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Helping Customers Online

Finding just what you want on a website can be tricky. Even when it’s designed to be as shopper friendly as possible with clear navigation, lots of different ways to search for just the product wanted and a simple checkout process, there are still times when a shopper really wants to ask a question about the product before making that final commitment.

Providing your telephone number and email is good but they involve delay in getting a response, sometimes stretching out to several days, and that means the shopper is likely to give up on the purchase. Online customer-chat to the rescue!

Online chat software (also referred to as ‘Live Help’) gives you the ability to have a link on your site go directly to a customer service rep with whom the customer can discuss any question or query they have about the product – immediately. Do they want to know just what a particular code number means? How to convert a shoe size? Do these wheel rims fit a particular car model? It’s unlikely you’ll be able to think of every question a shopper is likely to come up with and yet just that little piece of information may be critical to their decision to buy.

Live help can provide that customer with an answer in seconds or a few minutes. Even if you are a one-person operation you can use an audio alert to let you know if a customer is online and wants to talk to you. That means you can provide your customers with answers to their questions faster than many a larger competitor. Online chat software can monitor shopper behaviour by tracking where they have been on your site. If you think it won’t be intrusive then you can proactively request a chat session with the customer rather than waiting to see if they will begin a session – it’s like a live salesperson approaching a customer who looks lost and asking can they provide assistance.

Online chat adds the personal contact that many customers like about shopping in a store. It increases their confidence to buy from you and improves your chances of closing the sale.

Some service providers offer just text chat, others are based on voice contact using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). You'll need someone to be available to answer online chat enquiries over the hours when you have advertised the service is open – unattended help desks don’t win customer kudos. Outside those hours the message button on your site provides an ‘out of hours’ notice so there is no frustration at not getting a response.

What you find out about shopper behaviour on your site can suggest ways of improving its design to make things even simpler for customers. You'll likely discover issues that customers have that you may not have thought about. Perhaps you should add a description of what the codes mean or provide information on delivery time to different places. If some questions come up regularly, then adding a FAQ section may be the answer to helping shoppers.

According to Jupiter Communications, if the product you are selling is inexpensive only 8% of shoppers seek sales help. By the time the product cost has risen to over US$100, one in three shoppers want online help. That's a lot of shoppers looking for help and the business that can provide that help right when it is needed is the business that will get the sale.