Survey: Live Chat Helps Convert Customers

Mar 23, 2010 8:08 PM  By

Still on the fence when it comes to live chat? Maybe the results of this survey conducted by e-commerce technology provider Bold Software will make you change your mind.

According to the findings, 82% of survey respondents said a live chat session positively influenced their attitude about that merchant, and 68% were more likely to purchase from that retailer again.

What’s more, 75% of the respondents said they are more likely to visit that site again, 65% said they received better service than they did on the phone, and 52% purchased more because of the chat session.

Bold Software funded the blind survey of more than 1,000 regular, U.S.-based Internet shoppers using an opt-in, third-party panel in January. In a white paper released March 22, the Wichita, KS-based company reached the following five conclusions:

1. There is a relationship between live chat and certain demographic/psychographic characteristics.
The report concludes that those shoppers who have engaged in an online chat with a retailer are more likely to have higher household incomes, be older than 30, and to be college educated.

What’s more, consumers who spend more, either on an average transaction basis or in a single transaction, are more likely to have had a chat before. For Internet retailers that serve this demographic, this is key because visitors to their sites will be more likely to have chatted before. This fact is even more critical considering the next conclusion drawn from this research.

2. There is a widening gap in attitude and behavior between those that have chatted and those that haven’t.
Those that have chatted are far more likely to indicate that chat influences them to buy, they’re far more likely to think chat is more efficient than e-mailing or calling, and far more likely to select chat as their preferred method of communication, and so on.

Additionally, the disparity between chatters and nonchatters appears to be growing year-over-year, which indicates a deepening relationship between experiencing live chat technology and one’s attitude about it.

3. Live chat continues to be effective – for sales & service.
The research shows that live chat is an effective channel for both new and existing customers. Customers using the technology pre-sale went up 7% since last year’s research. And more than three quarters of the chatting population reported that live chat positively affected their overall impression of the retailer with whom they chatted.

The survey also showed significant movement year-over-year with regard to same-session purchases. The number of chatters who said that they purchased as a direct result of their most recent chat session increased 15% from last year.

4. Fear of proactively inviting visitors to chat is unfounded.
Many retailers – even those who do use live chat technology – are reluctant to proactively invite Website visitors for fear of driving them away. But this research shows that the majority of consumers (52%) are accepting of the practice. Certain subgroups are even more receptive including more-frequent shoppers and those that spend a higher amount.

5. Certain types of Internet retailers will find live chat relatively more effective.
When the data is filtered to create subgroups of respondents indicating that they recently shopped at particular types of retailer sites, the survey shows live chat is comparatively more effective within specific retail sectors.

For instance, 65% of respondents said they had recently shopped at a hardware/home improvement site, 63% at a health and beauty site, 62% at and office supplies site, 60% at a computer/electronics site and 60% shopped for flowers and gifts.