Repeat after us: there’s no e-commerce without live chat!
A bold statement? Maybe. But when you’re trying to make your customers happy and encourage them to buy your products, communication is key. Whatever way they want to reach you, it should be available and easy to use. That means when customers are on your website, they should always be able to spot your phone number and your e-mail with a minimum of effort… and most importantly of all, there should be a chat box waiting for them.
According to a survey of 2,000 consumers conducted for eDigital’s Customer Service Benchmark, 21% of online shoppers prefer live chat, close to the same number as those who prefer the telephone. Fifty-four percent said they gravitated toward e-mail.
But wait! This is where it gets interesting. Of the respondents who preferred live chat, 79% said they liked it because it helped them get their questions answered quickly, and 46% said it was the most efficient communication method. Speed and communication are both important factors in e-commerce.
What’s more, live chat boasts a 73% satisfaction rate, compared to e-mail at 61% and phone at only 44%. That’s a huge difference. No company should favor a method of communication that leads to lower customer satisfaction. They should always prefer the one that leads to the best service and the best customer experience.
Our own customers have a higher-than-average rate of chat usage—as you’d expect, since we offer AliveChat, our industry-leading online chat product. This spring, 25 of our clients from a variety of verticals were selected to participate in a customer happiness survey. We asked what everyone’s favorite method of contacting us was, and 40% chose live chat. Thirty-six percent preferred to e-mail us, and 24% tended to pick up the phone. This is what the numbers start to look like as customers gradually become more acclimated to chatting, and they will continue to shift in favor of chat in coming years. The preference for chat grows and grows, because everyone experiences how great it is.
What do we take away from this? First of all, a significant portion of visitors on any e-commerce site will be looking for a chat box when they have questions or problems. That portion grows dramatically every year as more customers experience chat. No retailer on earth can afford to disappoint 21% of their customers, let alone 30, 40, or 50%. You absolutely need to have live chat available, or you’ll be left behind.
Second, when people do learn to use chat, they are overwhelmingly more happy and satisfied with their experience than if they had used another method. So it is to every e-seller’s advantage to give chat a prominent place on their site.
You’ll always want to post e-mail and phone contact information on your e-commerce site, because there will always be some customers who prefer to contact you through those channels. In fact, for phone contact, we highly recommend our AliveDial product, which lets customers click to initiate a call instead of fumbling with phone numbers. Easy!
But more and more customers, especially the younger ones who are in the habit of purchasing the majority of their goods online, will be looking for a chat window when they want to talk to you. Chat is more preferred, more efficient, more satisfying—and if you sell goods online, you’d be crazy to miss out on that.