How E-Retailers Can Get More From Their Live Chat Solution


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E-commerce companies have been using live chat solutions for some time. While it is recognized it as a powerful customer engagement tool, many retailers encounter challenges trying to engage the right individuals at the right time. In this post, I will look at how to use visitor intent to get more from your live chat solution.


The value of live chat 

First off, live chat is quickly overtaking phone as the preferred way to get assistance, as people view it as being more convenient and efficient. A study from BoldChat found that 79 percent of consumers chose live chat over other options because it allowed them to find answers to their questions quickly. In addition, 46 percent of individuals viewed live chat as the most efficient form of communication.

Quick response times aren’t the only thing on customers’ minds. Corresponding with people in real-time while shopping has a huge impact on shoppers’ satisfaction. According to Forrester, 44 percent of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer. Therefore, it is imperative for chat solutions to be able to engage with the right visitors when it matters most.


The costs of live chat 

Engaging the right visitors at the right time using live chat can be easier said than done.

It’s also important to remember that each chat session represents a dollar amount, from the live chat solution’s cost-per-chat, to the cost of the representative’s time. Obviously, you want to see a return on investment, and doing so entails targeting those with intent to buy, as opposed to chatting with every other person who visits your site. 

For example, let’s take two people: Dan and Jess. They both visit an e-commerce site that sells computers and accessories. After they browse for a couple of minutes visiting various pages, a representative initiates a live chat with each of them.

With no context as to why these individuals visited the website, the agent asks them the same question: “Is there something I can help you find?”.  Each one provides a different answer:

  • Dan: “I’m doing research for my upcoming job interview and don’t need any help at this stage.”
  • Jess: “I’m looking to buy a tablet that runs on Windows 10.”

If the primary function of the live chat solution is to convert, it makes more sense for the representative to speak with Jess, because she is looking to make a purchase. That means the cost of the agent directing Jess to a Windows 10-powered tablet may potentially generate revenue, and in turn positively impact the ROI of your live chat solution.

However, if the representative gives more attention to Dan, the retailer is wasting their resources, since Dan is a job seeker and has no intention to buy a computer.

Although live chat is a hit among customers, e-commerce companies aren’t using it in as effective a manner as they could be. iPerceptions’ research shows that, on average, 15 percent of e-commerce visitors have an intent to purchase, but only 20 percent of these visitors actually do so.

By leveraging visitor intent, you can grow your conversion rate by taking action on the 80 percent of visitors that are on your site to purchase, but didn’t. 


Identifying intent 

Intent contextualizes why your visitors are on your site.  But how do you recognize visitor intent?

One of the most common ways is to infer intent based on common purchase intender traits, with most companies looking solely at user interactions.  For example, one could guess that the following actions qualify a customer as a purchaser:                     

  • Downloads product specifications
  • Views shopping cart 

The fact of the matter is according to iPerceptions research, only 44 percent of those who open shopping carts actually have an intent to buy. In addition, a mere 22 percent of people reading specifications intend to purchase products.  This mislabeling of visitors based on behavioral cues creates noise, and will more than likely net you more researchers than purchasers. From a live chat solution perspective, this can have a significant impact on the effectiveness and allocation of resources.


Leveraging stated visitor intent

The most accurate indicator of visitor intent is stated intent, confirmed directly by the visitor. However, the challenge with leveraging stated intent is that you can’t ask every visitor their intent.

That’s why iPerceptions has developed Active Recognition, the only technology that recognizes the intent of anonymous website visitors in real-time without having to ask them.

Active Recognition involves:

  • Continuously collecting the stated visitor intent for a portion of your site visitors (usually less than 1 percent), and examining their behavioral patterns on your website.
  • Then as anonymous visitors visit your site, Active Recognition recognizes their intent based on the information gathered from the surveyed sample.

 How does this work in practice you might wonder? Well, let’s revisit the Dan-and-Jess situation, and say the e-commerce site is using Active Recognition. When Dan visits the site, he can be recognized as a job seeker, given that his behaviors are very similar to someone who self-identified as a job seeker. Therefore, he is not likely to make a purchase. This information is then passed to live chat solution and no live chat session is initiated.

On the other hand, Active Recognition recognized that Jess is a purchaser, given that her behaviors are near-identical to someone who self-identified as a purchaser. The live chat agent can now touch base with Jess via live chat, already knowing that she intends to make a purchase. The agent can then ask Jess what she’s looking to buy, and then direct her towards the tablet she is looking for.

Active Recognition allows your chat solution to reach visitors that want to buy this session (i.e. purchase intenders). This means you increase your live chat conversions and improve the customer experience by engaging with right visitors at the right time with stated visitor intent.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Duff Anderson
Duff Anderson is a visionary in digital Voice of the Customer research with over 20 years' experience. As SVP and Co-founder at iPerceptions, Duff is responsible for providing expert advice to organizations on how to gain a competitive advantage across the digital customer lifecycle and become more customer-centric.


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