Live chat is without doubt an increasingly popular communication channel. In November 2013, eDigitalResearch asked 2,000 nationally representative consumers to rate their recent experiences across different touch points and about their customer service expectations. Despite the fact that only 24% said they had used live chat in the past year, their conclusion was that this touch point has the highest satisfaction levels. High satisfaction rates suggest that customers will return to use the channel and that global use of live chat will increase. 30% of respondents already expect to find live chat on a website. Online buyers like using live chat because they can get their issue sorted there and then, without having too much direct involvement with customer service.
Online customers who have had a positive experience on your website are more likely to return and spread the news, an undeniable advantage for your business. But the financial benefits of live chat are also more tangible and immediate. For ecommerce companies who invest in real-time customer service, it is only natural that they expect a return on that investment. They are not only using live chat to improve online customer satisfaction but also to increase average basket value and conversion rates.
Let’s take the example of a visitor who wants to buy a laptop computer online. The visitor has been looking at the product description of one particular laptop but can’t find the information he needs about whether he can get an AZERTY keyboard instead of a QWERTY. He’s looked at all the information about the product as well as the FAQs but can’t find what he is looking for. He could send an email or pick up the phone but doesn’t have the time or patience to wait. He really likes this computer but doesn’t want to buy a QWERTY keyboard... He’s been looking at the product description for two minutes. He could always just leave the website and go into a shop instead ... when a chat button appears on his screen: “Hello, I’m John, your customer support agent, is there any extra information you need about this product?” The live chat channel appears at exactly the right time, giving the information needed and thereby preventing the visitor from abandoning the website. With a well-trained customer support agent, the sale will be completed and the visitor will leave the website satisfied with his purchase and impressed with the customer service he received.
This is an example of how live chat can be used to increase conversion rates. Although embedding a live chat button on your Contact Us page will improve customer experience by providing a communication channel which 30% of online buyers now expect, it is unlikely to have a significant impact on your website turnover. This is why you need to combine this passive approach with a more strategic, proactive one: behavioural targeting. Defining a behavioural targeting strategy will enable you to connect via live chat with the visitors you really can’t afford to lose.
The behavioural targeting rules you define will vary depending on your sector, website traffic, visitor journey, etc. You will base these rules on how long a visitor has been on a page, on their basket value, the idea being that the more you have confirmed the visitor’s interest in a product, the more your chat interaction is likely to result in a purchase. Exactly like in a high street shop, shop assistants wouldn’t offer help to a shopper who has just walked in. It’s important to give your visitor the time and space they need before you offer help. Your job is to intervene to give them that key piece of information they need to make their mind up. This is the principle of behavioural targeting. By connecting with visitors who have a high basket value and who need help at the checkout stage, you will optimise your use of live chat, reduce basket abandonment and thereby increase your conversion rate.
Adamence, an online luxury jewellery shop implemented live chat on its website to improve the quality of its online customer service and to increase its website conversion rate. As a consequence of implementing a behavioural targeting strategy, the conversion rate was multiplied by 15 when visitors received real-time support via live chat.
To monitor the impact of your live chat solution on basket abandonment and conversion rates, you need the appropriate tracking and reporting tools. With some live chat tools, you can insert a conversion tag on your website which enables you to track conversion rates and turnover. The reports will gather this data to give a comprehensive overview, in real-time and over any time period, of how live chat has impacted the global turnover of your website. You can also see the conversion rate and turnover for each live chat agent. As team manager, this will help you set objectives in terms of sales as well as customer satisfaction.
Here are four tips to transform your live chat tool into a sales tool!
Miranda Hobbs is UK communication manager at iAdvize.