It’s 2018, and e-commerce is truly having a moment that is showing no signs of ending. Convenience, necessity, leisure, and the pursuit of better deals are just a handful of the factors that are attracting buyers to their devices instead of physical stores.
For companies hoping to capitalize on the changing retail landscape, it is important to have the right tools in place to deliver the customer experience that buyers want. The pressure to deliver on that customer experience — which includes the ability to communicate when, where and how customers want — is driving many companies toward live chat.
Here are seven tips for using live chat to boost e-commerce sales and deliver top-notch customer service:
Deliver a Virtual Brick-and-Mortar Experience
Brick-and-mortar experiences are all about customer service, using human interaction, recommendations and guidance to take visitors from point A, the moment they walk into the store, to point B — the moment of purchase.
This is the experience that e-commerce websites with live chat can offer their visitors. Rather than leaving their potential customers to pursue in isolation, live chat gives e-commerce vendors the chance to deliver a virtual brick-and-mortar experience to buyers across the globe.
Offering live chat on your homepage can help customers feel more welcome on your e-commerce website. It is also an effective way to begin establishing your company’s service offerings early on and set the foundations for earning your user’s trust. A quick and friendly automatic live chat greeting such as “Hello! How can I help you?” can be enough to start the conversation that turns a casual browser into a paying customer.
Increase Purchases by Tackling Perceived Risks
Whether we are browsing to buy in-store or online, every new purchase comes with perceived risks. These risks may include the following:
- Financial risk– “What if this product is a waste of money?”
- Social risk– “What if my friends/family don’t like this purchase?”
- Time risk– “What if I waste my time with this product?”
- Physical or psychological risk– “What if this product is harmful to my physical or mental well-being?”
Although perceived risks often involve the products themselves, they can also be directly influenced by the channels that a company provides for customer service and the responsiveness of those channels. By offering live chat as a customer service platform, e-commerce websites can tackle two large perceived risks: time risk and financial risk.
To many consumers, a live chat offering is a sign of a company that encourages engagement, feedback and is striving for excellent customer satisfaction. A visible (but non-intrusive) live chat button on an e-commerce webpage can alleviate what new buyers perceive as the risk of purchasing from a non-responsive company that will waste their time and do little to help should a problem arise.
Live chat can also remedy perceived risks by providing a support option outside of traditional phone support. Phone support has been around for so long and developed a reputation for frustratingly long wait times and endless transfer tag between departments. By now most users have, in one way or another, had a negative experience with this channel. As a result, rather than calling into a contact center with questions, many first-time buyers may simply opt to make a purchase with a competitor whose website is more clear, or whose service is more easily accessible.
Because live chat has less wait time and is more convenient than phone service, it has less perceived risk. As such, users are more likely to engage with live chat, making it easier for companies to convert more customers into first-time and repeat buyers.
Read More: The Great Bot Battle: Chatbots Vs Live Chat
Make E-Commerce Even More Convenient
Consumers appreciate online shopping for its accessibility. They enjoy how online shopping helps them find and compare products with minimal effort — sometimes from multiple vendors at once.
Live chat allows customers to solve problems and even make purchases from the comfort of their own homes. Like e-commerce, live chat is convenient enough to fit into any part of the user’s day: Studies show that 51% customers prefer live chat for multitasking purposes, with another 21% preferring live chat so they can shop while they work. By coupling live chat with e-commerce, companies take the effort out of something that many shoppers do in front of their TV or on their lunch break.
Use Proactive Chat to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment…
Research company Statista reports that the worldwide online shopping cart abandonment rate for 2017 was 69.23% — a number that has been steadily rising since 2014.
Luckily, live chat offers solutions to help actively combat shopping cart abandonment. Features such as visitor segmentation and proactive chat can be used to preemptively engage with visitors during key stages of their customer journey, helping e-commerce vendors boost online sales.
Visitor segmentation lets e-commerce companies divide their website visitors into different segments based on pre-defined rules. This allows them to target leads based on factors such as geographical location and browsing behavior.
Proactive chat is a type of live chat invitation that engages users directly. Rather than waiting for them to come to you, agents can reach out either manually or set automatic invites to ensure no leads are left unattended.
.…And Upsell to Customers
Proactive live chat isn’t just great for helping customers follow through with their purchase; it can also be used to upsell and cross-sell.
Live chat platforms allow companies to monitor visitors in real time, giving them access to valuable user data such as viewing history, time spent on each page and shopping cart contents. This information can be used to customize deeply personalized content and offers that fit each customers’ unique profile, providing e-commerce companies with upsell and cross-sell opportunities that are not possible through any other communication channel.
Read More: Amazon Era: When People Shop Online, They’re Most Likely to Start on Amazon
Encourage Sales Via Mobile Chat
Live chat platforms generally offer two kinds of mobile chat: agent-facing and customer-facing mobile chats.
Agent-facing mobile chat allows customer service agents to answer chats on the go and is great for small e-commerce businesses that do not have staff to handle chats during hours with lower website traffic. It also works great for flexible chat handling, such as if agents want to answer queries during a situation that brings them away from the computer.
Customer-facing mobile chat is where the real money is, with 67 percent of website traffic worldwide generated from mobile devices in 2017.
Meeting potential buyers on their preferred channels is an important part of today’s sky-high customer expectations. To meet a rising mobile demand, companies should serve customers and incentivize sales away from the computer.
.…And Through Always-Available AI
As buyers are opting to shop on their time, they also need customer support at odd hours. Fifty-one percent of consumers say that a business needs to be available 24/7. However, 24/7 availability can prove to be a huge resource drain for many e-commerce companies.
As AI technology continues to advance, many companies are opting to use live chat not only to connect their visitors with agents, but also for their chatbot offerings. Chatbots can help businesses engage with their customers 24 hours a day, while annually costing as little as the price of keeping a single live chat agent.
Effective chatbots may serve as an advanced knowledge base, helping visitors answer simple e-commerce queries such as questions about shipping costs and delivery times. This can help buyers clear away purchasing doubts even without a customer service agent present. Chatbots can also be used for marketing purposes and drive revenue over time.
For e-commerce businesses, 2018 is only the beginning. Companies are only just starting to scratch the surface of the new technologies that will assist in converting passive website visitors into repeat customers.