Live Chat - Why Engagement Matters

Cormac Farrelly, Digital Marketing Consultant with WSI, examines the findings presented by Liveperson at a recent CCMA Ireland event.

Customer support organisations are continually looking at alternatives to traditional contact channels to reduce costs, improve operational efficiencies and most importantly improve the customer experience. In recent years, with the explosive growth of Social Media and the availability of Smartphones, it is no surprise that many customers now prefer to engage with brands online using different online channels (think Web chat, Facebook, Twitter) and different devices (think laptop, tablet and smartphone). So how do Contact centres deal with this multi-channel, multi device, always €œon€ audience? To get some answers to these questions I went along to CCMA Ireland's recent Engagement Matters event held in the Westin Hotel in Dublin.  Presenters included Liveperson (the main sponsor), Eircom and UPC.  I was not disappointed €“ There were some very compelling statistics presented from a recent loudhouse report, an interactive demo from Liveperson to breathe some life into these concepts and most importantly some real life examples from Eircom and UPC.

"The secret sauce is: Customer Engagement!"

Key Findings Liveperson commissioned loudhouse to conduct some quantitative research and results are based on 6,000 online interviews across six countries.

  • The average global conversion rate for self-serve web visitors is 1-2%.  A conversion can be defined as the ability to get a web visitor to take a predetermined action - anything from completing a purchase online to submitting a form indicating interest in a product or service to downloading a whitepaper.  It's depressing to think that you put so much effort to get targeted visitors to your website and then 98% of them leave without taking action!
  • On average offering a live chat facility on your website can potentially increase the conversion rate from 2% to 22%
  • "Channel blur" or "Omni-channelare the buzzwords being used to describe the growing trend by customers to engage with a brand on multiple channels prior to making a purchase.  For example a sample shopping experience might include researching on the web, reading reviews on social media, getting store directions on a mobile device and going online in the physical store to get price comparisons!

Brands need to consider that:

  • 78% of shoppers research online prior to shopping in store
  • 1 in 4 shoppers (24%) have engaged in show-rooming - the practice of visiting a store to "touch" and "feel" the product and then using their mobile phone to check prices elsewhere
  • 71% of online shoppers expect to be able to access help when purchasing online: within 5 minutes.  31% expect help to be immediate!
  • 82% of respondents claimed that €œgetting my issue resolved quickly  contributed the most to a great online customer experience
  • Choice appears to be a key driver of online customer engagement.  59% of respondents say they would like to have more choice when it comes to contacting customer support
  • 71% of respondents experienced the highest customer satisfaction score when using Live chat compared to 64% using the call centre and 61% using email


  • Give customers a choice.  Following on from the last point, the speakers agreed that customers should be given a choice on how to engage with customer service.  In addition to clear demand for emerging real time channels like Live chat to be available alongside more traditional channels such as Phone and email, customers have indicated that they would like to see "click to call", video demos and in some cases video chat channels available to them.
  • Be brave - Turn off phone and email.  One sure way to push customers down a live chat channel is to turn off voice and email - In other words remove the contact centre phone number and/or email address from certain web pages.  One of the speakers referenced a case study from parcel2go who made this bold step - resulting in a reduction in the cost per contact from £4 to £0.75.  To do this effectively you need to establish rules such as only removing the phone number when chat agents are online and available to take calls and reinstating the alternative contact mechanisms when live chat is not available or offline.
  • Be selective.  If you place a chat button on all pages of your website you are inviting every random web visitor to make contact.  Although chat agents can manage concurrent "chats", relatively speaking, they are expensive human resources so it makes sense to implement rules as to when the chat function is offered - e.g. time on site, sequence of pages being navigated etc.
  • Ignore mobile and be ignored. Looking at web analytics across our own client base we have witnessed first-hand the growth in the number of people accessing websites using mobile devices. Techcrunch reported yesterday that 40% of all visitors to YouTube are now on a mobile device, up from 25% in 2012 and just 6% in 2011.  Closer to home, RTE recently reported that 63% of their 128 million monthly page impressions were coming from mobile devices.

So does Engagement Matter? It is often one thing to take broad industry statistics and quite another when this is compared to the real life experience of companies operating in our own market. Eircom and UPC have both implemented Live chat as an engagement channel in their Digital strategy and had some very interesting results to share:

  • Chat is often perceived as career progression for a call agent.  Chat agents don't need to worry about "quiet zones" and there is often a tangible buzz in the chat room.  For Example, Chat agents can easily shout across the room to colleagues for help!
  • For customer service type chats there was a 29% acceptance rate on "offered" chats - An offered chat is when a chat box pops up on screen when certain rules are triggered
  • Interestingly, for sales related chats, the chat acceptance rate was just 6.9%
  • Live chat is being used to service Sales, customer service and Tech support.

What has your experience been using a Live Chat Tool?  Please comment below. Opinions presented in this blog posts are those of the author and not necessarily those of CCMA. WSI is a digital marketing agency - With over 1,000 offices in 80 countries, they support local businesses with global insights