I was recently conversing with a client who was unable to purchase a complete set of books on Amazon.com. He was extremely frustrated that the website would only suggest one book at a time, when he knew that they should be sold as a set. He eventually abandoned his session on Amazon and purchased the set elsewhere online. The injection of a live chat system may have saved the sale in this example; it may also have prevented my client from sharing this negative experience with me.
Kuno Creative published an entire article dedicated to when angry online shoppers turn to social media to vent their brand-frustrations.
To e-tailers selling is becoming less about driving lots of traffic to your website or online store and more about helping prospects buy. Many websites suffer from the “high-traffic, low-conversion conundrum” according to Fast Pivot , who gives the example of woman running a Yahoo! Store. She had only had two sales after ten thousand website visits.
Low conversion in online commerce is compounded by market saturation in a sector. Consider just how many e-commerce sites are selling shoes to women. The road to profitability for online or e-commerce businesses continues to become longer and longer. This article makes a case for implementing live chat systems as a pathway to an increased amount of onsite conversions.
A Brief Introduction to Live Chat
Live chat support is a powerful tool to initiate online communication between a brand and a consumer in real time or similarly during business to business communications online. Once the chat session has begun, a visitor can interact with a customer service representative or salesperson via text messages on the screen. The purpose is to have the brand or business address any questions or concerns of the consumer.
According to a recent survey by eDigital Research, consumers were more satisfied with live chat as a means for customer service than any other channel, including email, phone or social media. The response of these consumers suggests that they are familiar with live chat systems and that many online businesses use live chat support to connect with their customers and respond to their queries. The study suggests that consumer expectations are changing. They are no longer satisfied with intricate automated answering systems and delays when they pick up the phone. Furhermore, they expect answers to email queries quickly with less than a quarter willing to wait 24 hours for a reply from a brand. Social media is seen as an avenue for complaining more than a source for solving their problems
Live chat support systems do an excellent job of allowing you to respond to customer queries in real-time while addressing potential customer concerns before they are spread all over the internet. The Amazon example is tame when compared to the unforgiving customer criticism that we’re all familiar with.
Key Benefits of Live Chat for Businesses
While averting poor customer experiences and subsequently some bad press is important for your brand’s reputation, there are many additional benefits to live chatsystems for businesses. A survey conducted by Forrester Research reveals [pullquote]“Around 44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a Web site can offer.”[/pullquote]
LIVE CHAT SAVES MONEY – Companies that use live chat have seen an overall reduction in the cost of serving customers. Such solutions are quick to implement and a lot cheaper than other customer service alternatives like phone or email support. The interaction time is reduced as well. “Consumers are quite familiar with live chat software … those that use the Web-based functionality… are more likely to buy and less likely to abandon their sessions.”
According to the International Customer Management Institute, live chat systems save the customer time and the company money. The cost savings come from many angles.
First, the amount of customer enquiries directed at a call center are reduced with live chat systems. If these systems are managed correctly they could effectively replace an entire call center which equates to huge cost savings. With more money in your company’s pockets you’ll have a larger budget to invest in really understanding your customers.
LIVE CHAT LETS YOU LISTEN TO CUSTOMERS – In order to sell more of your products or services, it’s crucial to listen to your customers. A live chat support system makes understanding customers’ concerns and needs easier because you’ll have a written log of what is causing customer headaches that can be mined for data. The more you know about your customers, the better you’ll be able to offer them solutions.
LIVE CHAT INCREASES CONVERSIONS – By this stage you’ve saved money and you increased your understanding of what your customers want. It’s time to start converting these customers.
According to an article on Sitepoint, the top ten reasons buyers abandon their online shopping sessions are often related to confusion and complications at checkout. Confused customers may have a question that they want answered in real time. Live chat support fulfills this need of addressing questions or concerns during the sales process, thereby increasing conversions or sales.
A recent Website Magazine article discussed this benefit, saying “Consumers are quite familiar with live chat software (just under two-thirds of U.S. shoppers have used live chat — a 15 percent rise from 2009). What’s more, those that use the Web-based functionality — be it on a retail or service site — are more likely to buy and less likely to abandon their sessions. It’s also a whole heckuva lot cheaper than running a call center.” Case and point for saving money and increasing conversions.
Some Things to Keep in Mind
Live chat systems aren’t perfect but they’re effective. With all the stats listed above, a case for live chat can clearly be made, however nothing can replace a true one-to-one human experience. One of the downsides to any text message experience, whether in live chat or using a mobile device, is the possibility of miscommunication. Without tone of voice or body language, live chat may have difficulty addressing a person’s concern if the text communication isn’t completely clear.
With the recent increase in live chat praise, it isn’t surprising that companies are already improving the ways that these systems operate to help fill the communication gap.
According to a recent press release by iPerceptions, “Live assistance systems can be significantly enhanced by recognizing the intent of individual visitors and initiating chat sessions with distressed buyers or other identified user groups. This greatly increases the effectiveness and return on investment made in live assistance systems.”
This company has recently created an engine to detect onsite user intent. In the case of live chat, this engine can be used to identify the right moment to inject live chat support. Live chat systems will never replace a live customer experience but they can be enhanced to become more effective, more intelligent and more efficient.
So, when is your business adopting a live support system? Please feel free to leave a comment below.
About the Author
Jenix is a journalist who specializes in discovering and documenting digital media. She makes a living as a copy writer specializing in web content and recently began writing for her personal blog: Jenix Writes. Jenix is also a proud new mother and when she isn’t writing she’s sharing in the daily discovery of her beautiful daughter. Reach out @JenixHastings