If you're still undecided about adding a live chat option to your e-commerce site, it's probably time you get off the fence. Why? Because consumers are a chatty bunch.
When it comes to communicating with companies, today’s consumers want a variety of options across multiple channels, according to a recent study from customer service firm Gladly. They also expect zero repeats and one answer.
That may seem like a tall order, but today, the quality of your company’s customer service is what sets you apart from the pack. In fact, Gladly found that 54% of consumers make decisions based on customer service, with 68% saying they’d pay more for products and services from a company with a strong customer service record.
To put the popularity of live chatting into perspective, it’s also important to understand who the largest consumer demographic in the world belongs to right now: millennials. This is the first generation to have grown up around computers and smartphones. They expect their shopping experiences to be seamless and technology-driven – and that includes customer service, where they demand quick responses to their queries, preferably via chat.
Adding live chat to your e-commerce site has a host of benefits. Here are our Top 5:
1. It's Fast
A live chat immediately connects your customer with a representative. Traditional call center directories, meanwhile, can be difficult to navigate and can quickly aggravate customers, especially if they’re placed in a lengthy queue.
2. It's Easy
In a live chat, information is easier to relay. For example, confirmation numbers can be cut and pasted, and product links can be shared and clicked. Instructions tend to be easier to understand and the chat moves along at your customer’s pace.
3. It's Practical
We know consumers want a variety of customer service options available across multiple channels. Live chats can be initiated on a PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone at any time.
4. It's Convenient
Live chats don’t involve call transfers and your customers will never be asked to repeat information. In most cases, problems are resolved quickly and more efficiently, increasing customer satisfaction.
5. It's Effective
Live chat software can sync with other related systems and services, so information about previous orders and chats can be easily accessed and aggregated. That helps you provide a better customer experience across the board.
While live chat is a great way to appease modern consumers who prefer texting and messaging, it can be equally beneficial to your e-commerce business. With live chat, you’ll gain a better grasp of your customers’ pain points, which can help improve customer satisfaction and increase sales. Remember, your e-commerce company’s approach to customer service is critical for lasting success.
Information security is an ever-evolving issue for ecommerce sites. Even though technology has done a lot to stop them, fraud tactics are always changing in response to those countermeasures. In some cases, there's just not much technology can do. Take social engineering – when a fraudster posing as their target manipulates customer service representatives into granting access to the target's account or private information – for instance.
Also known as voice-phishing, or “vishing,” the practice is less common than email-based phishing but every bit as dangerous to ecommerce. According to the education and awareness website, social-engineer.org, the average cost of a successful vishing attack against a business is $43,000 per account compromised.
Most companies require customer service representatives to follow a multi-step process for authenticating callers before proceeding with service on an account. However, CSRs are also trained to keep customers happy. Whether it's because caller sounds irate or threatening, or the caller sounds authentic because they passed some parts of the authentication process (usually with information trawled from other areas of the internet), CSRs may share information that risks security with the intent of providing a good customer experience.
Unfortunately, calls to a live person don’t undergo the same digital fraud checks that online transactions do. To prevent scenarios where a CSR feels bullied or lulled into complying with an insecure request, companies need 1) a comprehensive flowchart of authentication steps with clear explanations of what to do when the caller can’t provide the required information 2) strict requirements for following protocols, and 3) assurance that managers trained for those scenarios will provide necessary support.
By training customer service teams to recognize social engineering and giving them the resources to stop fraudsters from stealing account data, ecommerce companies can protect their customers while still providing great service.
According to research from the National Retail Federation, 73% of consumers ranked “sales and price discounts” as top factors for deciding where to shop. In the heyday of brick-and-mortar retail, it was common for stores to attract these prudent shoppers with highly-publicized mega-sales (typically held on a “Sunday, SUNDAY, SUNDAYYY!”). With the instantaneous nature of internet shopping, today’s ecommerce equivalent would probably be “flash sales.”
Like their predecessors, flash sales are great for attracting consumers’ attention, driving brand awareness, and boosting sales. However, the surges in traffic to your site and order volume can strain your internal resources and hamper customers’ experience. To ensure a successful flash sale that satisfies your customers, use the following tips to prepare.
Get the word out
Besides good deals, flash sales are known for their hype! Take the time to analyze your target audiences and develop a marketing strategy to stoke those fires so your flash sale is truly effective at engaging consumers and driving business.
A good flash sale quickly cycles through lots of different discounts, which engages shoppers who stick around to see what deals come next. Your assortment should be large enough to entice the widest variety of customers.
Flash sales foster a sense of competition to seek and find deals faster than other consumers. If your site search bar is ineffective at finding products, you stand to lose the many mobile users who are accessing your flash sale throughout the day. Make sure your ecommerce site's search functionality has mobile-friendly features, such as autocomplete and search refinements (e.g. brand, color, size, price, etc.) with tap-friendly dropdown lists.
Ease of Transaction
The checkout process should just as speedy as your flash sale. Make sure to eliminate as much checkout friction as possible. The longer it takes to checkout, the more likely that shoppers' excitement from scoring a deal will wear off and they'll abandon their carts.
Growing your ecommerce business requires putting resources into both customer acquisition and customer retention. However, it's all too common to see companies that put too many of their eggs in the "acquisition" basket. According to consultants at Invesp, 44% of companies have a greater focus on customer acquisition vs. 18% that focus on retention. Unfortunately, that spread belies the great benefits that retention efforts can provide. Consider the following:
Without a doubt, acquisition is important for the short-term growth of your business and for increasing the number of customers to eventually direct retention efforts toward. As the New Year approaches, now may be the perfect time to evaluate whether your company is striking the right balance.
Your call center is a critical part of the overall customer experience you provide. If you opt to outsource your call center management, you need to consider the provider’s capabilities before partnering with them – and average call duration is one of the most important metrics to consider. Generally, shorter is better. Reducing the amount of time your customers stay on the phone for customer service inquiries is a win-win. Your call center will be able to handle higher volumes, while customers save time and have a better experience. For optimal call duration, your call center or call center provider should do the following:
- Expand the decision-making authority of agents. Putting customers on hold to track down a supervisor to make a simple decision eats up time. Since most of these decisions involve free products or discounts, one solution is to give agents a small budget of "make-good" cash to apply toward these scenarios.
- Create a robust and up-to-date knowledge base on your ecommerce site that both customers and call center agents can easily access.
- Train agents thoroughly. Before agents start answering customer calls, they should receive a detailed overview of your company’s systems, policies, and products to enable them to quickly handle a wide variety of customer inquiries.
- When evaluating call quality metrics, make sure that the ability to manage hold time during calls is accounted for.
- Foster cooperation between departments. Sometimes, customer service agents don't have all the answers and need to put customers on hold while they reach out to the appropriate department. Take steps to ensure that agents have available and reliable contacts where necessary.