Published: February 20, 2013 | Comments
This article originally appeared on Jim Iyoob's blog.
Businesses and educational institutions alike have taken to the internet to build their presence and drive customers to their doors, all in an effort to bring in additional revenue in a cost-effective manner. However, many website visitors feel disconnected from help when they have questions. A phone call can involve long hold times and transfers, while email can take days for a response, with several exchanges required to reach a resolution. More and more, consumers want instant, accurate answers to their questions and concerns. Those same consumers tend to prefer to do business with someone who can provide fast, accurate answers as soon as they have questions. Live chat enabled websites allow businesses to provide quick, convenient responses in a way that also positively impact the bottom line.
I have a store, a website, a Facebook page, an 800 number, and email. Isn’t that enough?
Actually, no. In your store, you have sales and service personnel to assist the customer and make a sale.
You have people who answer the phone and email, assist the customer, and make more sales. Hopefully, you also have someone monitoring your company Facebook page responding to customer comments in order to protect your brand, help your customers and increase sales. A recent Forrester study showed a 19% increase in Average Order Value for a company offering chat-assisted sales versus the typical ecommerce transaction. So, if you have a website, wouldn’t you also want to provide a way for consumers to ask for assistance in completing a sale? You wouldn’t open a store without salespeople, would you?
It’s not really that important to MY customers, is it?
Many businesses see increased interest in chat, but believe their customers will always prefer to talk to a live person. It is important to meet with your clients where and when they want to talk with you, on the communication channel that best meets their needs of the moment. When a customer is on your website, on the cusp of a purchase decision, the ability to respond to their questions and immediately remove any barriers is crucial to your brand and your ability to make the sale while improving your customer’s overall satisfaction. According to a July 2012 study by Boldchat, two-thirds of online consumers have engaged in a live chat, up from 50% in 2009. After experiencing chat, most consumers prefer sites that have it available over those that do not. Live and proactive chat are effective tools that provide assistance with online ordering, technical support, enrollment, service, appointment setting, retail banking and much more. It’s all about providing timely and reliable customer service, increasing sales and building loyalty.
Only a few of my competitors seem to be using it, so why should I worry about it?
A recent survey by The E-tailing Group indicated 47% of online retailers surveyed were using live chat (up from 43% in 2010), and a growing portion were moving to proactive chat (21% in 2012, up from 12% in 2011).
"Someone was visiting our site and asked me to tell him what we did better than our competitors. I asked in return “Were you able to chat with any of them today online?”. He said “no :)”, signed up, and paid for our service that day. :)" – Josh Ledgard, KickoffLabs.com, 2011
I was bombarded with pop-up chat invitations on a website I visited once (and only once). I don’t want that for my website. It would anger my customers and hurt my brand.
Any company with a site with that problem today should listen closely to the voice of their customers and take action to improve their processes. A properly implemented chat tool works well for almost any brand. The key lies in preparing a plan with clearly defined goals, and using the right rules to target your invitations to the most valuable potential customers based on THEIR behavior on YOUR website. That means reviewing performance and tweaking rules to reduce intrusiveness and increase effectiveness should be an on-going part of your business processes. The immediate help provided by a well-tuned proactive chat platform and well-trained agents has proven to increase order completions by as much as 18%. This way you avoid angering your customers, reduce unprofitable communications, and meet the right customer in the right place at the right time (when they actually want your help AND are ready to spend).
From a marketing perspective, there just doesn’t seem to be any added value to spending on chat. So, what’s the point?
With chat, you have the ability to read chat transcripts in real time allowing you to gather actionable data for analyzing. Chat rules and related web analytics allow an unprecedented opportunity to gather a tremendous amount of information about your customers so that you can most effectively bend your efforts to high-value customers based on historical and current website behaviors.
I am not confident chat can really reduce abandoned shopping carts on my website.
Chat provides your online customers with an expert to talk to, right away. It allows your agent to answer customer questions and increase their comfort level to shorten the sales cycle. Your agent can do competitor comparisons and price-matching FOR the customer, allowing you the opportunity to proactively get the sale through enhanced customer care, discounts, free S&H, without allowing the customer to leave and then hoping they come back.
I’m not too sure about how to manage this. Can my phone agents do chat as well?
Yes, but it may come as no surprise that the skill sets for voice and chat agents are quite different. Rather than stretching voice agents to do double duty, it is usually better to use dedicated chat agents with the proper skills and appropriate training. You may want to start small and let the traffic dictate your growth.
I don’t have time for all this. It sounds complicated.
There are reliable contact centers who can guide you to a straightforward evaluation of your needs and the resources required to meet those needs. When researching these contact centers, ask them about their chat experience. There are centers that do specialize in chat. Find the center that can prove their chat expertise and makes you feel comfortable and you will be just fine.
It’s too expensive!
Properly deployed and executed chat strategies can actually reduce costs and increase revenue from your website. According to Forrester, proactive chat has been shown to have 105% ROI. While average handle times for chat and voice are not necessarily different, the fact that a chat agent can handle up to four chats/customers concurrently means you can reduce wait times and reduce overhead by diverting traffic from voice to chat.
Here is the bottom line. If you can do these three things, then your customers are more likely to purchase from you.
- Answer a shopper’s questions in real time
- Do their comparisons for them in real time
- Keep them on your site and satisfied
Using proactive chat to do it will not only increase your sales and customer satisfaction levels, it will save you money and give tremendous ROI, when done right. Let us help you do it right.