, talking to you someone directly will ease their concerns about the credibility of your business. You get to know your customers and they get to know you. The chances of them buying increase dramatically. The chances of them making repeat purchases from you also increase, because you've developed a relationship with them. Plus it is affordable for you. Several live chat systems are very affordable, and most allow reps to handle multiple chats at once, which is quicker and more effective than phone support. All in all, live chat is a great customer service solution for both the business owner and the consumer.

By making customer service a priority on your website, and utilizing live chat software, that great idea you had awhile back will really reach its potential.

Please feel free to reprint this article so long as you include the resource box listed with the article.

Dan Cavanaugh is the Senior Marketing Director for the Customer Support Network, an organization committed to the improvement of online customer service. The Customer Support Network has developed a powerful and affordable live chat product called CSLive SB 2005. To learn more about this live chat software and the benefits of online customer service, click here: http://www.CSLiveChat.com

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