Let customers know live chats are available, and make sure agents have sufficient time to really help each customer.

On average, 68% of orders initiated at online stores are abandoned before the customer clicks “Pay,” according to a study by MasterCard and UsabilityLab. The most common reasons: confusion over the catalog of goods, difficulties on the registration page, lack of a mobile-friendly site or app, and, of course, a long payment confirmation process. Live chats can solve each of these problems. Here are some less-than-obvious hints for what merchants should do to stop losing 68% of orders.

Let customers pay directly from the chat

In brick-and-mortar stores, customers often make a decision about a purchase after consulting with a store employee. The same can happen during a chat with an employee on an online store’s website. However, unlike with brick-and-mortar stores, live chats have the added benefit of providing a comfortable setting for intimate purchases. Moreover, customers often make orders from work, where discussing a purchase over chat is their best option. Prompt and accurate answers in a live chat are more likely to result in a purchase than cold, standardized answers.
And if a customer is prepared to buy, the merchant should be ready to provide the customer with a quick payment method. Yandex.Checkout offers merchants the ability to add payments directly to live chats. If a customer wants to make an order after consulting with a support agent, they can initiate the payment process right from the chat. In the chat window, the support agent sends the customer the order details and a “Checkout” button appears to redirect the buyer to a payment page. Tests conducted by Jivosite, a live chat provider, showed that payments from live chats increase conversion by 10%.

Include more graphics

In brick-and-mortar stores, a consultant can show a dress directly to the client. An online consultant is more limited in this capacity. As a result, live chats are often an inefficient tool for communicating with customers. Apart from payments, merchants can liven their chats with graphics. Everything a customer is interested in, a consultant can show in pictures—clothes, gadgets, art supplies, etc. That is, there is nothing that a charming consultant in a boutique can do that an online store consultant cannot. If a customer is asking about available colors for a suit, instead of answering with a list of colors, a consultant can send an image of the actual suit. Instead of writing a long answer about available fabric for a dress, the consultant can send a zoomed-in image of the material. Nobody likes PowerPoint presentations full of text, so why would you do live chats without a single picture?

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Take charge

There is a thin line between “helpful” and “pushy” in marketing. To avoid the latter, merchants prefer to leave it up to the customer to decide whether they want help or not. Unlike consultants in brick-and-mortar stores, online chats are never imposing. If a customer doesn’t need help, he or she will simply close the chat window. Merchants can stand to be a bit more aggressive here, taking charge in conversations. Instead of just “Hi, How can I help you?”, start by suggesting possible topics or issues the customer might want to ask you about. How do I choose a present for my daughter? What comic book should I buy for my boyfriend? What kind of canvas is best suited for acrylic paints? And so forth.
Customers might not even be aware of what sort of help a consultant can provide online, so the chat window should provide them with some hints. Jivosite’s research showed that, in general, live chats induce positive emotions and impressions: Customers leave 10 times more positive reviews than negative ones after consulting with a store employee via live chat.

Do not take on more than you can handle

It is better to talk substantially with a few customers than superficially with hundreds of them. If an online store offers live chat help to every customer that visits a web site, it is likely that the store is not wholly invested in any of these conversations, simply because most online stores cannot afford an army of consultants for accurate and substantive conversations with customers. According to the Jivosite estimation, one person can handle between five and ten high-quality chats simultaneously.
It is more effective to offer live chats to those customers who are more likely to need help. For example, those who are visiting your online store for the first time or those who’ve spent a longer amount of time on the website than customers usually do. Once a site recognizes those clients, a chat window should appear on the screen immediately. If a customer is a regular visitor then a chat window offering help will probably seem imposing and superfluous. On the other hand, there are certain types of industries where you may want to provide help to everyone, at all hours. An example of this is a pharmaceutical company. Walgreen Co. recently added a service called Pharmacy Chat to Walgreens.com. It’s a text chat service that puts pharmacy customers in touch with pharmacists available around the clock.

Let customers know what they can get from your live chats

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Most customers probably don’t know what kind of help they can expect to receive via live chat. They may not even be unaware of the existence of a live chat option at all. The role of a merchant is to inform potential buyers how live chats can make their purchasing process easier. Live chats can customers to receive descriptions of products in pictures, start the payment process right from the chat window, and receive a consultation 24 hours a day. How could customers possibly know that without the store letting them know?

Yandex, Russia’s leading search engine, offers a variety of technologies, including Yandex.Checkout for e-commerce sites.

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