Monday, September 30, 2013

You Had Me at Hello

The Power of Live Chat

By Candy Parks - Director, Integrated Insight

I’m just a Mom.  And this summer, I was a Mom getting ready to send her baby off to live and go to school in New York City.  When you are a Florida girl born and bred, and have lived your entire life in Florida, there is nothing quite as overwhelming as New York real estate.  Not much intimidates me, but the challenge of finding an apartment in Manhattan did. 

After searching and haunting a multitude of web sites, I figured out that it was ludicrous to try to do this without a broker.  I reached out to friends and family and learned that there are two key brokers for the New York rental market.   Feeling desperate and stressed, I reached out to both.

One rainy Sunday afternoon, I hit both web sites.  The first was pretty standard.  I had to register and fill out a profile outlining the details of what I was looking for.  (And it took 72 hours to get a response.)  And the other site was an answer to my desperate Mother’s prayer.  Within seconds of hitting the home page of, I was greeted by a live chat pop up.  Normally, I avoid these because I’m totally put off by the scripted and sanitized messages that any robot can deliver.  True to my state of desperation, I responded.  And to my surprise, I got a response back that told me I was interacting with a ‘real’ person with a personality.  I even made a comment to that effect, and low and behold, I discovered the person on the other end had a sense of humor to boot.

I was totally engaged.  And I became a fan.  My chat partner not only sent me links to valuable resources, he also expressed empathy saying, “I know as a parent you are really concerned about the safety of your son.”  I fell in love.  Every other person I had interacted with basically said, “What you are looking for doesn’t exist.”  Suddenly, I had someone who not only understood me, but was willing to help me – and felt confident he could do so!  He said he would have someone call me.  My heart sank.  I’d been through this before.  If you aren’t buying a house in the Hamptons, most New York brokers don’t want to deal with you – especially if you are looking for a ‘cheap’ apartment.

To my surprise, I got a call within an hour.  Suffice it to say that Brian is now a member of my family.  He held my hand, reassured me, and suffered my endless e-mails as we searched for the right apartment for my son.  We found it, and we found a friend in Brian.  And Brian found a loyal client for life.  My son may be a poor college student today, but he’s a New Yorker for life.  And Brian will forever be ‘his guy’ when it comes to finding apartments, and someday, that house in the Hamptons.

And it all started with a pop up.  “Hello, how can I help you today?”  And that pop up was followed by sincere, genuine, humorous, and empathetic interactions.  There is true power in live chat.  But the key is ‘live’ - not robotic.

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