Bold Software and the e-tailing group Release Third Annual Live Chat Effectiveness Research Report

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Report Includes Industry’s Most Extensive Findings on Live Chat Technology, Providing Compelling Customer Experience Insights for E-tailers

Bold Software and the e-tailing group Release Third Annual Live Chat Effectiveness Research Report

My own cynicism has faded, and I, too, have fully embraced live chat’s potential, recommending that all retailers evaluate the tool for their own brand and customer base.

Bold Software, a leading provider of world-class web communication tools, and the e-tailing group, an e-commerce consultancy, today announced the third annual release of the industry’s most comprehensive research on the effectiveness of live chat technology.

With a foreword and industry insights on survey methodology from recognized ecommerce consultancy the e-tailing group (who participated in the research for the first time), the 2011 findings include compelling insights for internet retailers, such as the fact that one in five shoppers prefers live chat more than any other communication method. Further, these live chat advocates are a highly desirable population, one that typically has a higher household income than average and spends more online per year than other shoppers.

“We’re proud to share these findings with the market for the third year in a row,” said Bold Software President and CEO Steve Castro-Miller. “We undertook this for the first time back in 2009 in order to glean shopper insights around the effectiveness of live chat as a tool, and our research has evolved each year. This year, for example, we wanted to better understand shopper perceptions around proactive chat. We uncovered critical information for e-tailers around how to – and how not to – implement this valuable tool. Additionally, we’ve seen growth in the UK market and so the report also takes a closer look at this customer segment for the first time.”

Earlier this year, Bold Software and the e-tailing group collaborated on a blind survey of more than 1,000 regular internet shoppers using an opt-in, third party panel. Out of this live chat research, five key conclusions can be drawn:

1) 20% of shoppers prefer live chat. There is an identifiable and significantly-sized population of internet buyers that want – more than any other communication method for any circumstance or situation – to engage in a live chat when communicating with an internet retailer.

2) The population that prefers live chat is a highly desirable one. Those that pick live chat as their communication method have a significantly higher positive attitude about the technology’s presence on a website. These live chat advocates are more likely to trust websites that have live chat and more likely to buy simply because of its presence. Further, this live chat user is aged 31-50, has considerably higher household income than average, is more likely to be college educated, and spends more money online per year than other groups of shoppers.

3) Receptiveness to proactive chat is on the rise, but care in execution is required. The majority of respondents, even more than the year prior, welcome being invited to chat. That said, a number of survey takers noted that they’ve left websites because of poor invitation practices.

4) Best practices generally fall into three categories with the “human factor” of chat at the top. Chatters confirmed what many merchants believe – the people taking the chats, particularly their knowledge and speed, are the key determinants of a successful chat. Visitors also cite the ability for their browser to be directed by an agent, full co-browsing capabilities, and judicious use of canned messages as important.

5) Shoppers in the UK are similar -- and different -- from their US counterparts when it comes to live chat. While UK respondents agree with US shoppers on what makes a live chat session successful, and generally have a positive attitude toward the technology, they are less enthusiastic. For instance, the UK has half as many live chat users as the US does. This poses an interesting opportunity for firms doing business in the UK and wanting to engage with on-site visitors in sales-related situations.

Lauren Freedman, president of the e-tailing group, commented, “I believe we are at the cusp of live chat’s importance, where a range of marketers are now seeing its full potential. Positive consumer experiences and revenue-generating performance results will once again be the impetus to enhanced utilization, and here strategic planning and smart execution are certain to deliver. My own cynicism has faded, and I, too, have fully embraced live chat’s potential, recommending that all retailers evaluate the tool for their own brand and customer base.”

To learn more, download the full research findings at: http://www.boldchat.com/live_chat_software/landing/2011LiveChat/2011_Live_Chat_Report.jsp?mc=pr

About the e-tailing group
the e-tailing group is a niche e-commerce consultancy that helps merchants deliver the right customer experience on their websites and across all of their channels while adeptly assisting technology companies to create and execute go-to-market strategies that simultaneously educate the retail community and deliver cost-effective thought leadership and lead generation.

About Bold Software:
Bold Software LLC, is a leading provider of world-class web communication tools designed to help businesses improve online support and increase sales. Using Bold Software’s live chat, click-to-call, email management, and active co-browsing tools, businesses can quickly and effectively engage visitors on their website. Bold Software sells a wide variety of competitively-priced products under the BoldChat, BoldCall, and BoldCCM brand names. Businesses of all sizes - from small proprietorships to large ecommerce enterprises – can provide more intelligent online customer interactions and close more sales using Bold Software solutions. The company is headquartered in Wichita, KS, with thousands of customers around the world. For more information about Bold Software, go to http://www.BoldSoftware.com or call 1-866-753-9933.

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Jill Monahan