Live Chats can be a great value-add for your members. Use them to introduce your moderators, provide more information about your brand, share exclusive details about a new product, or invite a guest speaker to present relevant information to your membership. These are the more common instances but the possibilities and topics are limitless.
Getting members to show up and participate may seem overwhelming. We recommend following the steps and tips below to help streamline the process of planning and executing a successful live chat.
Step 1: Create a Scheduling Poll
Create a Scheduling Survey "Poll" (see sample questions) to determine which dates and times work for the most members and schedule accordingly. Screener questions should also be included to identify eligible members.
Remember to specify time zones (ie. 10am PT/1pm ET – 11am PT/4pm ET).
Sample Availability Poll
- Are you interested in participating in a 1-hour live chat session about a new product being developed? Members that are selected to participate will receive 1000 points in appreciation for their time and effort.
- No [TERM]
- Which of the following times will you be able to attend an online live chat? Please select all that apply.
- [insert times here]
- I am not available at any of these times
Thanks! We will be sending emails to members that have been selected for this opportunity. Please note that space is limited and not all members will be able to participate. There will be many other exciting live chat opportunities in the future!
Please click the arrow to complete the survey.
Step 2: Schedule/Plan a Live Chat
- The ideal length of time for a live chat is between 30 minutes to 1 hour. Anything longer could lead to member fatigue and drop-off during the session.
- When thinking about the ideal day of the week and time to maximize attendance, we highly recommend setting up a login poll asking members what days and times work best for them to attend a live chat. Remember to specify time zones with your dates and times in the invite polls.
- Once you have the date of your live chat set, we recommend announcing it two weeks in advance so that members have plenty of time to RSVP and add it to their calendars.
- In the Live Chat activity card and any related emails, be sure to include a description of the chat topic, the time commitment, the number of open spots, and the incentive (if any). Remind members that the chat is only available on desktops. Also, include web specs such as a recommended browser/version.
- Limit the maximum number of participants to 15 for optimal engagement. Make sure that the members are aware that space is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis. About 50% of members who RSVP attend the live chat. We recommend overrecruiting to account for no-shows
The Fuel Cycle platform will send a series of automated email reminders to any members who RSVP to a Live Chat session with a "Yes" or "Maybe" at the following times:
- 24 hours before the Live Chat's scheduled start time.
- 1 hour before the Live Chat's scheduled start time.
To pull the list of those members who have RSVP’d to the live chat follow these steps:
- From the Main Menu, select the Activities > Live Chats tab.
- Find the live chat and click on the Actions menu on the right.
- Click on Export RSVP.
Step 2: Create a Script
Your live chat script should include an introduction to the topics being discussed, technical how-to’s for the Live Chat, and all specific/probing questions desired.
Live Chats are comprised of Steps. Steps are like chapters in a book, and each step corresponds to a chat topic or prompt. There is a minimum of one step and no maximum. However, you should be aware of the target length of the chat when planning out steps.
We recommend always starting with a “Welcome” step to greet members as they come in followed by a “How Does this Work?” step with participation instructions. We also recommend ending with a “Thank You” step during which the moderator thanks them for their participation, lets them know when incentives (if any) will be distributed, etc.
Sample Live Chat Introductory Text
STEP ONE: Set Up – (5 minutes before live chat)
MODERATOR: Welcome everyone! As you know, I’m your Moderator ____, and today we are going to discuss some new product concepts being developed.
MODERATOR: To get you familiar with the system, and give us a few more minutes while the others join, please type in the box and tell us your name and what you like the most about this community.
[Pause for member response & greet as they come in]
STEP TWO: Greeting & Intro to How the Chat Will Work (5 minutes)
MODERATOR: Welcome everyone! As I said before, I am your Moderator ____, and today we are going to discuss some new product concepts being developed.
MODERATOR: You will see a handful of prompts on the left side of the screen (where the “How does this work?” text is displayed now), which will be followed up with questions from me on the right.
MODERATOR: Feel free to type a question or a comment as it arises. Remember to click “submit” or press enter for your comment to show.
MODERATOR: If you experience any technical issues, we advise you to refresh your screen. If the issue persists, please let us know.
MODERATOR: This Live Chat should last approximately one hour. We will be awarding bonus points for your full participation in every question and prompt we pose.
Step 3: Test the Live Chat
- After the script is finalized, program the Live Chat. Test the Live Chat at least a day before your scheduled launch time.
- To test the Live Chat, click the “Start Demo” button.
- Any comments posted in the demo session will not appear in the actual chat once you go live, so you can test this space as much as you’d like.
- Once you’ve tested, the moderator who started the demo must click the “End Session” button within the demo. This step is very important. You will not be able to launch the actual live chat until you end the demo session.
Reminder: This must be done by the moderator who started the demo in the first place since they technically own the session.
Step 4: Moderate the Live Chat
After the Live Chat is tested and the demo is closed, you’re ready to launch the chat.
The moderator of the Live Chat must be the one to start the Live Chat.
- To start the Live Chat, the moderator must log in directly to the member side from the member-facing login page.
- If you route to the member side by logging into your moderator account from the admin side (using the “Launch Community” button), your session will automatically time out after 45 minutes (it will log you out of the community) and all members will be kicked out of the chat.
- If this happens, you can re-join the chat quickly and members can get back in.
Only the moderator of the Live Chat should click the Start Live Chat button. If you are not the moderator, it is imperative that you do not click the Start Live Chat button.
- Once the Live Chat begins, you will see the Join Live Chat button. Please click this option to enter the Live Chat
- When the live chat begins, the moderator should post a quick set of instructions explaining how the live chat works and how members can participate. From there, the live chat usually begins with a Welcome Message promoting members to quickly introduce themselves to each other. This will get members familiar with typing in the chat box and allow everyone to get acquainted so they feel comfortable sharing their answers with the group. The moderators should introduce themselves first to break the ice for other members to participate.
- If you are having polls in your live chat, it is also recommended to have a practice poll at the very beginning as well, so members can practice answering the question in the live chat window.
- It is highly recommended to have a live chat script in a Word document open in another window so you can easily copy/paste the text into the chat box to save time. Since things happen quickly during a live chat, having pre-written messages (such as the welcome message, instructions, closing, etc.) readily available to post in the live chat will be very helpful for you to have on hand.
Step 5: End the Live Chat and Provide a Transcript
At the end of the chat, let members know there are only a few minutes left and thank them for their time. We recommend keeping the chat open for a few minutes past the official end time to allow for any final member comments.
When members have left the chat, click End Chat to end the session. To download transcripts, go back to the Live Chat activity card and select Export from the drop-down. The raw data file will include the following:
- Chat overview (number of participants, etc.),
- Transcripts (organized by step in chronological order)
- Members (member profile information).
Live Chat content will fail under the following circumstances...
- Live Chat is not properly closed. To properly close, the Live Chat moderator needs to click ‘End Session’ inside of the Live Chat and NOT the ‘Close’ button in admin.
- Pulling data from a demo session and not a real session.
Transcripts can be delivered on the day of a Live Chat.