It might sound like a mouthful, but the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index contains one, very important piece of information.
For the seven month period between January to July 2014, nearly 5% of online visitors to UK websites, excepting travel, became customers. Online chat facilities can help smooth this process, but how do you know if your investment is funding a genuine sales tool rather than just an expensive add-on?
The baseline, alluded to by IMRG Capgemini, is the conversion rate. In its simplest from, this means turning a chat into business. By using tracking codes, you can see which of your online chatters goes on to spend money with you and, just as importantly, you can reduce a phenomenon known to online retailers as ‘basket abandonment.’
In this unwelcome development, people fill their basket with products and, unable to find a piece of information or thwarted by the site design, close the page or never complete their purchase. Giving them the option to raise a query with a real, live person can reduce basket abandonment and, in so doing, push more people through your checkout. A win-win.
So much for the baseline. There are other indicators that are more subtle, but which can tell you just as much about customer behaviour. Many companies monitor the average basket value after a chat to see if it increases from a baseline which, the same survey suggests, is about £80.
By training staff to be product specialists, even to the extent of recommending items which complement those already selected, you can potentially grow your sales significantly. Moreover, by intervening when a customer is at a key strategic stage in the funnel that should lead them to the checkout, you can help smooth their way and answer any questions.
Any performance indicator which looks at sales and spend will be easy to measure. An involvement which adds, say, £20 to the average spend is clearly decisive, but there are a number of others which can show how your chat facility is performing.
Consider your ‘transformation time.’ This is the length of time between the chat taking place and the order being made by your customer. Generally, it can be traced by using a tracking code that expires after 48 hours, although they can be timed to last longer depending on your industry. If you work in travel, where the buying cycle is longer as the purchase is longer and often involves a greater level of commitment, you may want the codes to last for 30 days.
Arguably the least tangible driver of installing online chat software is that ever-present of retail: customer satisfaction.
Research by Dimensional Research and Zendesk shows that happy customers are 52% more likely to make future purchases from the same retailer, which leads strategists at our company to think that an online chat can be a key element in creating a satisfied customer. If you receive help at the right time from a customer service operative who can answer your questions and knows what products to recommend, then your shopping experience will be more enjoyable.
There are other performance indicators, including total turnover as well as incremental share that demand slightly more complex mathematics to work out but that can be just as useful. The most important thing is that having installed your chat software, you invest time in making it work for you and for your customers.
From driving sales to increasing customer satisfaction, chatting could rapidly become an indispensable part of how you do business.
This post originally appeared on Digital Marketing Magazine.