The Bad Chat Effect
In The Effectiveness of Live Chat 2010 research report, Bold Software asked more than 1,000 internet shoppers about their live chat experiences. Of the 539 respondents who’d participated in a live chat before, I was surprised to find that 123 of them disagreed that their most recent chat experience positively influenced their impression of the retailer. How could live chat leave a bad impression? More importantly, can live chat be damaging to a retailer’s reputation?
If, in fact, live chat could leave a bad impression — regardless of the quality of its implementation — was it at least better than not having live chat at all? Here are the results from the research data:
Respondents indicated their agreement (see figure 1) with several statements related to live chat technology.
The "Bad Chatter" group (the 123 people mentioned earlier) is far less likely to agree that chat would make them trust an unknown website. They're less likely to prefer shopping at sites with live chat, less likely to think live chat is more efficient than email and far less likely to believe live chat is better than placing a phone call. In each of the four areas, it seems that having a bad chat eliminates all the positive benefits of chat (from the consumers’ perspective). You could say that a bad chat experience is worse than not having chat at all.
We investigated the results of proactive chat as well. A proactive chat is one in which the visitor is sent a graphical invitation based on a set of business rules (pages viewed, for example). Not surprisingly, the results were similar.
On a scale of one to five (see figure 2), we asked respondents to indicate their reaction to being proactively invited to engage in live chat. A vote of one equaled, “It annoys me,” while choosing five indicated “I’m happy to know there's help available.” Receptiveness to being invited was defined as three, four or five. A little more than half of the respondents were receptive to live chat while, again, the "Bad Chatters" were less receptive than those who’d never chatted before. When we look only at the most annoyed response — those that answered with a one — we again see the effect bad chat can have.