Ten Things You Didn’t Know about Chat

Whether it’s in person or on the computer, people love to chat. This is visible by the amount of chat programs available: MSN, Facebook chat, Skype chat, Gmail chat, Google talk, iChat, chat rooms; we use many mediums! People from my generation especially (80s baby) have an affinity with online chat. But how do we feel about using chat during online purchases, problems and general browsing?

1. Website visitors that accept chat conversations are more likely to convert than those who don’t. Live chat is an increasingly effective sales channel. For the average website, adding live chat will increase conversions and average order size.Users who chat are 7.5x more likely to convert than those who don’t. This number has increased in the past few years. Chatters buy, on average, 24% of the time. Chatters spend about 55% more per purchase than non-chatters.2. The percentage of visitors that engage in chat has grown steadily, but varies widely from company to company. Proactive chat invites are critical for highly tracked sites.The YoY growth rate of the amount of people that have engaged in chat has jumped into the double digits. Only 1.7% of people (on average) engage in chat (varying between less than 1% to 15%) for low traffic websites; for high traffic websites, less than 1% of visitors engage in chat. Proactive chat (the issuance of a form, image, or other component that generally appears on top of a website and invites the visitor into a chat interaction) yields an 8.5% engagement rate. The ‘Chat Form’ type of invitation is 37% more likely to be accepted over other types, although 47%of website visitors abandon chats when a pre-chat form is presented. Chatters who engage via Proactive are, for the highly tracked site, 9.8x more likely to buy (and 8x  more likely on average websites).3. Website visitors are fairly satisfied with live chats and are more satisfied the longer that the chat lasts. The more satisfied they are with the chat, the greater the chance of conversion.

The satisfaction average goes up gradually from 3.5 up to 4.0 (out of 5.0) for chats that increase from 10 seconds up through 30 seconds. The average satisfaction level increases up to 4.3 at 80 seconds and up to 4.5 at 180 seconds. 25% of chatters fill out a post-chat satisfaction survey, on average. Sites with top 20% conversion rates average 4.5 on their overall chat satisfaction scores. Sites in the bottom 20% for satisfaction scores had a 35% less chance to convert a chatter than an average site.

4. Chatters will wait longer than 10 seconds for an answer.

The average wait time before visitors give up on a chat is 20 seconds when no pre-chat form is used. Visitors are increasingly less likely to fill out a form before chatting, but if they do, they want the chat answered more immediately.

5. Chatters are predominately middle-aged (surprisingly enough). They shop frequently but demand attention.

One in five shoppers preferred live chat as their communication method of choice for contacting a retailer. Live chat fans are more likely to have higher household income, shop more frequently, spend more, are college graduates, and are between 31-50 years of age. The live chat fan is also more likely to be a woman. Those who have chatted 4 or more times in the past few months expect more from the technology and retailers as well.

6. For the vast majority, live chat saves contact centers money while simultaneously empowering them to offer new support options, improve interaction speed and quality, and increase customer satisfaction. However, live chat can go wrong if not managed properly.

What matters most are the agents on the other side of the chat interaction (the most important factors that make chat sessions successful were the human factors, the live agents). Text-based communication is unique and requires different training, incentives, and skills. Because live chat is asynchronous, agents can manage more than one chat at a time and  multi-task.

7. Measuring success: Customer Satisfaction is the key metric by which contact centers providing support through live chat judge their success, next to wait time and chat length.

Technical support is the most popular type of support provided by companies that offer chat services. Live chat has a profound positive impact on support organizations. The most highly rated chat feature in helping provide support to customers is chat history (the ability to access, in real-time, past chat conversations for a given visitor). The consumers know that an agent – through any channel – who can quickly come up to speed on past issues is highly valuable.

8. Watch your ‘chatiquette’ (Toshiba telecom blog) – (chat etiquette) is a variation of netiquette (internet etiquette) and describes basic rules of online communication:

    • KISS-principle: keep it short and sweet. Keep it casual too, don’t be long-winded in your answer, if longer is necessary take the conversation to email or phone.
    • Limit the conversation to one subject or question at a time.
    • GEOTJ: go easy on the jargon. Talk to a customer in the same way as you would in person or on the phone.
    • Watch spelling and grammar.


9. Chat has been around for more than 35 years.

The first online chat system was called Talkomatic, created by Doug Brown and David R. Woolley in 1974 on the PLATO System at the University of Illinois. It offered several channels, each of which could accommodate up to five people, with messages appearing on all users’ screens character-by-character as they were typed. Talkomatic was very popular among PLATO users into the mid-1980’s.
The first dedicated online chat service that was widely available to the public was the CompuServe CB Simulator in 1980, created by CompuServe executive Alexander “Sandy” Trevor in Columbus, Ohio. Ancestors include network chat software such as UNIX “talk” used in the 1970s.

10. The future of chat is diversity.

86% of survey respondents said that live chat agents inside their contact centers work simultaneously across other channels like texting and email. Two thirds indicated that they are also actively supporting customers through Social Media channels.


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