How live chat can boost sales on your ecommerce website

Live chat can be a wonderful tool to boost sales on your ecommerce website.

Just as you may already operate email, social media and a telephone channels to provide support, so can instant messaging via live chat become an essential part of your customer relations arsenal.

Live chat can allow you to:

  • Provide support to customers who have trouble using your website
  • Help increase your average order value
  • Help increase your conversion rate
  • Rapidly answer questions about products whilst users are still on the site and potentially avoid checkout abandonment
  • Upsell to customers to add additional related products or upgrade to premium options
  • Allow you to gather insights to help you improve your site further.

Live chat can give you an edge over your competitors.

Many users consider email to slow to get a response, and picking up the phone to much hassle. Live chat is a perfect medium. In the UK 10% and USA 20% of users indicated live chat to be their preferred communications channel according to a study on Shopify – the top reasons being speed and efficiency offered by live chat.

Live chat can also be the channel that scores highest for customer satisfaction; 92% according to Zendesk. Above other mediums ranging such as phone, email and social.

Supporting studies

Gibe recently carried out a competitor review of 30 travel websites.

Of these sites 14 already offered live chat as an option. It was noted that those that did not were generally either extremely large or very small and niche travel sites; either way providing a live chat service may have been costly.

Many of the sites without live chat (and some with) provided extensive searchable FAQs and help sections; which is a pragmatic way to encourage users to self-serve and to keep call centre operating costs lower.

Virgin Airways introduced Live Chat, and found
  • Customers who chat converted 3.5 times the rate of those who don’t
  • Customers who used chat increased their satisfaction scores
  • Average order value was increased 15%
  • The average chat agent can cover the work done by 15 agents focused on e-mails

Source: Digital Commerce 360 and Live Person

 

Live chat as a feedback mechanism

Live chat isn’t just about providing customer support; it can also be used as an effective tool to gather insight about how users interact with your website.

Smart operators will train their staff to not only support customers, but to listen and observe their behaviour to be passed the individual or team managing the website. Live chat is a great way to capture customer feedback, and to interact with those customers and explore common problems.

Live chat also allows companies to write well written FAQs; allowing customers to self-serve better without having to use live chat, phone or any other medium beyond the website to achieve their goals.

Who can provide live chat?

Gibe generally recommend Olark as our Live Chat tool of choice. 

Olark is cost-effective, reliable and offers plenty of features. The tool can be branded and if no operators are online it lets you leave a message. It’s also very quick to add to most sites.

There are other platforms out there such as Freskdesk and Moxie which offer similar features.

When live chat can detract from your sales

Live chat can have negative effects from your site if implemented badly.

We, of course, recommend your team is trained to use live chat and can provide a responsive service, otherwise it can be a negative experience for customers.

Typical pitfalls we’ve observed include:

  • A poorly trained team with no knowledge of the product reflects badly on your brand.
  • Operators are never online rendering the tool pretty pointless.
  • Operators are slow to respond and/or provide poor answers to questions causing frustration.
  • Operators don’t understand the language you’re using causing user frustration (true on any channel).
  • Operators use scripted responses and may as well be bots.
  • Chat appears within automated pop-ups saying “Can I help you?” as some users may find this too pushy and click off your website or immediately close the pop-up finding it annoying.

What about chat bots?

Users will quickly realise they aren’t talking to a real person unless you’re using a super-smart AI. 

If users realise they are talking to a machine it may be perceived as a negative experience. The advantage of chat is speed and efficiency - if the bot gives dumb answers it will cause frustration and users will wonder about your customer service – what do they need to do to talk to a real person?

That said; there are those who would suggest building a bot is the future. If a chatbot can truly replace a human and give the human user the answers they are looking for then there is, sadly for call centre staff, an obvious cost saving incentive to implement one.

Tips for training a good live chat team

  • Don’t hand it over to the work experience person.
  • Live chat should be manned by your sales team who also handle calls; they should know your product very well.
  • At a minimum, an operator should be manning live chat at the same times as your call centre is open.
  • Requests from out of hours should be responded to quickly.
  • Live chat operators should be quick and good typists.
  • They also need to be knowledgeable about web support and quirks with the website. They may be asked questions that are actually about how to use a specific browser or troubles with the UI.
  • They need to be information gatherers. A good live chat operator will know to ask the right questions to capture bugs, make observations about troubles users report with the website and pass this along to the website and/or ecommerce manager so they can prioritise evidence-based improvements to the website.

Our conclusion

If you’ve already got a sales team it won’t take much to train a couple of team members up and at least trial live chat on your website.

The evidence from many studies speaks for itself – live chat will pay dividends as long as used properly. It’s highly likely that it will soon become regarded as a corner stone of your service offering and will help set you apart, or keep up, with your competition.

More sources

Still not convinced? 

Here are just a few more articles suggesting live chat software can improve conversions, sales, be used to gather UX feedback, give an edge over competitors, avoid checkout abandonment, upsell to customers, be used to gather post-chat survey data and that users may prefer it.

About the Author

Hugh Parr-Burman, Senior Producer

Hugh is our Senior Producer with over 15 years of experience in the digital and marketing sector. He's passionate about great project delivery and loves the "big picture" view as well as getting stuck into the fine detail.