It’s no secret that the big players in eCommerce are doing it, but for many of the small to mid-sized online businesses, it’s been long felt to be too difficult to implement, time-consuming and disruptive to daily activities. When selling your product or service online, you MUST take a moment to consider CHAT, it could increase your conversions by a factor of 30%. If done right it could even free up staff time focus on order fulfillment or other marketing initiatives.
I have seen firsthand with many of my clients how successful this simple tactic can be, and it’s pretty amazing! Add a couple code snippets to your eCommerce site, and you could have a Live Chat function that converts like crazy. Not only increasing conversions BUT also potentially REDUCING the time needed for support staff in fielding phone calls and support emails.
I have heard all the excuses, all the reasons why “I can’t add chat!”, I’m too small, I don’t have the time to respond to customers all the time, I simply don’t have the resources or the technical knowledge needed to implement it! STOP the excuses! There are answers to all these excuses, and they really are just excuses.
Just look at this REAL sales chart for a 5 month period, prior to and after the installation of the chat snippets. I don’t even need to break it down for you, it speaks for itself. The day we added chat to this site this was the resulting sales spike, a more than 300% sales increase! The expected return for online retail sites is that you realize a 25% increase in conversions. So if you’re grossing 100,000K, that’s a $25,000 increase, $250,000 on every million, and we are not considering the happier now repeat customer.
So if you don’t want to talk to your customer you’re in the wrong business. Or as the old Chinese proverb says, “A Man Without a Smiling Face Must Never Open a Shop”
Personalization in eCommerce
A personalized experience is what every visitor wants these days, and the easiest way, programmatically, to do this is with a simple chat script added to your online store. How would you feel if you walked into a store in the shopping center and were not greeted by a sales associate? In some cases you may say, “That would be GREAT!” but the truth is this tends to be the answer if you’re just looking to browse and you encounter an overzealous salesperson just trying to sell you something you don’t want or need. Typically, visitors to online stores are there for one of two reasons: they are looking to get some information on a specific product OR they are looking to find a specific product to purchase. The browsers we will focus on in a separate article, discussing the multitude of solutions available for converting eWindow shoppers into buyers. (Until then check this out: IBM Commerce) Solutions more accessible today than ever before like machine learning, Big Data and cognitive commerce will allow you to convert more sales.
Cognitive computing is easing the process of putting the right products in front of the right customers at the right time, or as my friend Marsha Collier says so succinctly, “Give the customer what they want when they want it!” (Check out her #CustServ tweetchat)
So back to that lonely sales associate that jumps you at the door when you walk in, whilst you stare intently at the floor trying not to be acknowledged. As I see it, when I am working in the store, I am going to say hi to everyone and let them know I am simply here to help, if they had any questions. That opens so many doors in retail, so applying this to eRetail, or any online business should be a no brainer. Add a live chat agent and you’ve just upped your game and like it or not;
“44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a Web site can offer.” – Forrester Research (Making Proactive Chat Work)
The key is that your customers have someone who can answer questions about the products they are interested and walk them through the purchase when or if they become confused during their purchasing journey. This can only lead to lower bounce rates, lower cart abandonment, and the often underestimated up-sell opportunities, which, in my opinion, have a long way to go in eCommerce, as most solutions are clunky and awkward. So ultimately what you have here is no longer a failure to communicate, but rather an extremely successful customer interaction.
Forbes magazine reported, “High customer satisfaction scores and a double-digit increase in converted shoppers have shown the value once and for all of this technology.” Case Study: Wells Fargo Proves The Business Case For Online Chat
Not sure if you noticed but one of the things I mentioned was that of eliminating customer confusion during the checkout process. We all know that we have holes in our sites, and traps that customers seem to find, regardless how much time was spent testing. The nice thing about chat is that it can also identify in real time customer pain points, providing you an opportunity to address these issues, quickly, whilst also not losing that potential sale sitting right in front of you.
If you don’t have chat on your site, you are relying on a few things. First, you are dependent on the person taking the time to dig through FAQs or scroll through the data on the product pages. You are then dependent on your product pages being optimized for all types of readers, and perhaps needing to cater more towards those who are information-hungry, which we will dive deeper into in another post. Chat allows you to engage with potential customers allowing them to no longer be a potential, but an engaged and happy buyer!
You are also relying on the fact that your checkout process is streamlined and not in need of the increased up-sell opportunities. “Customers also increase their shopping cart size by 55 percent,” according to BoldChat in an article on the Huffington Post by Brian Hughes.
Let me tell you where to go and how to get there!
So first off, there are several providers of live chats, chatbots, and something new and exciting we at nadimo.com refer to as Cognitive Chat. This article is focused on live chats, but for those interested Cognitive Chat, IBM’s Watson has an API that is super cool, and allows you to teach Watson, you know the Super Computer that took on the best and won on TV’s Jeopardy. Your sales team could be automated with the intelligence of a Jeopardy champion! Those who are too busy to answer chat requests, and/or don’t want to pay staff for fielding onsite chat requests in real time, or want a simple solution for after hours support need to look into this solution.
Anyways, I digress, these are some of many live chat services that you might want to consider, the list has been limited to those I or my clients have used and been happy with. Each is slightly different, so take your time to make sure you find the one that is the best fit for you:
- Bold Chat – Tends to focus on solutions for eCommerce websites. Bold Chat serves 24 of the Internet Retailer Top 500 and 85 of the Second 500.
- Tawk.to – A 100% free solution, simple to implement, and a great way to get started with chat.
- Intercom.io – These guys provide chat for one of my favorite SaaS companies out there, and man it rocks if you wanted to have a team of people monitoring.
- Proonto.com – I have met the two cofounders of this company and they take chat to the next level, by providing you outsourced solutions to some amazing onsite sales staff. You need a higher budget, but the cost should be well worth the risk.
- Watson Conversation – This is an API and requires the assistance of your dev team, but it takes today’s cognitive abilities and allows you to train a computer to interact via online chats for you.
How to get there?
Well, that’s the surprisingly simple part. Once you sign up for any of the many chat companies out there, simply send your developer the scripts they provide and it will be live and running on your site. That said, I understand that many of you may not have the time to answer inquiries as they come in, or staff may be busy on other projects or retail associates with customers.
If this is the problem, then you will want to consider the other options I have mentioned OR simply post chat times on your site. These are like modern day store hours, essentially the time of day that people can reach a real person, and when staff is not available, there will be a leave message option on the site. It’s not the BEST solution, but at least you could see the very real results of using the chat on your site and put this increase in revenues towards furthering your chat solutions.
NEVER DO THIS!
One thing to NEVER do is to implement a hold queue for your chat. There is nothing people hate more than being told that “Your call is very important to us…” So why with all the technology available to us would we start doing this in Chat? In the world we live now and especially with chat, we expect immediacy, you are better off posting hours. I wanted to buy a service yesterday and saw this message, what do you think I did? That’s right, I said a few choice words, took a screenshot and added it to my post and never returned to the site, ok that’s not entirely true, see when you live in Canada and the phone companies have a monopoly of sorts, it’s a little tricky to not have to go through the process, but in your case, you have competition and if you have a HOLD queue for chat, people will go straight to your competitor!
The problem everyone wants. If you start getting a lot of inquiries at once, you can setup solutions from the list provided earlier. You can have a team of people jump in on chats, set systems to automatically disable chat when associate chats are full and even enable analytics to monitor trends like peak hours to staff it accordingly. Gamification could also be introduced into your company whereby you reward the top members of the team for their participation in these chats.
You will see real results for simply answering what are typically very quick questions. You want your customers to leave satisfied with their experience on your site – what better way to make sure they find what they need then to ask?