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Study: Live Chat Ups Conversions Tenfold

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Sales, online and off, are closed when the customer trusts the seller. To that end, how far does including live chat in the online sales and checkout process go toward sealing the deal? Numbers are coming in, and they’re looking good.

It seems it would make intuitive sense: customers can ask questions before buying the same way they could in a brick and mortar store. No phone calls, no automated systems, no echoing silence from across the Internet.

Trust is such an important concept. This may be why, according to GetElastic.com, multiple pages in the checkout process converts better than a single page. Their data suggests that three pages or steps are optimal, converting at 6.2 percent.

Even seven pages or more (which is unbelievable to me, impatient jerk that I am) converts better than a one-step checkout process. Only one of the top 100 retailers use a one page checkout, and they convert the least at just 2.5 percent.

But why? Maybe it’s because one step seems too easy, just like a scam would seem too easy. Maybe it takes more steps to reassure a buyer, who is dealing with an invisible seller, that this deal is legit.

It would make sense, then, that providing the opportunity to actually converse with a human before a purchase could boost the chances of the purchase actually taking place. Conversations build trust and conversations look like they build conversions, too.

GetElastic has its own numbers on live chat in a nifty 46-page whitepaper on the entire checkout process, which can be downloaded in PDF or viewed in HTML, and includes data on shipping offers, coupons, security, et cetera.

"Live chat has the potential to bridge the customer service gap that exists between online shoppers and retailers," the authors say. "It can be the extra little push a shopper needs to get over any conversion hurdles that may exist such as purchase uncertainty, product questions, or technical and policy assistance."

But they’re still unsure about its actual efficacy, only slightly outperforming in the Apparel and High Ticket categories, and underperforming in every other. The authors attribute this "counter-intuitive" result to a potential annoyance factor, which can turn any would-be customer off.

Coremetrics and CompUSA have a different tale to tell on live chat, though. Coremetrics followed CompUSA’s implementation of InstantService’s live chat technology to make a case study of it. They found that website conversion rates went up by a factor of ten.

“By adding InstantService live chat to Compusa.com, we’ve given our customers the ability to communicate with a live agent who can help answer their questions,” said Al Hurlebaus, managing director of marketing and advertising at CompUSA. “This added value mirrors the in-store experience where customers rely on our knowledgeable salespeople to obtain assistance when they need it. "

Coremetrics’ analysis showed that 60 percent of visitors who chatted and added an item to the cart, did so from the most recently viewed category before initiating a chat session.

A keyword there might be "initiated," as in the customer initiated the chat session, cutting down on the annoyance factor mentioned by GetElastic. Nearly 54 percent of CompUSA customers ended up purchasing from the category they most recently viewed before chatting.

It is still unclear, though, whether CompUSA’s recent change in customer focus, from business-to-consumer to business-to-business had an impact on the results.

Jane Paolucci, VP of marketing for Coremetrics, shares some more numbers in an interview with WebProNews. She said that 68.5 percent of CompUSA customers chatted while browsing the site and that 32 percent chatted while in the shopping cart during the late stages of the buying process.

"Out of that," she said, "over 10 percent of those sessions convert to a sale, 10 times the average website conversion rate." Paolucci says that only 28 percent of ecommerce sites are currently offering live chat.

But they are "increasingly spending more money on technologies that are bringing them closer to their clients."   

Not to endorse one chat product over the other, here’s a Google search for "live chat widgets for ecommerce" to speed you along the chat discovery process should you think that’s right for your site.

Study: Live Chat Ups Conversions Tenfold
Top Rated White Papers and Resources
  • Patrick Lortie

    Hi Jason,
    Just to mention that there is also audio video chat software available for ecommerce that bring live chat to a nother level. Staffonline is one of them.

    • Odile

      You can have a free trial and test drive StaffOnline at www.plmedia.ca

      • Hilary Williams

        I am interested in finding out more about Live chat for my website. Can you tell me how I can go about setting it up?

        Thanks

        Hilary

        • Geoff

          I’m using live chat from stardevelop at http://livehelp.stardevelop.com . Its one of the best value for money in my opinion and has improved my conversion. Not only that I’ve found visitors tend to trust you more when there’s someone available to answer questions.

        • Jaydip

          Live chat software usually paid, companies charge USD15-25 per month, but few hosting packages offering live chat software free.

          Buy a 125MB hosting package from Jdc Express (http://www.jdcexpress.com ) and you will have your own Live Chat, which you can configure also we can do it for you at minimum cost.

          With above live chat you can use on multiple domain, multiple operator, send and store transcript, ask visitor on your webpage for chat and etc.

          One time hosting charge will cost you US$40 a year plus a domain registration for US$12.5 or total US$52.5 a year.

          Even you can shift your existing domain to our hosting plan for this. If you need assistance then email us at jay1370@gmail.com

  • Mark

    Well first thing you need to do is give them a WANT for your product!

    Like what is wrong with your pc now?

    Mark T. http://www.snapnpopdragon.com

  • Nick Matina

    Regarding this article, I would like to submit our software as a very solid and competitive live caht, voip, statistics, and IM aggregation solution!

    HTTP://WWW.CHATSTAT.COM

    Thanks!

  • Jonathan

    Live chat does help a great deal. The best feature live chat offers is “at the moment” observations of how customers come into the store, move around in the store, and exit the store.

    I have had many customers enter the store searching for a part that hasn’t been activated or loaded on the site yet and many times I have been able to load the part before the customer leaves and they have been able to find it and purchase it. If I didn’t have live chat to monitor this, that sale would probably not have become a reality.

    That is just the tip of the iceberg on how useful live chat is without even chatting.

    Jonathan
    HvacPartsShop.com

  • Karina

    Test

  • Leffrey

    Compusa’s conversion rate with LiveChat was 10 times WHOSE conversion rate without it. You can’t compare their conversion rate to another company’s. How much is Compusa’s conversion rate before that added live chat? Then you will have real numbers.

    Irresponsible statistical reporting drives me crazy. Everyone thinks that they are an analyst. People follow stats that they read in a column like this sometimes to later wonder what they themselves are doing wrong not to get similar results. However, their downfall was listening to some dumb calculation that made no sense to begin with.

  • jo

    Hi,

    I sell a big ticket item, a 700 dollar guided cleansing program and my website gets about 1,500 unique viewers a day.

    I tried different live chat programs over the past year and a half.

    Not once did it help in the conversion process… and when I initiated live chat (push chat i think it is called and I did so only with those people that I saw through monitoring software that they had already been in the website or at the order page a few times already, when I initiated it with a “push” popup ‘Lets Chat”, I found 9 times out of 10 then the prospect would immediately log out of the site. run away immediately, as if they felt that i had intruded on their space, on their privacy.

    Anyway, have dropped all live chat from my site www.hps-online.com

    That’s my experience. Hope it helps someone else in their decision making process. Maybe live chat works well for big companies with well know products and brands, but for high ticket items and an unknown brand, I found nothing positive from it.

    Polls at my website done with people who have ordered the program indicate that the reason they bought was the website, not autoresponders full of info sent to them, not the support group/ community (we have a very large and mature support group online), not free info, not email support, but rather the website, returning, reading and slowly making a decision on their own. Live chat seems to have disturbed that process a bit.

    Peace,
    jos-hua
    www.hps–online.com
    The Ultimate Resource for Cleansing online

  • Jaydip

    If you like to add a live chat software for your website then you should buy a web hosting package from Jdc Express at http://www.jdcexpress.com and you will get your live chat software free.

    Which is easy to configure, have multiple operator extension, trascript sending and storing, asking visitor for a chat, chating support html, text, url, image file. Multi domain support.

    for help mail us at jay1370@gmail.com or visit www.jdcexpress.com

  • SkinnyWolf.co.uk

    Customer confidence in purchasing online is growing by the day and the added advantage of Live Chat in reassuring the customer that they’re dealing with another person is huge in closing more business.

    We’ve found in our own experience and research, that anyone who uses our Live Chat has a 95% chance of purchasing than someone emailing a question and they do so for 2 main reasons:

    1) the description and details of the item is not good enough to convince them to purchase online and further details are needed??..

    2)…the main reason: they need reassurance they’re dealing with a human being with human responses, that can answer questions and fill them with the confidence to purchase.

    It will take some time for the older generations of consumers to jump on board and start purchasing more online, but the more online business’s that offer Live Chat, the more confidence and trust the consumer will have in knowing they’re dealing with real people and that’s the secret to a winning formula.

    It’s early days for live chat in business, but if you don’t have the money to invest in huge advertisement campaigns, it’s certainly the next best thing for consumer confidence.

  • Benny

    A grammatical error in the 3rd sentence? Stopped reading right there.

    • Jason Lee Miller

      Homophones are nothing but troublemakers, aren’t they? Easy for your mind to autocorrect while reading also…like in this sentence:

      He jumped over the the couch.

      Most of us will automatically correct that, deleting the second "the." Sometimes, we won’t notice no matter how many times we read it.

      Not you though, sounds like your internal editor is right on the money. Nice catch. It’s a shame though. I think you may have missed some good content. But you’re probably right. If I can’t spell "they are" with the proper contraction, the rest of the article’s probably just garbage.

      How do you feel about people with moles?

      Cheers.

  • Corey gardner

    I found the article to just be a great gem. We have a small Mortgage company and just got tired of lead purchasing. We built a site (www.homeratefinder.com)to procure our own leads. We have a small budget, little overhead and a small staff, but we are good at what we do, but there are so many sites in this sector spending a lot of money. Although, the article was “retail” oriented, it affirmed my belief that distinctive and unique ways of bridging the gap is the best way to compete in any sector.
    For us, it seems a chat feature would help to allow us to Stay on par with the reason anyone visits our site: immediate answers, which makes an uncertainty turn into a certain prospect. If you have any feedback or suggestions please email me. Cgardner@intercoastalcapital.com

    • scooter

      You guys at www.homeratefinder.com have a clean simple site. I really was impressed by the ease in which to use it. Some sites the chat feature is not ideal but you guys got a good thing.

  • http://www.bored-room.com Kathy Pop

    I am a total beleiver in using some sort of live interaction with potential customers. In fact, I have a web conference room that I call my virtual office and I invite everyone to stop in. The ability to actually show people as well as speak all in real time is extremely powerful!
    I have another room that I do live trainings, this way everyone starts out right & has cut my support tickets WAY down.
    I can’t praise it enough, it’s an invaluable tool for any online business owner.

    • http://www.hab.la Ben

      I have been building a solution that allows you to chat with visitors to your website using your existing IM client. It has the ability to hide-show the ‘click to chat’ link only when you / the operator are available, thus, ensuring that visitors only know about live chat, when there is someone there to answer it.

      In addition, we are currently looking for beta testers, you can check our product out at http://www.hab.la

      If we are out of beta testing invites, post to our forum, and we’ll get you an invite code asap.

      Thanks,
      Ben

  • http://www.liveadmins.com LABetty

    Dear Mr. Miller!
    I have a simple question. Is it not difficult for web based customer services to build trust and thus clientle. We dont advertise, (not really, not like other companies can) and even though our response is more rapid than an automated computer generated response, there is still no face to the service we’re offering. Essentially i am pointing to the human element. Your comments?

    Betty
    live admins

    • Jason Lee Miller

      Dear LABetty!

      I’m not sure if I fully understand your question. Building trust anywhere — online or off — is essentially a delicate and difficult maneuver. Trust is earned, first by words, and then by action. If you are able to get a few people speak well of you, then your rep should grow word of mouth. You can speed this along with viral/social marketing, SEO, and tactics like link bait, which will help expand your presence on line.

      Presence, is what I call it, but others will call it branding or even "conversational media." Utilizing much of the free media available to you online takes more time than money, even if I understand that time is money. 

      But branding is one essential element of marketing and the sales cycle that is often lost with online marketers that want measurable, immediate results. But here’s how it works in a nutshell: the more present your brand along the discovery process (search, blogs, social networks, reviews, etc.), the more likely you’ve built up some trust equity along the way. Now all you have to do is deliver. And once that cycle is completed, the results should come.

      Am I close?

    • Jason Lee Miller

      Dear LABetty!

      I’m not sure if I fully understand your question. Building trust anywhere — online or off — is essentially a delicate and difficult maneuver. Trust is earned, first by words, and then by action. If you are able to get a few people speak well of you, then your rep should grow word of mouth. You can speed this along with viral/social marketing, SEO, and tactics like link bait, which will help expand your presence on line.

      Presence, is what I call it, but others will call it branding or even "conversational media." Utilizing much of the free media available to you online takes more time than money, even if I understand that time is money. 

      But branding is one essential element of marketing and the sales cycle that is often lost with online marketers that want measurable, immediate results. But here’s how it works in a nutshell: the more present your brand along the discovery process (search, blogs, social networks, reviews, etc.), the more likely you’ve built up some trust equity along the way. Now all you have to do is deliver. And once that cycle is completed, the results should come.

      Am I close?

  • Bruce Scoville

    I agree with everyone that live chat will help conversion rates. We have a product that goes one step beyond regular live chat. It is video live chat. It is a brand new product that is getting some great reviews. People it sems really like to see the person they are dealing with. It seems to give them an even higher level of trust, which converts to a higher conversion rate. Our video live chat product is even priced less than most regular laive chat products. Give me a call at 919-373-4088 and I will be glad to set you up with a free 30 day trial so you can see for yourself how much more people enjoy seeing someone on the other end of the transaction. I will also be more than happy to show you a demo on it as well. the demo only takes about five minutes to go through. In some cases you can even show them the product you are selling them on the spot. You will also find our product very simple to use. You can be up and running in a matter of minutes with virtually no training on how to use the system. Thank for your time.

    Bruce Scoville

    919-373-4088

  • Bruce Scoville

    Please excuse the typos on the last post. I spilled coffee on my keyboard the other day and it seems as if some of the keys still stick. Thanks

     

    Bruce

  • ronny

    Quisiera saber el precio del UPS  SUA1500, y cuanto costaria el envio hasta Lima – Peru

    Por favor algun numero telefonico para poder contactar con ustedes

  • http://www.pioutsource.com PI Outsource

    I provide outsourced staff in the Philippines to “man” your live chat. 24/7/365

    Sales, returns, tracking, content guidance, customer initiated or proactive.

    Hit me up for a quote.

    http://pioutsource.com/contact_us.html

  • http://DetoxCleansing.org Detox Cleansing

    The live chat boxes on the affiliate pages seem to increase the order rate.

  • http://www.trybpo.com Philippines Outsourcing

    TryBPO Outsourcing Solutions offers inexpensive personnel that offer quality Live Chat services. We are a US corporation, based in Davao City, Philippines, and cater specifically to the small and medium sized businesses. Most of our work is consulting-based, but we may be able to offer you a few agents for you to see if you’d like to take it to the next level. Feel free to contact us:

    http://trybpo.com/contact/

  • http://www.floorstoyourhome.com Jacob Martin

    We have found that initiating the conversation leads to less sales, but when the conversation is started by the customer it usually leads to a sell. Also you can get information like email so if the sale is not made you can still stay in contact through email marketing. The software we use allows us to view where the user is from and cut back our spending on marketing campaigns where we see alot of junk visitors. It is worth purchasing the software if you really want to up your sales and serves as another form of analytics.

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