Should the marketplaces enable customer support livechat for merchants?

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One possible function that the marketplaces such as eBay and Amazoncould introduce for buyers and sellers is customer support livechat for merchants. By which we mean a facility that shoppers could use to get in touche about an item you have for sale or an ongoing transaction. It would be an alternative to email communications.

Customer support livechat is relatively commonplace on many retail websites and is increasingly normal and familiar to consumers.

From a user perspective, it’s sometimes not entirely clear whether one is talking to a human being (perhaps on the other side of the planet) via a customer support livechat facility or whether you are actually dealing with an automated chatbot powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence technology. We considered the chatbot possibilities last week here.

But as a merchant, is it something that you would like to offer? It could give you a swift and immediate opportunity to answer questions from interested shoppers. It could well be more swift and convenient than ploughing through your email inbox and give you a chance to communicate directly with your customers.

But the crucial consideration has to be the volumes of live chats you might be getting every day. That will obviously depend on the scale of your business, the nature of what you are selling, the quality if your listings and also whether you provide comprehensive shipping, returns and fulfilment information. But surely one major benefit of trading online is not having daily and immediate contact with shoppers and this could become an onerous responsibility.

It seems likely that volumes would not be significant but the conversion opportunity could be large. As long as customer support livechat functionality could be provided by the marketplaces on a non-compulsory basis then it could be worth experimenting with. Would you take the plunge?

3 Responses

  1. This isn’t such a bad idea for the sellers who have the resources to support this.

    Customers treat the eBay messaging system like this already. On plenty of occasions I have had 3 messages from a customer in quick succession adding a little bit of further information before we issue a response ourselves.

  2. we dont need ebay to provide a further option for imbeciles and lunatics to contact us

  3. Unlikely to happen. eBay used to own Skype and never integrated it with the website.

    Mind you they also owned Paypal and waited to split from it before fully integrating payments.

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