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A live voice is still the most preferred form of customer service among online Americans, but two-thirds (67%) of US? consumers say they would value the option of having both a live text chat and a live voice conversation to get the help they need when making online purchases, according to a survey by ATG (Art Technology Group, Inc).

The survey, which explored shoppers’ perceptions of – and preferences for – live help options such as click-to-call and click-to-chat when browsing and buying products or services online, also found that live help options currently available on websites are not meeting the demand that exists among consumers. Some 59% of survey respondents do not think e-mail queries to customer service or FAQ pages – the most common customer service features found on online stores today – are useful.

Additional study findings:

  • Nearly 85% of consumers who browse, research, and buy products and services online want the choice of click to call or click to chat to get live sales or service assistance.
  • 70% of consumers rated click to call – defined as a direct connection with a live voice agent without having to go through an Interactive Voice Response system (IVR) – as “extremely useful” or “very useful.”
  • 68%of respondents reported that a reasonable price of a product or service is the main factor that drives them to visit one site over another.

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  • 75% rank having a user-friendly site that enables them to research, browse, and purchase goods and services as one of the top three features of shopping online.
  • 58% feel that having instant access to live experts, via click-to-call or click-to-chat technologies, was one of the top three features.
  • 58% have used live assistance – either live call or live chat – compared with 64% who have used a toll-free number.
  • Certain factors such as higher-priced products or services, complexity of questions, errors in the transaction process, and sensitivity of information were identified as main determinants for consumers choosing live call over live chat.

“Consumers not only prefer e-commerce sites that offer easy, instant voice and chat connections to customer care representatives; but they reward those sites with their business,” said? Ryan Hoppe, marketing director for ATG Optimization Services. “It’s now more important than ever that online businesses make it easy for online shoppers to receive real-time assistance.”

As a result of these findings, ATG suggested that online businesses have a significant opportunity to increase sales and loyalty by offering customers proactive live help options – both voice and text chat – to their online channels.

“A toll-free number is simply not good enough to meet consumers’ rising expectations for immediate online customer service,” added Hoppe.

About the survey: Responses to ATG’s Live Help survey were generated from a pool of 1,052 respondents, ages 18+ living in the continental US. Survey respondents were selected from a panel of more than 2.5 million individuals, and were profiled across more than 500 attributes, such as demographics, lifestyle, and behavioral characteristics. Respondents were further differentiated by characteristics such as browsing and purchasing frequency online, to ensure the sample represented was active on the web. The study was commissioned by ATG and fielded by MarketTools, during Q209.

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