The smart move: 3 reasons to use live chat

By Amy Li

Published January 16, 2015
Last modified January 16, 2015

When we hear “customer service” our minds immediately jump to interminable phone call experiences. We tap our fingers impatiently while the machine lists options from 0 to 9, only to find that our problem is not actually listed.

The truth is, as customers we have a lot of questions. Before, we directed our inquiries to sales representatives as we walked up and down the aisles of a store. Now, between crazy work hours and life, we find ourselves putting more items into our virtual shopping carts than our physical ones. And this is where live chat comes to play.

The following are 3 reasons why incorporating live chat into your business’ customer service experience will help you gain more customers and keep them happy.

1. Quick answers and less waiting
When shopping online, customers are happier and more likely to make a purchase if their questions are answered quickly. These questions are usually about pricing and product information. Live chat provides the perfect platform to solve these problems and eliminates customers’ hesitation to purchase. Customers no longer need to resort to phone calls or emails, which tend to involve longer wait times.

Our research indicates that live chat is the fastest channel for problem solving with the shortest total resolution time. Chat is significantly faster than any other method of communication.

Live chat is is also highly desired. A study conducted by Forrester called “Making Proactive Chat Work” found the following:

“Many online consumers want help from a live person while they are shopping online; in fact, 44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a Web site can offer.”

In addition, an ATG Global Consumer Trend study showed that 90% of customers consider live chat helpful knowing they can get immediate help if needed. For example, agents and customers can share names, account numbers, tracking numbers, and so on, via chat instead of over the phone where mistakes are common. Also, one agent can service more than one customer at a time using chat, but is locked into only one customer via phone, cutting down time and cost for both agents and customer in this shared experience.

2. Building customer loyalty
Live chat can make the entire customer support experience less intimidating. By making it easier for your customer to reach your support team, your brand will feel more approachable. It also allows for increased conversations and, in the long run, a growing customer base.

Calling the official help hotline can be a daunting process—an interaction that can feel formal and intimidating for some customers. Chatting online however, creates a feeling that is more similar to talking to a friend because it is casual. A quick “Hi there” and a smiley face can put anxious customers at ease. Ultimately, chat can give customers confidence and foster a long lasting relationship. One positive experience can lead to a rewarding second visit, and a third, and so on. The higher the return rate, the stronger the customer loyalty, and the higher the sales revenue. So why not choose a platform that is low cost and effective?

3. Live chat caters to the young and the young at heart
According to a survey by help desk evaluation firm Software Advice, there’s a strong correlation between age and preference for using live chat. The data shows that while most adults have used chat, younger people tend to have more recurring interactions with the product. For instance, 56% of respondents reported that they used live chat at least once and 39% said that they used it more than once to get their questions answered.

It’s clear that if live chat is offered on the web, people want to use it. The question is, who are you targeting? The chart below demonstrates engagement with live chat in accordance to age range, suggesting customers between ages 18-34 are highly receptive to live chat.

The survey found that online shoppers between ages 18-34 are more likely than any other age group to not only use live chat, but to also find it more useful. It’s all well and good that millennials prefer live chat, but who’s actually buying and making significant purchases online? According to Business Insider, millennials (aged 18-34) remain the key demographic for online commerce, spending more money online in a given year than any other age group despite having lower incomes than older adults at around $2,000 annually.

The data points are matching up. The top shoppers online are the same people who find live chat most helpful. If this group of shoppers are set on spending their money somewhere online, why not be the company that jumps to the front of the line by providing a positive service experience over live chat. This will ensure the customer's money is spent on your product and not at your competitors. In the end, live chat is a valuable tool sales and customer support because it ultimately changes the dynamic of how a customer interacts with a product or a company. It is there to help shape the online experience for shoppers and replace the complex service process with a simple and effective solution.

This post was originally published by Zopim. Since joining Zendesk, Zopim has been welcomed into our product family as Zendesk Chat, along with a number of treasured belongings.