Chat solutions are increasingly becoming a must for websites, especially e-commerce sites, to offer the best possible customer experience. According to Forrester, the rates of chat usage as a customer service engagement channel have grown from 30% in 2009 to 43% in 2012. More and more it is being used to reach visitors before they abandon their online purchase and to increase online conversion. 44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer (Forrester). Therefore, it is imperative for chat solutions to be able to engage with the right visitors at the right time.
How do you decide who to chat with?
One of the challenges with any chat solution is deciding which visitors to engage with. This is extremely important as each chat session represents a dollar amount from the cost per chat to the cost of the representative’s time. So how do you decide which visitors to engage with to maximize the potential of your chat solution? The most effective and accurate way is to leverage visitor intent. Visitor intent is what your visitors are trying to accomplish during their visit i.e. wanting to make a purchase, looking for support, just browsing, etc. It is the single most powerful piece of information you can have because it contextualizes why your visitors are on your site. Once you have exposure to intent you can hone in on visitors accordingly and be more efficient with your chat solution. For example, with visitor intent you can recognize support seekers in distress and then trigger a chat session with these visitors resulting in an increase in customer loyalty and a decrease in support costs. Alternatively, you can also trigger a chat session with visitors who came to buy by recognizing purchase intenders and significantly grow visitor conversion.
iperceptions’ research shows, as demonstrated in the graph below, that a typical e-commerce site might have 15% of visitors with an intent to purchase. But only 20% of this group actually make a purchase which represents a 3% conversion rate. What this means is that 80% of visitors who claim they are on the site to purchase left without making a purchase. If 3% of successful conversions represent $1M in online sales – this means $4M of potential business is just walking out the door!
By leveraging visitor intent you can grow your conversion by taking action on the 80% of visitors that are on your site to purchase but didn’t that session.
Proactive chat rules drive the wrong kind of chat interactions
But how do you recognize visitor intent? One of the most common ways is to develop triggering rules for chat and then infer intent based on common purchase intender traits. For example, take a company that sells computers online. Some of the expected purchase intender traits might be going to the cart or looking at the specs page of a particular computer. But as shown in the graph below, these are poor indicators of whether a visitor is looking to make a purchase.
In fact, what many would consider the strongest cue of purchase intent –the cart – is only made up of 44 percent purchase intenders with the remaining 56 percent representing all other intent types such as researchers. This mislabelling of visitors based on behavioral cues creates noise and will probably net you more researchers than purchasers. From a chat solution perspective this can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of your chat solution and the allocation of resources. This is because researchers accept chat invitations to help them in the research process i.e. comparing, checking their budgets, getting a few more opinions, confirming some details etc. But in reality few will convert to a sale, at least not in that session. As a result many of your chat sessions may be engaging visitors who are not looking to purchase. This uses valuable resources on sessions that are less likely to convert decreasing the overall value of your chat solution.
Active Recognition - Recognizing anonymous visit intent in real-time
The most accurate type of visitor intent is stated intent, directly from the customer. The challenge with leveraging stated intent is that you can’t ask every visitor their intent. That’s why iperceptions has developed Active Recognition, the only technology that recognizes the intent of anonymous website visitors in real-time without having to ask them. Active Recognition starts with an ongoing representative sample of stated visitor intent captured by a survey from a small portion of your site visitors, usually less than 1%. We take this unique data set and augment it with its related behaviour data. Through patent-protected machine learning algorithms and a continuous feed of iperceptions 20M+ visitor intent data points, we are able to label live sessions with stated visitor intent in real-time. For the first time, we can scale stated visitor intent to the volume and velocity of behavioral data to recognize more visitors with the intent to purchase. What Active Recognition provides is relevant and engaging interactions with customers by leveraging your existing marketing technologies such as chat solutions. Active Recognition allows your chat solution to reach visitors that want to buy this session (i.e. purchase intenders) increasing conversion, and improving the customer experience.
Therefore, to engage with right visitors at the right time you need stated visitor intent.