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Turning Online Conversations Into Online Sales Conversions

By John Federman CRM Buyer ECT News Network
Feb 26, 2007 4:00 AM PT

For years, vendors have argued the merits of click-to-call versus click-to-chat, but most analysts now agree that both solutions are an effective means of reaching out to Web site visitors to engage them in conversation.

Turning Online Conversations Into Online Sales Conversions

There is little doubt that nearly any company with a Web presence can see positive return on investment with increases in sales conversions, reductions in Web site abandonment and/or enhancements in customer service. The question is no longer call or chat, but rather who, why and how.

Simple Questions

"Who" refers to what your business model is and what you are trying to sell? Are you an e-commerce-driven organization? Are you selling expensive goods or low cost products? Are you a franchise attempting to bring new customers to brick-and-mortar outlets? Are your products complex or easy for your customers to understand? Do customers do a lot of comparison shopping before they buy? Are your products generally considered "essential" or "luxury"?

While click-to-call and click-to-chat share many of the same benefits, each communication channel has definitive strengths. This is important to understand when you discuss why you are deploying a call or chat solution. Is it to increase overall sales? To reduce Web site abandonment on error pages? Increase customer service for premium customers? Handle routine customer service inquiries?

Click-to-call offers the power of voice, which can help explain complex issues and close sales faster. Many consumers still value this type of interaction and are much less likely to buy certain products without discussing it with a human. Chat, on the other hand, enables customer service agents to handle multiple Web visitors at once and allows consumers to interact with an agent to answer a few questions.

'Hybrid' Deployment

Considering this, you can see that a company might want to dynamically deploy both technologies at various points in the customer interaction process -- a so-called "hybrid" deployment that more and more businesses are opting for.

For example, several of eStara's customers in the financial services industry are targeting site visitors during the lending process with online chat for filling out forms and answering simple questions, and escalating consumers to the phone to handle more complex transactions -- such as mortgage and loan applications -- to close sales.

"How" pertains to the type of click-to-call or click-to-chat deployment that best fits your business strategy. These deployments can vary greatly because not only must you decide between call, chat or both, but also when these buttons are offered to individual Web site visitors.

Given the simplicity of displaying these buttons on the Web, and the ability to combine that with real-time analytics and business rules, there is great flexibility in how you can tailor your deployments.

Some Options

Generally, there are four different types of click-to-call or click-to-chat deployments:

  • Static deployments. By pasting a JavaScript code into a Web site script, a standard click-to-call or click-to-chat button can be embedded on a Web site.

    These buttons are considered to be static because they are always visible to Web site visitors regardless of agent availability or hours of operation. You can either put these buttons on every page of the Web site or offer them on pages that often require customer care attention.

    Static deployments are the most basic type of implementation and may be suitable for a company developing its Web strategy or that does not have an e-commerce channel. These kinds of deployments are ideal if you're not worried about overwhelming your contact center with customer inquiries.

  • Dynamic/rules-based deployments. Unlike static click-to-call and click-to-chat buttons, dynamic/rules-based deployments are visible when specific conditions are met. Dynamic buttons appear only when triggered by a series of rules that are predetermined by the business during implementation.

    Business rules can range from the number of items in a customer's shopping cart; total shopping cart value; amount of time a customer has spent idle on a page; incomplete transactions; customer status; and hours of operation or call center availability.

    Because there may be uniform reasons of when customers abandon your Web site or require customer service, rules-based deployments provide a way to automate the chat or call offering to prevent these things from happening and offer customers a chance to speak with a live agent based on their perceived needs.

  • Proactive deployments. Like dynamic deployments, proactive deployments offer more flexibility than static click-to-call or click-to-chat buttons; however, unlike dynamic deployments, a proactive strategy gives individual contact center agents more control over when to engage online prospects.

    Using real-time Web analytics and rules-based triggers, agents can determine if and when to engage customers to call or chat. With proactive deployments, the agent can control when and where they decide to offer the click-to-call or click-to-chat invitation to deliver a customized online shopping, or service experience for each consumer.

    For businesses whose sales conversion or abandonment success isn't as cut-and-dry as uniform rules, proactive deployments empower agents with information to contact browsers that seem ready to buy or are experiencing technical difficulties and are likely to leave your Web site.

  • Integrated deployments. Integrated click-to-call and click-to-chat deployments are when static, dynamic or proactive deployments are integrated with unique data integration and collaboration technology to create a truly seamless experience for customers as they transition from an online session to a phone call or chat.

    Using cross-channel data passing, the context of a customer's Web session is relayed to the contact center agent, in real-time, once contact is made via Click to Call or chat. Rather than having the customer start all over again, the contact center agent uses this information to verify account status, identify problems with the online transaction, and more efficiently troubleshoot whichever issue prompted the customer to call or chat.

    Integrated deployments also open up a new level of collaboration between online customers and contact center agents. Using data passed when a calls or chats are initiated, agents can push relevant pages to customers or initiate co-browsing sessions to guide customers through the transaction process.

    Integrated deployments are really becoming a no-brainer for organizations that want to optimize their sales and service experience. Seamless transitions from the online to phone channel increases customer satisfaction and forges profitable brand loyalty.

Channel Integration Is 'Essential'

As Forrester Research recently noted, channel integration is becoming an essential part of any customer-centric business operation. According to a recent report from the firm, "As companies add more channels, the imperative to provide consistency grows increasingly complex. To deal with this complexity, companies will continue to move toward the ultimate multichannel goal by investing in high-visibility, integrated customer interaction platforms."

Given the range of options available, it's critical to have a full understanding of your business goals and how customers behave on your Web site. Doing so allows you to offer the right form of contact at the right time to maximize the benefit of click-to-call and click-to-chat offerings.


John Federman is CEO of eStara, a provider of proactive conversion solutions for enhancing online sales.


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