Why Every Ecommerce Site Needs Live Chat

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

digital-marketingProviding good customer service is essential for any retailer, whether they’re online or an in-store location. No matter how good the prices are or how easy-to-use the interface is on an ecommerce website, customers will have questions they want to have answered immediately before they move on to the checkout process. Customer service hotlines, FAQ sections, and contact forms are effective ways to help consumers online, but a growing body of research suggests that using live chat is a great way to improve customer services on a business website.

For those who have never encountered this online, a live chat can be used for customer service by including it as one of the help options. People can type their question or issue into the live chat and they will be helped by the next available associate, who converses with the customer via text.

At first glance, it may seem like live chat offers no advantage over traditional call centers or email-based customer service methods, but this is where the research shows otherwise. Many consumers find live chat customer service options to be a more satisfying option to traditional customer support systems when shopping online.

According to a survey from Forrester Research, nearly half (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 web site can offer”. The fact that nearly half of online consumers think so highly of live chat features is almost evidence enough of its value to business owners.

More recently, a study based on CRM reviews and comparisons business from Software Advice suggested that live chat features are even more important to millennials consumers, whose patronage is necessary if a website intends to operate and grow into the future.

First the researchers found that the majority of US millennials prefer to use live chat over other methods. The study reported that three out of five (60%) US millennials prefer to have their online shopping questions answered via live chat. This applies to demographics beyond millennials. Another key finding was that regardless of the nature of the question, 56 percent of respondents aged 18 to 34 prefer live chat to phone. The same was true for 27 percent of respondents aged 35 and older.

This preference has also been seen by action. More than half (56%) of millennial online shoppers have used live chat at to answer a question on a company’s website.

“Online live chat is proving to be one of the best service channels for meeting customers’ needs throughout their journey, from first contact through post-sale support,” the researchers wrote in the study. “As an online tool, it meets customers in the very place they increasingly turn for answers: the Internet. And unlike other channels such as email, live chat provides instant support, with minimal customer effort required.”

This results from Software Advice echo a recent study from Moxie which studied UK and US consumer preferences for using live chat on mobile. The study of 2,700 U.K. and U.S. shoppers found that almost two-thirds (62%) of shoppers now expect live chat to be available on mobile devices and more than 8 in 10 (82%) said they would use the service.

Being able to talk to customers when they need your help the most is a great way to increase sales and build loyalty among customers. Business owners with retail sites should consider adding live chat to their customer service options.


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