So much work is put into designing and developing a website and thinking about how visitors will interact with it. Each choice says something about your brand, business, and priorities, from color scheme to line weight to typography.
And for all the innovation and enhancement that can go into building your website, one thing that often goes un-innovated is, well, how your visitors will reach you.
How your calls to action can turn into action. If your website has any customer-facing function at all, this might be a concern you’ve had before—how do you capture leads while you’ve already got their attention? How can you remove all the obstacles between a website visit and the start of a conversation?
This is where Podium becomes useful. It is messaging tool for support, getting more reviews, collecting payments, sending text marketing campaigns, and centralizing your communications, all from one easy-to-use platform.
In this Podium review, you will see what separates it from all other tools and if it is the right choice for your needs.
At Podium, they have worked quite a bit in enhancing conversations with customers. The options previously have been uninspiring or filled with obstacles for users (not even counting the dreaded phone call).
There’s the typical contact form—although users sometimes are wary of how their information will be used, and emailed submissions usually have an extensive wait involved, making them an inconvenient way to get questions answered or get in contact with someone in the know.
Then there’s the chat popup. This solves the problem of response time. As usual, a chat service will have support standing by to answer questions and resolve concerns. However, that introduces new problems: who will be standing by to answer questions? Do you outsource support to someone who may not have the required expertise? How can a truly small business afford that or support that?
The answer has often been chatbots that respond to keywords and direct users to the answers to frequently asked questions. These can be helpful for quick information but often lack the depth or the personal connection website visitors are looking for. And both chatbots and live chat services have the problem of tying the user to their browser—or worse, a popup mini-browser that gets lost in a sea of windows.
With Podium Webchat, those problems are all solved—so your website visitors can contact you directly from your site, get prompt responses, and carry on the conversation on their own terms. Getting started with Podium is easy. Click here to learn more and start a free trial.
How Does Podium Webchat Works?
Podium’s Webchat tool looks at first like a standard chat widget, but once you click on it, you can see the difference. Instead of starting a conversation in a chat bubble, your visitor’s message is sent via SMS message to pick up the conversation on their phone. The benefits of this are many.
The first big benefit is asynchronous communication. Not only is that a plus for your customers, who may not have the time or the patience to wait on their browser for a response, but it’s a plus for you too.
Now, with the Podium messaging platform, you can receive all your messages in one place and respond to them at your own convenience and from one phone number. That gives you the time and ability to field questions and provide resources without outsourcing support.
And even though it’s not the main selling point, it’s also nice that all this communication will come to your customers from one phone number—a business line, separate from any individual’s personal cell phone.
Your customers actually prefer it too—texting is how people talk; it’s increasingly how business is done. With Webchat on your website, your visitors can ask questions send and receive attachments. With the infrastructure of the Podium platform, those conversations can even turn into purchases, all happening in one text thread.
So while Webchat works on the surface as a support tool or a lead-gathering tool, what it turns into is a completely new sales channel. And it all lives on your website, operating night and day, collecting contact info, and funneling it into your inbox.
How To Install Webchat On WordPress Website?
With a Podium account, Webchat is easy to install into your WordPress website (or Squarespace, Shopify, or Wix, or whatever your website is built on).
In your WordPress sidebar, click “Plugins,” then search for Podium, and click to install it on your site. Then click Activate. Then you can click on Podium in the toolbar at the top. Once you do that, you can paste the Webchat code snippet into the box and click save.
From here, Podium does the rest. Now all your website contacts come into your Podium inbox, where you can see the history of each conversation, all sorted by what needs answering. You can even see what page they were on when they initiated the conversation to answer their questions better.
Can I Customize Webchat Widget?
One of the great features of Webchat is that it works right out of the box, immediately connecting you with your customers even in its default settings. But you can also customize the look and messaging in your Webchat widget to fit your brand and look at home on your website.
Customizing your Webchat widget is handled in your Podium platform, where you can change the widget icon, color, placement, greeting message, and photo. With pro features, you can get even more detailed with your customization.
How Can I Use Webchat?
Webchat is primarily built for businesses with a local presence. In addition to gathering leads and answering questions, Webchat can connect the online and offline experience.
If you operate a business physically, your customers can start the conversation online and continue it in person. For instance, Podium customer Bedzzz Express has multiple mattress stores.
Webchat automatically connects customers with the location nearest them. Austin Bond, president of Sleep Tight Inc., operates 29 Bedzzz Express locations across the South.
When a customer uses Webchat to connect with them, “the person they’re connected [is] the person at the actual store location that’s closest to them. When they go into the store, the store manager can actually say, ‘Hi, I was the one texting with you earlier.’ It’s really powerful,” says Austin.
But Webchat isn’t just for multi-location businesses either. Tons of Webchat users find that it’s perfect for their small retail business, their e-commerce site, their healthcare practice, or whatever customer-facing venture they might have.
And since every conversation is directed to the Podium inbox, you can answer messages as they come and even on the go with the Podium mobile app.
Other Podium Features
Texting isn’t the future. It’s the present. Your customers are already texting—each other, their families, doctors, plumbers, and pastors. Once you see how Webchat can make it easy to gather leads from your website, you start to see all the other ways texting can change how you communicate with your customers.
For instance, with Podium’s full platform, your business gets found easier because you have more reviews than your competitors. Your website gets clicked on more often because of your improved search ranking.
From there, your new website visitor can click on Webchat and strike up a conversation about something they wish to buy. You can set up an appointment for a visit or even close the deal right there by sending a secure payment request over text. Then, once the purchase is complete, you can send a quick request for your new happy customer to leave you a review, setting the wheel in motion again.
And the conversation doesn’t end there, either—because now, every time your customer needs something new, they’ve got you in their contact list, and you have a history of that conversation to reference. It’s a two-way conversation, too, from beginning to end, so your customers can feel comfortable reaching out any time they have a question or concern, and you can respond with context.
There are so many other customer touchpoints that are made easier with Podium—your inbound messages can come from various channels, including Facebook, Instagram, and even email.
You can also easily and quickly get responses to customer surveys because it’s handled over text instead of an emailed link to a survey website. And while the magic of Podium starts with a one-to-one conversation, there’s also some powerful uses of text to run promotional campaigns to your entire contact list.
In short, almost anything you already do to contact your customers can be managed through text.
Podium Review Conclusion
For an increasing amount of people, texting is just the default mode of communication. A huge part of that is because it relieves the anxiety and inconvenience of a phone call without losing the personal touch.
Businesses who text with Webchat can speak like a person, not like a chatbot or a marketing machine. And it might seem like a lot of trust for a customer to put in a business, but we’ve found that people are happy to do it. It’s the preferred mode of communication for the majority of customers.
We’re imagining a world without phone tag and voicemail, and so far, it’s looking pretty darn good.
DISCLOSURE: Posts may contain affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links, I might get a small commission, without any extra cost to you. Read more about it here.