Live chats for boosting online sales

  • Despite all the advantages that come with e-commerce, one is not able to approach customers as they shop, and pitch to them on the spot.
  • Applications called live chats are powerful way to engage customers and boost sales just like a showroom salesperson would do.
  • Live chats are small applications that sit on your website act as a live agent.
  • These programs are opening avenues to add new surveillance capabilities which will allow retailers to track consumer movement in real time.
  • They come for as little as a subscription fee of $12 a month, but programs with more frills can go into hundreds of dollars a month.
  • Maintain a record of each online chat, and record details about each visitor.
  • They also provide information, such as the number of visitors each month that are referred by other websites.
  • With that kind of knowledge, online merchants can decide when to actually approach a visitor and strike up a conversation which could convert into a sale.
  • To be a successful 'live agent', it's a good idea to use live chat to create trust with your customers, instead of jumping at them with a sales pitch. So it would be a good idea to greet potential customers with subtle statements like "Hello, my name is Mahesh, just wanted to make sure you have been able to navigate fine so far…." Engaging them into conversations about what exactly they are looking for, what kind of use is the products being put to and then offering advice accordingly, is another good idea.
  • Another downside of adding live chat to your website is the fact that you will need to devote time to monitor chat requests and answer visitors' queries. As you get more involved, your expenses of operating a live chat service will also rise, as you will need to pay the operators who respond to queries for their time. You should be careful, especially if you are running a business that deals in low value or slim profit goods, since paying for live agents might eat into your margins in a big way. But if you are working with high value or complex technical goods, going live is worth a shot. For instance, Northstar Research Partners, a market research consultancy, recently conducted a study for LivePerson which confirmed that more people feel highly satisfied after receiving customer service via live chat (46% rate it 9 to 10 on a 10-point scale) than other forms of customer service such as a toll-free number (41%), online FAQs (24%) or email support (31%).

- Contributed by Vaibhav Agarwal