At the end of 2013, we started an experimental trial using live chat software with our customers on a selected number of sites. This allows a website visitor to communicate in real time with a member of staff to help answer any immediate questions. It was well received by users and helped address their questions regarding the various payment options, which lead to higher conversions. Investing in one of these products and the staff needed to support it is a fairly major consideration, but after trying different products and undertaking analysis of the impact and results, it was clear - live chat was the future. As a consequence, we appointed Alex Basheer in January, who had been one of the stars of the Retention team, to set up, hire and manage our team of Live Support Representatives, and we subsequently rolled out the live chat function across the full network of sites.
The team’s mission is quite simple - to help our members become subscribers by assisting with any questions or queries they have.
Initially, this service was set-up so that if members visited the subscription page and had paused for a specific period, they would be presented with a 'pop-up' window, controlled by one of our agents. We now also have a chat request link, so the member can initiate the conversation.
The nature of live support isn't hard or pushy, it's very customer centric and helpful. It’s important that the team are conversant with the site, the benefits of being a subscriber and know of any offers we are running, as well as our operating procedures and terms and conditions. Above all, they have to be charming and persuasive customer support people.
On most occasions, customers will have a range of different questions they want answered before committing to a subscription membership. These can be along the lines of ‘Please can you explain your cancellation procedure?’ or ‘What discounts or offers do you offer?’. Ultimately, it is down to the team to answer these questions to the customer’s satisfaction so that they go on to complete the subscription process in full.
Why offer this new service extension?
We learned that not all customers wish to speak to a support agent via the telephone or wanted to wait for an email to be answered (our existing options) and that offering a ‘virtual chat’ option proved popular. These findings are backed up from a recent emarketing.com survey, which found 80% of all online users would prefer to communicate with someone in the process of purchasing. They also found that 90% of all online consumers find the presence of live chat a helpful aid to using a website.
Results to date
The Live Support team now interact with a large group of customers daily, with many choosing to go on to subscribe once their initial questions have been answered. Each week, this performance improves and while we do have the option to offer discounts to certain members to help them over the decision threshold, over 50% of members go on to subscribe at the full rate. We attribute this high conversion down to the fact that we have addressed in full any questions they had and communicated the benefits of a subscription membership at a key point in the sales process.
Where do we go from here?
Live chat is helping increase subscription conversions and already provides support to members who have credit card queries, helping to reduce chargebacks. With this in mind, we will be expanding the footprint of the Live Support team into other areas of the business so that they too can benefit from its positive impact with our customers.