Using ecommerce live chat in and of itself will not improve customer retention – read on to learn how to do it well, to better capture repeat business.

Using ecommerce live chat in and of itself will not improve customer retention – read on to learn how to do it well, to better capture repeat business.

How customer service is delivered has been upended with the rise of technology.

It used to be that the only time customers and brands interacted was face-to-face. When phone systems became more advanced, customer help/support was able to be directed to call centers. Nowadays customer service is delivered through many channels and all are equally important. As more customers live their lives on-line and feel crunched for time, many more transactions take place via the internet from mobile devices. What once seemed ridiculous to purchase on-line has now become common place, i.e. automobiles and bathing suits.

Having a coordinated and seamless omni-channel presence is becoming ever important for organizations, especially as younger consumers make up a larger portion of the market place. Studies have shown that more consumers prefer live chat to other communication channels for its ease of use, real-time connection, and convenience. Live chat features have evolved over the past few years, as have consumer’s expectations regarding this service. So what should your company consider when implementing or enhancing its live help features on your e-commerce site?

  1. Average Response Time (ART)—customers prefer live chat for its real-time availability. No longer are consumers limited to when or where they can make purchases, and they expect help whenever they decide to inquire about a product. If a customer initiates a conversation via live help, they expect a quick answer. Since live chat agents are often handling multiple conversations simultaneously, if they can’t answer a question immediately, minimally they need to communicate with the customer how long the wait will be. You never want to leave your customers guessing if their request has been received or if someone is available to help them. Successful companies aim for a 30 second average response time. This number seems to be the sweet spot for higher customer satisfaction scores (CSAT).
  2. Personalization—Customers have little patience for canned responses and conversations that are too heavily scripted. Live chat agent training should include ways to personalize chat communication so that the customer’s name is used and any past history on their purchases or prior behaviors can be woven into a conversation. When messages are personalized and presented organically, customers are less likely to worry about companies being too invasive and seeming like “big brother.”
  3. Striking a Balance—Even though customers prefer live chat to all other communication channels, companies need to be mindful about not being too aggressive with live chat pop-up windows. Give customers control as to whether or not they want to accept a pop-up chat invitation. Typically customers prefer to initiate live chat conversations on their own terms, so making the live help screen obvious and easy for the customer to find on your web page will be appreciated by your customer.
  4. Proper Grammar and Spelling—If live chat conversations are riddled with misspellings and grammatical errors, your customers will question the professionalism of your company. All grammatical rules apply to chat conversations, and agents shouldn’t forgo correct spelling, punctuation and sentence structure for the sake of brevity. There is an art to effective chat conversations and agents should be trained to put the most important information up front and learn how to succinctly communicate using the fewest words possible.

Live chat is too important for companies to ignore or treat as a second thought. Companies that have robust live chat enjoy higher CSAT scores and higher sales conversion rates. Successful live chat conversations don’t just happen. Live chat training should be comprehensive and include writing for brevity and clarity, proper use of grammar and spelling, and personalization techniques. Paying attention to live chat best practices will yield good results for your company.