Bridging the Cross-Channel Gap With Live Chat
If visitors are interested in browsing your website, chat with them as they shop. Chat can provide real-time data on each shopper, so you can see what pages they've viewed, what page they're currently viewing, their account information, even their current shopping cart contents. Armed with context, you can quickly start a sales conversation that works or help them if they have questions. There's no better way to upsell a customer than knowing they're looking at downhill skis and reminding them to check out the new boots, bindings and poles you have in stock.
You don't need to wait for a visitor to ask you a question. Unlike phone or email, chat lets you talk immediately with visitors on your website while they're still there. Use insight from customer data to be proactive and reach out to them. I recommend waiting about 30 seconds before initiating a chat, but when you do, start with something specific so you can lead them toward a purchasing decision — e.g., "Hi there! Are you an expert skier or just starting out?"
Chat can be just like a sales conversation you would have in-store. Unlike email, chat is immediate and truly two-way, and being at a computer doesn't mean you have to act like a robot. Be friendly, personable and don't stress if you make a few mistakes typing. Above all else, have fun! You're using chat to make people happy, so enjoy the experience.
Ben Congleton is the CEO and co-founder of Olark, a live chat software provider.