Thanks to Startups.co.uk, the UK’s leading independent online resource for anyone starting or growing a business, for this guest blog weighing up if live chat benefits your eCommerce business.

Visit almost any well-known online shop. Chances are you’ll see a little speech bubble in the bottom right corner, sometimes with a question such as, “How can we help you today?” 

No matter how it appears, the purpose is always the same. It’s supposed to easily connect you to customer service. So you can ask any questions you may have, without the inconvenience of leaving the current page. 

And if you happen to run or manage an online store, you must have wondered at some point, “Shall I offer live chat on my website too?”

While the importance of customer service is undisputable, the effectiveness of live chat in providing customer service is still debatable. And with so many features  adding to the cost of your ecommerce website, you want to make sure that you have thought things through before including live chat into the mix.

So let’s review some of the key benefits and challenges to determine whether live chat is the right customer service solution for your ecommerce business. 

Live chat benefit

When executed right, live chat can have a great impact on the success of your online business. Here are the major reasons in favor of live chat.

Increasing conversions

Building an ecommerce website is mostly easy. Buy a domain name, choose a website builder, upload your inventory, and you’re good to go. But the real challenge is converting visitors and leads into customers. And live chat can help in this area.

In fact, several studies have supported the sales benefits of live chat:

  • According to a research report, 49% of businesses saw an increase in conversions from live chat within two years of implementation.
  • In another study, 79% of businesses said offering live chat has a positive impact on sales and customer loyalty.
Image Source: Kayako
An example of Currys PC World’s live chat support.

You can increase conversions with live chat because it makes you look more credible and trustworthy. Potential customers see the bubble icon and realize that help is just a click away. 

Plus, if there are any minor questions or objections before making a purchase, customers can get those resolved quickly. This prevents shopping cart abandonment and leads to more complete purchases. 

Tech giant Currys PC World is a great example. When a visitor clicks to expand the live chat option, they can easily get guidance before making a purchase, or even enquire about the status of an existing order.

Customer satisfaction

With plenty of options in every product category, customers are more demanding than ever. They want their issues to be resolved fast. 

If you can’t address their concerns quickly, then it doesn’t matter if you’re a big brand or a small business. They won’t think twice about switching to your competitor. 

So another reason to adopt live chat is its ability to improve customer satisfaction. While the global customer satisfaction rate with live chat has fluctuated over the years, it has always remained more than 80%. 

Image Source: Statista
Homebase’s live chat support for customer service.

Live chat helps you address problems in real-time and provide help fast, as compared to multiple hours of exchanging emails or social media posts. 

For example, Homebase makes it easy for prospects to get instant help by presenting them with a set of predefined options in its live chat popup. As a result, a user just picks the relevant option and avoids the hassle of typing queries manually.

Cutting customer service costs

As we discussed, running an ecommerce website to sell your products comes at a cost. So it’s essential to get maximum return on your investment and find as many opportunities as you can to save money. 

One of those opportunities is implementing live chat. 

A Telus study has found that a support agent using live chat can handle up to six customers at the same time, reducing your need for additional agents. So you can keep your costs down without hurting the quality of service. 

For example, if a customer has a question about how to do something, the support agent can help them find a page with detailed steps. And while the customer reads those steps, the agent can help another customer. 

The bottom line? Live chat can help you build a whole new support model without increasing your overall customer service budget.

Live chat challenges

There’s no shortage of tools for ecommerce merchants, and new ones are popping up every day. So you should consider live chat only if you are ready to tackle the challenges it comes with. These include:

Providing immediate responses

Customers expect live chat to be fast and helpful. So before implementing live chat, you should be prepared to live up to those demands.  

This means having enough well-trained agents to deal with customer queries at scale. Even if you’re using a chatbot, it should be able to handle easy questions and hand over complex queries to human agents. 

Unfortunately, this is easier said than done, and many businesses are struggling to deliver fast answers via live chat. A study shows that the average wait time to get a response on live chat can be nearly three minutes. In fact, 21% of live chat requests are never even answered.

No doubt, templates and scripts are meant to save time and get answers faster. But you also need to work with your agents and bot developers to ensure a proper understanding of your business and customer needs.

Final verdict

So, is live chat right for your business? The answer boils down to whether it’s right for your customers. 

If you can set up live chat in a way that solves customers’ pain points and takes them closer to making a purchase, then go for it by all means. Otherwise, take some time to lay out the groundwork and perfect your live chat strategy first.

Live chat can support prospects through the buyers’ journey and land more sales. As long as you can train your agents and bots right and avoid the issues that make customers abandon their carts, you’ll be glad about your decision. Good luck!