More retailers use online chat as service and sales tool, white paper finds

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More than two thirds (69%) of top retailers are using online sales or support chat as a customer service channel, according to a new whitepaper by contact centre specialist, TELUS International, in partnership with Kenna LLC.

The paper, Live Chat Market Adoption – Who’s Chatting Now?, says this represents a 24% increase in sales chat adoption in just two years, suggesting more brands are seeing the benefits of engaging with customers in real-time online.

The study analyses which major online retailers offer online chat and whether it’s used as a customer support service, a sales service or both.

Key findings of the research include:

  • Of the 42 retailers analysed, almost half (45%) of companies used online chat for both sales and customer support, including Dell, HP, Microsoft, Amazon and Macy’s
  • Almost two thirds (60%) use online chat to offer customer support
  • Over half (55%) offer online chat to support sales
  • 29% of companies don’t yet use online chat at all, including several national retailers

TELUS International conducted similar research two years ago and, since then, 59% of the 29 retailers originally surveyed now use online chat – compared to only 31% in 2010.

“Our latest research shows online chat is becoming a vital customer service and sales delivery tool, particularly for younger, hyper-connected consumers,” said Al Rose, vice president, retail and internet properties, TELUS International.

“These highly technical, social shoppers continue to change the way companies do business, causing retailers to shift their online strategies. Interactive retailing will become ‘the norm’ as customers incorporate online and mobile platforms into their shopping habits. Online chat is a key component of this – and a profitable customer contact channel if used to support sales.

“While the popularity of online chat is increasing, there are still obstacles to overcome. Companies still struggle with delivering a high quality chat service when customers ask a wide range of sales and support questions. Also, online chat is implemented very differently between corporate websites making it difficult for some customers to find the service, and thereby reducing awareness and effective use of the communication channel.”