Wait on the telephone and sit through a litany of options, and a secondary list of options, and finally be put on hold before an operator can answer a simple question.
Surely, not a recipe for efficient customer service and improved sales.
Who has the time to fill out a nine field contact form, and tap their fingers until they get a response?
In the instant world, you want instant answers. So while the world is steering towards everything digital, ironically, the human, personal touch is back.
In comes the website live chat function – it pops up automatically and asks if you need help, and a representative is typing away to answer your questions.
The question is: Has this helped companies acquire more customers and attract more visitors? Liveperson.com, with nine offices globally, serves the likes of Virgin, and Verizon, reports that having a live chat service on a website increases on-site conversions by 20 per cent, reduces handling costs by 25 per cent and customers that chat have a 35 per cent higher average order size. One infographic online concurs with their findings.
From its end, Boldchat serves North Face, Dell and Groupon, among dozens of others, boasting that their service has helped their customers see a 55 per cent increase in purchases.
Their surveys found that two thirds of American online shoppers have engaged in live chat, up from half in 2009, and a third of them saying they’d be likelier to buy after a live chat. More than half surveyed actually said they’d prefer to communicate via live chat, than any other medium, citing speed and efficiency as the main reason.
Lindsay Bayuk, spokeswoman of Purechat.com says that the company has facilitated more than four million chat conversations on the platform, since launching in 2012.
According to Bayuk, the majority of their clientele serve other businesses.
“Live chat is the quickest and easiest way to connect, than making a phone call, and waiting on hold, and using voicemail,” she says.
“Live chat provides a quick way for sales, marketing teams to connect with their visitors, and quickly answer their sales and buyer questions.”
Additionally, Sales Whisperer in California, a sales training and sales consulting for other businesses, sold several thousand dollar deals that began with their live chat product.
“They’ll see that chat pop up when they visit – they see the immediacy in answering their question, and it warms them up. Sometimes they’ll give me their phone numbers and we’ll initiate a phone call and seal the deal,” says Wes Schaeffer, CEO.
“How can you not try something so affordable? Everyone wants the instant gratification, the easy pill, and chat gives you that. The fact that it runs on your smart phone as well … that type of easy of use, people might not feel as threatened the way they might with a phone call.”
The time commitment is no different than a phone call or an email, he adds.
For Purechat, the investment in time and resources is comparatively small.
While some clients, she says, have dedicated teams or individuals responding to live chat – depending on the size of the business – in terms of technical investment, it takes less than three minutes to get a small bit of code onto a small business owners’ website.
There is a free version of the platform, or if a company wants to upgrade for features, functionality and unlimited use, it’s US$15 a month.
“Any business has a website, gets leads, and is driving traffic to their website. You had better be there to easily answer their questions,” says Bayuk.
Snapengage has served HubSpot, Hootsuite, Weebly, AWeber, ExactTarget, SendGrid, Sotheby’s Realty, and Blue Cross.
“Live chat enables businesses to turn otherwise passive website visitors into engaged leads and customers at the precise moment they express interest,” adds marketing manager Molly Wojcik.
Snapengage says its clients’ conversion rates double, triple, even quadruple with the implementation of live chat.
“The price of the tool is generally nominal in comparison to the performance metrics it produces,” she says.