Web: Breaking the Chat Ice
Live chat has some skeletons in its closet. Historically, live chat was seen primarily as a way to avoid talking to customers. Contact centers employed chat as a call avoidance technology because it enables agents to assist multiple customers at once, so driving a consumer into a live chat is instantly cheaper than picking up the phone. However, the underlying philosophy that drove live chat's adoption is today's albatross around its neck. The real value in live chat comes not in cost cutting, but from its ability to cause more customer interactions.
To better understand the impact and value of live chat to both consumers and e-tailers, Bold Software and the e-tailing group recently surveyed more than 1,000 regular Internet shoppers in the third annual study, "The Effectiveness of Live Chat Technology." We wanted to uncover consumers' perceptions of and experiences with live chat—and its influence on their opinions of retailers and desire to purchase.
The most intriguing finding was that one in five shoppers selected live chat as their preferred method of communication with a retailer. Because 20 percent of the survey population picked live chat, we were able to effectively profile this consumer, this "live chat fan."
The research revealed that the live chat fan is aged 31 to 50, has considerably higher household income than the average shopper (more than $50,000 a year), is more likely to be college-educated, shops daily or weekly, and spends more money online per year than other groups of shoppers. In addition, live chat fans:
- have a significantly higher positive attitude about the technology's presence on a website;
- are more likely to trust websites that have live chat; and
- are more likely to buy just because of its presence.
Breaking the Ice
Clearly, the live chat proponent is an attractive prospect for online retailers. So, how can your business reach them? The most obvious answer is simply to make sure you have live chat available on your website. If you deploy it, they will click.