Few people who are in the middle of an online transaction want to stop to make a phone call with the sales team. 

Chat support is faster, but it isn’t always great either because you sometimes have to liberate yourself from a labyrinth of menu items just to find help. And not all sites optimize these options for mobile, which force you to pinch and zoom your way until you frustrate out and go back to a mobile game.

It’s no wonder that a study by Smart Insights shows that the e-commerce conversion rate for mobile devices languishes behind the desktop, as such steps in the buying process are even more painful on a smartphone. Part of making a sale on a device isn’t so different than doing it in a store — help needs to be just a tap away.

Given that the number of mobile users has already outpaced those on a PC, you need to fix that fast if you have something to sell.

Chatting Away with Customers

Tara Sporrer is the vice president of marketing for Moxie, one of many companies trying to improve the online experience and drop in some friendly support. The key, she says, is to offer immediate assistance throughout the transactions and at the point of sale. Customers don’t want to have to stop what they’re doing to make a call, which usually involves waiting on hold for several minutes, despite assurances that, “your call is important to us.”

Offering an option to chat with customers isn’t enough — it also needs to be easy to find. Moxie’s chat tool, for example, puts a friendly floating action button that is easy to get to from the desktop or a mobile device. She also finds this is important because this is the preferred method for most online visitors regardless of their characteristics.

“Unlike the popular refrain about millennials being the generation who is constantly with their nose in their device, it’s pretty much across the board that people prefer to message,” she said.

Rise of the Bots

Moxie’s solution is one of many that seek to make customer service more pleasant, even if it’s not being delivered by an actual human. That’s because the next hot messaging solution for businesses may turn out to be bots, or software that can automate tasks.

Facebook, for example, is enabling Messenger to use bots that can automatically message users. In a business setting, this means a company could automate tasks like checking up on an order or asking simple questions through specific algorithms.  

moxie messaging

Bots have a lot of potential to be the future at taking a lot of the misery out of customer service, according to Ilya Fushman, a partner with Index Ventures. As the creator of Dropbox for Business, he found that phone calls and emails can be a substantial drain on customer communication, whereas text messaging, particularly automated in some forms, offers a method to meet the needs of more customers.

“That's the next wave of how people communicate,” he said. “Companies have significant opportunity to best leverage those channels, as they're infinitely better than voice because of asynchronous communication capabilities.”

Moxie’s Sporrer echoed many of these thoughts, with the advantage of messaging being that it’s easy to use and accessible at all times.  

“You can message a company on your lunch break in your cube,” she said. “And this type of solution isn’t just for retail, most people want to start and finish what they’re doing in the same transaction.”

Messaging, be it through bots or humans, holds considerable promise when it comes to giving customers the answers they may want. The challenge is ensuring that bots or other automation doesn’t become the new “press nine for more options,” which still drives people nuts when they have to make a support phone call.