By Aimee Chanthadavong

A recent American Express study on customer service indicated that Australians are willing to pay more for a product if they received good customer service.

So quite possibly price isn’t the main factor that we all thought was driving consumers to shop online.

Andy Farquharson, regional director of LogMeIn Asia Pacific, a company that conducted a recent survey into customer service, tells RetailBiz the problem is retailers do not understand what repercussions bad service can have on their business.

“Customer service is phenomenally important. It’s so important that 86 per cent of those that we surveyed said they will stop dealing with a business after one bad experience. So effectively it means the more positive feedback you receive the more business you’ll get.

“It’s even more serious when you provide bad service because now social media allows people to share that experience. It no longer just affects them and their family and friends but a broader circle as the average person has 240 Facebook friends and 300 Twitter followers. As to whether these people listen to you or not the message is still being read.”

But given that people are already shopping online the question for retailers is how they can provide and meet that customer service experience consumers are after –online.

One key solution that is proving to be popular is using live chat. This is where customer service operators are able to provide one-on-one assistance to customers shopping online.

LogMeIn’s study, which looked at the US and UK market, showed that 79 per cent of people who preferred live chat said it’s because their questions were answered immediately. Also, around 20 per cent of the shoppers polled prefer using live chat than other customer communication methods.

“Online chat grew strongly in the US and in the UK and we’ve seen some strong growth here as well. We’re definitely seeing the trend where customers want the same customer experience offline, online," Farquharson said.

“Eight-nine per cent of successful engagement happens with real interaction and consumers today always want things now. So by having this live chat, people who are shopping online will have their unique questions answered. We found that 74 per cent want their questions answered within an hour.

“What we’ve also seen are these people who use live chat are seven-and-a-half times more likely to buy than those who don’t chat. It’s really engaging in an efficient way.

“The people who chat also spend more. The live chatters have a higher desire to spend more online with 55 per cent of spending more than non-chatters. The other great stat is 70 per cent of those chatters spend an average of $750 annually.”

According to Farquharson, live chat applications, such as BoldChat powered by LogMeIn, should now be considered as just another channel through which retailers can communicate to consumers.

“Every channel needs to be managed independently. Retailers need to give respect to each channel because there’s lots of channel and live chat is another way of letting retailers have that personal relationship to give customers that experience they want,” he said.

“The important thing is to be able to capture all of these conversations and manage these disparate groups in a single place.”