The common phrase, “Let’s take this offline”, has a whole new meaning in a world of retail. Customers are spending less time hopping in their car and traveling from store to store and spending more time on their phones, tablets, and computers to research websites, search for online deals, and reading product reviews before narrowing down their options and making their decision, whether that’s to buy online or in person offline. It’s critical to make live support available in those digital channels.
Over the last 5 years, foot traffic to retail stores has collapsed by 65%. Customers used to spend hours visiting multiple stores in one day, or one weekend, but now they are only going to the one or two stores after eliminating options through their online research.
Even in categories like consumer electronics, computers, household appliances, and clothing and footwear, where customers still have a strong feeling toward going to a store to buy the product, they prefer to research online first. Take consumer electronic and computer, for example. Just a small number, 29% of people prefer to do their research in a physical store, but 52% prefer to make their purchase in a physical store. Also, a full 62% of electronic in-store purchases are in fact influenced by research online.
While customers still crave an in-person experience, they will read pages of reviews, view product details, and even compare prices online, in particular for higher consideration products or services.
The average consumer consults 10.7 sources before purchasing a product.
Now more than ever it’s important for retailers to bring the in-person customer service experience, attention and sales process online by offering live support.
Paul English, former CTO of Kayak and co-founder of Lola travel, said: “A lot of companies pushed hard on the idea that technology will solve every problem, and that we shouldn’t use humans. We think humans add value, so we’re trying to design technology to facilitate human-to-human connection.”
In today’s world, to be considered offline, you need to engage customers online first.
Still not convinced whether real-time live support online is important? 50% of customers leave websites when they don’t get an immediate response.
That’s why some retailers have started to integrate a live chat software on their website. If customers had a problem, they no longer had to search for a 1-800-number or click out of your website and head to a competitor, they could get in touch with an agent immediately, just type it out in detail and hope that the agent would eventually provide a response. While that’s been a helpful tool, live chat software only goes so far. Sure, it helps retailers be right there, in the page, immediately when customers need them. But often times live chat works too slowly and isn’t a convenient and easy way for rich conversations. Plus, some people are just not good at typing.
That’s why people still use the phone, which is a good method to talk through more complex problems, help with important decisions, and build a level of trust between agent and customer. But a phone call takes the customer away from the page or the app, often times has them waiting on the line for longer than they’d like, and it’s not anonymous.
2 out of their top 5 most most favorite ways people have to resolve issues includes voice.
How can we combine the benefits of text chat and messaging with the pros of the phone and add visual tools in order to qualify as people narrow down their options?
Customers are in need of live support in the same way they would interact with them offline – through audio, face-to-face chat, even getting hands on assistance when a product demo is needed, or sharing documents.
Wouldn’t it be nice to combine the immediacy and convenience of messaging and text chat with the richness and personal attention of audio chat, all while also sharing your screen?
With the combination of messaging, text, voice, and video conversations, along with tools like screen sharing and live product demos, customers are able to get live support in the most convenient way possible.
Besides qualifying for the final round of consideration, educated salespeople can use techniques, like upsell and cross-sell, that they use offline, when chatting with customers online to help increase AOV or can encourage customers to add this store on their in-person shopping list.
Updating the online customer experience to insert the human factor in digital channels, where salespeople are available to offer live support to customers will make their overall experience faster, easier, and more enjoyable.
Stryng In-App’s universal client messaging platform is helping companies seamlessly offer live support.
Learn more about reinventing sales and service in the digital age.