Live chat is no longer a nice-to-have in e-commerce customer service. It’s a necessity.
The pressure to meet the demands of today’s consumer is higher than ever, with companies scrambling to onboard more agents and deploy chatbots in order to provide quality support at scale. At the same time, consumers have come to expect that little chat bubble wherever they go, whether they’re browsing, returning, tracking orders, or buying.
In Simplr’s The State of Conversational Commerce in E-commerce, a third-party research firm rigorously mystery shopped 1,493 e-commerce brands to see how their live chat and chatbot customer experiences stacked up against one another.
In addition to the high-level findings (more on that later), the report sheds light on a question that’s been nagging e-commerce and CX leaders for years: How can companies strike a balance between managing ticket volume with automation while avoiding the (potentially disastrous) risks to quality?
What Is the Best Live Chat Strategy?
In this article, we’ll discuss findings in the report that will help companies navigate their own live chat strategy. Specifically:
- What is conversational commerce?
- Five findings on human and chatbot live chat experiences in e-commerce
- Tips for improving your live chat strategy (or starting it from scratch!)
Automation is the no-brainer option to scale. The key is learning how, when, and with which humans to implement it.
What Is Conversational Commerce?
Conversational commerce is the act of creating a personalized, consultative shopping experience that ultimately drives sales and revenue. Customer service live chat is a critical component of conversational commerce in the digital environment.
Conversations have always been a foundational element of customer experience (CX), service, support, and now, automation.
5 Findings on Human and Chatbot Live Chat Experiences in E-Commerce
When Simplr set out to do this research, the goal was to uncover what makes for an exceptional chat experience in CX today, whether or not human intervention makes a difference, how customer effort factors into customer satisfaction, and what’s separating the conversational commerce winners from the rest of the pack.
The ways consumer brands are utilizing their chat channel (if they’re using chat at all) really run the gamut, and this research uncovered some interesting differences from company to company:
1. Only 51.2% of the online retailers had chat enabled at all. Considering the popularity of live chat and consumers’ demands for an omnichannel experience, this is quite surprising. What’s telling here is that e-commerce brands, even the enterprise ones, are struggling to staff their live chat with quality agents and/or trusted automation. There is a huge opportunity here for brands to accelerate a chat-first strategy and leave their competitors in the dust.
2. On the flip side, 24.5% of companies with chat enabled did not offer chat on their actual product pages. This is a different kind of “miss” when it comes to conversational commerce. Product pages are prime real estate for pre-sale conversations and conversions
3. Unfortunately, chatbots alone are not even close to delivering the same quality of pre-sale experiences as a human agent. In fact, 95% of shoppers who had a chatbot-only experience said that their experience would have been better with human help. Ouch!
4. The average customer effort score for interactions with human intervention was EASY (77.4/100). The average customer effort score for interactions with chatbots (without human intervention) was DIFFICULT (24.6/100). What this tells us is that there is a clear correlation between human-centered chat and the ease of the customer’s interaction with the brand. And the easier brands can make it for customers to find the right products, get answers to questions, and make purchases, the better the results for the business
5. Repurchase intent based on chats with no human intervention was 11%. Repurchase intent based on chats with human intervention was 88%. Repurchase intent is a critical metric for businesses looking to generate more revenue through CX.
For pre-sale interactions, chatbots fall short when it comes to giving customers the best possible experience. The key lies not in abandoning automation, but supplementing it with human backup.
The Bot-Human Blend Is Every Brand’s Ticket to Success
There are many benefits to using chatbots in e-commerce. They make post-sale interactions quick and easy and have the potential to surprise and delight customers when deployed correctly.
However, pre-sale interactions are incredibly valuable for businesses, especially as competition amongst brands gets steeper. This is the place for brands to invest in human-supported automation.
There are some common threads between the highest-scoring companies that are winning at conversational commerce today. Here are the five hallmarks of exceptional chat experiences that you can put into practice
- Chat is designed to be a revenue-driving CX channel. When the chat channel combines concierge-style human-to-human conversations with a low-effort experience for the customer, positive revenue-related results tend to follow. And what’s better than winning a one-time customer? A loyal fan.
- Chat includes a smart blend of humans and technology. It’s a misconception to think that conversational commerce is the job of chatbots only. It’s not “conversational” commerce if the channel is being used to avoid or deflect actual conversations with customers. Adding a human element to chat, especially in the presale stage, can increase satisfaction, reduce effort,and boost repurchase intent.
- Staffing live chat with humans doesn’t have to be hard. The brands that are leveraging human agents to handle live chat or chatbot escalations are:
- Using human agents for high-intent pages only (i.e. product pages and checkout pages) so that those resources are being put to the best use.
- Using a distributed staffing model like the Human Cloud Network to make sure that chatbots always have a human to escalate to.
If you aren’t using chat for CX yet, now is the time to get started. And as you expand your usage of chat and dive into conversational commerce, be sure to harness NOW CX to balance the irreplaceable qualities of human interaction with the efficiency boost of technology. When you do, you’ll be setting your CX operation up to give your customers an engaging, low-effort experience while delivering revenue results that ensure conversational commerce pays off.
Luckily, you can have the best of both worlds. Talk to Simplr to learn how you can bring the scalability and consistency of automation combined with the empathy and engagement of live agents to your customer experience. Discover how they integrate with Kustomer to help brands like ANINE BING convert more customers with 24/7 live chat staffing.