Live chat is one of the most important features on a website for directly connecting with your customers during the shopping journey. However, the experience can vary dramatically from a wow to frustration, and everything in between.
If you want to be in the former camp – and who wouldn’t? – here are my top tips for creating best-of-breed live chat experiences to maximize conversions, average order value and customer satisfaction.
A Tool Is Only as Good as the Team Behind It
Only a small percentage of people active on an ecommerce site at any time have serious purchase intent. So, you need to need to focus on serving the serious shoppers. What better indication someone is serious than hitting the live chat button and wanting to get answers about your products or services?
But anyone who has tried live chat on either an ecommerce site has no doubt experienced dramatically different experiences. Mostly customers are greeted with a bot that tells them no one is available and if they give their email someone will respond within 24 hours. “Live” means right now – not “maybe sometime tomorrow or the next few days if you trust our systems enough that someone will get this message and respond.”
Unfortunately, the internet never sleeps. If you’re serious about maximizing conversions, you need to put systems in place that make sure someone is available 24/7 (or as many hours as possible) to respond.
For this reason, many ecommerce businesses are moving to a freelance gig model, similar to Uber, leveraging tens of thousands of freelance product experts globally to respond instantly to customer queries. They’re pre-vetted on their expertise and get paid per session plus a commission on any sale they assist. This type of experience ensures that someone is always available to respond to customers without having to pay round-the-clock customer service teams.
Easily Connecting Customers and Associates
While many retailers still have dedicated offices with support teams, technology is enabling them are using apps that connect sales or customer support teams to the company’s live chat or conversational platform. This allows them to respond to customer queries anytime and from anywhere. Again, don’t forget to train and encourage them to use this app and incentivize them for responding ASAP to any customer requests.
Be Available on All Channels
One of the biggest challenges of an ecommerce business is the sheer number of channels your customers want to buy and connect through. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, email, WhatsApp, WeChat … the list goes on and is continually evolving.
When choosing a live chat system, make sure it integrates with all your social media channels so all messages are centralized in the same system and agents can answer instantly. A potential customer will move on if no one responds quickly, but will be super impressed if they message via Facebook for example and instantly get to chat with someone.
The Role of AI and Machine Learning in Live Chat
Very few industries or technologies have been untouched by AI and live chat is no exception! There are two key areas where AI has advanced live chat in leaps and bounds.
Only 17% of people on a website at any given time have serious purchase intent, according to a study from Episerver. So how do retailers sort them out from the browsers and tire kickers? Today’s state-of-the-art conversational platforms use AI to identify key behaviors that indicate intent. Given how easy it is for consumers to bounce from site to site, some conversational platforms identify serious shoppers in real time so a sales associate (or freelance gig expert) can chat and ask if they have any questions, while working on conversion or even upselling.
The other great use of AI and Machine learning is its ability to analyze customer and team conversations to identify patterns (repeat questions, common complaints, etc.). It lets you know which questions you can potentially automate via chatbots while also providing valuable insights to your CX team on what customers like or dislike.
While the pandemic has forced more shoppers online for the first time, Amazon is still the elephant in the room, accounting for 44% of ecommerce transactions. This gives most retailers very little room to offer lackluster customer service when the same product can very quickly be found cheaper elsewhere. Amazon doesn’t offer live chat so it remains a key way ecommerce companies can differentiate themselves. They can also be proactive with serious shoppers on their site, maximizing conversations and creating the best possible customer experience.
Terrence Fox is Head of Innovation at iAdvize