Hop onto an ecommerce site these days, and chances are increasingly likely you’ll encounter some form of online chat for the purposes of support and sales. Some businesses even encourage the customer to contact these chat services by initiating pop-ups that urge the customer to talk to the business immediately. These online support options may initially seem appealing, but they also come at a cost. It is up to a business to determine whether a live chat function will truly be helpful to their clientele, or whether it will simply be a drain on their budget.
Statistics gathered by a 2012 study by BoldChat paint an interesting picture of the topic. Between 2009 and 2012, the instances of live chatting have grown by around 15 percent. This means, either more users are taking live chat online options, or more companies are offering them. Additionally, 31 percent of the shoppers who completed a live chat say they are more likely to complete a purchase. Further, 21 percent of shoppers stated they prefer live chat over all other communication methods. Email still beats out all communication options at 54 percent. Most users prefer chatting over calling because they get their questions answered quickly. Ninety-four percent of online shoppers say they are ‘very satisfied’ or ‘somewhat satisfied’ with their proactive live chat experience.
Live chatting appears to help bridge the gap between the traditional brick-and-mortar store and online retailers by allowing them access to sales personnel. One of the issues online retailers often have is the inability to push for sales the way a traditional store with floor staff can and the inability to engage customers in conversation. OpenForum.com states Web sites that have chats available sell more, and they have generally happier customers.
Working Within a Budget
Since live chatting provides a clear benefit to many businesses, it becomes more an issue of budget than anything else. However, live chatting also provides certain flexibility to businesses that are working on a budget. Businesses can hold live chats only during operating hours, or it can minimize live chat personnel and allow customers to wait in queue. Businesses can mix live chat personnel with email response teams, so that there is no downtime between the two groups. Live chatting can also be outsourced extremely easily, and this means that the actual hourly wages paid can be lower than a business might first believe. KISSMetrics points out businesses that do a lot of telephone interaction may actually find it saves money with a live chat room, because chat rooms are often much more affordable than telephone communication.
Have you used live chat on a business Web site? How was the experience? Let us know in the comments, and check out more ecommerce tips in our blog here. (4)
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