Providing great service is essential to winning new customers — and retaining the ones you’ve got. Case in point? According to Salesforce, nearly three-quarters of consumers have made purchase decisions based on their customer service experiences. And 91% indicate that a positive customer service experience improves the likelihood of a repeat purchase.
But the channels consumers use (and prefer) to seek out service are changing.
A Growing Number of Consumers Prefer Live Chat to Other Customer Support Channels
In the past, most customers would pick up the phone or walk into a store to access pre- or post-sale service. But increasingly, consumers seek out customer service via digital channels. In fact, Forrester predicts that in 2021, digital customer service interactions will grow by 40%.
There are several digital channels consumers use to get service. But one that’s winning the hearts of consumers is live chat. According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report, live chat is one of the top preferred service channels for consumers.
Offering live chat is an important way to meet customer expectations. And, as it turns out, it’s also an effective way to drive some pretty impressive business results.
Not sure whether live chat is right for your business? Read on to explore what live chat is — as well as 10 of the top ways it can benefit your brand.
What is Live Chat?
Before launching into an explanation of the many benefits of live chat, let’s first explore what live chat is.
Live chat is a digital means by which customer service agents communicate with consumers in real time using online messaging. Chats can occur directly on the brand’s website — as well as through messaging tools like Google, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and others.
Consumers can initiate a chat prior to purchase. For example, a consumer shopping for makeup might leverage live chat to ask questions to determine which products are best for their needs. Or, that same customer can use live chat after they’ve placed an order to get support — for example, tracking a shipment or resolving an issue with a damaged product.
10 Ways Live Chat Benefits Your Business
A growing number of brands are giving customers the option to chat live online with a customer service agent. And for good reason. Doing so can benefit brands in a number of important ways.
Let’s explore 10 of the top advantages of live chat for business.
1. More Sales
The takeaway here? It’s critical to provide your customers with a means to ask purchase-blocking questions — and get real-time answers. Live chat is one of the best ways to do that.
Offering the option to chat live with an agent can have a large, quantifiable impact on the bottom line. In fact, research tells us that consumers who engage in live chat are 2.8 times more likely to convert than those who don’t.
2. More Repeat Business
Live chat is a preferred communication channel for many consumers. Providing it can give shoppers the confidence they need to make an initial purchase. And, its presence can also drive repeat visitors (and sales). eMarketer research cited by Invesp tells us that 63% of shoppers are more likely to return to a website with live chat.
3. Fewer Product Returns
CNBC reported that up to 40% of merchandise purchased online ends up getting returned. Of course, there’s no way to completely eliminate returns. But offering live chat can help keep those pesky returns at bay.
Pre-sales live chat can help customers find the products that best fit their needs. And when a product fits a customer’s needs, they’re less likely to return it. For example, a customer might ask for advice on which size of shorts to purchase. Thanks to this advice, the shorts are more likely to fit — and the customer is less likely to return them.
Post-sale live chat can also prevent unnecessary returns. Let’s say a customer reaches out to a live chat agent to let them know that their new vacuum cleaner isn’t working as well as they hoped. The live chat agent can help the customer troubleshoot and share tips for a better experience. If the customer is satisfied with the agent’s solutions, they may just decide to keep the product.
4. Higher Customer Satisfaction
A growing number of consumers prefer to communicate with brands via live chat. And when they access customer service via live chat, their satisfaction levels are typically higher than other channels.
In fact, research tells us that live chat delivers the highest customer satisfaction levels, compared to email and phone support.
Offering live chat can boost customer satisfaction. And satisfied customers are more likely to make another purchase and tell others about their great experiences.
5. Stronger Customer Relationships
Of course, live chat is an effective channel to answer questions, provide recommendations and solve problems. But due to its conversational nature, it’s also a great tool for building rapport and making authentic connections with prospective and existing customers.
Why does that matter? Because consumers who feel emotionally connected to a brand spend more and stick around longer. Research from Motista tells us that emotionally connected customers have 306% greater lifetime value and stay with a brand 1.5 times longer than those who aren’t.
6. Ability to Break Down Language Barriers
It’s important to be able to deliver great service to customers — regardless of the languages they speak. After all, data from CSA Research tells us that three-quarters of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand again if they’re able to receive customer service in their own language.
With live chat, it’s easier to break down those language barriers.
But if your customer service agents aren’t fluent in all of the languages your customers speak, how is that possible?
Increasingly, brands are leveraging business language translation software, such as Translation Studio from 1440. By using this software, brands can quickly and accurately communicate with consumers via live chat, regardless of language. And it all happens directly in Salesforce.
7. More Leads
Ideally, every consumer that initiates a pre-purchase live chat would end up converting right away. But in reality, that’s not always the case.
But all isn’t lost! Chatters that aren’t ready to make a purchase can provide their contact information and opt in to receive promotions and other personalized communications that’ll help keep your brand top of mind. Collecting this first-party data will be even more important as we move towards a cookieless world.
Once the consumer is ready to purchase, your brand will be a top consideration.
8. Cost Savings
Typically, a customer service representative can only handle one call or email at a time. However, it’s easy for them to juggle multiple live chats at once — especially for basic questions and support.
When you offer live chat, customers get faster responses. What’s more, the cost per service interaction is dramatically lower than other channels. It is a great way to deflect calls, which, as research shows, are 33% more expensive than live chat for business.
9. Data to Improve Products and Experiences
When your customer service team members engage in chats with customers, they may notice themes. These themes can shed light on opportunities to improve your products — as well as the experiences your customers have with your brand.
For example, your customer service team might notice a high volume of chatters complaining about a particular toy breaking shortly after purchase. Your product design team can use those insights to make improvements to the toy — and boost customer satisfaction.
10. A Competitive Edge
According to Salesforce’s State of Service report, 52% of service teams today use online chat. And an additional 23% plan to start using it within the next 18 months.
If your competitors don’t offer live chat, doing so is a great way for your brand to stand out. And if your competitors do offer it, it’s essential that you do too. Otherwise, you’re sure to lose business from consumers who value this important service channel.
Drive Bottom Line Results with Live Chat
Of course, there will always be consumers who prefer phone or in-person customer service. But increasingly, consumers seek out service via digital channels — including live chat.
Now’s the time to start offering live chat support. By doing so, you’ll meet the expectations of modern shoppers — and drive bottom line results for your brand.
1440 recognizes the tremendous value of live chat — and we’re committed to making it easier to manage. Currently, we’re developing a solution that’ll allow brands to manage all chats and messages from a single inbox. Find out more about Messaging Studio by 1440 — coming soon!