By Jonathan Bryant on Dec 10, 2020 11:40:33 AM
By any measure, it’s been a tumultuous year for business. Starting with COVID-19, and adding natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes, the midwestern derecho, and catastrophic wildfires, businesses across the nation have had to grapple with many new realities affecting not only how they do business, but if they do business.
Sadly, for many, the future is bleak and they will likely not survive. Others, however, have stayed the course, and, thanks in part to one essential tool, will not only survive but will prosper. That tool is live chat and it has made a remarkable difference in how well professional service firms have weathered the storms so far. In a recent talk with Jonathon Bryant, director of business development at SiteStaff, the evidence that live chat is truly a lifesaver is plain to see.
Insights from the senior living trenches
One of the hardest hit sectors, senior living communities, is a great example of how live chat is a huge value to the business and to the people it serves. Bryant has seen the proof in statistics and in conversations with several SiteStaff senior living clients.
“Our senior community clients feel they are in recovery mode and looking forward,” Bryant explained. “Because we inherit the risk and guarantee our services, I am proud to say the companies we serve had plans in place, were able to mitigate the impacts, and overall haven’t suffered like many.”
Like all businesses, the onset of COVID-19 and resulting lockdowns greatly affected how senior communities operated so that they could not only continue to function day-to-day, but also protect current and future residents. Bryant said the way live chat contributed to maintaining that equilibrium was evident after just three weeks of the quarantine.
“In the first few weeks, our lead volume fell, but chat volume increased 180%,” he noted. “Everyone gave us massive approval. Being there for families in need and providing immediate help was essential. People had questions and live chat provided an easy and convenient way to communicate.”
After the first three weeks, however, leads began to pick up pace as well, and today, Bryant said, “Leads have gone through the roof! We see it every week and we have never had more chats or leads than we do today.”
More than just a convenience
Obviously, the hands-off nature and convenience of live chat was a godsend for senior living clients, but considering the stress, fear and uncertainty brought about by the lockdown, it was the human side of live chat that proved priceless.
“Sympathy is the enemy of empathy and empathy fuels connection,” said Bryant. “Live chat is not rocket science, but the ability to communicate in the right way is so powerful.”
For this, Bryant credits SiteStaff’s live chat hosts, many of whom have been there throughout the 10-year history of the company.
“We call our live chat hosts ‘air traffic control,’ or the ‘Wizards of Oz,’ as they are the ones behind the curtain,” he said. “We retain our hosts because they love their jobs. I don’t think that level of tenure can be replaced. They are the lifeblood of what we do.”
That said, Bryant also noted that as much as they appreciate the positive comments and praise they receive from transcripts and clients alike, they always credit their clients with a job well done.
Planning pays off
Although COVID-19 wasn’t on anyone’s radar, Bryant said the SiteStaff team is always planning for the unknown. Especially with clients in states where wildfires have become the norm, and those hit often by hurricanes, it was important to ensure plans were in place to sustain live chat services.
“We were proactive reaching out to our clients that were threatened by wildfires and hurricanes, asking how we could not only be the first impression during a natural disaster but instruct us how to properly convey emergency protocols and crisis communication consistent with their brand and culture of care,” Bryant recalled, adding, “It’s important to us to always serve a purpose and be of value to the visitor every single chat, regardless of the nature of their query. In these cases, just as during the initial wave of COVID, we were successful in easing the fear and concerns of loved ones choosing to chat for updates, as phone traffic rises during these times as well.”
Even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Bryant said SiteStaff is constantly looking for new ways to put live chat to work. For example, Bryant said, “One client had the idea to add a waving .gif chat feature within the chatbox as a soft visual reminder of the feature without being overbearing or overly obtrusive. Additionally, it can be personalized, having the image of our client, which is a great representation of their culture. Our goal was to increase the chat conversion rate or the percent of web visitors that accept the invitation to chat. So far, the results are positive, and it adds an authentic touch.”
Bryant noted that SiteStaff is always open to new ideas and the client base is standing by to help as needed. “We have found that all of our clients are willing to serve as beta testers for new live chat options,” Bryant said, adding, “We serve very clever organizations!”
Going forward, Bryant acknowledges the future is yet unknown, but that they and their clients are well prepared for it.
“We don’t ever want to be here again in our lives — with COVID-19 and the wildfires — we are all sick of it. But we want to maintain the human connection. We are social beings and we want to be together.”
To see the real-life, real-time value of live chat, take a look at the actual live chat transcripts below. To learn more about the benefits of live chat, contact SiteStaff today.
11:57:47 AM : Visitor : Quick question.
11:58:03 AM : Holly : Hello!
11:58:09 AM : Visitor : Good afternoon Holly, just have a quick question for you.
11:58:11 AM : Holly : How can I help you today?
11:59:09 AM : Visitor : Since we aren’t allowed to visit with a family member at XXXXX is it ok if we surprise her by visiting with her from her window while talking on the phone?
12:00:13 PM : Holly : That sounds like a wonderful idea. Let me see if we have regulations regarding something like that.
12:00:23 PM : Visitor : Ok!
12:01:41 PM : Holly : To keep residents active and involved, Engage Life® program opportunities will be provided in their apartments; we are also arranging “love seat window visits” with family members as well as virtual face-to-face visits via smartphone, computer and tablet.
12:01:58 PM : Holly : I hope you have a wonderful visit!
12:02:07 PM : Visitor : Is window thing ok?
12:02:44 PM : Holly : Yes, they are actually providing some seats to do so.
12:03:05 PM : Visitor : Aw thanks so much she will be excited to see us.
12:03:10 PM : Holly : If you would like to call ahead so she is ready you can.
12:03:56 PM : Holly : Thank you for reaching out today. Have a wonderful day!
12:03:58 PM : Visitor : She wouldn’t want to do the FaceTime thing so we will just visit from her window and talk to her on phone.
12:04:14 PM : Holly : That will be great!
12:04:24 PM : Visitor : Thank u!
12:04:26 PM : Holly : Thank you for helping us keep everyone healthy!
12:04:33 PM : Visitor : Have a great day.
12:04:53 PM : Holly : Thank you!
03-13-20 10:59:55: Visitor
03-13-20 11:00:06: Kelley
03-13-20 11:00:13: Kelley
Thank you for reaching out to us, and I hope you are doing well. How may I assist you today?
03-13-20 11:00:21: Visitor
My mother lives in Pxxxxxxx, in Xxxxxx. NY.
03-13-20 11:00:45: Visitor
I have a concern about the guidelines being given to them to ensure the safety of the residents there
03-13-20 11:01:02: Kelley
What concerns are you having?
03-13-20 11:03:09: Visitor
I strongly believe that the only way to protect the most vulnerable to the spread of COVID 19 is to limit anyone they are coming in contact with. That means, I think the building should be closed to any sort of visitors. You cannot trust that they are taking the precautions they need to not be carrying/spreading the virus around for 2 weeks before the first signs of illness.
03-13-20 11:04:55: Kelley
I completely understand your concerns and they are very valid. Please know that ensuring the health and well-being of our residents and employees is always our highest priority. I recommend contacting our community directly to discuss what further measures we are implementing to protect our residents, staff, and the outside community.
03-13-20 11:05:22: Kelley
You are welcome to call our office at (315) XXX-XXXX.
03-13-20 11:06:31: Visitor
I spoke with them in person this morning and the answer was that they are getting their directives from XXXXX.
03-13-20 11:06:38: Visitor
Therefore I am contacting you.
03-13-20 11:08:37: Kelley
I understand. Unfortunately, I do not have the authority to make any such decisions. I assure you were following expert advice on what is best practices to ensure safety and well-being.
03-13-20 11:12:21: Visitor
Is there someone I can contact at XXXXX to share my opinion on this? There is no over-reaction here, every single person living in that facility is the most susceptible and the most at risk of death. There are simple steps we can take to proactively stop the spread to the most vulnerable and I am concerned those steps are not being taken.
03-13-20 11:13:53: Kelley
I completely understand. I know that sounds a bit repetitive, but I genuinely do. You are welcome to call our home office at 763-XXX-XXXX to share your concerns.
03-13-20 11:16:00: Visitor
Thank you. I understand you have nothing to do with this but this chat was the first thing I saw so I thought I'd try this first. Thank you for listening. I will make some calls.
03-13-20 11:16:57: Kelley
It is my pleasure. If you have any further questions, please feel free to open a new chat session.
03-13-20 11:17:08: Visitor
03-13-20 11:17:13: Kelley
You are most welcome. Thank you for chatting with me. Have a great day!
04-09-20 19:35:16 Visitor: my parents are 93 and don’t dress fancy, they are in sweat pants for ease. will they fit in?
04-09-20 19:35:29 Sabrina: Hi there!
04-09-20 19:35:52 Visitor: hi
04-09-20 19:36:19 Sabrina: Thank you for sharing those details with me. I chat for all XXXXX communities, but I would love to have our Community Sales Director reach out about our residents in Wxxxxxxxxxxx.
04-09-20 19:36:31 Sabrina: With whom do I have the pleasure of chatting?
04-09-20 19:36:48 Visitor : Bxxx Txxxxxx
04-09-20 19:37:13 Sabrina: It's nice to meet you, Bxxx. How soon are you considering a transition to a community?
04-09-20 19:38:12 Visitor: very soon. we were wondering what requirements to get in. Doctors note, and tests, etc.
04-09-20 19:39:13 Sabrina: In accordance with the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, we have restricted access to the community to allow essential visits only. I would love to have our Community Sales Director reach out and visit more about our current requirements.
04-09-20 19:39:21 Sabrina: May I please have your best contact number, Bxxx?
04-09-20 19:40:09 Visitor : xxx-xxx-xxxx. are you not moving in any new residents while COVID is crazy
04-09-20 19:41:34 Sabrina: Thank you for that, Bxxx. We are following Colorado stipulations very closely. Our Community Sales Director can visit with you more about how soon we can transition new residents to our community.
04-09-20 19:41:54 Sabrina: Is there a best time to try and reach you?
04-09-20 19:41:54 Visitor: ok thanks
04-09-20 19:42:51 Sabrina: Of course! What prompted your search today for a community for your parents?
04-09-20 19:46:11 Visitor: it’s becoming an urgent situation. my dad went in with COVID symptoms, was released testing negative and is feeling better. both parents tested negative, but they are both becoming less able to handle tasks of daily living. when my dad was in the hospital, my mom was not able to live at home without my dad's assistance. my dad has been wanting to get into an assisted living for a while but my mom was very resistant
04-09-20 19:47:02 Sabrina: I am so sorry to hear that, Bxxx. What a difficult position to be in for you all. My thoughts are with you!
04-09-20 19:47:29 Sabrina: Thank you for taking the time to share those details with me. Would you mind telling me their names?
04-09-20 19:47:50 Visitor: thank you, we are now just making my mom go, not wasting time trying to convince her
04-09-20 19:48:06 Visitor : Jxxx and Exxxx Txxxxxx
04-09-20 19:48:27 Sabrina: That makes sense, but it will be so good for her! I think our community would be a great fit for them to socialize and still have the care they need.
04-09-20 19:48:47 Sabrina: No home maintenance is a definite plus, along with daily meals!
04-09-20 19:50:22 Visitor: it looks nice, fancy. when they took good care of themselves, they dressed nicely, but now for ease, its comfort clothing. would that fit in?
04-09-20 19:52:18 Sabrina: I apologize that I do not have that answer for you! Our Community Sales Director will be able to visit with you more about that, Bxxx!
04-09-20 19:52:34 Visitor: ok,thanks
04-09-20 19:52:57 Sabrina: Is there a best time to try and reach you?
04-09-20 19:53:27 Visitor: I am on call tomorrow, but try tomorrow
04-09-20 19:53:56 Sabrina: Perfect. I will make note of that. May I also have your email?
04-09-20 19:54:44 Visitor : firstname.lastname@example.org
04-09-20 19:54:55 Sabrina: Thank you for that!
04-09-20 19:55:18 Sabrina: What is most important about the care of your parents?
04-09-20 19:56:08 Visitor: price, comfort for them, care for their needs
04-09-20 19:56:31 Sabrina: Would you like me to gather pricing details for you, Bxxx?
04-09-20 19:57:19 Visitor: can you email them
04-09-20 19:57:35 Sabrina: Rates can vary based on the type of care needed and the size of the apartment. Our pricing covers basic utilities, housekeeping, all meals, transportation, events and more! One moment please while I grab some details for you.
04-09-20 19:58:09 Sabrina: Are you hoping for a one-bedroom, two-bedroom or studio for them to share?
04-09-20 19:58:20 Visitor: probably a one-bedroom as opposed to a studio
04-09-20 19:59:07 Sabrina : One-bedroom apartments start at $4,825 per month. We do have a second resident fee of $1150 per month.
04-09-20 20:00:04 Visitor: oh boy, lol. are those prices negotiable?
04-09-20 20:00:27 Sabrina: We are a private-pay community, however, most long term care policies cover assisted living and memory care services. I do want to make sure you know there are other ways to help pay for senior living you may not have considered. This brochure will help you better understand your financial resource options: https://www.atriaseniorliving.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/financial_resources_brochure.pdf
04-09-20 20:00:53 Visitor: ok, thanks
04-09-20 20:01:20 Sabrina: Of course! I will get this to our Community Sales Director and ask them to reach out as soon as possible!
04-09-20 20:01:44 Visitor: thanks
04-09-20 20:01:59 Sabrina: Stay well!
04-09-20 20:02:52 Visitor: you too
04-09-20 20:03:03 Visitor: you too