These days, more and more sites offer live chat as a means of support.
That’s not particularly surprising, since Forrester Research found that close to half of online consumers say that having questions answered mid-purchase is one of the most important features a site can offer.
The same research found that live chat boosts a customer satisfaction rating of 73%, compared to 61% for email and a pretty underwhelming 48% for social media. Sorry community managers!
91% of those who had tried live chat felt confident that it could:
- Aid in product buying decisions
- Resolve customer support or technical issues
- Answer products in a timely manner
TL;DR? Research indicates that people think live chat rocks.
But there are two big obstacles faced by businesses hoping to use live chat to improve conversion today:
1) Live chat becoming more and more common means that it’s no longer ‘special’ any more; it’s just something that’s expected
2) The widespread nature of live chat means messages must be different to the standard “Hi, can I help?” or else they’ll probably be ignored.
With that in mind, this post will look at 5 different live chat techniques that aren’t quite so ubiquitous and can help to boost conversion rates.
1) Using Live Chat Instead Of Landing Pages
But it takes a lot of time and effort, particularly if you offer a wide range of products.
There are a couple of different ways you can use live chat in place of traditional landing pages.
Firstly, you can tweak the copy you use to prompt a conversation based on the nature of the page:
Or, if you want to get a bit more technical, you can use UTM codes to trigger different messages on the same page depending on how the visitor gets there.
I recently worked with a software company, Chatra, who have the ambitious aim of allowing users to replace landing pages with live chat.
For example, let’s say a visitor arrives on a white shirt in your store through a PPC ad with keywords ‘norse projects shirt kanye’:
The chat prompted in this scenario would be very different to someone who arrived via ‘formal shirts wedding’.
Creating different triggers in live chat is much quicker, and more cost effective, than creating dedicated landing pages for a huge range of different situations.
2) Live Chat Instead Of A Traditional Contact Page
Bear with me, because I know this one might sound a little crazy.
As a general rule, people don’t like Contact forms.
Imagescape found that reducing their Contact form to 4 fields gave them a 120% conversion increase to…11.9%.
This means that of all the people who visited their contact page in order to, umm, contact them, just over 1 in 10 actually went through with it.
There’s further evidence in this Unbounce blog post that virtually every piece of information you could ask for in a contact form causes the response rate to drop.
We already know from research conducted at the end of 2013 that live chat has very high satisfaction levels, and other research indicates that live chat is the preferred method of contact for 21% of shoppers in the USA (with just over 50% selecting email).
Replacing a contact form altogether might be too drastic a suggestion.
But it seems to me that, with figures like only 1 in 10 people actually following through with getting in touch, thinning down a Contact form and adding live chat, could be a very quick win for businesses looking to generate more leads.
3) Social Sharing
When you get the answer you’re looking for through live chat, it just feels…nice.
Do you know what I mean?
Live chat support team members seem to have this ability to make everything feel better.
That’s why you often come across tweets like this one:
First experience with @jaybirdsport customer support: awesome! Got a return setup straight from their live chat on their homepage in 5mn ?
— Florent Crivello (@Altimor) August 21, 2015
Hat tip to Kevin Gao on the Comm100 blog for inspiring this next point, because it’s so simple but it’s such a nice idea.
Kevin suggests prompting users to like a Facebook page/follow on Twitter etc. after receiving positive feedback.
Maybe it’s possible to take this idea even further.
We’ve already seen from the tweet above that customers are more than willing to shout about great customer service, so why stop with asking for a follow?
Consider using something like the following:
We’re glad we could help you today! If you’d recommend us to your friends, please consider tweeting about the support you received today [clicktotweet]
True, this could be a bit risky if the positive feedback is a result of successfully resolving a problem, but I still think it’s a nice way to get customers making some noise about your brilliant customer service.
4) Live Chat In Place Of Abandonment Emails
Currently, depending on what you read, shopping cart abandonment levels are around the 70-75% mark.
One way retailers are trying to address this is by sending abandonment emails, which I’m sure you’ll have seen before: “Hey, this is waiting in your basket! Don’t you want it anymore?“
But the problem with abandonment emails is that they’re very impersonal, in that they don’t address why the visitor left the item in their basket in the first place.
Research by Hubspot indicates that 41% of ‘abandoners’ disappear because of hidden shipping charges and 42% leave because they need more information.
Over 11% of cart abandonment emails are clicked, and a third of those clicks lead to a purchase.
For sure, that’s a lot of recovered revenue.
But with just ~4% of abandonment emails leading to purchase, it’s a far cry from that 42% of people who just wanted “more information”.
Live chat is a great way to give people just that, at whatever stage they are in the purchase process.
Triggers mean you can do this even more effectively.
For example, let’s say someone has spent 30 seconds on the checkout page without entering any of their information.
They’ve either gone to make themselves a cup of coffee or they’re struggling with something on the page.
Live chat is the perfect way to give them a nudge, answer any questions they have and, hopefully, close on some of those 42% who need more info and leave your site.
5) Ease Pain/Reassurance
Live chat seems to be particularly effective in situations where there is some pain or anxiety to be relieved.
If a business is hesitant to use live chat because of the volume of enquiries they would have to deal with, it might not be a bad idea to implement a price cap.
For example, only initiate live chat on pages featuring products costing more than, say, $200.
In cases where visitors have been on the page for a long time but aren’t making a purchase, you could even consider triggering a chat something like this:
“Hi there, did you find what you’re looking for? What’s stopping you from making this purchase?”
True, this approach might be a little confrontational for some visitors but it also opens the door to reassuring nervous buyers and removing obstacles for those who aren’t yet fully convinced.
When Ford released a new Mustang in the EU, they found that 65% of visitors who engaged in a live chat on their site pre-ordered a Mustang.
The majority of these indicated that they wanted to be reassured by a human before committing to such a large purchase.
An average customer satisfaction score of 4.6 out of 5 suggests that this figure isn’t down to pushy salesmanship or high pressure tactics, but genuine engagement (apparently 6 times higher than non-chatters, though I’m not sure how that was measured) with the support agent.
So, when you take a look at the ideas that I’ve suggested in this article, you’ll notice a common thread.
Many of them involve replacing something:
- Landing pages
- Contact forms
- Abandonment emails
The key to all of the above methods is that they involve testing live chat, which has already been proven to be an effective tool for conversion, against other methods which may not always live up to their full potential.
It’s important to note that much of the data surrounding live chat comes directly from the mouths of live chat providers, and doesn’t always marry up with the real life experience of marketers who implement it, so we need to take it with a pinch of salt.
I’d never suggest butchering your site and installing live chat everywhere just because some case studies suggest that it might be helpful.
As with anything relating to conversion, the above are just ideas that you might consider testing.
However, the other common thread the above methods all have is that they involve doing something more with live chat.
Live chat is a fascinating tool because, in many ways, it’s the closest thing marketing and sales personnel can get to a face to face conversation in a bricks and mortar store.
A little box in the corner that says “Hi, can I help?” just doesn’t seem to me to be using such a powerful tool to its full potential.
The above? Well, they just might.
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