The Value of Integrating Live Chat Into Your E-Commerce Site
Congratulations. Your marketing dollars are paying off and you're getting a high volume of traffic to your e-commerce site. That's certainly no easy task in today's internet retailing landscape.
However, we all know that driving traffic to an e-commerce site is only the first step. The bigger challenge is converting visitors into paying customers. This is where the concept of next generation customer service comes into play.
Although the customer service landscape has shifted over the past several years, the core tenet of keeping customers happy will never change. In the e-commerce sector, creating thoughtful online experiences for visitors will always increase conversion rates, attract repeat visits and generate long-term brand loyalty.
One of the best ways to achieve this is through live chat, which offers a simple, cost-effective way to humanize the user experience on your website. With the push of a keystroke, visitors have access to immediate assistance. Not only does this improve overall satisfaction levels, but it also allows businesses to see significant reductions in call-center overhead.
Prior to the advent of live chat applications, shoppers could either call or email for support. Email's typically slow response time often causes shoppers to abandon a purchase and move onto a competitor's website. However, with a live chat software solution, customer support staffs can more easily multitask and even handle more than one customer at a time. As a result, waiting queues drop to a fraction of their former time, and shoppers' needs are addressed in near real time.
In addition, once a visitor is engaged via live chat, customer service representatives (CSRs) can easily make upsell recommendations based on the items in the shopper's cart.
Although there are many effective features of live chat, there's one often-overlooked strategy that has far-reaching benefits: proactive chat. Much like a sales representative in a brick-and-mortar store asking shoppers if they need help when they walk into the store, with proactive chat the same can be done in the e-commerce world.
High shopping cart abandonment rates are a plague for online retailers. By initiating automated chat invitations with prospects based on specific predefined rules or by reaching out and offering proactive assistance, agents are able to retain a visitor on the website and help close a sale.
With proactive chat, organizations can launch a conversation with a customer when they're highly active on the site (e.g., purchasing multiple items) or, conversely, when they're idle. Along these lines, live chat applications can automatically be triggered to engage the unengaged shopper, who may have other tabs open in their browser. CSRs can also have pre-written scripts on hand when launching these proactive chats that address shipping, pricing and other issues that hinder sales conversions.
While many retailers make the investment in live chat software, they often lack the tools and training to leverage it fully. Simply put, they purchase the software and it ends up sitting on a shelf.
With the right application and guidance from a knowledgeable source on how to use it, live chat can go a long way to increasing a company's customer satisfaction and, ultimately, revenue. In fact, according to Forrester Research, 44 percent 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 website can offer.
Investing in the right search engine optimization and online marketing strategies to drive traffic to your website is the right first step. It takes a tremendous amount of resources to reach consumers who are qualified leads. Likewise, without proper conversion optimization, once they arrive on your site it's all too easy to lose them to a competitor or to other social sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Live chat software, when used effectively, is a simple solution that can go a long way in growing brand loyalty and enhancing sales conversions.
Jeff Mason is the vice president of marketing for Velaro, a provider of live chat software.