Although live chat technology has been available for decades, we are still at the front end of its adoption. Over the next few years availability of chat in online stores and customer service pages – and its utilization rate by site visitors – is expected to increase dramatically. In a 2015 report, Gartner predicted that live chat would increase in significance as a customer engagement channel from 2% to 10% of all interactions.
Three factors that are driving the increase in availability and utilization of online chat:
1. Customers want live chat
Smart businesses know the value of providing customers the channel of communication they want. Requiring online visitors to contact a business by phone for sales questions or service needs would be akin to asking bricks-and-mortar visitors to phone a service rep outside the store for help. According to “Making Proactive Chat Work
” from Garner, 44% of online consumers say that offering online chat is one of the best services a site can offer. Whether for sales or customer service, providing online chat gives your customers communication options within their channel of choice.
2. Live chat drives down costs
Because chat provides better customer intelligence, canned responses and the ability to manage multiple concurrent interactions, online sales reps and service teams can handle inquiries more efficiently. More advanced features like customer surveys, intelligent inquiry routing and chat campaign logs give management the tools and data they need to improve response times and satisfaction rates without increasing their overhead. Companies like Scandinavian Airlines
have found that chat allowed service reps to double the number of inquiries they managed without a dip in customer satisfaction.
3. Live chat propels sales
The availability of live chat on your website does more than meet your visitors’ expectations. Live chat improves site conversion rates and average order values
. When deployed correctly in your online shop’s checkout area, chat can significantly decrease cart abandonment rates. While static chat provides some benefits to sales, a well-planned proactive chat strategy can have a stronger impact. When coupled with data from analytics, the internal reporting in advanced online chat solutions can help you pinpoint key moments in the online shopping experience – ensuring that you are engaging customers at key inflection points.
In providing a desired channel of communication, improving the efficiency of service teams and increasing online sales, live chat has become more than a “nice-to-have” for online sales and service. With the expected increase in utilization, chat is a necessity for most websites. Your success in adding chat to your site hinges largely on the technology partner you choose and their ability to guide you through the process of planning, deploying and adjusting your campaigns. With the right tools and guidance, you can quickly realize the benefits of adding chat to your site.
Greg Griffiths is the Director of Marketing & Digital Strategy at Netop makers of Netop Live Guide online audio, video and text chat.