The 5 Benefits of On-Site Community Chat

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Online shoppers are increasingly used to receiving fast responses from the brands they contact, no matter what channel they choose. However, they can also be wary of corporate communication, and are more likely to trust the opinion of other users. This is why community forums are popular as they enable online consumers to share their experience about products and services with each other… To adapt to these changing habits, your business should be considering its customer service from every angle. Why not invite your users to interact with each other directly on your website? Here are the 5 benefits brought about by implementing a community chat service on your website.

Build trust

According to the Google 2014 Consumer Barometer Survey, 62% of the UK shoppers looked for information online before making their most recent purchase. But how exactly do they use the internet to get the information the need? 52% use the internet to compare products, technical characteristics and prices. For 54%, official brand websites are the first source of information. Brands should not miss out on this opportunity to provide their visitors with what they are looking for.

For many visitors, one of the main issues which puts them off completing a purchase is the feeling that they don’t trust the website: too cluttered, information which is difficult to find or unclear payment and delivery conditions. Live community chat is an excellent way to add a personal touch to your website and reassure your visitors by showing them that others are also visiting the site, using your products and eager to recommend them.

Google Consumer Barometer: UK online sources for purchase decision

Strengthen your online community

On-site community chat contributes to transforming your company into an entity your customers and visitors can relate too by reinforcing the feeling of belonging. By allowing your community to share their experience directly on-site, you can show that their expertise is valuable for you. You also provide your users with a space where they can chat with like-minded people; this strengthens your existing community and gives potential users another reason to join it.

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Create online engagement

Today, consumer opinions are a major lever for online engagement. A study carried out by Orange Labs showed that 96% of visitors take the feedback of other users into account before making a purchase*. But companies can sometimes find it difficult to channel this feedback. By making their site the very place where these interactions happen, companies can provide the members of their community with the same tools as their customer contact agents. They can empower experienced users with access to the full catalogue, link and offer-sharing tools and thereby optimise the impact these users have on the community.

Reduce customer contact costs

In 2012, Gartner carried out an extensive study on the impact of communities on customer service. It predicted that in 2014, companies which had integrated their consumer communities into their customer service strategy would see a reduction in costs of 10 to 50%. Similarly, for Gartner, collaborative customer service processes will be a major trend for 2015.

Indeed, by allowing your community to advise other visitors, especially in the initial stage of collecting information, your agents are able to focus on removing the obstacles encountered during the purchasing process. They can therefore spend more time on visitors who will most benefit from their expertise and on questions which will generate the most incremental sales.

Measure  impact and optimise

You can measure the ROI of your community chat tool by monitoring KPIs (conversion rate, satisfaction, average order value, turnover). This will help you plan your incentive scheme (rewards and prizes for the community) and adapt the size of your customer support teams.

By giving your community this opportunity to help each other out on your website, you can see their exchanges, capitalise on this content and better understand the obstacles your visitors encounter on your website.

The challenge is to find the right combination of professional customer support, self-service and peer-to-peer community service for your business.

This article originally appeared on iAdvize’s Blog and has been republished with permission.

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