February 18, 2011, 10:44 AM

E-retailers say live chat is critical and builds conversions

A survey suggests that holiday shoppers who chat convert at least 20% of the time.

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77% of e-retailers that use live chat considered it a critical communication method during the holiday shopping season, suggests results of a survey conducted in January among 200 customers of Bold Software LLC, a live chat software vendor. That is up from 69% of e-retailers who said the same thing last year.

Among those surveyed, more than half—54%—said customers who engaged with retailers using chat  over the holidays converted to a lead or sale 20% or more of the time.

The survey results also suggest that proactive chat—where an e-retailer invites a chat with a customer based on his on-site behavior—yielded higher conversion rates than when a customer initiates a chat with the e-retailer. The survey did not give a conversion rate for proactive chats. 79% of those surveyed said consumers who accepted proactive chat invitations rated them positively. 68% of respondents considered live chat “more critical” to their business than in 2009.

“These results further demonstrate that live chat is a highly effective communication channel that facilitates meaningful engagements between people,” says Steve Castro-Miller, president and CEO of Bold Software.

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