Studies show that 44 percent of online consumers believe that having questions answered in real-time while making an online purchase is one of the most important features an online retailer can offer. Are you offering live chat on your site? If that stat isn’t enough to convince you, here are a few more reasons to give an extra nudge.

Live chat helps you reach a large customer segment

It’s true: if you think about the 44 percent referenced in the statistic above, you’ll realize that many of those folks probably won’t make an online purchase they’re unsure about unless live chat is available. Furthermore, eMarketer studies (see graph below) show that this customer segment is huge: almost two in 10 live chat respondents did more than 75 percent of their holiday shopping online, compared with 14 percent of those who did not chat. A further 25 percent of chatters made 51 percent to 75 percent of their purchases on the Web, versus just 10 percent of those who did not participate in the chat service. This figure was from 2009 – can you imagine how much it’s changed?

Live chat increases conversion rates

Let’s be honest: many consumers (but not all) who engage an agent in a chat will be potential buyers. The reasons they reach out can vary: inquiries about product specs, shipping times or order delivery methods, personalization options, etc., but the key is that they’re all looking for encouragement to click that ‘buy’ button! Thirty-eight percent of respondents in the eMarketer study said that the chat session greatly influenced their purchase decision.

Some online fashion retailers even offer directions to guide the chat, such as personal style help or what accessories go well with what they want to buy. Not only can this help route the chat to the ‘right’ agent (via skill set, personality, etc.) for the job, but it also helps agents push specific products to buyers. All in the name of good advice, of course.

Live chat builds customer loyalty

Besides those looking to make a first-time purchase, the other segment of consumers who use live chat are existing customers. They might want to report a complaint, inquire about their order, or offer suggestions for improvement or feedback. Giving them the ability to do so without calling a phone number and waiting on hold, or sending an email and awaiting a response, is the key to good customer satisfaction – and, while they’re on your site anyway, why not encourage them to purchase again with a discount code or complimentary product at a sale price? Live chat gives you the unique ability to offer instant rewards that customers can use right then and there, ensuring a repeat purchase.