Live Chat for Ecommerce: Best Practices, Implementation & Examples
- Live chat on your eCommerce website can help you boost customer satisfaction and increase conversions by 2.8x.
- 41% of consumers say live chat is their preferred support channel
- When done correctly, you can provide 24/7 support without needing 24/7 staff
- Richpanel takes live chat to new levels, enabling any ecommerce store owner to set up a self-service portal that cuts support costs and increases CSAT at the same time
- Thinking about implementing live chat for ecommerce website? Keep reading and we’ll get into the practical details about all of these points and more.
Today, you need to compete on more than just product features. Exceptional customer support offers a key differentiator, allowing you to improve customer satisfaction, increase conversions, and grow your top-line revenue.
In this guide, we'll show how to overcome the common challenges associated with live chat, and best practices to using it to fuel your growth.
What is live chat support?
Live chat support is a way to answer questions in real-time via a small chat widget on your website.
In the past, live chat support needed to be staffed around the clock.
Today, a good live chat system needs to incorporate self-service to help your customers quickly find answers, as well as integrate with email. This makes it easy to switch between chat and email without depending solely on live support.
Why use live chat on your ecommerce store?
There are multiple benefits to using live chat support on an ecommerce site. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
1. Improve conversions by helping customers in real-time
If you had a brick-and-mortar store, you’d staff it with a helpful team. You'd be available to answer any questions that your potential customers had while they’re visiting. You’d be proactively asking customers if they have questions, problems, or need help. That customer support would be your competitive advantage over other retailers.
Online, that’s more difficult.
You could have hundreds of interested shoppers on your product pages, but no easy way to engage with them in real-time like you could in person.
If your company is like most ecommerce merchants, you’ll be regularly seeing people add items to their cart, then leave without checking out. It’s not surprising, considering 97% of buyers say they’ve abandoned a purchase because the service wasn’t convenient enough.
Buyers are influenced by convenience at every stage of the buying process, from research, to post-purchase.
Offering live chat support shows your customers that your support team is there and ready to help — just like they would be in a brick-and-mortar store.
If someone has a quick question about a product before they check out, you can answer it in real-time before they have a chance to leave your site. With a system like Richpanel you can see what products they’re engaging with, what’s in their basket, and if they’ve ever purchased from you before. Your agents can quickly dive into the interaction, answering your customers’ questions in a helpful and personalized way.
The data backs up the benefits: when you quickly resolve someone’s questions using live chat, they’re 2.8x more likely to convert. Can you afford to leave those opportunities on the table?
2. Improve customer satisfaction
Your customers don’t want to search for the ‘Contact Support’ link in your site footer and jump through hoops to send you a simple question via a contact form, or worse, call a number that puts them on hold for 20 minutes.
Today, 41% of consumers say that live chat is their preferred support channel, and that’s because it’s:
- Convenient: Customers can chat right from the page they’re on
- Fast: Get instant replies, rather than waiting for email or phone support
- Personalized: your agents have all the details they need about the customer
By offering live chat support you’ll prove to your customers that you care about providing the best experience for them. Whenever they have a problem they'll be more satisfied with the support experience, and be more willing to choose your brand again in the future.
There will always be customers that prefer a phone call or email, but the data shows that the majority prefer chat, and the average ecommerce live chat conversation has an average satisfaction rate of 86.06%.
Related Read: Ways to Improve Ecommerce Customer Service Experience
3. Free up your support team’s time
Another benefit of effective live chat is that you can incorporate self-service elements into it, creating a superior customer experience.
Including a self-service portal in your live chat support can cut down support tickets by over 50%, saving your team a huge amount of time every single day.
60-80% of support tickets in ecommerce are repetitive, creating systems to help your team avoid the need to answer those will free up time and let them focus on higher priority or complex support tickets.
The experience will still feel like a live chat, because the whole self-service experience will happen inside the chat widget.
For example, with Richpanel, ecommerce support teams can enable customers to handle issues themselves, cutting down the time your team needs to spend on each conversation. If a customer wants to return an item, you can automate as much of the returns process as you wish.
For example, if a live chat message contains the words “Status”, “Order”, and “Where Is”, and the customer placed an order within the last 30 days, an automated message with details on the status of their order will be sent.
It’s 50% cheaper to handle frequently asked questions using live chat than over the phone, and it’ll be a smoother experience for your customers.
Common Misconceptions about Live Chat Support
We often talk to ecommerce store owners about their pain points around customer support and live chat. Here are some of the common reasons, and why they’re usually easy to overcome.
1. You need to be available 24/7
Most people see live chat as a considerable time investment. But, an effective support system will ensure that it works equally well asynchronously as it does in real-time.
For example, let’s say someone wants to start their refund process at 3am while your whole team is sleeping.
Instead of needing to wait for a reply, your live chat can include automated workflows to direct your customer to the next relevant step with a self-service option.
Your customer can start the refund process without needing to talk to anyone, but they’ll still feel like it was a helpful and personalized interaction with your brand.
Using Richpanel, you can set this up in a few minutes:
If a customer can’t resolve the issue completely, they still have provided all the information needed for your support team to jump in and resolve the issue upon return, and seamlessly start communicating with the customer.
Merchants on Richpanel like Bicycle Warehouse combined live chat with self-service on their website to enable seamless communication with customers — they managed to cut down their first-response time to under 3 minutes, and grew their CSAT to 84%.
2. You’ll need to spend lots of money and time on it
From both a time and financial perspective, live chat can feel expensive at first.
You have to:
- Spend time setting it up on your site
- Jump in and out of live chat all day answering questions, distracting you from other work
- Hire more support reps to manage it
Despite that appearance, the reality of the data is clear: in the long run, an effective chat system that integrates self-service and supports asynchronous communication will save you both time and money.
Here’s a real example of live chat leading to substantial cost savings: Cali Raised LED was hiring a support rep to manage their growing number of customer support tickets. Before hiring someone, they implemented Richpanel to create a self-service system combined with live chat, to help their existing team manage their workload more effectively.
Once their support system was in place with live chat and self-service systems, their support ticket volume became manageable. As a result, they didn’t need to hire a new rep.
That’s a cost-saving of tens of thousands per year.
3. It’s hard to measure the ROI of live chat
Measuring the exact return on investment (ROI) of live chat is hard, but, there’s enough data out there to make the ROI clear.
Firstly, customers that engage with live chat before purchasing have a 10% increase in average order value, on average. For most brands, an extra 10% AOV will more than cover the cost of implementing your live chat system.
If you’re unsure if your live chat support is generating any ROI, you can see exactly how much revenue was influenced by Richpanel in your analytics tab.
You can see a daily, weekly, monthly, or annual breakdown of conversations that led to purchases. Measuring the ROI of your live chat will be simple.
Over time, customer support will become a marketing channel and you’ll have clear data to help you make decisions on new initiatives.
Three ways Live Chat can Improve the Customer Experience on Ecommerce Stores
1. Greet customers as they arrive — just like in a brick-and-mortar store
As ecommerce continues to grow, it’s more and more important to treat it as the primary storefront for your business.
Even if you have a physical store, the rapid growth of ecommerce means you need to adapt and meet customers where they expect you to be.
You need to show potential customers that they can have an experience on your website that rivals that of a real brick-and-mortar store.
When a new visitor arrives on your site, you can greet them, and ask if they need any help or guidance, resulting in a customer experience that feels personalized, helpful, and high-quality.
If they’re repeat visitors or existing customers, you can customize your message further.
- Welcome to [brand name]! Let us know if we can help with anything.
- Welcome back, [customer name]. Happy shopping and let us know if we can help!
Your store will be a friendly, welcoming environment, just like your customers’ favorite brick-and-mortar stores.
2. Proactively recover abandoned carts
The average cart abandonment rate is 69.8%. That means the majority of customers who visit your store consider purchasing, but don’t convert.
But, what if you could recover a significant amount of that potential revenue?
To help eliminate cart abandonment, you can use live chat to proactively help customers and ease concerns they have about buying your product — and potentially even upsell them.
For example, let’s say someone has an item in their cart for 15 minutes but hasn’t checked out. You can trigger an automatic message to send to the customer asking a question like:
- Is there anything I can help you with today?
- Do you have any questions about [product]?
Sometimes, all you need to do is ask a simple question and you’ll prompt a reply.
Your customer might tell you that the shipping costs are too high, or they’re choosing between two products.
You can help them choose the best product for their needs, and offer a discount on shipping — in real-time, or with an automatic self-service workflow.
The result will be a new customer who wouldn’t have otherwise bought from you.
Using your live chat proactively is an excellent lever to improve customer satisfaction, sales, and revenue — all at the same time.
3. Help customers find the best products for their needs
By building self-service automation into your live chat you can use it as a smart product recommendation engine.
For example, in the conversation below, Jacob (a potential customer), is shopping for perfume.
He can use the self-service option in the live chat widget to search for recommendations, based on who the perfume is for, how intense it should be, and the type of scent family he wants.
From there, the self-service system can send him a list of product recommendations. If Jacob is a returning high-value customer, one of your support team can jump in and suggest new products he’s likely to be interested in.
This is a proven strategy — 310 Nutrition, a leading health and nutrition brand, used self-service to take care of routine questions, giving agents more time to cater to customers in the buying process. They saw a 17% lift in conversions from support conversations due to the high level of personalization live chat offers.
It’s a simple but excellent way to grow conversions and make your website experience feel as personalized as an in-store experience.
Ecommerce Live Chat: Best Practices You need to Follow
1. Implement self-service features alongside live chat
If your live chat relies exclusively on your support team being available, it won’t work well. In fact, it’ll lead to your team being overworked and overwhelmed by all the messages they need to reply to
As well as that, 81% of customers attempt to solve problems themselves before reaching out to a support representative, so it’s vital that you help make that process simple for them.
For the best results, your live chat system should combine 24/7 self-service elements and elegant ways to use chat interface after-hours to initiate conversations that can be completed when agents become available.
It’ll allow you to offer an experience that mimics a real interaction in terms of speed, helpfulness, and even how many tickets can be resolved.
If a complex question can’t be resolved automatically, it’ll be directed to your team to answer. The key benefit here is your team won’t spend all day answering repetitive questions. Support rep productivity will increase, and customer satisfaction will go up.
Related Read: Complete Guide on Customer Self-Service
2. Allow for asynchronous communication
Even if your team isn't online and available to chat in real-time, you should still allow your customers to interact with your live chat widget.
Everyone has had frustrating experiences trying to contact a business but getting out-of-office auto-responders, being put on hold, or being ignored for days.
Allowing your customers to communicate with you even when you’re not behind the computer will be a major improvement to your customer experience.
Combining your live chat with self-service elements will allow you to solve customer problems even when you’re away or your support agents are busy with other customers.
Build various pre-set workflows into your self-service system, such as:
- How to get delivery updates
- How to start the refund process for a product
- Managing billing-related issues
Most queries will be similar, and once you know them, you can create your self-service system for answering them.
It will free up support time, and improve your CSAT by answering your customers’ most pressing questions.
3. Unify your channels in a single inbox
Rather than treating live chat as a standalone channel, it’s more effective to unify it with your other support channels, like email and social media, where your customers are reaching out.
If a customer sends you a message on Messenger or Instagram, you need to get notified, even if you’re not actively monitoring your social media inboxes.
On Richpanel, you easily connect your social accounts to your central support inbox. Head to Settings, find the Channels section, select the accounts you want to add, and link the accounts.
It takes 30 seconds and you’ll be able to start receiving and replying to support messages across every channel, including live chat, all from one place.
A major benefit of this is that you can add context to social media conversations. If you were managing the channels separately, your team would need to manually look up customer details and past order information.
By bringing your social media support messages into a central inbox, you can automatically see details on past orders, conversations, and other important details to help your support team successfully resolve tickets and provide an amazing customer experience.
Read More: Multi-Channel Customer Support Helpdesk
4. Keep your message content simple
Live chat is a conversational channel. Your customers don’t want to read long, complicated messages.
Rather than use your live chat for long conversations, use it to send short and clear messages.
Rather than have long conversations, direct people to relevant information, such as a detailed help doc, or direct them through a self-service system where someone can quickly resolve their own query.
Over time, you’ll hear regular questions, discover edge cases, and be able to update your support system to cater to those.
Your team will then be able to free up time previously spent writing out long answers to focus on pressing tickets that need resolving, and working on other important projects and tasks.
5. Close every chat when it’s finished
Leaving your conversations open will lead to your team getting confused over what needs to be answered and what doesn’t.
Ensure your team have a system for closing every chat, for example:
- Ask the customer if they need help with anything else
- Ask a series of closing questions
- Direct them to other useful resources
- Ask them to rate their support experience
This process will ensure every conversation gets closed and you never have customers who slip through the cracks and get forgotten about.
By asking customers how they liked their experience, you’ll gather valuable feedback.
To do this, you can add a conversation rating to any task bot inside Richpanel. You’ll learn if your self-service automations are working well and helping your customers, or if there are ways you can improve them.
Recommended Read: Best Live Chat Apps for Shopify Store in 2022
Best Live Chat for Ecommerce Store
Today, you can’t just compete on product. You need to be competing on customer service and offering your customers an experience that they love, and would be willing to use again.
Live chat is the perfect way to enable your customers to access your support team in seconds, and by integrating your self-service system, you enable them to solve their own problems with ease, saving your support team hours every day.
Richpanel is a customer service platform for fast-growing ecommerce teams that need to scale up their support while delivering a personalized, and timely experience for customers.
In minutes you can:
- Set up a branded live chat support system
- Create self-service workflows to direct your customers to helpful resources without needing any support agent intervention
- Automate repetitive tasks and resolve customer issues around the clock
- Integrate with all of your channels, tools, and apps
Implement Richpanel to boost customer happiness and scale support. Learn more and sign up for free today.
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