(Last Updated On: June 1, 2018)

Five Ways Chat for E-Commerce Increases Conversions

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If you’ve been online shopping lately, you’ve likely noticed that many e-commerce websites have installed a chat function directly on their website. Website chat often lives in the lower right-hand corner of a web page, sometimes with a photo of a friendly chat agent or perhaps a company logo. There is usually an inviting welcome message waiting for you that says something like, “What can we help you with today?”. This is evidence of a rising trend in marketing and sales strategy for business: live website chat. Whether your e-commerce site sells car parts, art supplies, or digital content, live chat has something to offer every online business because it’s about reaching out to customers and, perhaps more importantly, making yourself available to them at the precise time they need assistance.

Why Customers Prefer Live Chat

If you’re wondering why live chat has suddenly gained popularity, think about it for a moment from a customer’s point of view. They have something they want to say to the company whether it’s a question, complaint, or confirmation about their online order. Under normal circumstances, they have to hunt down your business’s contact information, send an email to your team, and hope that a member of your customer service team gets back to them some time in the next three days. With live chat, the contact method is visible directly on the screen and customers know they will be answered promptly rather than waiting for hours (or maybe even days) for a response. So how does this lead to increased conversion rates and revenue for your e-commerce shop? Let’s break it down:

1) Chat Decreases Response Times

If there’s one undeniable truth about shopping it’s that most customers will have at least one or two questions arise while they contemplate a potential purchase. While they don’t always ask these questions, indecision is one of the primary causes of e-commerce cart abandonment or even of customers completely changing their minds. In fact, a 2017 study found that the average online shopping cart abandonment rate hovers around 70%.

So, why don’t online consumers ask questions while online shopping? Because there’s always some kind of obstacle. In stores, it takes time and effort to locate and approach an associate (and then wait for the associate to finish helping other customers). When online shopping, traditionally customers would send an email and wait for a response or would need to directly call the business and navigate a frustrating phone tree. In today’s culture of instant gratification and fleeting attention spans, customers prefer to not ask their question at all than wade through these time-consuming actions.

Live chat for e-commerce websites changes all of this.

When you have a seamless, on-brand chat option integrated into your e-commerce site, potential customers can ask any question they want from any page on the site. They can ask about the material of a product, the back-order time on an out-of-stock product, or the gift wrapping options for a special purchase. Getting the answers to these questions promptly through the chat interface will help them make a decision immediately while they’re still in the buying mindset and leads to increased purchase rates.

2) Provide Guided Shopping Experiences

In the fanciest brick-and-mortar shops, associates are often assigned to help a specific customer explore the selection and choose the perfect purchase for their needs. With live chat, you can bring back this concierge service by incorporating an online form for a guided shopping experience. This additional information from the customer gives sales agents a chance to guide a customer through the e-commerce sales funnel with a consultative approach.

It also helps agents upsell tailored package deals that better meet each client’s needs, and lets agents direct clients to exactly the product they’re looking for rather than similar variations.

These elevated, guided experiences ensure that customers have the best possible experience during the purchasing process and will make them more likely to leave a positive review about your services at the end. The best part is that customers who desire a guided online shopping experience have the freedom to start the interaction themselves by initiating the conversation directly from your website. Businesses can also implement proactive chat to automatically reach out to site visitors with targeted questions based on advanced criteria. The flexibility of chat ensures a positive experience for all types of online shoppers.

3) Take Customer Orders

Your chat associates aren’t just there to answer questions and help customers choose products, they can also input orders for a customer while they chat. Through live chat, your e-commerce business acquires a new kind of flexibility and concierge service that it’s never had before, like the ability to take orders for the customer based on one-on-one conversation rather than requiring the customer to go through the usual page-by-page online shopping experience.

You can even help customers make customized orders that wouldn’t normally be possible through the standard interface like bundling items, ordering a back-ordered product, or setting up expedited shipping for rush orders. Special gift wrapping requests, unusual delivery instructions, even customized discounts can be registered by the associate rather than relying on your standard website interface alone. This allows you to meet the customer’s needs and keep their business, rather than seeing them leave to shop with a competitor.

4) Provide a Pre-Purchase Consultation for Services

Many companies offer services that either require or are improved by a pre-purchase consultation with the client. From appliance installation to financial services, a customer will need to explain their situation, choose a service, and get a preliminary quote before they can even begin to convert.

Instant live chat communication means that customers no longer have to request a consultation and wait for a confirmation (which gives them time to explore other options and even change their mind). Instead, you can turn an interested customer into a highly qualified lead immediately with a chat conversation, getting them quickly lined up for a future purchase.

5) Avoid Negative Reviews with Quality Customer Service

Sometimes customers don’t see the best side of your business and often they are upset when your e-commerce platform or shipping partner lets them down. Being sold out of a favorite item or, worse, having a website outage as visitors try to complete a transaction are recipes for poor reviews. Needless to say, a poor reputation for service is highly damaging to any business (online or otherwise).

However, with chat messaging available, unhappy customers have an avenue to alert the company of any problems they encounter immediately so that your team can quickly resolve the issue. When problems are brought to your live chat associates, they have the opportunity to acknowledge and apologize for the situation, create practical solutions, and turn an unhappy customer into a satisfied one. This type of quick, empathetic reaction to negative client experiences makes it less likely that the client will be left with negative feelings about your business later on.

Live chat may seem simple to new adopters, but once in place, it becomes a powerful, advanced tool for your overarching customer engagement strategy. Through live chat, you can respond to customers in critical moments where they decide whether or not to buy from your site. Offering chat ensures that questions and concerns don’t trip up clients on their path to conversion. With every question and concern you can address with fast, helpful live chat responses, you can ensure that one more lead becomes another satisfied customer.