Before the Internet became mainstream, it was typical to visit a travel agency to book airline tickets or a package tour with hotel accommodation thrown in. Despite the long wait at busy times, it was refreshing to speak to a human travel agent, query them on details like the flight timings, and then conclude the transaction by paying on the spot.
Today, the Internet has long disrupted the travel industry and the experience has become transactional. Flights, hotels, tours and car rentals can be booked in a couple of clicks. Some consumers even enjoy the thrill of picking up last-minute offers or comparison-shop between travel platforms until they are satisfied with finding a good deal!
Whether you're selling shoes, clothing, electronics or travel experiences, humanising the customer experience can be a way of differentiating yourself from fierce price competition. Instead of offering discounts that hurt sales, engage with customers and provide a personalised experience to increase customer loyalty and drive repeat purchases. Continue reading to learn how!
Why is the e-commerce shopping experience important?
A typical online shopper is going to follow a tried-and-tested buying workflow, whether they're buying services or physical products:
- Use a price comparison platform or browser plug-in to compare prices
- Visit the e-commerce retailer to check stock availability
- Check out
- Wait for the delivery of vouchers or the goods.
This may work well for most shoppers, but what if they are looking for unique items and services, or if something goes wrong during or after their purchase? The customer experience is what distinguishes one e-commerce shop from another. Indifferent replies will not win you fans over the long run, but great experiences will build brand loyalty.
Most e-commerce stores offer self-service options like knowledge bases, FAQs and perhaps an automated chatbot. Like many other e-commerce websites, however, these are impersonal, and some consumers prefer a human touch in the form of live chat. For businesses, real-time messaging is a low-cost alternative to expensive phone calls.
How live chat humanises the shopping experience
Consumers are increasingly using digital self-service, but they still value live human support.
Live chat is a win-win solution for consumers and e-commerce business owners alike. Customers get immediate answers without waiting for an email reply or spending time on hold with a phone call. Businesses can manage multiple chat discussions at once instead of tying up expensive agents' time with extended phone conversations.
Here are five ways to use live chat to bring a human touch to the online shopping experience.
1. Create a good first impression with online visitors
Many elements of your e-commerce store contribute to the crucial first seconds when online visitors first land on your website. The design, user experience and product offerings are some things that people evaluate in their minds. Others include how easy is it to get customer support and service when they need to and the channels available.
Which do you think will make a better first impression on first-time visitors to your e-commerce website: a live chat widget with a friendly Smart Greeting or another website that does not? The answer is that 42% of adults in the United States said that it was important for retailers to offer live online chat on their websites, up from 27% in 2019!
Pro tip: You can customise the look and feel of the CINNOX live chat widget, as well as the initial Smart Greeting, to match your brand for a more seamless experience. Or embed an in-call video or image to introduce your brand in a nutshell.
2. Allow customers to contact you whenever they want
Live chat for shopping experiences is a frictionless form of communication. Customers do not have to write an email and wait for a response, nor do they have to call a phone number (often at their own cost) and be placed on hold before explaining their situation. Live chat is generally 24/7 so your consumers can contact you whenever they choose.
If you don't have agents working across different time zones to offer 24/7 support, you can set up offline contact forms so that people can leave their contact details for immediate follow-up when agents are online. Either way, both real-time and offline chat work together to answer questions quickly and solve problems before they escalate.
Pro tip: The CINNOX live chat widget provides more than live chat functionality. Consumers can make web calls if they prefer to explain their issue instead of typing it out. Visitors can also choose from a staff directory to find the best person to answer their questions, such as exchanges & returns, shipping or payments.
3. Build an emotional connection with shoppers
Congratulations if visitors are starting to interact with you through live chat because you can now focus on building an emotional connection that may increase sales and loyalty. By allowing customers to interact with real people, rather than automated messages, live chat is the next best thing to humanising the e-commerce customer experience.
Your agents, for example, can share their personal recommendations on camping gear if they are keen hikers as well. In addition, providing instant replies makes customers feel valuable and important—and they may even want to spend more, helping you to reduce customer churn by keeping your best customers and encouraging repeat sales.
Pro tip: The CINNOX live chat widget goes above and beyond customer engagement with rich multimedia capabilities including the ability to seamlessly switch between chat, video calls and voice calls inside the same app. Inspire consumer trust by showing the human side of your agents.
4. Add value during and after the conversation
As your customers move through the funnel, you should be creating and sharing content that keeps them engaged. The best way to do this is by creating content that is timely and relevant to the conversation they are having with you. This can be new offerings, promotions or even social media posts that showcase your brand personality.
With an omnichannel strategy in place, you can continue the conversation on different channels while ensuring a consistent consumer experience. Use CINNOX's web link feature, for example, to share URLs that start a live chat session or a web call directly with the agent who previously served them, growing the relationship at the same time.
Pro tip: Besides web links, another way to keep offline interactions going is with QR codes in CINNOX. Paste these strategically on the back of your products so that customers know that help is on hand if they need to troubleshoot something. Or print QR codes on marketing materials as not all leads start from your web store but from printed posters, leaflets and brochures.
5. Personalise the chat as much as possible
Personalising the conversation means having your agents ask questions and use what they learn to tailor their responses. It also means using the customer's name in the conversation, wherever possible and when appropriate, which helps them feel like they're speaking with a human person behind the brand rather than an automated bot.
With CINNOX, your agents can further personalise conversations with visitors by automatically retrieving their country location, browsing language, and browsing history on your website. Visitors may also provide additional information at the start of a conversation if you are using pre-chat forms to gather personal data beforehand.
Pro tip: The browsing history of visitors helps your agents to anticipate enquiries and the likely questions from visitors. Someone spending time browsing skiing holiday packages, for example, is not likely to be interested in sunny Mediterranean escapes.