If you’ve been shopping online recently, you’ll have no doubt seen at some point, a prompt offering you the opportunity to chat with an agent.  Live chat can deliver customers a great experience. Just like browsing in a real store, at the point you look like you need assistance, a sales assistant will come up and ask “can I help?”.

Like a flesh and blood salesperson, the latest chat platforms constantly analyse your ‘digital body language’ or behaviour to see if you look like you could use help.  Perhaps you’ve paused for a long time on a page, hovered over the ‘buy now’ button without clicking it, or stalled at the crucial point at the check-out when you’re asked to enter your credit card number.

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I love using live chat because it is the quickest and easiest way to get help.  When I’m dealing with my internet service provider, Spark, for example, I can get a response to a chat request in a couple of minutes – far quicker than via a phone call. I can also ask for a copy of the transcript to be emailed to me, as a record of what was discussed/promised.

The latest statistics from BoldChat suggest that 65% of American and 45% of European online shoppers have used live chat. In New Zealand and Australia those figures are much lower at 38%. For some reason we’ve been slow to latch on to live chat as a way of accessing service.

There are a number of reasons that shoppers choose to use live chat, including:

  1. They can’t find an item
  2. They have a general question
  3. They are experiencing some sort of error
  4. They need advice when comparing different products
  5. They are struggling with a promo or discount code

All five of these reasons can negatively influence a purchase decision. And, all five of these issues can be easily handled by a competent chat agent, thereby facilitating a sale. Customers who can’t get the support and help they need during their online purchase experience will be forced to use another channel (phone or email) or move to a competitor’s site.

A recent study by econsultancy.com shows that 31% of shoppers are more likely to buy from a website that offers live chat. Not only is chat a fast, efficient method of communication, it means you can offer the same brand experience and personal service online that you do in store, and for a lot less, as your agents are able to handle multiple requests for assistance within a short time frame.