5 Ways to Optimize Live Chat on Your Website
Like the old data mining gem that found people regularly purchase beer and diapers together — sometimes commonalities can be hard to see. For websites across a diverse array of product categories, live chat is a common thread of success. A recent survey my firm conducted of more than 1,000 U.S.-based online shoppers found that 56 percent of respondents said live chat positively influenced them to make a purchase.
When the data is cut by the types of retailers frequented by the sample, live chat’s influence over purchase intent is even higher. Consider the following:
- hardware/home improvement (65 percent);
- health/beauty (63 percent);
- office supplies (62 percent);
- computers/electronics (60 percent);
- flowers/gifts (60 percent);
- jewelry (59 percent);
- food/drug (59 percent);
- housewares/appliances/furnishings (58 percent); and
- sporting goods (58 percent).
Here are five tips to help any e-commerce site maximize the benefit of live chat:
- Know the demographics of your visitors. The survey results showed a link between chatters (i.e., shoppers who’ve had a live chat before) and certain characteristics. Chatters are more likely to have higher household incomes, be college-educated and older than 30.
- Put live chat in the shopping cart. Eighty-five percent of chatters indicated that they were likely to initiate a chat session if they experienced trouble during checkout. Seventy-one percent of nonchatters said the same thing. If you’ve succeeded in getting them into the cart, live chat can keep them there.
- Invite visitors to chat. Contrary to the belief that proactive chat invitations are annoying to potential customers, more than half of all survey participants were receptive to proactive chat invitations. Research also found that shoppers from the categories mentioned above were even more receptive. Sixty-three percent of jewelry shoppers were receptive to being proactively invited, for example.
- Don’t fake it. An overwhelming majority (82 percent) of respondents said that if they’re going to engage in live chat, it needs to be with a live human being, not an automated bot.
- Use incentives and on-site reminders to highlight chat availability. Respondents indicated that they’d be more willing to initiate a chat if there were special incentives (e.g., free shipping) for doing so, reminders that live chat was available (e.g., a posted 800 number) and approximate wait times on-site for each communication method.
“From my perspective, we’ve definitely benefited as a result of implementing live chat on our website four years ago,” said Osher Karnowsky, general manager of Jomashop, an online retailer of luxury goods such as watches, fine writing instruments, handbags and luxury crystal, in a Bold Software press release. “Live chat enables us to really enhance the customer shopping experience, and we’ve seen increased customer satisfaction, a higher rate of conversions and higher value orders as a result. For me, live chat is a ‘must have’ these days, not just a ‘nice to have.’”
Across all website categories, consumer-based research shows that live chat is a tool capable of driving sales and enhancing customer service.