Live chat: an effective tool to improve conversion rates?

While the Covid-19 crisis has served as a reminder of the fundamental aspects of the physical relationship with customers, it is clear that some customers want to limit physical interactions, while our modes of consumption on the move are adding a further layer of complexity. How can we continue to advise our customers while adapting to these requirements?

Digital technologies offer numerous solutions and, among these, we will be taking a close look at live chat. 

Live chat is a platform provided on a brand’s website, which enables the company to communicate with visitors in real-time. In other words, customers can begin a conversation with one of the brand’s advisors remotely. Customers can then be guided, whatever their position, while remaining in full control of the conversation and subsequent steps. While this digital innovation is not exactly new, it has to be ranked among the most relevant. Let’s look at why live chat is an effective tool to improve conversion rates.

A direct impact on the conversion rate  

Some customers today want to receive personalized assistance while limiting physical interaction, or they are obliged to because of their physical location or public health regulations. It is not uncommon to find yourself browsing a brand’s website and having a question about the products or services that prevents you from being convinced. Live chat can be used to provide a personalized response to various questions customers may have. 44% of customers say that having access to an online chat feature is important when they have questions about a product or an order[1]. 

Users may also run into a technical difficulty that is preventing them from completing a purchase. 35% of consumers surveyed by Wizishop indicate that they appreciate this feature when they are faced with such a situation[2]. 

The pace of interaction via live chat also offers advantages: it adapts to the customer’s browsing pace, making them feel that they are in control of the interaction, and enabling them to consult other product pages while waiting. It appears that the average basket increases by 60% when a live chat feature is used[3], and there is a very good chance that the ability to consult products while chatting is a factor in this. 

While it is not easy to compare a conversion rate with and without live chat, analyses show that a prospect or customer is 2.8 times more likely to go through with a purchase after using live chat[4]. 


An indirect impact on the conversion rate

Live chat is not just a tool to increase the number of purchases completed in the present moment. It is a solution that can help improve the global experience. 84% of online consumers state that this feature improves their perceived experience[5].  

Firstly, live chat makes it possible to recreate a connection between the customer and the brand, when this connection has been lost due to distance (the previously mentioned modes of consumption on the move) or forced closure of stores (due to lockdowns, of course). 

Secondly, it is a powerful after-sales tool. Customers may wish to use it after making a purchase, to track, change or cancel their orders. There are many conceivable cases in which customers could be satisfied by the use of a flexible and fast channel, which adapts to their pace. This is demonstrated by the fact that 23% of customers ask questions following a purchase. 

Finally, interactions between the brand and its customers can be stored in a database. This database will be a gold mine for the company, which it can use in many ways, such as improving its processes, providing input for advisors and FAQs, adding to the website, guiding CRM and sales programs, and the list goes on. 


Limitations to be taken into account

There is no doubt about it: live chat is a digital solution that has a strong positive impact on the conversion rate, both directly and indirectly. However, this system does have its limitations and we should talk about them, in order to avoid potential pitfalls for somebody looking to deploy it within their organization. 

Internal resource management is a real challenge, as it is difficult to be constantly and rapidly available to respond to all consumers. The aim is to allocate the right level of resources to optimize the cost in relationship to the gains produced. Bear in mind though that 63% of Internet users are prepared to ditch a brand if it cannot be reached via an online messaging system[6]. 

The other major challenge is providing training for human resources. Live chat is a tool that can be used to create or maintain relationships between customers and the brand, as well as to assist customers by answering specific or technical questions. Your advisors must be given in-depth training on your company’s products or services and they need to develop excellent interpersonal skills. The three watchwords for customer experience via this tool are: Speed, efficiency and friendliness. 

It is also crucial to define processes and ensure that all conversations can end with a solution (such as the resolution of a case, making of an appointment or a telephone call), in order to avoid questions left unanswered, which will produce the opposite of the desired effect. 

Another pitfall to avoid: poor use of encrypted answers. These are very useful to guide customers to the right advisor and speed up resolution, but they can rapidly create the impression of impersonality. This is exactly what you do not want to do: live chat is an opportunity to create a personalized relationship with the customer.

In conclusion

We have looked at evidence of the benefits live chat can bring. Here is another statistic that speaks volumes: 44% of consumers say that one of the most important features of a website is its ability to provide immediate answers to their questions[7]. 

There is no question that this solution is a major asset for brands. It can be used to provide a smoother experience on a website and resolve questions or issues that stand in the way of a purchase. Above all, it is a tool that can improve the customer experience and provides opportunities to personalize the relationship between a brand and its customers. This leads to a positive impact on the conversion rate. 

However, as we have seen, it does present major challenges if you want to get the best out of it. And, like any solution, it has its limitations. Depending on the company’s needs and environment, a messaging solution can be complementary or even more suitable. 

Finally, the future of live chat is certainly the virtual agent, as it enables interaction quality and personalization to be enhanced even further. Gartner estimates that by 2022, 21% of interactions will be done via a virtual agent.