January 16, 2008, 12:00 AM

How web analytics technology makes live chat more effective

Web analytics programs help e-retailers know which customers to approach with an offer of assistance and when to offer it, say vendors of live chat technology. Using that data a retailer can make more effective use of customer service agents, they say.

Data from web analytics programs can help e-retailers make more effective use of live chat systems in which agents offer instant message exchanges to web site visitors, say live chat vendors.

“You might have 1 million folks coming to your site per month, but a certain percentage will never buy from you because they’re coming from a country you don’t sell to,” says Kevin Kohn, executive vice president of marketing at LivePerson Inc. Other customers can be eliminated because of where they’re coming from, such as a competitor’s site. “Let’s put that information to work,” Kohn says. “If there’s a portion of people who you’ll never sell to, take those off the table.”

Analytics can also help an online retailer determine the best time to offer a chat session, Kohn says. There are typical ways consumers move through an e-commerce site on the way to a sale, and certain deviations from that flow usually signal that the visitor is about to leave. “Look for anomalies where the person starts down a flow and deviates in a way that you know is high risk,” Kohn says, “then introduce a customer service specialist to try to guide them back into the flow.”

Cross-sell opportunities can also be identified with the help of analytics technology, says Scott Carlin, vice president of sales for live chat vendor InstantService Inc. For instance, a retailer of fishing gear like Orvis can use its Coremetrics analytics system to identify hot products. When a customer puts a top-selling fishing rod into a shopping cart the retailer can create a rule within the InstantService system prompting an agent to offer a reel that would work well with that rod.

Another InstantService client, computer and electronics retailer TigerDirect.com, offers live chat when a customer enters a search term and gets no results-but only when an agent is available to chat, Carlin says. The retailer, which also employs Coremetrics, can use the analytics system to track how often a visitor was not offered a chat because no agent was available. That data can be used to determine if more agents are needed, Carlin says.

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