Offering Great Support Offline and Online

In a physical store, when a customer comes in you can greet them and help them find exactly what they are looking for. Online this experience is often lacking. Sure, customers can email you but do you email them right back? I suspect it takes you MANY hours if not a few days to get back to them.
The WSJ writes Online shoppers who spend a few minutes browsing expensive watches on may get a special offer: live help from a human.
In a bid to improve customer service and reduce the number of visitors who abandon online shopping carts loaded with merchandise, the Internet retailer has rolled out new technology to track visitors on its Web site and proactively offer to help those that appear to be having difficulty with their purchases.
The software sends a pop-up window that invites a customer to a text chat with a customer-support agent. If the customer accepts, the agent is able to see exactly where the visitor is on the site, answer product questions and even complete the checkout process for him or her by plugging in shipping and billing information or redoing an order if there’s a technical snafu.

Offering live customer service might not be for all web sites but it should be considered for any high-trafficked online store. If implemented smartly, online sales can increase as you are helping customers when they are ready and able to purchase.
The article continues A December study of Web sites conducted by JupiterResearch, a unit of Jupitermedia Corp. of Darien, Conn., found that 36% of the 224 sites that received test e-mails took longer than three days to reply or did not respond at all. A fourth-quarter study of 100 Web sites by E-tailing Group, a Chicago-based consulting firm, found the average wait time to chat online with a customer-service representative was 12.2 minutes, up from 4.8 minutes in the year-earlier period.
“Online service is generally poorly implemented,” says Zachary McGeary, an analyst at Jupiter, and poor support has implications for sales both online and in stores. Jupiter’s research shows that 59% of consumers said they would not purchase from a company again if they were dissatisfied with their customer-service experience.