Guest Post by Patty Whelan of Merchant Express.
Lauren Freeman, President of the e-tailing group (a niche e-commerce consultancy), published a white paper to share the findings of consumer rationale for using chat. Studies were undertaken to determine the “who, what, where and why” behind consumers’ choosing to use an online chat feature. Online retailers have much to be gained by implementing the best of the live chat experience into their business.
It can be concluded that the six core reasons online shoppers choose to use live chat are multi-faceted:
1. Shoppers feel special and empowered when they use live chatStrong expressed strong feelings of appreciation for chat’s availability to solve a problem when sought on their own terms. Knowing their problems and/or questions matter and that help is conveniently available is significant for many of the shoppers interviewed.
2. Shoppers can multi-task when chattingBusy online shoppers embrace technology that saves them time; freeing them up to accomplish other things. Live chat uniquely puts shoppers in a position to problem solve while still focusing on other tasks at hand. Not having to stray from their computers or pick up the phone (especially in a work environment) were significant reasons chat was favored.
3. Chat provides instant gratification – getting questions answered in a timely fashionFor access any time of the day or night, live chat is hard to beat. These shoppers seek immediate answers to any and all questions and “get it done in 5 minutes versus having to call or go to a store.” Ultimately, the less time spent dealing with specific issues means more time for shoppers to do something else of their choosing.
4. Chat works in multiple scenarios from simple service questions to complex product queriesPre-order benefits are varying as the information gathered beforehand not only answers a question but saves having to return products. Alternatively, post-order lends itself to a different set of questions that can be just as valuable for saving time. Queries might seek general information but also benefit shoppers addressing processing challenges, returns and even post-purchase support.
Speed, efficiency and an ability to utilize live chat for almost every issue imaginable cannot be under-estimated. From basic service concerns to questions on the most complex of products including high ticket merchandise, all seem to be fair game for consumers.
5. Chat allows consumers to avoid inconvenient or annoying alternative methodsThe individuals that were interviewed outlined a multitude of reasons why chat is their preferred form of communication with the retailers they shop. Instantaneous responses in real-time are much preferable to the wait time of alternative email or phone options.
6. Chat is like “good old-fashioned” customer serviceSeveral respondents suggested that, “chat is like having a salesperson right there when you need them — and not (right there) when you don’t.” These chat interactions reinforce that retailers actually have people in place who understand the product and have valuable information to impart. This harkens back to times prior to this technological age when such knowledge was the rule of retail.
These key insights gained from consumers that appreciate a positive live chat experience should be taken into consideration for every retailer’s growth strategy.
• Your live chat feature should be easy to find and easy to use.
• Be sure that your customers are treated with intelligence.
• Be helpful and don’t make the mistake of using chat technology as playing the role of a pushy salesperson.
Incorporate the best of traditional customer service interactions into your live chat feature to create a positive customer experience, enhance your company’s reputation and foster customer loyalty.