If you’ve purchased from even a few eCommerce sites over the last 6 months then we are almost certain you have come across a live chat module. It’s usually located in the bottom right hand corner of the online retailers site and will often blink at you.

We suspect, well we hope, you have been wondering why so many eCommerce sites have started implementing live chat on their site and whether it’s actually helping bring them more sales or if it’s not making a significant difference at all.

1. Live chat increases consumer satisfaction as they value their questions being answered promptly.

Research by BoldChat found that “time saved” and “usefulness” are two of the key drivers of the satisfaction with live chat among consumers. Their research found that 79% of their respondents preferred live chat because they “get their questions answered immediately”.

Further, research conducted by Forrester titled “Making Proactive Chat Work” found that “44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer”. This really crystallizes how much consumers value being able to speak to someone and have their queries answered rapidly.

Finally, research conducted by eDigital’s Customer Service Benchmark from 2,000 respondents found that satisfaction levels among consumers who used live chat were 73%, compared to 61% for email, and just 44% for standard telephone.

2. Live chat can boost your eCommerce sites sales.

I bet that got your attention. Research reported by eMarketer found that of their respondents, 63% were more likely to come back to a site that has a live chat feature and 62% would actually purchase from the site again if it had a live chat feature.

But here’s the big one, 38% said they made a purchase primarily due to the help/advice they received via live chat. So it’s evident that having a live chat feature can really make a difference to the bottom line and we’d argue it’s one of the most cost effective ways to boost sales, especially for online retailers that sell expensive and/or complex products.

3. Live chat can reduce your business costs.

What if we told you that having a live chat feature on your site won’t just help you make more sales, but could also help you simultaneously cut costs too? Yes, it’s true and no you’re not dreaming.

Unlike traditional phone, with live chat your customer service reps can deal with queries from several customers at the same time as live chat allows the rep to have several live chat windows open simultaneously. This not only cuts down time but means you likely don’t have to hire as many reps to begin with. Unlike most fixed line phone systems, live chat can be accessed anywhere there is an internet connection, so your reps could even work from home or you could hire exclusively home based/remote customer service reps.

Finally, unlike fixed line phone systems, live chat is relatively inexpensive, as most live chat software providers offer their service as a small monthly fee. A 2012 Aberdeen Group Report found that companies, on average, could save as much as 50 percent on support costs by implementing live chat as opposed to using standard phone support. So as can be seen from all of the above, having a live chat feature on your site can really reduce costs by increasingly the flexibility and efficiency of your customer service. 

So, we’re hoping that by this stage of reading this article you are somewhat convinced of the merits of live chat and the good it can do for your business. However, we’re fully aware that although all of our above points are research backed, they are still, well, not as good as seeing real life case studies. For this reason we have provided a few real life examples of companies that have implemented a live chat feature on their site and reaped the rewards. So check them out below;

1. Intuit – As reported by ProImpact7, Intuit increased their conversion rates by up to 211% by having a proactive live chat widget located at key parts of their website. Crucially, they used a different live chat widget with a slightly different approach at each distinct stage. Below we will cover the different places on their site they used the live chat widget and the effect it had on conversion rates at that particular stage.

By using a proactive live chat widget at their checkout stage they increased average order value by an impressive 43 percent compared to when live chat wasn’t used. Further, they increased conversion rates by 20% when using live chat in comparison to when it wasn’t used. These are impressive numbers indeed.

By using a slightly different proactive live chat widget on their product comparison page they increase sales by, wait for it, 211%. Yes, you read that correctly. That is a seriously impressive number.

And it gets better. By using a tailor worded live chat widget on their lead generation page they increased conversion rates by a staggering 190%. Again, truly impressive.

2. Sam’s Furniture – Sam’s Furniture is a prime example of an eCommerce business that’s especially well-suited to live chat and would benefit greatly from it. They sell large, expensive items that people usually have a lot of questions/uncertainties about as most would when buying any expensive product.

Sams Furniture cleverly uses tracking and analytics in conjunction with the live chat feature so the live chat option only appears to visitors that their analytics tells them have been comparing several product and have spent a significant amount of time on the site or on a specific page of the site. This way their live chat agent is only engaging with the visitors that Sam’s Furniture deems to have the highest chance of converting to a buyer.

The results? Well, as reported by CrazyEgg, since implementing a live chat feature on their site, the live chat feature has accounted for 50,000 dollars’ worth of sales, consistently, month after month.

3. Ez Texting – Ez Texting provides web based text messaging services for business, ranging from small companies to large publicly listed companies.

As reported by VWO.com, after implementing the live chat feature on their site they increased their sign ups by an impressive 31 percent compared to when they didn’t have live chat.

Interestingly, the live chat widget was very unobtrusive, as they opted for a muted black color, but despite this it was still noticed and used by visitors. This may suggest that, already, visitors are seeking these widgets out and want to engage with them, as they are almost always placed in the bottom right hand corner.

Actionable Insights, Considerations & Conclusion.

So as can be seen from the above, there are some strong benefits in having a live chat feature on your eCommerce site (increased customer satisfaction, uplift in sales, decrease in costs, more data and analytics on customer service outcomes). And as was seen by the latter portion of this article, there are B2B and B2C companies across a range of industries that have achieved marked improvements in their conversion rates thanks to live chat.

But what should you consider before implementing live chat? And how you can get involved? Considerations – The key questions you should be asking yourself are. How big is my business? How complicated or expensive are my products? How many customer service queries do I currently get?

As was mentioned above, although we guess a live chat widget would have a positive effect on almost any type of business of any size, it is suited to some businesses more than others. Businesses that are larger, or have a large product range, or that sell large, complicated/more involved or expensive products/services, or that already get a high volume of customer service queries are especially well suited to live chat and would arguably benefit most from it.

So if any of the above sounds like your business then we strongly recommend you look into implementing live chat on your site. There is another key consideration. Are you willing to hire a high quality customer service rep(s) (if you haven’t got one already) or train your current reps accordingly (if you currently employee customer service) on the unique way of effectively and successfully handing live chat queries.

There is no point in having the latest, greatest live chat software on your eCommerce site if you don’t have someone that can take the queries or if you have people to take the queries but they haven’t been trained on handling live chat requests. Live chat requests not answered or answered badly could have the opposite effect on conversions.

Actionable Insights

If after reading the above considerations you feel your business would benefit from having a live chat feature and you have the resources to answer live chat queries in a timely and successful manner then we recommend you explore the different live chat options that are out there and read their reviews thoroughly.

There are some that are more popular than others. Popular options include Olark, Intercom and Zendesk. However there are dozens of others and it may be that a lesser known option has a specific feature you require or is particularly suited to your industry. So do take the time to explore as many options as you and to seek as much advice as you can can before making a decision.

Thankfully, most of the major live chat software companies offer free trials, don’t tie you to a contract, let you upgrade and downgrade quite easily and are surprisingly easy to send live on your eCommerce site, often with just one line of code. But be sure to double check that the live chat software company you are considering has these options, if they are things you value.

Conclusion

This article has provided research backed reasons as to why having a live chat feature on your eCommerce site would be a good idea. Further, it has provided real case studies to further illustrate the positive effect on conversion rates that can be achieved if live chat is implemented, executed and managed effectively.

And finally it has provided information on some key things we feel you need to consider and questions you need to ask when deciding whether to implement live chat. Finally, we provided some actionable insights /next steps for if you decide live chat is right for your eCommerce business. As always, everything we mentioned in this article is based on our own opinions and our own research only. So we highly recommend you do your own research from a variety of sources and weigh things up accordingly before you make a decision and that you make a decision you feel is right for you and that you are comfortable with.