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3 'Must-Know' Tips Before You Offer Live Chat

07 Jul 2016

Having a live chat option on your ecommerce store can be a great easy way for customers to contact you with any questions they have. It's especially great at capturing the sorts of questions which are small enough that they won't bother picking up the phone to ask, but are still big enough that they are holding off from purchasing from you.

But live chat is also a distraction; after all it's much easier to chat to someone than it is to commit to spending money, so if you do opt to offer live chat then ensure that you train your sales staff to not only answer a customer's questions, but also to focus on gently getting the sale back on track - for instance 'it's great that I've been able to answer all your questions about our red baseball cap. If you don't already have the link open, then you can click here and easily add it to your cart. Let me know if you need any more assistance purchasing this item - we can't wait to deliver it to you!'

Apart from remembering to focus on converting sales (in the most helpful, gentle way possible!), here's the 3 most important things you need to keep in mind before you offer live chat as a service on your ecommerce store:

#1: You always need to be available

The number one cardinal rule of having a live chat option is that someone needs to be there to answer it. If a customer is unsure about going through with a purchase, then seeing a 'we're closed; leave us a message' message will most likely seal the deal completely; and not in a good way - most of the time you're going to find that they'll close your site and move on.

This means that before you offer live chat you need to consider how you're going to be available to answer questions at any time of the day, or night, or weekends. Keep in mind that there are companies you can outsource this work to, and quite often if you've done your job right then the information they need to answer any of your customer's questions will be available on your website.

#2: You need to respond immediately (or pretty darn close to it)

It's widely accepted that it should take no more than 15-20 seconds after their initial enquiry for your customer to receive a response. That's a pretty short window, so carefully consider if it's feasible before you set it up on your ecommerce store.

#3: Pay attention to who's saying what and why

Did you know that live chat can be a fantastic way to improve your ecommerce store? And not just in the obvious 'customers can speak to a real person' way that you're probably imagining...

If you pay attention to the information that you're getting back from your live chat requests, then you can often find new ways to improve your site. For instance;

  • Pay attention to the sorts of customers that are contacting you. Are they coming from your target market? If not, that could suggest that you have a problem with the advertising message you're putting out there, or that you've got your target market wrong. Either way, something needs to change so that either your advertising message or your website content is more aligned to where it needs to be.
  • Pay attention to the questions you're being asked. Is this information that's on your ecommerce site? If not, why not? If so, why can't your customers find it?
  • Keep an eye on your top 3 general questions (quite often they're to do with shipping); find a way to show the answers to these questions clearly on your homepage so that your customers have this information before they start shopping.
  • Keep an eye on your conversion rate - it needs to start improving after you introduce live chat. If it drops, then turn live chat off while you reassess things!

If you have any questions about whether live chat is appropriate for your ecommerce store, please feel free to contact us; we're always happy to chat about improving ecommerce stores!