Chatting It Up

11/1/2007
CompUSA HAS RAISED THE SATISFACTION LEVEL OF USERS ON ITS WEB SITE, enlarged the ticket size of many customers and increased the instances of repeat patronage - all by adding a live chat application, powered by InstantService, to its site. The computer retailer also tracks the performance of the chat feature using Coremetrics analysis software. "Based on the criteria we have selected, we have a 90 percent satisfaction rate," for customers using the live chat service, says Al Hurlebaus, managing director, marketing and advertising for CompUSA.
 
After running several analyses on its Web site, and specifically on the performance of the chat service, CompUSA is confident that customers who use the chat feature "convert better, at a higher rate -- they have a higher average ticket, and they have an affinity for coming back to the site more often than a customer who hasn't used live chat," Hurlebaus says. These results confirm what Hurlebaus already knew, "Interactivity is extremely important," he says, indicating that in-store interaction with customers is easy, but until recently, finding a way to interact with online customers has been much more difficult.
 
Interactivity is especially important for tech retailers like CompUSA. When dealing with technology -- whether computer, television or camera - the technology changes several times throughout the course of a year. With the innovations come new functionalities and capabilities that often leave customers scratching their heads. By adding a live chat service to its site, CompUSA gives these customers a way to get their questions answered.
 
The live chat service is available via the link to customers found on every page of CompUSA's Web site, though it is much more visible on some pages. "Since we've had some experience with the live chat service, we've found that there are several areas where customers are more likely to ask questions, so we populate those pages with the icon," Hurlebaus says. The retailer also has set up 12 rules that trigger the chat icon to pop up on a site. "If customers perform specific actions, allowing us to believe that they are experiencing a question, then we can self-populate the icon on those pages as well."
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