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Outside Chicago: Cold Hands,Warm Hearts

My wife just texted as she was boarding a plane bound for Chicago.  It’s only going to be 16 degrees in Chicago today – brrrrr; I shivered and started thinking about the windy city.  I was reminded of a visit to one of our customers - Abt Electronics – located just outside Chicago, in Glenview, Illinois. 

Abt Electronics was founded in 1936 and today is the largest single-store consumer electronics and appliance retailer in the country. The physical space is remarkably large, located on 37 total acres. The store is over 350,000 square feet with an 87,000 square foot showroom. The store includes an 8,000 pound fish tank and a centrally-located fountain. Inside the walls of Abt Electronics are over 12,000 individual products accompanied by a sales and support staff with detailed knowledge of all of them. The staff, trained to put customers first, is the real key to Abt's consistent success.

Abt Electronics has a long history of passionate dedication to superior customer service. Throughout the walls of their massive single-store location in the Chicago suburbs, hang signs with the company's mantra – "The answer is yes to any reasonable request." Abt.com – launched in 1998 was founded under the same principle. The idea of live chat technology was immediately attractive to Jon Abt, the firm's Co-President. The ability to connect with website visitors in real-time seemed a natural extension for a company renowned for personalized care from knowledgeable staff.

Empowering Excellence

While the team at Abt.com wanted the fastest possible implementation, the focus was squarely on quality. "We've been around since the 1930's so we needed to do this well, not just quickly," commented Jon Abt. The primary goals of the deployment were to maintain a consistent brand experience and empower agents to deliver superlative assistance.

Abt.com customized both the chat window and button in order to align the website visitor's visual experience with the company's brand standards. In line with the company's culture of friendly service, the option to chat appears on every Abt.com page and, in some cases, in multiple places on a single page. The use of a pre-chat form allows Abt.com to personalize the interaction by addressing the customer by name, and preemptively being able to offer answers to initial questions. The end result is Abt's complete control over the entire communication channel ensuring an excellent experience for the chatter.

Abt opted for an open queuing mechanism which enables the peak workforce of about 50 agents to pick and choose from among incoming chats based on their areas of expertise. Home theatre specialists can respond to 3D HDTV questions while someone else can take a car audio inquiry. In either case, Abt strives to respond to all chats within 10 seconds of initiation by the visitor.

Optimizing on speed of answer is just one way to ensure that the visitor exits the communication with a positive impression. Abt.com also uses a post-chat survey to gather quantitative data about the interactions.

Results by the Numbers

Besides increased employee morale and maintaining the company's long history of customer delight, BoldChat software helped Abt.com to achieve impressive and measurable results. Our proprietary live chat benchmarking data says that chatters are 4 times more likely to buy than a regular website visitor. Shoppers on Abt.com, however, convert at 20 times the rate of their normal visitor.

Overall, the company has seen a 20 percent lift in sales since their implementation of live chat. Not only that, but 25 percent of chatters are up-sold to higher end products or to additional merchandise. While the technology enables the interactions, Abt.com's live chat personnel are certainly responsible for those kinds of results. Using the BoldChat reporting engine, management is able to track and incentivize employees who convert and up-sell through chat. The company has seen a 20 percent increase in average order value among sales closed via chat.

Training expenses have been reduced because of the intuitive nature of the BoldChat interface and, based on the cost of the live chat licenses purchased from LogMeIn, Inc., the company has recognized a 700 percent ROI.

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