Does Live Chat Provide Sales or Service?
When considering live chat, many online retailers think the technology is for sales or service — but not both. Savvy e-retailers realize that these days, no clear point of distinction exists. You can't have one without the other.
In a recent survey of 1,000 U.S. internet shoppers, Bold Software discovered several data points which support the idea that the line between online sales and support is blurry.
One compelling finding came when respondents were asked about their most recent online chat interaction with a retailer. While 44 percent of respondents said they made a purchase as a direct result of being engaged in a chat interaction, 68 percent said they were highly likely to visit the site again and 77 percent said that the interaction positively influenced their attitude about the retailer. Is that sales or service? It’s both.
If perception is reality — which any marketer knows is true — then the survey’s questions about live chat’s effectiveness are equally telling. Fifty-six percent of respondents agreed that live chat was a more efficient communication method than a phone call, and 66 percent agreed that it was more efficient than sending an email. Those respondents who had engaged in live chat before answered even more convincingly. Sixty-eight percent of this group believe live chat is more efficient than a phone call, and 79 percent said it's a better way to communicate than email.
If the majority of visitors to your website feel live chat is a better way to communicate, is offering live chat a sales or service strategy? Again, it’s both.
SalesNexus, an online contact management software company, competes in a crowded marketplace along with the likes of Salesforce.com. In order to differentiate itself, SalesNexus has instituted a laser-like focus on customer support. This differentiation builds loyalty among its customer base and directly translates into new sales.
Craig Klein, CEO of SalesNexus, reports that the company was able to significantly lower average response times and customer resolution times with live chat — going from 45 minutes to 30 seconds. The data was so compelling that SalesNexus started using it as a marketing tool, publishing the details every month on its website.
Encouraging visitors to chat has paid off. Visitors who communicate via live chat are more willing to provide their name and number, as well give permission for a salesperson to contact them. Typically 20 percent of SalesNexus’ leads turn into sales, but with live chat that number has gone up to more than 50 percent.
When it comes to live chat, it’s not sales or customer service; it’s sales and customer service.
Ross Haskell is the director of marketing at Bold Software, a web communication tools provider. Ross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.