Online Merchants Must Treat Live Chat as Distinct Channel

For online merchants to reap the most benefits from live chat, they have to treat it as a distinct communication channel, according to Bold Chat’s 2012 Live Chat Effectiveness Research Report.

Live chat can go wrong if not properly managed, according to the report, and as the number of shoppers who have engaged in live chat approaches 75%, there are compelling reasons to make this a distinct communication channel.

Due to its increasing importance, the report says merchants should be careful about their live chat performance. While proactive chat is generally well received, about 20% of survey respondents indicated they left websites due to poor live chat invitation practices.

Many proactive invitation technologies on the market today force visitors to acknowledge the invitation – either positively or negatively. Non-chatters seem more tolerant of repeated invites, the report says, but administrators should be cautious when configuring their software in this regard.

Superior performance in live chat is both an art and a science, according to the report. “Getting the timing right requires diligence and a love of reporting to continually refine the delivered experience for one’s audience.

If one in five ecommerce shoppers prefer a specific communication channel, and they have high expectations of the interactions resulting from the live chat channel, and they judge success from that interaction largely on human factors, the report says: “Isn’t that more than enough for the channel to warrant serious consideration, funding, and management focus?”

The online study was conducted using a third-party opt-in panel – 75% located in the U.S. and 25% in the U.K. The total number of respondents was 2,027.

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