Here’s Why Your Online Store Really Needs to Offer Live Chat

Live chat is the quickest way to engage with your customers and deliver them a better experience with your online store. Here's why you need to offer it.

With the ever-expanding amount of content online, it’s no wonder why consumer attention spans have shortened so drastically over the past decade.

This affects online retailers especially.

That’s because as an online retailer, you’re not only trying to capture the attention of prospective customers with your marketing materials, but you’re also trying to appease them and keep them interested in your ecommerce site. That’s why your online store really needs to offer live chat. It’s the quickest way to engage with consumers and hold their attention while they’re online.

Live chat is no longer an added perk—it’s a necessity if you want to provide the best experience for online shoppers. Let me explain why.

Communication has been shifting toward digital channels and consumer needs have changed. Put those two facts together and now you see why more than 30% of consumers expect your site to offer live chat features.

Adding live chat is a no-brainer. Last year, only an estimated 9% of online stores were using live chat, so it’s an easy way to get ahead of the competition. But that’s not the only benefit of using the tool.

Read on for all the advantages of using live chat on your online store.

Customers Prefer Live Chat

Since its introduction in the 1970s, live chat has been rapidly gaining popularity and is now the top digital communication method between consumers and businesses. Customers would much rather chat online than spend their precious time on hold with a call center waiting to resolve an issue or ask a question. Even email doesn’t hold the same appeal, likely because it requires more patience (and a longer attention span) than live chat.

As J.D. Power found, live chat is nearly twice as popular as email. Social media unsurprisingly ranked last, but e-tailers should still use the platforms for customer engagement. There are many opportunities in each of these communication methods, but know that customers want the option to message back and forth with a real human while visiting your website.

Real-Time Customer Service

A major advantage of live chat, both for e-tailers and for consumers, is its immediacy. That’s why 79% of respondents answered that they prefer it to other channels for customer support purposes. The average response time for live chat is two minutes (compare that to 12 hours for email and 10 hours for social media). Why wouldn’t someone want an answer as quickly as possible? This is especially true in a delicate situation like an incorrect order or other error that has left the customer upset.

Offering live chat will already earn you points from prospective customers, but responding quickly is the key. As mentioned earlier, customers hate waiting, and live chat can cut down wait times by streamlining customer service for faster query processing, as well as letting you answer six or more consumers at the same time.

Once you implement live chat, your customer service team can open and close a ticket within minutes, leaving both the customer and the team member satisfied with the interaction. A happy customer is a loyal customer, and a happy team member is a more productive team member. It’s a win-win situation.

To compare live chat again with other customer service channels, Econsultancy discovered that 73% of customers were satisfied with their live chat experience. Only 61% of email users and a worrisome 44% of phone users gave the same answer.

Customer service is a major pain point for many online retailers because it is time-consuming, repetitive and expensive to maintain. Consider this: US companies lost $75 billion last year to competitors with better customer service. Good customer experience drives sales. Here’s why:

  • 54% of consumers stopped interacting with a brand after receiving poor service (New Voice Media).
  • 77% of consumers would recommend a business after having a positive experience (Business Insider).

Live chat is one simple way to improve this less desirable part of running an ecommerce business, and it will also improve customer satisfaction and boost revenue.

Boost Revenue with Live Chat

Did you know that a whopping 77% of online shoppers won’t make a purchase from your store if your site doesn’t offer live chat? The number is shocking, and it’s enough to convince any e-tailer to add the feature.

Furthermore, it’s a way to bring visitors back to your site and effectively drive them to buy. Specifically, 63% of them are more likely to return to your site, and if they engage with your live chat, they are worth 4.5x more than shoppers that don’t.

That’s not all. A recent Forrester study found the following:

  • 10% increase in average order value when customers engaged in live chat before making a purchase
  • 48% increase in revenue per chat hour
  • 40% increase in conversion rate

There is a direct correlation between live chat and sales, so don’t wait to get this feature added to your site.

Tips for Adding Live Chat

Whether you built your own website or have a web developer on your team, you can add live chat to your site with just a few clicks. It’s a snippet of code that you add to your site, and you’ll be ready in minutes.

There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re setting up your live chat. Experts recommend transparency, such as adding the hours you’re available to respond or a message like, “Chats answered within two minutes.”

However, the most important part is to answer any and all incoming chats. Super Office analyzed 1,000 websites and found that 21% of chats were ignored. Don’t be part of that number. Assign incoming chats to free agents, and always keep consumers informed.

What if I Can’t Offer Live Chat?

Some e-tailers might be a team of one or have a business that is still too small to have a resource like live chat. In this case, there is a viable alternative that still lets you be there for your customers even when you’re away. Chatbots offer many of the advantages of live chat, such as answering customer questions or providing basic information.

Chatbots can help you generate leads, launch a product, collect data, increase brand loyalty and much more. It’s one of the ways artificial intelligence is improving ecommerce, and it’s a tactic you can use when live chat isn’t an option.

Need Even More Reasons for Live Chat?

Take a look at this infographic, courtesy of Website Builder, that offers 101 awesome reasons to embrace live chat.

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