Jun - 2012 0
The E-commerce Answer to the Traditional In-Store Employee
When comparing on and offline retailers the main difference is the role human interactions play in the sales process both from a buyers and sellers perspective. The employee in the retail store is to assist the customer in their decision making process, represent the company and to answer any questions. In an online transaction no sales person is available, and the website’s design and content must fulfill all of the decision making functions. Naturally the key in both scenarios is to support the customer in the process to make that purchase and walk away with a pleasant experience so that their return is more eminent.
Studies have shown that the 3 key reasons an online buyer leaves a transaction are:
(1) the actual product was not found
(2) due to some unresolved issue the buyer abandons the checkout
(3) a general lack of trust in the online transaction
Keep in mind these buyers arrived at your site with a ‘buy mentality’ and this virtual environment is way easier to exit then a showroom floor surrounded by expectant sales personnel and potential alternatives. So how do we make an online visit more like a walk-through- the- store and keep the ‘buy mentality’ active? Being available for your customers through email or phone is not enough since both of these media require extra effort from your online shoppers, a target group that is quite lazy by nature (one of the major reasons they buy on the internet).The nature of these buyers was just recently covered in our previous post. For these buyers it is simpler to continue their search on one of your competitors’ sites. So how do we keep this buyer on the line?
A communication medium that addresses this issue and is used by an increasing number of savvy online retailers is ´live chat software for websites´. This tool allows for convenient and fast communication between the website visitor and the company on-site, solving most of the issues as listed above.
What is the added value of this software?
With live chat, visitors have the opportunity to ask about the availability of a certain product or the specifics of a certain process. A higher percentage of buyersare walked through to the checkout page resulting in a lower percentage ´jump-outs´ during the process.
Increased efficiency in customer service
A service agent is judged by their successful handling of a customer inquiry or complaint and is linked to their utility or efficient use as a resource. Thus an agent that is able to interact with customers through an online channel and another channel e-mail not only reflects better utility, but is able to allow the agent to more effectively plan their work flow. During times of long phone queues agents can jump in to reduce the waiting time of the customers and further reduce the level of frustration for all parties. In addition a live chat agent potentially can handle several customers simultaneously.
Increase the human element of the online shopping experience
This is an issue that is often overlooked, yet a sympathetic face for your website can do miracles for your site’s appearance. Certain live chat providers allow you to add an operator’s picture; this is proven to be a great way to increase the trust of your customer base and improve brand loyalty. Face it, would you rather interact through direct chat or type/send an e-mail and hope for a response?
What are the downsides of an integrated Live-Chat?
There has to be a person available to answer the incoming chat request. Some features are available to lighten this issue; the ability to answer the chat from a Smartphone or the appearance of a contact form when there is no service employee online. For the internet site that cannot afford a 24/7 group of agents there is always the possibility of renting this service from a professional service center to answer the chats.
For the savvy online shoppers the interjection of a chat option may be irritating and disrupt the buying process and further damage the experience. Thus the answer is to always allow the buyer to accept or reject the chat support option. Plus having a supportive buyer profile application will increase your successful transaction rate.
With the ever-growing competition on the web, customer service could be the decisive factor to differentiate you from the competition. In this way online retailing is following a similar path as offline retailing has taken over the past decades.
Userlike is a company offering live chat software as a Software-as-a-Service form. The company is located in Cologne, Germany, and was founded by Timoor Taufig and David Voswinkel in 2011(www.userlike.com).
The company’s mission is to “Offer tools to SME Online Businesses that will allow them to raise their conversions, trustworthiness, and overall professionalism online.” The company is built on a strong belief in customer service as a way to gain a competitive advantage.
Pascal van Opzeeland
Pascal is responsible for the online marketing activities of Userlike and writes the Userlike blog.