The world's retail websites can be divided into two camps those with Web chat, and those who haven't added it ... yet. So why is now the right time to open up a new channel to your customers?
Web chat has lots of different voices. Some chats pop up instantly, giving their web visitors a gentle 'Can I help you?' tap on the shoulder. Others can be summoned by the click of a button, while more intelligent services wait for a while, before politely asking if you'd like to start a chat with an agent.
But Web chat isn't a mere fad, fashion or a 'nice to have' on your website. Statistics show that every word counts and conversations pay off.
Here are five reasons why retailers should think seriously about adding Web chat today.
#1) You want to boost customer satisfaction
In an age of instant gratification, web chat hits the spot perfectly. Wait times are typically less than on the phone and a response can be almost instant, making you feel like you've gone straight to the front of the queue. It's no wonder that 79% of customers say that they prefer Web chat because of the immediacy it provides.
Web chat is also a great life-style fit too. Most of us text or use social media messenger tools to keep up with friends every day. Texting is 'our world'. Even if we've never met the retailer before, it all seems so comfortably familiar. We can even multi-task during a website chat session, avoiding frustrating delays.
#2) You need to reduce Average Handling Time (AHT)
With Web chat, you can reduce interaction times for agents and phone call costs. Agents can handle multiple chats which, in turn, increases productivity and minimises queuing for customers.
There are two other tricks that will improve AHT and service levels even further with Web chat. Firstly, have a library of polite 'stock' responses, explanations and instructions to save time for your agents and help them to respond in a consistent, professional way. Secondly, train your agents on how to be warm and human when they text with customers and not be mistaken for a website chatbot!
#3) You want to boost sales significantly
Web chat can remove specific obstacles to greater revenue. In fact, it's reckoned that 77% of customers won’t make a purchase if there’s no Web chat support.
The first issue that needs fixing is a high cart abandonment rate. This is usually caused because customers get stuck on your website or have a question and they don't want to call you and risk getting trapped in a queue, or having to wait hours for a response to an email. With Web Chat, they get instant answers.
Your agents can even initiate co-browsing to help someone find the right page or help visitors to complete a transaction in a secure, PCI DSS compliant fashion. Studies have also shown that customers find Web Chat more enjoyable leading to high average order values too.
#4) Your customer pain-points are not being identified
Unfortunately, retailers often discover there's a problem with their website, systems or service when customers lash out on social media. Much better if you make it easy for people to tell you what's wrong, so you can show you're willing to help them (and others who suffer in silence).
Web chat can help. Simply end each chat session with a customer service rating request and a satisfaction survey. You'll gain valuable insights immediately.
#5) Even if you don't offer Web chat, others will
Customer expectations continue to soar. Increasingly, customers will be looking for Web chat as soon as they arrive on your website. It's often their preferred way of getting a real-time response from a 'real person' who can answer their questions with precision.
Web chat is the future too. According to Gartner, its use as a customer engagement channel will increase from 2% to 10% of all interactions by 2018, with over 80% of companies making it available for their customers. 
The big question is: Will you be among them?
*Source: The Guardian (January 2017)
 Business2Community: 8 Essential Live Chat Customer Support Statistics (January 2016)
 Gartner report: Best Practices for Making Live Chat a Must-Have Have Engagement Channel (October 2015)