We’re social creatures. We like to talk to one another. And there’s nothing more social than a simple chat. But now chatting isn’t just for casual conversations. It has become the “next big thing” for businesses, especially in e-commerce.
Different implementations of e-commerce chat
E-commerce chat might seem straightforward. It’s just having a chat feature for your online store, right? On the surface, yes, e-commerce chat is simple. However, before you implement e-commerce chat, you have to make decisions about who your customer chats with and where they will be able to access chat.
Who will customers talk to? Bot vs. humans
Is live chat really necessary for small online stores? This question has become a topic of discussion between marketing experts and e-commerce gurus.
First, let’s be clear that chat SHOULD be a feature of your store. However, deciding whether a live agent or a chatbot makes the most sense for your store isn’t always easy.
70% of consumers still prefer talking to a human over chatbots according to Sitel Group’s 2018 Index Report. Based on this alone, it might seem safe to say that we should follow what the majority of customers are saying and opt for a live agent behind our chat. But it’s more complicated than that.
If your store is still small and doesn’t receive a large number of questions every day, a team member can probably take on the work of chat customer support. But once your store grows and you start getting more questions to field, you’ll need a dedicated chat support staff, and the cost of employing/outsourcing a professional can sometimes be unaffordable for a small business. For this scenario, a chatbot is the best solution.
Chatbots are easy to install and the program can handle multiple customers at a time and are much cheaper than a live agent. However, chatbots can only do basic functions and cannot produce proper responses to complex problems.
That said, here are our recommendations:
Chatbots usually are sufficient for small Shopify stores. They can handle multiple customers efficiently, do basic troubleshooting, and answer frequently asked questions.
But if you have the resources, we highly recommend you have both chatbots and live agents. Chatbots will handle the basic functions and questions during off-hours. Then live agents will handle the complex situations. This way, you'll have a bot or a human to cater to your customers whenever they reach out.
Where can customers reach you? In-store vs. other platforms
We have the same recommendation here. If you can, have chat available to customers on both your website and other platforms.
In-store chat support
Having a chat feature on your Shopify store is a great way to be there when your customers want more information. Most customers just need a little nudge to push them into a purchase. Sometimes, that nudge can be as small as answering their questions via a chat.
Here are some of the best-rated Shopify chat apps to integrate directly with your online store:
Other platforms for chat support
The most common chat support third-party platform is social media. All social media platforms and apps already have chat features built-in. And because it’s easy to use and free, it’s the simplest way to get started with chat.
7 out of 10 (70%) of Americans are on some form of social media according to Pew Research Center. That means that the majority of consumers are on social media.
According to the 2017 Connected Shopper’s Report, 31% of millennials are twice as likely to buy right from social media. And according to Invesp’s infographic about impulse buying, 40% of e-commerce purchases are impulse buys. So, if you have a social media chatbot, you can be there when many customers have the impulse to buy.
While social media chatbots are the easiest and possibly most effective third-party chat platforms, they aren’t the only option. Aside from social media, there are other platforms that can support chat features. Specialty chat apps such as WhatsApp, Viber, Line, Telegram, etc. can also be supported by Shopify’s apps. Here are some of the chat support apps from Shopify:
Importance of having chat support for e-commerce
Chat builds relationships
Many customers either love or loathe a business based on its customer service. Customer service begins with chat. This is where you build relationships with your customers.
Chat promotes customer success
When a customer needs information and you give it to them, they have a successful interaction. As we have discussed in our previous blog post, successful customers bring success to your store. Happy customers pull in more customers and keep buying your products for years.
The informality of chat invites more customers
What makes chat invaluable to customers is the fact that it is casual. Interactions with businesses in the past are either too formal (emails, letters, submitting “reports,” approaching concierges) or too transactional (only after sales). It doesn’t show genuine care for or interest in the customer, and it could alienate the unsophisticated average consumer.
Chat is like saying to your customer, “Hey, just message me if you need me, alright? Cool.” It’s like a welcoming invite from a friend whom you can ask for help.
Chat means your customers have a way to be more honest about what they think of your products or customer service. Sometimes, they will be brutally honest about your products, and that’s painful to hear... but sometimes that’s exactly what you need to improve your store.
No time constraints
Formal ways of communication are usually not in real-time. Maybe you have seen this reply before: “Thank you for your feedback. Please wait two business days for our response.” In our fast-paced lifestyle, that won’t cut it. Chat is almost real-time. Customers will get the information they need within seconds or minutes.
Also, customers don’t wait for business hours to ask for information or tell you something about your store. If you have a good chat implementation, they can message you anytime they want.
You can have fun
This is especially applicable if your store’s voice is also playful and humorous. Formal/traditional communications usually follow a format that is exclusively serious. Chat opens you up to sending emojis, gifs, pictures or memes to your customer, making the conversation livelier. It also helps customers feel more comfortable reaching out to you.
Things to keep in mind when implementing chat
Involve all the aspects of your store around chat
Chat support shouldn’t just be the responsibility of just one department or one person. All your processes should revolve around your chat, as chat will eventually affect your whole store. Here are some of the roles/departments that will be affected:
- Analytics - getting insights from customer chat
- Customer Care - answering questions and solving complaints through chat
- Fulfillment - accepting orders through chat
- Marketing - sending promotional material through chat
Don’t feed the trolls
Since chat is so accessible for most people, you will sometimes receive chats that are not necessarily worthy of attention. Be careful as some people can send offensive messages, intentionally waste your time or be a nuisance just because they can. Never give them attention, as that is exactly what they want. Don’t waste time and effort. Just block or ignore them.
Trolls are generally harmless and will just waste your time or annoy you at the worst. Chat Shopify apps and other platforms are secure so far, but that doesn’t mean that we can let our guard down. Cybersecurity is a serious problem. People can send links or files that are malicious. Be very careful when opening these through chat.
So far, there have been no instances of Shopify stores being hacked through chat. But you should still be very careful, as it is a big possibility.
Casual communication leads to conversions and more
Like everything, chat comes with a few concerns. But overwhelmingly, it’s the easiest way to ensure that customers will buy something from your store. By answering customer questions, providing casual communication, and paving the way for honest customer feedback, the chat is an asset for e-commerce.
We definitely recommend your store to start implementing chat support as soon as possible.