The retail experience has dramatically changed over the past six months for reasons that are all too obvious right now. But, if there’s a glimmer of positivity that’s come out of the coronavirus crisis, it has to do with the increased awareness around the importance of a strong digital strategy.
From the early days of the widespread lockdown, independent retailers began their search for ways to continue offering at least some level of service to their community as they closed their showrooms. Immediately, attention turned to retailers’ websites and digital offerings. More specifically, interest and demand for chat service integration skyrocketed.
It’s been inspiring, to say the least, to watch how ready and willing Members were to adapt their businesses in such a short period of time — and there are plenty of examples of dealers whose efforts paid off.
The benefits speak for themselves: Conversion rates from chat range between 45% and 75%. And for the customer, you’re offering them a convenient way to connect with your store before they even set foot inside your physical location. You can develop that customer relationship before you really even get to know them.
But chat is more than just a plug-and-play kind of service. It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it type of tool. It takes a well thought out strategy and proper execution to realize that level of success.
To get there, consider some of these best practices for implementing and optimizing your chat service.
When Should Chat Be Offered?
- At the very least, during normal business hours
- If possible, start your chat service a few hours before your store opens and after you close
- Closed on Sundays? This would be a great time to offer chat so you can stay connected with your customers
- Ideal chat hours: Monday – Saturday, 8 a.m. – 10 p.m., shorter hours on Sunday if you are typically closed
Tips for optimizing chat
- Pop up chats increase engagement with the service by about 50%; wait about 30 seconds before inviting the customer to chat
- Limit the number of times you show the pop up (you risk it becoming annoying)
- Ask customers on product pages if they need assistance
- Regularly train your staff on chat and review chat performance
- Have clear policies on how to manage offline/phone orders that initiate from chat
- Departmentalize chat sessions so that product specialists answer chats related to their products
- Have multiple stores? Use geotargeting so the customer will be targeted to the right location for assistance/to finish their transaction in-store
This article was first published in the July 2020 issue of Retail Observer.
Jen Danko is the Vice President of technology for Site on Time, a Nationwide Marketing Group company