Very—for some issues, at least

Some e-commerce sites looking for a way to deal with confused or inquisitive online shoppers have begun offering live chat capabilities, where shoppers can interact with customer service representatives in real time to ask questions or get help.

Bold Software, creator of one such e-commerce live chat solution, conducted a survey of US online buyers to investigate whether the feature had an effect on online shopping habits.

The study found that online buyers who had used live chat were more likely to make online purchases at least once a week (40%) than buyers who had never chatted (22%). Respondents who hadn’t used live chat were likely to be infrequent online buyers, with 36% making a purchase less than once per month compared with 18% of chatters.

Live chat cannot solve every e-commerce problem, however. ATG’s “Customer Service Survey” found US online shoppers preferred live help over the phone via click-to-call when dealing with sensitive or complicated information, technical problems or a large amount of money.

In a market where inducing shoppers to make a purchase and getting those purchasers to return are critical, live chat is a valuable service.
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