Only 8% of stores use live chat correctly, new report says
“Now more than ever, excellent customer service is a company’s secret weapon against competitors and Amazon. Nothing invokes loyalty better than a great shopping experience.”
Customer service provider Simplr has released a new report on the most common customer service pitfalls among ecommerce brands. They look specifically at the customer service experience of 500 US-based brands in “high-growth mode” in the month of May 2019.
Researchers considered aspects of a shopper’s CX including:
- Response time
- Use of live chat
- Friendly and empathetic responses
- Use of chatbots
The report reveals that overall, many brands are struggling when it comes to implementing tools such as chatbots and on-site live chat correctly.
Only 8% of stores using live chat correctly
Simplr found that 64% of stores considered (320 out of 500) had on-site chat capabilities.
However, many of those stores have failed to implement those live chat tools well.
“Most online retailers are leaving money (and marketing campaign ROI) on the table,” Vincent Phamvan, Head of Growth at Simplr, told ClickZ via email.
What constitutes a poor live chat experience?
“Amazon and big box retailers are setting the standard for rapid-fire, high-quality customer experiences at scale,” says Phamvan.
And while many retailers are embracing emerging technology around chatbots and customer experience, this report indicates that bad implementation of on-site chat could lead to a worse customer experience than not having it in the first place.
According to the report, the three primary factors in poor live chat experience were as follows.
1. Redirecting straight to email (only 18% of live chat widgets stayed on the site)
The report found that of brands offering on-site chat, 82% had chat widgets that directed inquiries straight to email.
As Phamvan notes, “This is just a glorified pop-up at best, and a lost sale at worst.”
2. Slow response time (only 7.2% had a human respond within five minutes)
Email inquires that had been redirected from chats had an average of a 20 hour response time — and some companies took more than two days.
Ironically, the report notes that inquiries originally sent to email (versus redirected from chat) had a faster response time — but still 13 hours.
In fact, out of the 500 stores they analyzed, only 36 (7.2%) had a human respond within five minutes.
The report found that time of day also matters immensely. For tickets submitted between 7pm and midnight, response time increase by 9.5 hours.
“Companies need to respond to customer inquiries quickly in order to help accelerate or close a sale. This is a huge missed opportunity to catch and convert customers while they’re browsing,” says Phamvan.
3. Not having a human jump in when prompted
Of the 320 brands who did offer live chat, only 11% had an actual person respond, and about 7% used a chatbot.
Of those who used chatbots, only about one-third successfully had a human jump in to take over for the chatbot when prompted.
“Always have a human available to staff live chat,” says Phamvan. “It’s ok to have a bot facilitate the initial interaction, but a bot’s ability to delight and convert a customer is limited — a human should always be on standby to jump in.”
How do legacy brands compare to digitally native brands when it comes to ecommerce CX?
“Customer experience is a high-growth, digitally-native company’s secret weapon against competitors and, potentially, legacy brands. Many of these newer companies are built on a foundation of customer service, because they were created in a time of hyper-competition in the online ecommerce space,” says Phamvan.
On the other hand, many legacy brands may be already very good at excellent customer service in their physical stores, yet have room to improve in their online experience.
Key takeaways for live chat experience
We asked Phamvan what three most important takeaways marketers should focus on for customer experience around live chat:
- Always have a human available for live chat.
- Avoid chat widgets that direct inquiries straight to email.
- Staff your live chat 24/7 and respond to chats in under 90 seconds.
Fail to meet these standards, and a brand might risk an even worse customer experience than if they hadn’t offered a live chat feature at all.
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