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'Click to Chat' or 'Click to Call?' Depends on the Scenario

In a store, sales clerks can serve customers' needs when they see there's a need, or greet them when they walk in the door, but online it's a more difficult task. What works better when it comes to live help on a Web site?

Whether the customer and salesperson interact via chat or phone call, live help serves as a solution to multiple online scenarios. In general, live help appears to be useful when shoppers want immediate responses to inevitable questions.

A study conducted by Art Technology Group, a maker of e-commerce software, found 58 percent of consumers said they would use live help if there was missing information on a Web site. Meanwhile, 53 percent would use live help if they had trouble at check out or while filling out a form. About 37 percent of consumers use live help if the return policy isn’t stated clearly, and 28 percent seek live help when they hear about sales or promotions, according to the study.

Once customers opt for live help, they may have a choice of clicking to chat or clicking to call and speak with a sales representative.

Customers' receptiveness to live help also may vary depending on how much they are spending, ATG found.

When customers make a purchase under $100, 47 percent prefer "click to call," while 53 percent prefer "click to chat." But when customers make a high-priced purchase or when product information gets complicated, 67 percent of consumers prefer "click to call" compared to 33 percent that prefer "click to chat." This choice suggests that customers need to make sure sales representatives understand their questions and give them personal attention.

Since sales representatives handle two to three click-to-chat sessions at once, customers that prefer live chat use it when they can multitask while waiting for a chat response. Others prefer live chat because they think it’s faster and easier to ask a salesperson their questions.

Questions? Comments? Email us at consumernation@cnbc.com

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