Speed is one of those rapidly growing customer service trends that can help businesses consolidate their position in e-commerce, along with flexibility and convenience. These are or, at least, should be the goals of any e-commerce store that wants to successfully operate in today’s business environment.
The digital experience has now become the main selling point when it comes to shopping online and can either be the reason for new, long-lasting customer relationships or something that can spark an idea of looking for something better.
To avoid this and keep up with the ever-changing customer demands, e-commerce merchants have to rely on technology like live chat that can boost the response speed and increase the chances for more thorough customer support.
In this article, you will learn what exactly a live chat is and go through key live chat software benefits for customer service. In other words, why it's a must for your online business in 2023 and beyond - read on!S
What is a live chat?
Live chat is an online application or software that businesses use to engage with their site visitors and improve customer support. By placing a chat box right on their e-commerce stores or company websites, they enable an instant exchange of messages between a responsible team member and a potential customer.
You’ve probably seen it somewhere already or even used it.
Although live chat service is mostly used for initiating conversations with first-time site visitors or providing them with answers in real-time, it is also a great tool for generating leads, driving more sales, and improving the overall customer experience.
Moreover, with the help of AI or, to be more specific, chatbots, businesses can provide their customers with 24/7 chat support, thus staying available whenever their visitors need.
We’ll get into the benefits of live chat in no time, but first let’s go back to speed, flexibility, and convenience, and why they’re so important in serving customers.
The importance of speed, flexibility, and convenience in customer service
Due to the pandemic, many businesses have been pushed online, which also raised a bar for the quality of customer service.
Customers now have more options right at their fingertips, which made them noticeably pickier, more skeptical, and demanding. They don’t mind jumping ships for a faster, more convenient experience, leaving businesses desperately trying to keep up with their needs. In fact, 86% of customers will even spend more with companies that offer their preferred option to reach customer support.
This is what makes the following so important.
As instant messaging platforms are taking over most of the interpersonal communication, no wonder that customers see chatting as the fastest way to reach out to businesses, too.
According to Hubspot’s research, consumers are the happiest with help times of chat, which are usually less than 1 minute. Besides, in 2021, live chat ticket volume has increased by 17% compared to 2020, Zendesk reports.
For business, flexibility means being able to adjust to those constantly evolving trends and offer a variety of solutions to fulfill customer expectations. And what customers expect is being able to contact businesses effortlessly, get their answers now, and do it via the channel of their choice.
Convenience while shopping online is a priority among all generations, and is more important than the brand itself, Salesforce report states. Shoppers are looking for the possibility to use self-service portals, flexible shipping and fulfillment options, besides, 70% of customers are using or interested in using chatbots for simpler customer service.
So where does the live chat service stand in all this?
By being a direct, instant, and easily accessible channel, a customer service chat can serve all these three purposes, which makes it a great tool for businesses to build new and maintain existing connections.
5 benefits of live chat software for customer service
1. Faster responses
One of the things that differentiate online chat support from other customer support solutions is how long (or, to be more specific, how short) it takes to get someone to actually respond to a request.
People are already used to instant messaging and it kind of reduced the tolerance for long response times when reaching out to customer support. Live chat can eliminate this inconvenience since it offers real-time communication. It means that every time a visitor starts typing, there’s likely a person (or a chatbot) ready to address the issue right away.
This results in one of the most important benefits of live chat software for business – customer satisfaction. And we probably all know what this means – increased chances of seeing them in your store again, ready to make another purchase.
Put simply, the faster the response, the happier are your customers!
2. Increased sales
Some might not see a connection between live chat software and higher conversions, but that’s just a wrong assumption. Live chat can be just the right way to turn website visitors into leads and start selling more as a result.
Shoppers who use live chat on the company’s website are 2.8x more likely to convert than those who don’t, according to Forrester. Moreover, 77% of customers admit that they are likely not to complete their purchases if there’s no live chat support, while people who actually use live chat and end up buying something tend to spend 60% more than non-chatters.
That’s mostly because live chat is great for engaging visitors during their whole shopping journey, whether it’s offering assistance once they enter the store or lending a hand in making some specific decisions.
Not only that – research show that people who have had live chat conversations are more likely to shop at the same store consistently, compared to those who didn't use or haven't had a chance to use live chat during their time spent in the store. This proves that live chat support has a strong impact on customer retention which is a huge long-term benefit to any business.
3. Reduced customer service costs
Another significant benefit of live chat software is how cost-effective it actually is. Different research indicate that, compared to, for instance, phone support, serving customers via live chat can be from 17% to 33% cheaper.
There are several reasons for this. First, live chat allows agents to engage in multiple conversations and help more than one site visitor at the same time. As for the phone calls, answering several of them simultaneously and providing quality support would never work.
As a result, there’s usually a lower demand for a big customer support team as fewer people can handle more clients. Moreover, some more advanced live chat software can even perform different tasks on its own, minimizing the need for manual intervention.
4. Stronger relationships and increased trust
Adding a live chat to the list of channels you use to keep in touch with customers is a great way of showing them that you care. A wider variety of options can help you appear more responsive and indicate that you’re always ready to listen, no matter how visitors will decide to reach out.
Besides, the presence of a live chat creates an opportunity to get to know the brand instantly through the people who represent it. Live chat is kind of like that salesperson who meets you at the door, you’re aware he’s there for you, and know that you can get your answers in no time if you just ask. Sometimes, he pleasantly offers assistance beforehand, and that’s nice, too.
Such a direct and personal way to contact a business when you need it the most brings a brand closer to the consumer. Moreover, accessibility and fast resolution can make it look more reliable and easier to trust, helping both sides to lay the foundation for a strong, long-lasting relationship.
5. Competitive advantage in a fierce e-commerce battle
Although the demand for instant communication is on the rise, too many companies are still taking this channel for granted.
The live chat support study by SuperOffice revealed that out of 1000 companies, only 9% provide live chat support on their websites. It means that 91% (!) of surveyed businesses are missing on the benefits they can get from implementing a live chat service. Because those who enable their site visitors to get answers right on their website without waiting for hours, have higher chances of turning them into customers.
On the flip side, those who enable their site visitors to get answers right on their website without waiting for hours, have higher chances of turning them into customers. We already established that shoppers are looking for faster and more convenient ways to purchase online, besides, 84% of them tend to switch to a competitor after a poor customer experience, according to Hubspot.
As live chat software for website can boost customer satisfaction, it can also reduce the chances of customers leaving your store disappointed. And who knows, maybe even attracting some visitors that have just been unable to use it on competitors’ stores.
Should you really get a live chat for your business?
It might not seem like much – just a simple chatbox on your store. Yet it's proved that live chat software is not only a preferable and convenient tool for customers to contact businesses and get their issues resolved fast. It can also drive business growth by offering another way to engage visitors while they're shopping, increase the average order value, help to sell more, and fine-tune customer experience, thus improving customer retention and loyalty.
In case you’re still having doubts if live chat software is really capable of bringing the benefits mentioned above, nothing can probably convince you better than trying it out for yourself.
So the answer to our final question is big fat YES – live chat on your store can noticeably improve the shopping journey, so choose the best live chat software for your needs, make it available to your customers, and watch your business grow.