Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Survey: Live Chat Helps Convert Customers

Bold Software announced the second annual release of a report detailing the industry’s most comprehensive research on the effectiveness of live chat technology. While 2009 findings included insights such as the fact that once a shopper has used live chat, more than 2/3rds will actively look for websites that provide it, the 2010version includes new questions, a much larger sample size, and detailed information about specific retailer types. One statistic drives home the effectiveness of live chat: 77 percent of chatters agree that the technology positively influenced their attitude about the e-tailer.

In January 2010, Bold Software funded a blind survey of more than 1,000 regular, U.S.-based internet shoppers using an opt-in, third party panel. Out of this live chat research, five key conclusions can be drawn:

There is a relationship between live chat and certain demographic/psychographic characteristics.
Utilizing a standard statistical analysis technique, the report concludes that those who have engaged in an online chat with a retailer are more likely to have higher household incomes, be older than 30, and to be college educated. Additionally, shoppers who spend more, either on an average transaction basis or in a single transaction, are more likely to have had a chat before. For internet retailers that serve this demographic, this is an important finding because visitors to their sites will be more likely to have chatted before. This fact is even more critical considering the next conclusion drawn from this research.

There is a widening gap in attitude and behavior between those that have chatted and those that haven’t.
In several places throughout the report, the disparity of response between chatters and non-chatters was extremely significant. Those that have chatted are far more likely to indicate that chat influences them to buy, far more likely to think chat is more efficient than emailing or calling, far more likely to select chat as their preferred method of communication, and so on. Additionally, the disparity between chatters and non-chatters appears to be growing year-over-year which indicates a deepening relationship between experiencing live chat technology and one’s attitude about it.

Live chat continues to be effective – for sales & service.
The research shows that live chat is an effective channel for both new and existing customers. Customers using the technology pre-sale went up 7 percentage points since last year’s research and more than three quarters of the chatting population reported that live chat positively affected their overall impression of the retailer with whom they chatted. Significant movement year-over-year was also seen with regard to same-session purchases – a 15 percent rise was seen in those chatters agreeing that they purchased as a direct result of their most recent chat session..

Fear of proactively inviting visitors to chat is unfounded.
Many retailers – even those who do use live chat technology – are reluctant to proactively invite website visitors for fear of driving them away. This research shows that the majority of consumers (52 percent) are accepting of the practice. Certain sub-groups are even more receptive including more frequent shoppers and those that spend more.

Certain types of internet retailers will find live chat relatively more effective.
When the data is filtered to create sub-groups of respondents indicating that they recently shopped at particular types of retailer sites, this research shows, for the following retailer types (listed alphabetically), live chat is comparatively more effective:
Hardware/Home Improvement
Office Supplies
Sporting Goods

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