The trouble with online shopping is that many customers are disconnected from someone who can answer their questions in real time with precision. Rather than watching potential customers click away from their e-commerce sites, many businesses have been adding live chat support. As it turns out, live chat has the ability to provide the convenient answers that customers want, while also adding significant benefits to the staff and bottom line of companies.
In this post we’re going to get into why live chat can improve your business and tips on how to maximize its effectiveness.
1. Live Chat is Convenient for Customers
A study that was conducted by Forrester Research found the following:
“Many online consumers want help from a live person while they are shopping online; in fact, 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.”
An online chat system provides customers immediate access to help. Wait times are often much less than a call center, and customers can easily multi-task while waiting. Additionally, the pain of having to dial a 1-800 number and navigate through a maze of numeric options is non-existent.
An ATG Global Consumer Trend study found that 90% of customers consider live chat helpful and an emarketer.com survey found that 63% were more likely to return to a website that offers live chat. The report goes on to say:
“62% reported being more likely to purchase from the site again. A further38% of respondents said they had made their purchase due to the chat session itself. All these attitudes were even more prevalent among respondents who bought online at least weekly.”
2. Live Chat Cuts Down on Expenses
Live chat software has consistently demonstrated that it can save on both employee task time and phone expenses. Some of the most notable cost savings are:
- Live chat reduces overall contact center costs by lowering average interaction costs.
- Increases efficiency by allowing live chat representatives to handle multiple chats simultaneously, thus reducing the need to hire more representatives.
With employees spending less time on the phone, they can multi-task during chat conversations and cut the waiting queue to a fraction of its former size when compared to a call center. Not only is this a process improvement but it increases the chances of overall sales (which we’ll get into next!).
3. Live Chat Increases Sales
The general trend among users in marketing forums and on blogs is that live chat on a website can generally lead to improved sales numbers. Forbes magazine reported in a recent study:
“In 2008, Wells Fargo made a second attempt to leverage online chat to drive sales, and happily, this time the results have been crystal clear. High customer satisfaction scores and a double-digit increase in converted shoppers have shown the value once and for all of this technology.”
The key is that customers have someone who can immediately walk them through a sale if they become confused or have a question that can make or break a sale. This helps eliminate bounces away from retail websites and ensure that full shopping carts make it through check out.
Website designer Cory Miller of iThemes regularly uses Live Chat for his business, and he has noticed increased opportunities for upselling products. Once customers are engaged with an employee who can understand their needs, the employee is in a perfect position to recommend additional purchases that may be the perfect fit for that particular person.
4. Live Chat Gives You An Edge of Your Competition
A recent study by TELUS International found that many top retail businesses are not offering chat. If you want to gain an edge on the competition, live chat is a key feature that websites must have in order to be competitive and to hopefully rise to the top. In fact, live chat provides a simple way to connect with customers who spend a good deal of their money online. The report by E-Marketer found:
“Almost two in 10 live chat respondents did more than 75% of their holiday shopping online, compared with 14% of those who did not chat. A further 25% of chatters made 51% to 75% of their purchases on the Web, versus just 10% of those who did not participate in the chat service.”
The cost savings and convenience for both staff and customers makes live chat not only a viable option for businesses today, but an essential tool for any company that thrives on providing excellent customer service.
5. Live Chat Taps into Customer Pain Points
A customer’s frustration or need that has yet to be filled is called a pain point, and marketing teams mine social media and message boards for these pain points. Marketers such as Markus Allen turn these pain points into profit: “Armed with these pain points, we can either write new content (for a blog or for an article) or create benefits/advantages for our advertising.” In addition, pain points can turn into sales opportunities with customers.
Live chat provides immediate access to customers’ pain points. When customers use live chat, they’ll try to ensure that a product will perform as advertised or that a promotion will provide the discount they want. In addition, as live chat representatives talk to customers, they can find out ways to improve a company’s products and services.
Tips on Making Live Chat go the Extra Mile for Your Business
Live chat can obviously increase your business potential, but only if it’s executed correctly. Here are some important tips to ensure you make the most out of live chat software:
- Train your team! Your live chat representatives have to be extremely knowledgeable about your inventory and website navigation. Provide cheat sheets and FAQs to improve their performance and to make it easier for them to answer your customer’s questions quickly.
- Be aware of your shopping hours. If you own an online soccer shop in California, there is a chance that most of your visitors are international. Use analytics to determine when most of your visitors are using your site. Don’t assume 9 to 5 chat hours will work. If you have a problem sourcing local employees to cover off hours, consider outsourcing help using services like Odesk or Elance.
- Don’t be too robotic. The whole point of having live chat available is to provide warm, human help to a customer’s shopping experience. Having robotic greetings or responses can kill the effectiveness of live chat.
- Consider hiring people with sales experience. For the most effective use of live chat, consider using inside sales people and not just customer service representatives. People who have sales experience will more likely lead customers towards sales and increase the possibility of upselling.
- Don’t forget to boost your social. When your live chat representatives receive positive feedback from online visitors and customers, consider instructing your representatives (or sales people) to nicely remind your visitors to Like your Facebook page and leave a comment on it.
- Be prepared for surges in chat volume. Customers need to understand that they are in a queue and a representative will be with them shortly, if not immediately.
- Give your customers helpful chat features. Customers will also need to be able to modify the font size and to request a transcript of the chat.
Thankfully, all chat software websites provide live chat support, so you can test their products while you shop around.
Besides finding the right software, companies using live chat will need to provide specialized training for their employees. Live chat is different from a phone call, since all replies must be short sentences that get right to the point. Long paragraphs don’t work in live chat. There is an art to knowing when to ask a question and when to offer solutions or additional products.