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The Evolution and Success of Proactive Live Chat

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Although live chat is certainly not a new service offered by eCommerce solution providers, most people often think of what is called “reactive” live chat, where the customer must contact a chat agent themselves if they have a question about a product, often navigating to the customer support section of an eCommerce storefront in order to seek out a chat agent.

In an effort to allow customers to spend more time shopping instead of seeking help, the live chat industry is evolving. Chat agents are contacting customers while they are shopping to answer whatever questions they may have with hopes to improve conversion rates on specific products. This is called “proactive” live chat and it is used to help nudge the undecided customer to make a purchase.

According to a Forrester report conducted in March entitled “Retailers Plan To Expand Online Customer Service Channels in 2010”, only 5% of current online retail professionals responded that they currently offer live proactive IM or click-to-chat services. However, 21% of the online retail professionals are planning to offer this service within the next 12 months.

PFS has experienced great success using proactive live chat with several of its clients. In order to successfully implement proactive live chat, PFS…

  • Works with client to define categories and events that make sense for proactive chat. These include high-margin products, products that typically require questions, zero search results, or customers who have stayed in the shopping cart for an extended period of time
  • Provides extensive training for call center agents on how to handle product-related questions
  • Provides extensive training of product categories and how to handle certain events such as zero search results
  • Works with the client to measure the flow and quality of the chat experience to the customer
  • Works with the client to determine which product categories provide the best ROI for using chat agents
  • Provides extensive reporting to client on performance metrics

What it Means – Case Study

As a result of the efforts of the proactive live chat initiative, one of our clients was able to realize outstanding increases in conversion and AOV (average order value).

To date, the client has seen a 40% increase in conversion for customers that are in the shopping cart and chose to chat with a PFS agent and has also seen a 10% increase in AOV for customers that have chosen to chat. PFS and the client have also learned what product categories are conducive to chat and provide the largest increase in sales. As a result of this success, the client has tripled the size of their proactive chat staff over a twelve month period. The cost of the agents is completely funded by the increase in sales and conversions making the department a revenue generating entity compared to what traditionally would have been viewed as a cost of doing business.

In conclusion, the perception of live chat has changed from a customer support mechanism to a service which can be leveraged to increase sales, conversion rates, and AOV. Looking back at the Forrester report, it appears more eCommerce professionals are realizing this.



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