How to Determine Your Customers Want Live Chat

Oct 22, 2012 9:34 PM  By

Live chat software is increasing in popularity. As web surfers are getting more accustomed to using the on-site chat boxes to get quick answers to their questions, more online merchant are experimenting with its adoption.

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The prices of live chat software range widely between the lightweight add-ons and the full CRM solutions, but the real cost of live chat comes from the human resources that have to be behind the chat to answer.

As an ecommerce merchant, you might ask yourself, “Would live chat be right for my online business? Are the benefits high enough to offset the costs?”

The various live chat providers offer the software in different forms, but the promised benefits are basically all the same: an increase in customer satisfaction, an increase in customer loyalty, but most importantly, an increase in the conversion rate.

The truth is that although the implementation of live chat can indeed deliver great benefits, these benefits will not be equal for all websites.

To help you decide whether you should invest time and money in exploring the benefits of live chat, we have researched for what type of websites live chat is most beneficial. To do this, we’ve conducted a questionnaire among 100 ecommerce websites that use live chat.

Our questions were aimed at getting to know how our customers perceived the effect of live chat on the increase in conversions, customer loyalty and customer satisfaction. By looking at the properties of the most positive live chat users, we’ve deducted the following three properties of an online shop that decide whether live chat is worth the effort:

Complexity of the products sold
The more complex an offered product is, the more questions the visitors will have. Merchants that sell electronics or cosmetics, for example, benefit greatly from the implementation of live chat.

When buyers compare complex goods among different websites, offering the opportunity to ask additional questions is worth gold. Many of these businesses indicated that they use live chat as a direct sales channel.

Website traffic
The percentage of visitors engaging in a live chat conversation is strongly dependent on the complexity of the product. However, to justify the availability of a person behind the chats, a certain mass of visitors is necessary as well.

Exactly how much traffic is necessary will be different for each website, but as a rule of thump we found that a minimum number of 150 daily unique visitors is required to receive the amount of interaction that will bring out the benefits.

Average profit per sale
What is of real importance here is the absolute margin of the average sale compared to the salary of the service employee. Naturally, when the costs of assisting a customer exceed the profits of the average sale, the increase in conversion rates doesn’t cut it.

These business properties primarily make a difference for the conversion power of live chat. The benefits of customer loyalty and satisfaction seem to be perceived fairly equally for all live chat users, as long as there was enough interaction over the chat.

Pascal van Opzeeland is in charge of online marketing at Userlike.