Live chat and chat-bots edging out email as retail engagement channel of choice

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Independent research from Narvar and YouGov finds that there is a vast generational gap in how shoppers wish to communicate with brands and retailers: millennials being 20% less likely to contact a retailer via email than baby boomers and five times more likely to use live chat on a website.

Millennials and baby boomers strongly believe that fast and direct communications about an order is the number one factor in securing their loyalty. This makes it clear that the modern retailer needs to look carefully at the quality of the communications experience they are providing across all channels, both before and beyond the buy button.

Amazon was highlighted as a standout online retailer for communication by 35% of respondents, but staggeringly, nearly one in five of all respondents (19%) said that no retailer offered the best post-purchase communications experience. This shows unequivocally that there is still a way to go before retailers can truly say they provide exceptional communications experiences for customers.

“A best-in-class communications experience is one which helps to build brand loyalty. That means authentic, personal, thoughtful communication across any channel – both pre and post-purchase. Building long term customer relationships is crucial considering that acquiring a new customer is at anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining existing ones, and that increasing customer retention rates by just five% increases profits by 25 to 95%.”

Amit Sharma, CEO, Narvar

The study also finds that 20% of all device owners in the UK are using voice-control for online shopping and the number of consumers expecting to use a voice-controlled device to shop online within 2018 has tripled – and this has obvious impacts on customer contact and places a greater emphasis on live chat.

In fact, according to the study, live chat is the number one channel of choice for one in three of millennials, whereas only 16% of baby boomers would use this channel.That said, nearly 10% millennials would attempt to contact a retailer via IM such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, whereas only 2% of those over 45-years-old would opt for this channel.

Just half of all millennials have email as their number one communication choice, versusthree quarters of baby boomers.

Being contacted by a retailer over SMS was twice as popular with those aged 35-44 as it is with millennials (8% verses 4%). In fact, millennials were the age group least likely to want to be contacted by a retailer over SMS.

“We are increasingly finding that a one-size-fits-all approach to customer communications is no longer suitable. The advent of new communications channels such as digital assistants, chatbots and IM present unlimited opportunities for retailers to have new touchpoints with their customers. Offering personal, authentic and thoughtful experiences across these channels only has positive outcomes for loyalty and sales levels.”

Harsh Jawharkar, CMO, Narvar

2 Responses

  1. yep Live chat can be very useful ,
    its called the telephone ,its been around since 1876
    we can talk a lot faster than we can type

  2. why have chat-bots been lumped in there in your title?
    i doubt a single person in that survey (refer to my previous rants for my thoughts on the uselessness of surveys like this) said they like to talk to live chat-bots, so why claim in the headline that people prefer chat-bots?
    you then go on to say “retailers need to look at improving the QUALITY of communication….” by using chat bots? really?
    gives the impression you dont know what a chat bot is, because quality of communication is not a phrase that has ever been levied toward a chat bot.
    garbage, useless, waste of time and money, creepy, incompetent, detrimental to sales, these are all phrases used to describe chatbots, not “better than speaking to a real person”.


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