Live Chat Can Turn One-Time Shoppers into Repeat Customers - eMarketer

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Live Chat Can Turn One-Time Shoppers into Repeat Customers

But the experience must be multichannel

October 21, 2014

Retailers scrambling to tighten their operations before holiday season might want to consider adding live chat to their customer service arsenals—and doing so across channels. According to a study commissioned by Moxie Software, a chat software company, 62% of customers expect live chat to be available on their mobile devices. If it were available, 82% of respondents said they would use it.

Other research supports the results. BoldChat by LogMeIn, in collaboration with the e-tailing group, sought insight on retailers' mobile engagement strategies, both for sales and customer service. The study, which broke down customers' support seeking behavior by location, found that 64% of customers sought support on their mobile phones while at home. Twenty percent were on the go and 16% sought support at work.

When given the option to phone, email or chat, three in four respondents said they would prefer live online chat to communicate with customer service personnel. And when chat is available, those surveyed said they feel more satisfied with the level of customer service.

Whether consumers prefer online chat because it can be accessed discreetly and quickly remains to be seen. What an Infosys study from 2013 did find was that adding the extra layer of customer service could mean the difference between a one-time shopper and a repeat purchaser. In the US, 85% of the study's 5,000 respondents ages 18 to 69 said they would be more likely to buy again from a retailer if that retailer helps resolve a customer service issue online through an online form, email or through a chat program. The same was true of shoppers in the UK (83%) and Australia (82%).

Yet a StellaService study suggests that customer service over the phone will still be vital to retailers, at least until the quality of live chat service catches up. While the study showed that the average time to reach a live agent has dropped to just 40 seconds, speed proved to be less important than the quality of issue resolution. A shopper dissatisfied with the quality of customer service—on top of already having an unsolved problem—may dismiss the retailer entirely; positive experiences, on the other hand, could translate to a boost in sales and brand loyalty down the line.

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