How to Choose Your Target Market – When Starting a Messaging Contact Center

 In Chat Center Startup

When launching your live chat service, your decision on which clients to take on is an important one. But, there are a few questions that you need to ask yourself before all else. Are you going after sales, service or both? Are you focused on a niche market or a more generalized clientele? And finally, is your expertise focused on B2B or B2C?

But, before we start making choices, it’s important to consider the cost of live chat. Live chat, because of its need for an actual human, is quite expensive. Of course, this is relative. It isn’t necessarily more expensive than outsourcing calls, but it’s still costlier than an FAQ page. Selling a book, for example, via chat technology may not be a viable business, but selling an apartment could fare much better.

So look for a niche with a relatively large transaction value or a high lifetime value. Selling a house or car is an example of the former; selling a mortgage or annuity, the latter. Both are viable options, but you need to understand your clients’ business goals and models.

Sales and/or service?

What resonates with you? Are you the making-customers-happy type. Or do you feel satisfied when the deal is closed? This might be a good indicator of where you want to go.

Consider this: Sales involves revenue. Do you enjoy collaborating with sales managers and marketing directors?

Service, on the other hand, involves cost. It’s important to understand that the service manager will have a hard time explaining why another costly customer channel needs to be added. They also feel less pressured by time than the sales team since they start from scratch month to month.

Finally, service typically requires access to back-end systems, adding complexity to your already complex startup. Later on this might be what you want because integrating your clients’ business processes could also be a barrier to switching, but in the beginning, it could make things difficult.

You will either be measured for your contribution in generating sales leads or customer happiness. Are you starting to see a pattern here? In a way, the choice makes itself. At the beginning, I would recommend focussing on sales.

Niche or generalist?

When you are bootstrapping to get your business going, it is tempting to spread the risks by taking on different clients. But none of the generalist chat centers, i know, have scaled as fast as the focused ones. Restraining yourself has many advantages. It’s important to focus on one niche and one niche only.

Over time, you will build a reputation in that specific industry and profit from your detailed expertise. Then, focus on your portfolio. It displays your success and lowers entrance barriers for potential clients. Showing the prosperity of your clientele is never a bad thing. It builds credibility in your corner of the industry, and it makes interested parties feel confident in your work and reputation.

Choosing a niche also has operational benefits. Having many clients in the same industry will improve your agents’ performance while relieving pressure on your training efforts.

B2B or B2C?

B2C is a highly logical choice for one simple reason – B2C companies tend to have more website visitors because there are more consumers than businesses. Of course, this largely depends on the size of your geographical market. In the U.S., B2B potential may be large enough to thrive. But in Switzerland – no chance.

The key thing to remember here is that website visitors directly correlate to the chats you will be handling. So you should always strive for big numbers.

What’s your niche?

We started in the realty business. After two years solely focused on real estate, we entered the automotive industry, which has been a real catalyst. The point being, we spent two years and all of our energy hyper-focused on one industry. And when the time was right, we expanded to great success. It’s important to stay focused. So to help get the ball rolling, we’ll leave you with a few examples of both high transaction and high live time value niches that have great startup potential.

High transaction value

  • Realtors
  • Apartment sales
  • Lawyers and notaries
  • Auto dealers and vehicle OEMs
  • Boating
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Ophthalmology
  • Kitchen and bathrooms
  • Contractors

High live time value

  • Mortgage (regulated)
  • Insurance (regulated)
  • Dentists and Orthodontists
  • Leasing and Financing