Live chat – A lifeline for online sales

In the choppy waters of the e-commerce world, live chat can steer the customer ship to plain sailing

For many people, it’s hard to think back to a time before e-commerce and online transactions in daily life. Everything from grocery shopping to mortgage applications now have an online journey, and everyone is in on the act. However, with great opportunity comes great competition; and with the stakes in the market perpetually increasing, it’s key for businesses to utilise any conversion metric they can lay their hands on.

Customer Trust

There are many tools out there, but live chat is amongst the most common, and for good reason. First and arguably foremost, is that people are now more sceptical about the offers and services that are being put to them online. To tackle that, the ecommerce business must go above and beyond to ensure the user develops trust in the brand, and the offer that’s being presented to them. In a recent online survey, 74% of respondents said they used at least one advertising avoidance strategy (e.g ad blocking or paying for streaming services), so establishing a trusted brand via advertising is becoming challenging. In that same survey, 81% of respondents of respondents also said that their trust in a brand is a deciding factor in any purchase decision.

Building trust in a brand or product is not easy, as a customer’s interpretation of your business could be somewhat arbitrary. There will be common sense things that make your user journey seem credible, but for the elements you perhaps haven’t thought of, or that are perhaps outwith your control, live chat can significantly defuse any concerns. Implementation of live chat on key stages of your journey, (be it the homepage, product selection or pricing pages, etc.), gives the customer direct contact with a real person, where a rational discussion can be held, concerns are mitigated and trust in the brand is boosted. This undoubtedly increases the average propensity to transact. 

The Online Journey

For some ecommerce businesses, particularly those in the financial services industry, the product offering can be markedly complex and fraught with jargon. Often, businesses in the financial sector are tied to particular jargon and aspects of journey designs due to regulatory and compliance reasons. While you may not in some cases be able to simplify the forms or language used, you can introduce live chat to navigate past the more complicated steps in the journey.

Without the likes of live chat, the customer would be faced with 3 options: i) proceed with the purchase even though they have major concerns, ii) abandon the purchase and drop off the website, or iii) call up a customer service support line via telephone. The latter option involves tearing the customer away from the online aspect of the journey, often asking them to navigate a tedious Interactive Voice Response (IVR), and then potentially waiting on hold to speak to an advisor. According to Forrester, customers do not want to call companies for support; 53% are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question, and this is one of the main reasons why web chat has been on the rise in the past several years. Through a chatbox, customers can quickly connect with a company or an agent and seek instant answers without having to navigate IVR.

A well-placed live chat integration can have a customer engaged in support, online within seconds. This approach keeps the customer in the sales funnel, negating the danger of them dropping off. This is down to the fact that they do not lose progress in their sales journey, are less likely to become frustrated, and will feel more reassured about their potential purchase. The stats bear this out, as live chat retains a higher customer satisfaction rate than any other support option, with a score of 92%, and 63% of customers who used live chat on a site are likely to return to that site in the future.

Product Offering

In line with the evolution of ecommerce, the level of complexity within product offerings, particularly in the financial services industry, has increased. The deviation away from one standard level of bank loan, credit card, mortgage, insurance policy etc is solely aimed at diversifying the offering in order to resonate more closely with a wider demographic; essentially creating a more customised financial solution for different types of people.

In theory this works well, but in practice, not always so. Depending on how closely aligned the product offerings are, potential customers may have trouble choosing between them. Similarly, if there are several products side by side, the supplier can only show high level information, so a human interaction can assist for the user who wants to scrutinise the offering and ask specific questions about the product they are considering buying.

The immediately accessible nature of live chat allows for the user to get an answer to a more detailed query almost instantly, before they can even think about looking at a competitor. An overwhelmed customer, or a customer who is short on key information is unlikely to purchase from you, so it’s crucial to have a system like live chat available to impartially steer the customer towards a product which best meets their needs, while also being fully empowered to answer detailed questions. It’s a feature that customers have come to know, with 62% of people expecting live chat to be available on their mobile device. It’s come to be expected, and with increased revenues and cross sell rates of over x2.4 versus ecommerce without it, it’s certainly here to stay.

Going beyond sales

A comprehensive live chat platform like Ibby provides tools to boost conversion rates and sales, but comes also equipped with features to enhance customer support. Customers want instant answers in the pre-sales stages of the journey, and this is no different for post-sale steps. When it comes to seeking support, conversational interfaces provide customers with the opportunity to solve issues quickly.

With live chat for support, customers experiencing problems can simply go online to the company’s website, and reach out to the support team via the chatbox. Ibby incorporates an advanced help desk module for support teams, where conversations coming from live chat are organised as tickets, so that support queries and issues can be dealt with quickly and more efficiently.

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