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Five reasons why you should use live chat on your ecommerce website

By Tony Hou / On Apr 07 2016

Using live chat software on your ecommerce website is a great way to take customer service to the next level. This interactive feature can help you increase sales and improve customer retention – here’s how.

1. Live chat is convenient – for both you and your customers
People love online shopping because it offers unsurpassed convenience. There’s something truly wonderful about being able to make a purchase with just the click of a few buttons. Live chat offers a way to make the online shopping experience even more convenient for your customers. If they have a question or encounter a problem, they don’t need to pick up the phone – they can simply type a few sentences in the chat box, sit back and relax.

You can either respond to messages yourself, assign this responsibility to a member of your team or outsource live chat to trained customer service representatives or ‘virtual assistants’. Whatever you decide, live chat offers more convenience for you, too. Spend less time answering phone calls and replying to emails, and instead use live chat to quickly and easily take care of customer requests as they arise.

2. Offer 24-7 support – without losing sleep
Many people shop online outside of traditional business hours. Live chat gives you the option to provide your customers with 24-7 support – without losing a wink of sleep. Whether they are shopping at 4am or 4pm, you can enjoy peace of mind that their requests will be answered in a timely manner.

Of course, to implement 24-7 live chat you’ll need to ensure you have customer service agents available to respond around the clock. This can be easily done by hiring one or several virtual assistants. VAs can work from a detailed script to provide the correct answers to your customers.

Whether 24-7 live chat is right for your business will depend on how much traffic comes to your website and at what times. Look at the data to see how many customers visit your online shop overnight, and hire VAs accordingly. You might find that your peak time is 10pm, but you receive little to no traffic between 2am and 6am. In this case, you could hire a VA to cover the busiest period and turn off live chat during the early hours of the morning. The beauty of live chat is that you can customise it to suit your customer’s online shopping habits.

3. Increase sales and minimise cart abandonment
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes for a moment. Imagine you are shopping online and you encounter a problem, or have a question about one of the products in your cart. Do you confirm the purchase regardless and hope to solve the problem later down the track (by asking for a refund, or returning the item)? Or do you leave the online shop, abandon your cart and look for another provider?

Online shoppers are often looking for instant gratification. If your shop can’t provide them with the product they need, they will look elsewhere. Live chat can be a way to ‘save’ these potential customers from leaving your site (perhaps forever!). By answering their questions promptly, you can keep them engaged and edge them closer and closer towards making a purchase.

4. Save time on admin and email – and keep your staff smiling
Live chat can save you an enormous amount of time on admin, email and customer service. No more playing phone tag trying to get hold of your customers, or waiting days for them to respond to your email. You can swiftly solve their problem at the exact moment they need your help.

Paperwork is also reduced because live chat software automatically saves a transcript of each conversation. This is emailed to both you and your customer, so you each have a copy of what happened for future reference. This reduces the need for your customer service and sales staff to take detailed notes.

In short, live chat makes providing excellent customer service easier and more effective – helping to boost staff morale and keep everyone happy.

5. Collect data about your customers
Last but definitely not least, another benefit of live chat is that it provides an opportunity for you to learn more about your customers. The amount of data live chat software generates is worth the investment alone!

You’ll acquire information such as the referring link (how the customer came to your site), which operating system or device they are using (e.g. mobile, tablet or desktop), how long they spend on your site, how many times they have visited, their location, and even whether or not they are idle (have the webpage open without moving the cursor) or are actively clicking/scrolling.

You can use the data you collect to improve the customer experience and take your marketing efforts to the next level. For example, if you find that most customers are accessing your online shop from a mobile device, perhaps there are ways that you make it more mobile-friendly? Or if the data shows that many customers visit your site from Facebook, it might be a good idea to invest more energy into your social media strategy. The more layers of data you have, the better you’ll be able to tailor your online shop to your customer’s needs.

But wait – do customers really use live chat?

You may be thinking ‘this all sounds great, but will my customers actually use live chat? Or will they still pick up the phone?’ This will depend on several factors including the demographic of your target market and the type of product you’re selling.

Research shows that millennials are more likely to use live chat, while older generations may still prefer traditional customer service channels. Our thoughts? It’s best to offer a variety of ways for your customer to get in touch with you, so you’re catering for all personality types. Think of live chat as another tool in your customer service toolbox. It’s not a magic bullet, but it will ensure you’re providing a high level of support for everyone who visits your site – and that less customers will slip through the cracks.

How to choose a live chat software

There are several live chat providers on the market, each offering slightly different features. Your web developer or ecommerce manager should be able to recommend a solution that best suits your website. Things to consider include price, hosting options, 24-7 functionality, data capture (analytics) and reporting. Here are four of our favourite live chat providers – perhaps one of these will be the right fit. 

Zopim
Owned by Zendesk, Zopim is easy-to-use, offers comprehensive reporting and data capture, and is well-suited to all budgets. There’s a free account available (with limitations), as well as several other payment plans. You can start with a 14-day free trial to see if live chat works for you.

Boldchat
Offering a suite of sophisticated features, Boldchat can be customised to suit a variety of business sizes so that it can grow with your organisation. There are three main levels: Pro, Premier and Enterprise. Start with Pro and move up the ranks as your business expands.

LivePerson
With 18,000 companies using this software (and counting!), LivePerson truly is a leader in the live chat space. They are constantly innovating and looking for ways to take live chat to the next level. Their latest innovation is offering companies the ability to message their customers through Facebook Messenger.

Olark
With the option to sign up for free, you can get started with Olark in mere minutes. One of this software’s key selling points is its simplicity; Olark does exactly what it says on the box and makes implementing live chat easy. It can be integrated with major online shopping platforms, including Shopify and Bigcommerce.

2 comments

  1. […] Provide customer support A lot of people use Twitter to ask businesses questions, or to submit feedback. This platform is therefore perfect for providing fast, friendly and informative customer support. Think of it like social media’s version of live chat. […]

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  2. […] processes in place to ensure you can answer questions any time, day or night. For example, install live chat software on your website, or hire virtual assistants across multiple time zones so there’s always someone […]

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