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Where are the online shopping assistants?

Posted by Andy Soloman - 26 March, 2014

By Tim Breden, Commercial Director

Where are the online shopping assistants?

Shops have shop assistants. Online shops have websites. Very few have websites with online shopping assistants. Surely there’s something wrong here?

Like most people in business I tend to be at the coal face what seems like 24/7. In reality that isn’t actually possible but I’d like to be. For businesses to really serve their customers they need to be responsive and ready to serve when their customers need them.

A recent infographic from Cloud.IQ states that 53% of online customers say a lack of human interaction is the biggest factor in shopping cart abandonment.

So, here is weary old me, exhausted after another long day and I’m wondering how can I look after my customers 24 hours a day 7 days a week?

Online shopping assistants can work 24/7

Parts of this are easy. I have a swish ecommerce website. It is informative, it shows my customers what I do, what I can offer and even allows them to book time with me. Sorted. Or is it?

What if my customers have a question? Simple, all that’s needed is a robust set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Yeah right!

Let’s think some more here?

If it were that easy why do shops have shop assistants? Some of these shop assistants don’t even take your money or even fetch a pair of shoes. Some of them are purely there to direct you, answer questions and offer support and advice. They will encourage you to spend, they try to upsell, and they confirm the purchase process. They will also point you in the right direction for similar or complimentary products and they will even help answer those FAQs.

What’s wrong with online shopping

If shop assistants are part of the plan in the High Street, why do so many of those same retailers create online stores without assistants? Why are customers left to fumble in the dark during an online shopping experience?

Where’s the “hello”?

The “may I help you?”

Or, a simple, “I can see you’re having a problem at checkout, let me do that for you”

And so, back to that statistic that 53% of online shoppers say a lack of human interaction drives abandonment. As people we are social beings, we need reassurance, guidance and support. Within an online business, for all the automated bells and whistles and the usability experts planning optimum customer journeys, there is still a need for human interaction. If we need shop assistants 24/7, the most effective way of doing this is to use live chat with professional live chat operators. A simple exchange of words typed into a chat box to say “hello”, to offer support, complimentary products or just to answer an FAQ?

Even if the live chat operator doesn’t have the full answer he or she can take details and manage expectations by saying: “Thank you for your question, when would be a convenient time for our team to call you?”

How live chat be the saviour of online retailing?

Live chat can be used in so many ways. Purely from a commercial point of view it’s a straight forward sales tool or lead generator, but it can cover so much more whilst supporting and promoting your business.

  • Extended Working. Live chat is available 24/7, most businesses are closed at 6 pm and don’t open again until 8 am. We live in a society that now works, rests and shops 24/7.
  • Vastly Improved Customer Experience. Having someone there to help you through your purchase process, to answer any queries or just support you is a very powerful tool and an enriching experience for your customers.
  • Perceived Company / Brand Size. Having live chat will enable people to think your organisation is potentially bigger than it really is. It will demonstrate that you value your customers and are customer centric.

Live chat isn’t prohibitively expensive and it isn’t something a reputable company would sell you if your investment model doesn’t work or it just isn’t viable. There’s too much at stake to do this. Good full service live chat solution suppliers where you have the software, the live chat operators and expertise at deployment want you to be amazed at its impact and revel in the value adds to your organisation.

Live Chat is without doubt one of the most powerful tools you can have within your organisation and there are costing models out there that clearly demonstrate it's an investment and an investment with excellent returns.

It’s also becoming the must have bolt-on to any ecommerce proposition and a must have for any customer centric business. Live chat is here and some organisations are reaping the benefits. When your company’s lights go off the your live chat service and online shopping assistants keep the lights on and carry on providing Gold Standard customer service.

Topics: FAQ, Customer, E-commerce, Live Chat