Should You Offer Live Chat? Part 2

More opinions yield clear response.

by Brad and Debra Schepp
- May 05, 2015

In our last look at live chat services, we discussed the pros and cons, listed some of the major service offerings, and talked to some e-commerce merchants who've used it. Our conclusion was that there are definite pros and cons, but it's worth a try. Admittedly it was a lukewarm testimonial.

I think they have a little more trust just knowing that there's a live person there ready to help

Since we wrote that article, we heard from many others, almost all of who were big proponents of live chat. In the interest of giving you the complete story, we share their impressions below.

Zopim the clear favorite

Let's get back to Zopim (about $11 per month, per agent), a product we mentioned briefly in Part 1. For the article, we spoke with Wayne Shelley, who works for the company, so naturally we took what he said with a grain of salt knowing his opinion wasn't unbiased.

But since then, sellers have come out of the woodwork to support Zopim. Brandon Eley uses Zopim and loves it.

"It's very affordable and offers tons of features," he says. "We love the short codes that can answer common questions with just typing one word… We have dozens of them set up."

Regarding how it's helped his business, Eley looked back over six months, to when his company was on chat consistently over the holidays.

"It's amazing," he notes. "We had a 3 percent conversion rate overall, and a 22 percent conversion rate for visitors who engage chat. That's seven times higher!"

Eley notes his average order value was higher, too. While "we don't get on chat nearly enough (maybe three to five hours a day) when we do, it really increases conversions, even for customers that don't engage with it," he reports. "I think they have a little more trust just knowing that there's a live person there ready to help."

Zopim provides insight

Well-known e-merchant Brandon Dupsky has used Zopim for years.

"I like that it tells you the referral URL better than Google Analytics sometimes," he says. "However, it doesn't show anything for mobile, where Google does. I don't turn it on very often unless I feel like talking with the customers or generating some immediate sales.

I think they have a little more trust just knowing that there's a live person there ready to help

"It does offer great insight into customer questions, areas I can improve my website messaging, or navigation and so forth," he continues. "I used to outsource this task, but found it a little difficult on the 'technical questions' my product tends to get."

Even with instant message turned off, though, Zopim has its benefits, Dupsky adds. Many customers use Zopim to email in questions, and he likes how it makes emailing in questions easier for customers.

Service lets you multitask

Nathan Arendt of notes says his company uses live chat and likes it.

"We don't have a lot of chats, though, and I certainly prefer email since it allows the customer service rep to manage time better, but I do prefer chat over phone calls," he says. "Those can be a total time waster (but we do it)."

Online chat makes customer service direct, instant and easy, adds merchant Denniso Christo of It allows the operator to handle multiple customers at once, while allowing you to also directly answer product related questions by supplying URLs to the appropriate products or pages that contain their answer.

eCommerce Group member Marcus Bradley also uses chat and "loves it because it offers the ability to answer questions immediately without needing to answer calls," he says. "It has proven to increase conversions because we can offer immediate answers, and immediate discounts or perks if the customer is on the fence."

Sellers talk LiveChat and Olark

Bradley uses LiveChat because it has apps that allow merchants to live chat via phone and tablet. LiveChat, by the way, has 10,000 users, and e-commerce is currently the biggest market for its service.

"About 20 percent of all of our customers are from the retail industry, which makes it the biggest represented industry among our customers," notes spokesman Jacob Firuta.

Alaa Hassan also uses LiveChat. "One thing for sure is the fact you have an option for a free account," he says. "I love their chat box and how you can customize it. The price is affordable. [It] works great on mobile and transcripts are easy to read through."

Christo prefers Olark, which he describes as a live chat service that enables us to connect directly with our customers at the point of purchase.

A disgruntled customer is forced to think about what they wish to type before blurting it out, and customer reps are also forced to do the same

"We can offer them immediate and direct assistance, especially with visual guidance via links, photos and even coupon codes," he notes. He also finds that live chat offers the ability to provide top-notch customer service by allowing one person to multitask and address multiple customers at the same time, whereas phone calls tie up a customer service rep's full attention.

"A disgruntled customer is forced to think about what they wish to type before blurting it out," Denisso adds, "and customer reps are also forced to do the same, to make sure that the best versions of communication are able to occur with additional thought time."

PureChat: A Free Option

Arielle Hurst of Pure Chat says all online sellers should offer live chat.

"It's the easiest way to boost customer loyalty and increase sales, often times by 35 percent or more," she says. "And when I say it's the 'easiest way,' I really mean it. You can add live chat to your site in just a couple minutes and start answering chats on your desktop or phone (we have highly rated iOS, and Android apps.) Plus, Pure Chat offers 'Personal Chat Pages,' the only tool that let eBay stores incorporate live chat into their sales/support cycle."

What we found intriguing about Pure Chat is that if you get do fewer than 30 chats per month, it's totally free. If you do more chats than that, it's $5 per operator, per month, which the company says is one-third the price of other competing products. So it's no wonder 170,000 accounts have been signed up so far!

After all of our research, we have a question for you: If you have a website and you're not offering free live chat, what are you waiting for?

About the Author

Brad and Debra Schepp are the authors of 20 books, including eBay PowerSeller Secrets and The Official Success Guide: Insider Tips and Strategies for Sourcing Products from the World's Largest B2B Marketplace. Their most recent book, which Deb co-authored with John Lawson, Kick Ass Social Commerce for E-preneurs: It's Not About Likes—It's About Sales, was recently named the 2015 Small Business Book of the Year in the social media category.

For further information, visit Brad and Deb's website,

Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.

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