Remember when you had to be home to talk on the phone? Happily, we traded that inconvenience when we traded our telephones for smartphones. And at the same time we found that a voice call wasn’t our only option for communicating, we suddenly had text, instant message and social options as well, and now Skype, Facetime and Google Hangouts.

So it’s no wonder that consumers want to extend that same relatively new convenience to how they interact with their favorite retail brands. They want to connect in the ways that are most convenient to them – and, for some, that may not mean picking up the phone to speak with a customer service rep. According to a new Customer Service Benchmark report by eDigitalResearch, text chat, email, and social media are preferred ways for consumers to communicate with brands.

While text chat on ecommerce sites has been around for a while and is well recognised for improving customer experience and influencing sales, live video assistance – where consumers can speak face-to-face with a live representative – is still relatively new, but already proven to be more effective than text-based chat sessions. Live video assistance, which often includes co-browsing and other hands-on features, adds an important personal effect to online shopping. By speaking to a sales associate, shoppers are able to not only ask questions, see products and have a real conversation, but also to get hands-on help in finding product and completing an order. As a result, customers feel confident in their purchasing decision and are more likely to convert online or on mobile.

With the recent launch of Amazon Mayday – the live video support feature on the Kindle Fire – live video assistance is becoming a priority for many brands and retailers wishing to emulate these personal experiences on their own sites and apps, across all channels. DFS, one of the UK’s largest sofa retailers, is just one example of a retailer that has seen success through the use of live video to replicate the in-store experience online. Shopping for new furniture can be a timely and sometimes stressful process. Consumers often browse online, but ultimately wind up at their nearest brick and mortar location for sales assistance, to check out fabrics and get a better “feel” for the products. DFS has successfully replicated its personalised in-store customer experience across all channels, including mobile, to facilitate online purchases. Customers can use their mobile devices to communicate live with DFS sales associates via video, voice and text, where they are shown a variety of sofa options and receive answers and advice, ensuring the best possible experience while shopping online.

Similarly, for expecting mothers, shopping for maternity clothing can also be a difficult task, especially online. To alleviate the stress of finding fashionable maternity wear, Isabella Oliver launched its eStylist service. Customers can book an appointment on the Isabella Oliver website to discuss their fashion preferences with a trained personal stylist, whether it be for an upcoming special event, or for every day wear. The styling session takes place online via live video, in which the stylist not only has the ability to show clothes to the customer in real time, but can also share their Web page so the stylist and customer can co-browse the site together. Customers are left feeling satisfied and confident, knowing their orders were tailored especially for them. And, expecting moms are not the only ones that are benefitting from this service; Isabella Oliver has experienced 94 percent conversions with its live video assisted eStylist service. In addition, the average order value is 28 percent higher than for customers who don’t use the eStylist service.

There’s no doubt that live video is revolutionising customer service and is delivering the personal shopping experiences that consumers are demanding. So, it’s important for retailers to consider live video assistance for mobile devices. No matter what a customer is shopping for online – from sofas and mattresses to jewelry and clothing – customers truly benefit from live face-to-face interactions, but aren’t the only ones to reap the rewards.

 

By James Keller, CEO of Vee24


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