The live chat box function is by no means a new feature but over the last year or so, they have become an indispensable part of the whole customer service ecosystem. And with good reason too. 90% of customers are expecting to be able to talk to a live support person while they are shopping online or interacting with a business, says an ATG Global Consumer Trend study.

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. 63% are more likely to return to a website that offers live chat. 38% admit they went ahead with a purchase due to the chat session itself.

Calling a 1-800 number and spending 20 minutes navigating through numeric options and waiting for a customer service agent to free up and take your call is not a happy solution. It’s a last-ditch solution, and people tend to do it only if the matter at hand is an issue with billing, displeasure with a service, etc.

Big issues, in other words. Nobody is going to put up with the aggravation of calling customer service if they want to ask simple product-related questions like if a particular Chesterfield sofa’s upholstery is dog-safe or how often can they safely use a derma skin-roller without damaging their skin.

The difference between having such ordinary customer questions answered and not is often a sale. The 1,500-dollar Chesterfield sofa could have sold right away if the customer knew that her pooch could lounge on it without ruining the upholstery. The customer with the acne problem would have bought the derma roller for 39.99 dollars if she had been assured that the product could be used twice a month with no worry of skin damage.

For such on-the-spot assistance – provided in the red, hot moment when customers are in shopping mode and their interest in a product is at its peak – there is no better solution than a chat box, ready and waiting to convince them to put the item in their cart.

Here are 4 more reasons why adding a live chat could be a game-changer for your business or service, if you aren’t offering this facility already.

LIVE CHAT CUTS DOWN ON YOUR EXPENSES

• Live Chat: 4 Reasons Why Your Business Needs This Chatty, Friendly Device To Help Customers And Boost SalesBy introducing live chat, you can cut down on overall contact center costs by lowering average interaction costs.

Since live chat operators can service several customers simultaneously, you need less people at the switchboard spending 5-15 minutes helping each customer individually.

LIVE CHAT INCREASES SALES

•  According to a report by E-Marketer, 2 out of 10 live chat users did more than 75% of their holiday shopping online, compared with 14% of those who did not chat. A further 25% of chatters made 51% to 75% of their purchases on the web, versus just 10% of those who did not participate in the chat service.

By offering instant solutions, it is no surprise really that a live chat facility can drive sales. What is more interesting is that the live chat agent can also efficiently push cross-sells and up-sells. (Cross-selling is the practice of influencing customers to buy related or complementary products to the one they have already bought. Up-selling, on the other hand, encourages customers to buy another comparable, higher-end product like the one they have just purchased.)

Let’s re-use the example of the customer interested in the Chesterfield sofa. The driving question that pushed this customer to click on the live chat box was whether her dog can share her sofa. While discussing the matter, a trained, pleasant, customer-oriented live chat agent can easily encourage the customer to ask more questions or offer advise on what sort of coffee table and side tables would go with it. Maybe some throw pillows that are currently on deep discount, etc. etc.

Being with the customer throughout the shopping experience they can increase the basket size, and the customer sees all of this as a fantastic example of great complimentary service.

Decorating a new living room is a daunting task for people who are not sure of their creative decisions and having a person around who’s obviously an expert is an incredibly comforting experience. So the customer leaves the session with a cohesive view of her future living room, has more items bought in one shopping exercise and is so happy with the company that she will probably be back to buy more from here.

LIVE CHAT GIVES YOU A EDGE OVER YOUR COMPETITION

•  A lot of online businesses have not yet jumped on the live chat wagon. In fact, a lot of businesses have not even thought of providing more customer support than they are doing already with an email contact address, and a toll-free number.

This is to your advantage if you’re in an industry where your competitors are slow-moving on matters of online innovations and change. Introducing a chat box definitely improves the shopping experience on your website – and even if a customer is not using the facility, the mere presence of a live chat box on the right hand corner of their screen create a sense of security and assurance that help is always at hand.

LIVE CHAT DIGS UP VALUABLE DATA ON CUSTOMER PAIN POINTS

•  Want to know what customers really want? Ask them yourself! Live chats are a great resource to not only accumulate customer feedback, but also to know what pain points they are experiencing with your products, what solutions they are looking for and how they can be serviced a whole lot better.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT LIVE CHAT SOLUTION FOR YOUR BUSINESS

•  Here are some software options you can explore:

Kayako

Bold Chat

Live Person

Livezilla

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As writer and editor, Nabanita (Nita) has worn many hats. She started her career as a magazine journalist – and launched and edited India’s largest-selling weekend magazine (`Brunch’) before moving to the United States in 2007. She has also written travel books (for the award-winning `To Asia With Love’ series) and countless columns and articles for newspapers and magazines in the United Kingdom, United States and Asia. She has been working in digital content marketing for over 10 years now with a relentless curiosity about what drives and motivates people when they’re interacting in the online space.

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