Podium Releases Webchat, Allows Local Businesses to Engage Customers Online Via Text

Local businesses can now interact more meaningfully with customers through text, converting online interactions into in-person visits more easily

Podium, the leading customer communication platform for local businesses, today announced the launch of Podium Webchat, a new service that enables businesses to convert website visitors into customers by taking the conversation offline to a more convenient channel: text message. Empowering consumers to text a business from its own website allows both the consumer and the business flexibility to respond, helping initiate offline, in-person interactions.

Eric Rea
Eric Rea

Current live chat tools were largely built for online retailers and aren’t optimized for local businesses. Podium built Webchat with local businesses and their consumers specifically in mind, providing benefits for both. With the new product, businesses are able to more easily capture contact information of leads visiting their site and manage all inbound communication channels from one central location. Both customers and business owners will be able to take their online conversations on the go, giving each the flexibility they want.

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“By introducing this new feature to our platform we are offering local businesses the opportunity to interact with customers in a way that fosters stronger relationships across the board,” said Eric Rea, co-founder and CEO at Podium. “We’ve found that many consumers prefer having the option to communicate with businesses via text. With Webchat, businesses can talk with their customers in a way that’s more convenient for both parties, which drives brand affinity and loyalty.”

Maintaining staff size while offering a better customer experience was one of the main goals in developing Webchat for local businesses. The platform eliminates the need to hire a dedicated staff for live chat interactions since neither the consumer or business owner needs to be online in order to communicate with one another. Instead, consumers can share their information with businesses so both parties can continue the conversation on a channel that’s more convenient for them, such as Facebook Messenger or text messaging. Not only is this a more accommodating option, but it offers visitors on the web the ability to converse directly with the source instead of depending on third-party chat operators to answer their questions and concerns.

Podium Webchat’s user-friendly interface allows business owners to easily manage and respond to all web-chats from a single dashboard, consolidating SMS/text, Google Business Messaging and Facebook Messenger conversations into one place: Podium Inbox. This gives businesses a simple platform through which they can more easily facilitate multiple channels of communication with potential customers.

Podium Webchat has already seen great success in its initial beta phase. Across the companies participating in the beta group, inbound customer communication was increased ten times using Webchat over their previous online interaction solutions. These interactions were combinations of new sales leads, customer service requests and other transaction related conversations.

“Podium, especially Webchat, has foundationally changed the way we communicate with our customers,” said Cedric Volk, General Manager of On Call Event Rentals. “As a local business, it has been difficult to find an online interaction tool that was built specifically for our needs. Podium’s Webchat has enabled us to convert on interactions that were impossible for us to capture previously and has created an entirely new channel to create business.”

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