You’ve probably seen the ‘Mayday button’ featured in the recent Amazon Kindle commercials. This highly promoted, and slightly ‘sexier,’ version of the ‘traditional’ live chat box is just one indication more consumers may be more open to accessing this form of instant customer assistance.
This isn’t to say live chat didn’t already have a loyal fan base. A 2,000-consumer survey conducted by eDigitalResearch in late 2013 showed that while the number of people using live chat is relatively small (only 24% have used it in the past year), it has the highest customer satisfaction rate versus other forms of customer service. And these consumers seek out sites with live chat; a separate 2013 study conducted by BoldChat showed that 47% of “live chat fans” are more likely to purchase from sites offering this feature.
Does Live Chat Convert?
So, I can hear you thinking…“Great, many customers like live chat, but does it actually convert?” Well, yes… both in the near-term and long-term, but in slightly different ways.
The near-term conversion value is more related to helping people get through your sales funnel more quickly. According to Forrester, 44% of online consumers said having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of a purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer.
Live conversations at such points help you provide immediate answers to objections and guide them through more complex processes. If your prospective customers get stuck and you’re not there right away to help, they are more likely to abandon their cart (if they even get that far) and move to a competitor’s site.
This is especially pertinent for B2B sites, where product or parts selection, compatability questions, technical documentation, etc. can make decisions more involved and difficult. For B2C sites, live chat can help you immediately address difficulties or last-minute questions customers may have before completing their purchase.
The longer-term conversion value of live chat lays in information you can collect about customers’ pain points.
Key areas to focus on include:
What customers didn’t understand on your site
The pages or content that confused them
What information was missing
Where they became lost in your processes
The consistent questions and objections customers express
What responses worked well to get customers to take action
You can then take this information and use it to improve your page layout, your content, site workflows and policies that will then aid how these pages convert.
Before Adding Live Chat to Your Website…
If you are contemplating adding live chat to your site, here are some things you should consider before doing so:
1. Can I staff it properly? According to eDigitalResearch, 1 in 5 users of live chat believe that they should be able to chat to an agent immediately and 64% of consumers expect to wait 1 minute or less to speak via live chat. If you can’t dedicate at least a couple of knowledgeable people to the effort, you’re better off not adding this capability to your site. Poor execution can do more damage to your reputation.
2. Start small. Starting out, you probably don’t want to add live chat on to every page of your site. Instead, consider adding it to your key conversion pages and/or the pages where you know customers have dropped off in the past.
3. Set appropriate expectations. More than likely, you won’t be able to staff live chat 24/7, so if you add this capability, make sure you communicate hours of availability on your site. Also, during available hours, make sure customers can tell if someone is available to chat and, if not, how long the wait may be.
4. Engage, but don’t annoy. If customers are having difficulty on your site, they may appreciate a proactive offer of live chat assistance. However, make sure that the offer is clearly an offer of help (it shouldn’t look like a pop-up ad) and make sure it’s easy for the customer to decline assistance.
Live chat offers many benefits, including improving conversion and providing convenient method for customers to interact with you. However, keep in mind the capabilities of your business and how you may want to implement it into your site before implementation.
Posted by Tim Holdsworth
Tim has vast experience executing B2B marketing plans in a number of industries, including manufacturing, health products, and business technologies. He manages the mechanics of our clients' inbound marketing programs, including marketing automation setup, email marketing, and digital content creation.