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All I want for Christmas is… Live Chat?

3rd Dec 2015
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The tinsel, trees and mistletoe may seem a long way off to the average consumer; however, UK retailers across the country are toiling away in their workshops, preparing for the busiest time of the year. The rise of ecommerce during the Christmas period and the increasing influence of online sale, such as Black Friday/Cyber Monday in November, means that retailers can’t afford to hesitate when it comes to overhauling their online shopping experience.

The proliferation of mobile smart devices and retail-specific apps has led organisations to rethink the way they conduct business online. As mobile devices become more sophisticated, innovative and adaptable, we have, in turn, become a more mobile and agile society that increasingly wants to conduct transactions on the go. According to the Centre for Retail Research, mobile commerce is the fastest growing retail sector and is forecast to be responsible for 30.1 percent of online sales in Europe by 2016, and 36.5 percent in the U.S. While this comes as no surprise to most, in order to capitalise on this trend and increase conversion rates and loyalty, retailers need to think about effectively mobile optimising their site as well as all digital engagement channels, including chat, email and knowledge base across all form factors.

Specifically, one of the most effective engagement channels is real time chat. Imagine a scenario where a person is buying a Christmas present for their grandchild online, only to stumble at the checkout page because they’re not sure of the delivery date – one of the most common questions during the holiday season. Who’s going to guide them through the buying process like the in-store staff of old? With the emergence of live chat, retailers now have the ability to address these issues in real time on desktop or mobile devices. According to a Moxie study, 64 percent of UK participants expected live chat to be available on their mobile devices, and a further 76 percent claimed they would use such an offering. Additionally, 77 percent of those sampled stated that they would prefer to use live chat as opposed to speaking with a chat agent on their mobile. This further emphasises the importance of live chat to today’s m-commerce landscape.

So, how can retailers deploy live chat successfully? The assumption used to be that the shorter a communication and the smaller the amount of information delivered to a customer on mobile, the better the experience. However, as our devices have become more sophisticated, and we spend more and more time purchasing on mobile, we’re beginning to expect the same level of in-depth communications and information on our smart phone as is available on our desktops.

The best place to start is with the core of your chat offering, the messages which are automatically shared via the existing chat system. When a consumer lands on the site, depending on the closest holiday, greet them with a customised message such as “Merry Christmas! Please let us know if you require any help”. Although this may sound like a logical engagement, many don’t capitalise on the opportunity to interact with their customers in this way, giving them an opportunity to connect with the brand and build up a level of emotional investment. Similarly, prefacing proactive chat engagements with a seasonal greeting can have the same effect. Further prompts can be issued, such as “Only three days left to ensure your order arrives before Christmas Day!” This can help to create a (justified) sense of urgency, and can positively impact spontaneous spending.

Live chat is fast becoming one of the most important sales tools for online retailers, and a tool which requires intelligent planning before deployment in order to be successful. With this in mind, it should be stated that retailers must assess their online shopping experience well in advance of the Christmas period, and indeed all year round. By employing these techniques and best practices, retailers can do the same for holidays such as Black Friday/Cyber Monday, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Mother’s day and Father’s day to name a few. By improving your chat presence during holiday periods throughout the year, retailers can build a following of loyal customers with improved levels of satisfaction, which can favourably impact retailer’s all important bottom-line.

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