Does Live Chat Increase Sales? (Turning Your Chat Into a Sales Machine)

Does live chat increase sales?

We talked about how live chat can be incredibly useful at revealing conversion killers in this article but on top of that, it can be a powerful tool in your arsenal to help increase your Shopify store’s conversions, sales and profits.

In fact, a study by the American Marketing Association study shows that live chat can increase conversions by at least 20 percent.  Not only that, but the same report states that visitors who use live chat are three times more likely to buy, compared to those who don’t.

What’s more, 33% of consumers now expect to see live chat offered on every website so if you’re not, you’re disappointing a third of your potential customers before you’ve overcome any of the other hurdles to help turn visitors into buyers like having a strong value proposition.

Here’s the thing, even if a visitor doesn’t start a chat on your store, the mere presence of live chat acts as a powerful reassurance to overcome anxieties around whether you’re a legitimate business and whether you’re easy to get hold of if there’s an issue with their order.

In fact, a study from Oracle into Global Consumer Trends found that 90% of customers said the “Live Chat” button gives them confidence that they can get help if they need it.  This means that without live chat, you’re swimming upstream to build trust with your store’s visitors.

Convenience is king

It’s not surprising that the number of consumers who use live chat in preference to the phone or email has increased by 50% since 2012, according to a report by Forrester.  It’s simply more convenient a lot of the time.

Plus, live chat allows visitors who wouldn’t normally pick up the phone to contact you in an easy way because of any of the following reasons:

  • They are sneakily shopping at work or just in a public place and don’t want to be overheard.
  • The cost of a phone call is something they want to avoid.
  • They don’t want to be stuck on-hold listening to a myriad of options or “elevator music” waiting to get through to someone who barely speaks their language.
  • They can hide behind a live chat session because it’s less of a commitment than a phone call.

And if that’s not enough to convince you that live chat is a good idea, eDigital’s customer service benchmark report, states that live chat has the highest satisfaction levels for any customer service channel, with 73%, compared with 61% for email and 44% for phone.

Push, but don’t be pushy

Leaving your visitors to browse and run the risk of them not noticing your live chat button is like someone walking into an offline store and the salesperson ignoring them entirely. You simply wouldn’t do it unless you want to go out of business.

It’s no secret that if someone is about to exit your page, the chances are they’ve been put-off by something or have an unanswered question.  So it makes sense to trigger your live chat prompt as close to that precise moment as you can.

To do this, you just need to find your store’s average time-on-page stat from your Google Analytics.  So, if for example, analytics tells you that average time-on-page is 50-seconds, set your push live chat to trigger after 45-seconds.  This way you’ll grab their attention when they’re “heading for the door” and stand a fair chance of getting them to chat.

But don’t fall into the trap of doing what fails miserably in the offline world too…

Opening up the conversation with “How may I help you? shuts it down just as fast as you’ve asked it.  People are conditioned to reply “I’m OK thanks.”

It’s better to open up with something like, “Hey, my name’s XXX, sorry to interrupt, I’m just want to make sure everything’s making sense so far?”

We’ve found this increases the response rate significantly because it’s much more casual but lets people know you’re there for them.

Does live chat increase sales?
Your opening prompt has it’s own micro-conversion rate you need to optimize.

Does live chat increase sales? Keep it real

Your live chat isn’t just a functional tool, it’s also a way to let people experience your brand for the first time.  Your intro and canned responses should reflect your brand’s personality just like the copy you use throughout your entire store and email marketing.

But it’s not just about your copy, it’s about making your customers feel like they’re connecting with a real person.  Using an image of someone who actually works for you goes a long way.  After all, people buy from people.

Does live chat increase sales?
Arguably the hardest working girl on the internet, she works the live chat for thousands of sites.
Does live chat increase sales? use a real staff member’s photo instead of a cheesy stock model.  (And also overcome objections about overseas customer service.)

Does live chat increase sales? Be quick to respond if you want to make sales

Does live chat increase sales? If someone does reach out, ignoring a chat request is a conversion death knell.  Put yourself in your customers’ shoes, “If you can’t be bothered to respond why would I do business with you?”

The reality is customers demand immediate service and slow response times of “within 24 hours” don’t cut it anymore.

Research shows that the average response time for customer service requests on social media is 10 hours. Worse still, email response times take longer than 15 hours! Consumers have learned that live chat gives them the instant gratification they crave so you must react quickly.

But if you’re not able to respond to a chat request straight away because it’s out of hours, hide the button or manage expectations of when they can expect a reply.  Choosing a tool like Drift that allows people to leave a message helps dissipate some of the frustration of not being immediately available.

With that said, take a look at your analytics at your peak traffic days and times because matching your chat availability to when most people are shopping is an easy way to increase conversions.

Increasing sales with live chat
This store’s peak conversion times are outside of their office hours when customer service aren’t available on live chat, leaving money on the table.

Reduce your customer service overhead

Whether you’re just starting out and only have one person running your customer service or you have a small army of people, according to research by Telus Internationalcustomer service agents can juggle as many as six simultaneous chats, depending on the complexity of the issues involved.

But that’s not all, live chat is more than 50% cheaper than handling phone calls too.

Increase average order value

Does live chat increase sales?

By using live chat to understand your customer’s needs, you can recommend similar products by up-selling and cross-selling to increase the average order value.

This style of personal selling pays for itself, Internet Retailer found that Virgin Airlines used live chat to transform their business.  They up-sold customers with additional products and converted them 3.5x more often and saw a 15% overall increase in average order value to boot.

And you don’t have to leave customers to checkout themselves, you can create manual orders in the back end of Shopify and email them the order so all they have to do is make the payment.

The Shoptimized™ Theme integrates with all of the live chat apps.  It’s also one of the top converting Shopify themes so well worth checking out.


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Bradley Long

Bradley Long

Bradley is a Conversion Rate Expert and store owner since 2005. He’s helped some of the world’s most sophisticated brands to double and sometimes triple their conversion rates. He architected the #1 unofficial Shopify theme, Shoptimized™ and is also CEO of Funnel Buildr, the perfect tool for massively growing your store’s Average Order Value.

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