What do customers want in their digital experiences? A new report from real time customer engagement firm LivePerson offers some answers.

6,000 Interviews

The Connecting with Customers Report: A Global Study of the Drivers of a Successful Online Experience” focused on trends in online behavior and consumer expectations. Not surprisingly, the report found “if brands deliver a positive digital experience, the results extend far beyond a successful purchase or transaction” and set the stage for tighter customer relationships.

What makes for a “positive digital experience”? The study pointed specifically to customers’ desires to have questions and issues resolved “simply, quickly and within a single transaction.”

Based on over 6,000 interviews in seven countries, the report noted that there’s a lot of headroom here, since 58 percent noted that they have not resolved an issue in a single interaction, and the same percentage reported they have had the experience of emailing a company and failing to receive a response.

On the other hand, a positive experience online is a key factor for 84 percent of respondents in their decision to complete a purchase, buy again from the same company or trust the brand. But there’s not much of a time window, the study said, since there is an average of 76 seconds before a customer will leave the site and look elsewhere for responsive customer service.

The survey also found that nearly three-quarters of consumers in the U.S. are more likely to reward a company with brand loyalty if live, human assistance is provided at critical moments.

Step in the Journey

But, as the study also noted, that is only part of the whole sense of a company’s digital presence. “Access to real time support online via live chat” is rated sixth among reasons given for choosing one website over another, with 21 percent citing that factor. Ease of browsing/searching, a previous positive experience on the website and customer ratings and reviews are the top three.

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From the LivePerson report

However, that’s overall perception of presence, and customers don’t live overall. They live one step at a time in the customer journey, where they take steps from thinking about a purchase, to researching it, trying it on or comparing it, and so on, right through purchase, support and follow-up purchase or continuing brand interest.

At certain points in the buying process, help or guidance from the brand can be critical to a customer’s decision about whether to continue on this particular journey. The LivePerson study said that, when customers are at the step of having a question or an issue in making a purchase, 47 percent reported “having engaged with live chat in the past 12 months and state that this is the preferred channel of contact” when they’re in a digital experience, compared to phone and email.

The report also said that having a live chat session with an agent was the most useful online engagement tool for 87 percent of respondents, tied with being able to reconnect with the same live chat agent who helped on a previous occasion. Eighty-one percent also preferred the option during a live chat of transitioning to a phone conversation with that same agent. Also popular: an agent presenting a “how to” video about the question inside a chat window.

In a Future Report

The live element in a digital experience clearly has value. Rob LoCascio, LivePersons’ founder and CEO, pointed out in a statement that “the digital era is massively de-personalizing, so anytime brands can engage their customers with a more personalized, human touch, it makes a meaningful difference.”

It’s hard to argue with the conclusions of this study, yet it’s hard to see if anything new has been presented. Good digital experiences can reinforce customer-brand relationships, especially when there is real time support, such as chat, at key points in decision making.

Perhaps in a future report, however, LivePerson will drill down into the different kinds of live chat, such as ones with a too-busy person on the brand’s end to actually have a conversation except in fits and starts. The company might also explore the particulars about how live chat compares with phone-based customer service, which might be more satisfying for the customer who has any question or issue that takes more than a few seconds to explain.