August 2, 2012, 9:15 AM

Lord & Taylor answers 25% of online customer service questions via live chat

The retailer works with call center outsourcer Global Response to handle those queries. 

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Lord & Taylor launched live chat on its site in 2009 to give shoppers more ways to get their questions answered, says Christina Callas, senior vice president, e-commerce and digital marketing, at the retailer’s parent company, Hudson’s Bay Trading Co. “We want to have multiple ways customers can interact with us throughout their shopping experience,” she says.

Live chat is unique, she says, because it enables shoppers to multitask while getting the answers they need. That’s convenient for many shoppers, which is why the retailer features a large Need Help? button on every product page, just below the product description. Clicking it launches a live chat with an agent.

“We want to make chat as easy and accessible as possible,” she says. “We want to make sure that if someone is shopping with us they can get their questions answered easily.”

Shortly after launching live chat, a slew of consumers migrated to the channel for specific types of customer service inquiries, like additional information about a product or to check an item’s availability. Other issues, such as getting help to place an order, are still largely handled over the phone.  Live chat now makes up 25% of the site’s customer service inquiries, says Callas.

It takes well-informed call center agents to effectively respond to consumers’ questions. Global Response, which handles shopper queries on behalf of Lord & Taylor, invests the time it takes for its agents to understand the brand and its products, she says. The retailer ensures that the call center meets its standards by monitoring chats on a weekly basis to check for both the accuracy of the information and tone of the replies. It also trains agents on interacting with consumers via e-mail, and over the phone, as well as by live chat, so that consumers have a consistent experience regardless of how they interact with the retailer.

Aiming to better respond to shoppers’ queries, the retailer earlier this year began requiring consumers who click the Live Chat button to fill out a quick pre-chat form that asks them, “How may we assist you today?” By knowing the nature of the question, Global Response can route the chat to the best agent possible, she says. “If someone is superior with product knowledge, that agent can get those types of questions, same with customer service issues,” says Callas. And it produces a better experience.

Hudson's Bay is No. 100 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

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