Marketing 2.0  

Use Online Chat to Grow Retail Sales

Online chat is an underdeveloped channel but can have multiple benefits if used correctly
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When it comes to shopping, the web offers convenience, choice and information. It’s not surprising consumers continue to do more of their shopping online.


In fact, Forrester Research predicts U.S. online retail sales will reach nearly $250 billion by 2014, with many more billions to be made from shoppers making in-store purchase decisions that are “web-influenced” first. 


Today’s customers expect companies to provide the same expert customer service online as they receive on the sales floor. If customers cannot find quick answers to their questions or become frustrated with the online ordering or shipping processes, they go elsewhere. Shopping online makes it all the easier to abandon a shopping cart. According to Forrester Research, 88 per cent of web buyers say they have abandoned an online shopping cart without completing the transaction. 


There is a tremendous opportunity for retailers with a web presence to enhance customer service and increase sales in real-time within the online environment itself. One area that is proving to be extremely profitable is online chat – either reactive, proactive, or both. With proper implementation, online chat delivers personalized and timely communications to a customer, while reducing overall interaction costs as agents handle multiple chat sessions simultaneously.


Best Practices – making chat work for retailers

A successful online chat session is made up of three key elements:  agent skills, chat system features, and communications style. 


Agent Skills

Agent skill is critical to delivering a positive customer experience. They must answer questions directly, avoiding promotional copy, sharing only one or two ideas per response and personalizing the interaction as much as possible. By following these steps and conveying the right tone, your chat agents will improve sales while protecting your brand.


Chat System Features

Chat technology is becoming more sophisticated and agents must understand all of the chat features available to them, like page pushing, document sharing and co-browsing, along with the company’s policy for use.


Communications Style

Investing in writing skills for chat is essential to conveying brand and agent credibility. Writing effective chat communications can be an art.



Adding online chat to your online customer service can be a big boost to ROI. Customers expect instant gratification and immediate response. Chat offers that real-time interaction in a cost-effective manner. Focusing on implementing chat well will go a long way to optimizing the online chat customer experience.  


Written By: Emily Millar


Emily Millar is vice-president, client relations at TELUS International – a top provider of BPO and contact center solutions to global clients

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