Forrester Research frequently points out the benefits of live online engagement. When e-businesses connect in real time with website visitors, those visitors are 3 times more likely to convert to sales. Those sales are likely to have higher order values than they would without e-assistance, and the customers involved are more likely to rate their experiences as highly satisfying. For e-tailers who follow a few best practices in online support, those takeaways can be even greater. To make the most of your connections with customers, follow these guidelines:

1.  Answer requests for help quickly.

Don’t keep hot leads waiting. If you have a small site, include call or chat buttons on every product page to interact with as many prospects as possible. If you have a larger site, place call or chat buttons on high-value or strategic product and service pages. Preset rules in your live chat service can help you escalate high-priority visitors to multimedia collaboration sessions, ensuring those targets get rapid, full service.

2.  Don’t let leads go cold.

Capture prospects when you have their full attention by putting call or chat buttons on your ads and landing pages. Use screen-sharing, live video feeds, YouTube, joint form fill, PayPal and e-signature apps to shepherd visitors from initial interest to product demonstration and through purchase completion.

3.  Increase average order value by upselling.

Upselling improves your bottom line AND customer satisfaction levels.  Nothing is more frustrating than opening the camera you bought, only to discover that you need batteries or a bigger storage card. E-sales agents can prevent that frustration by suggesting product accessories during the sales process.

4.  Offer special incentive to visitors if they click on a call button.

Visitors who engage with site reps convert at significantly higher rates.  So why not offer a special incentive that entices a visitor to click on your call button, such as, “Ask me how to get five dollars off your next order.”

5.  To encourage a purchase now, offer a discount on the next purchase.

For visitors who are sitting on the fence, offer an incentive that closes the current deal and sets the stage for the next sale, too. For example, if the customer places an order now, you’ll send him a coupon for $10 off of his next purchase.