Every business transaction contains a set of small-scale customer decisions and considerations. In a perfect world, your business would have control over every decision or could at least influence them to some degree. During a sales call, for example, your sales rep can ask the prospect why they’re reluctant to buy. If the prospect cites costs, the sales rep can potentially work with them. But once this discussion ends, and the prospect sits down with his or her colleagues, the decision is ultimately out of your hands. There’s nothing you can do at that point to influence the final outcome.

The promise of live customer service software is its ability to inject your company directly into a key customer decision-making activity. In addition, it can promise a high-value interaction, one that transcends FAQs, automated e-mail responses, or other highly impersonal customer service options. Armed with this functionality, businesses can attack key failure points across the sales life-cycle and work to boost conversions or improve the typical customer service experience.

Shopping cart abandonment in the real-world

So how does this play out in the real world? Well, let’s take a problem that plagues every online retailer, whether you’re Amazon or a small store: shopping cart abandonment. Shopping cart abandonment is an industry term for when a customer goes to an online retail site, adds products to their shopping cart and subsequently abandons the transaction entirely.

Shopping cart abandonment keeps managers up at night because the losses can be severe: a recent analysis of shopping cart abandonment put rates as high as 80 percent. Meanwhile, an aggregate study of 18 standalone shopping cart studies found an average abandonment rate of 67 percent. It’s akin to seven out of 10 customers walking into your brick and mortar store, placing items on the check-out counter, only to impulsively walk out of the store without dropping a dime.

First and foremost, it is important to note that this abandonment can happen at any stage during the transaction. People can leave the site before making it to the check-out page. They can enter credit information and then leave before clicking “Confirm.” Each of these examples of abandonment provides ample opportunity for your sales team to make a conversion. After all, these customers are quintessential “low-hanging fruit”. After all, they’ve already discovered your site. They’ve already selected products they want. And they’ve come painfully close to actually purchasing them. What more could you want?

Addressing the problem

So the first challenge is to find out why they abandoned their order and to deploy live customer service software accordingly. Studies suggest two main reasons for shopping cart abandonment: excessive prices or poor usability. In the first case, the customer throws things in their cart, and when they see the Total, they get sticker shock and jump ship. In the second instance, the customer goes to enter their credit card information only to get flustered by the navigation and leave the site. This can be addressed by better Web development, but even in that case, many customers – particularly unsophisticated ones – could use the assistance of a live human.

Therefore, in each of these instances – excessive pricing or poor usability – online live help can be interjected at this critical juncture to help minimize customer abandonment. For example, having an icon on the screen asking, “Need help? Is there a problem? Have a question? Contact a live customer service rep” can give the customer the option to complete the purchase.

It may seem like an innocuous addition to the check-out process but it goes a long way to personalize the shopping experience. It shows the user that there’s a real-live human at the back end; it gives them the opportunity to engage in valuable, personal customer service experience; and perhaps most importantly – psychologically-speaking – it provides them with no excuses for abandoning their purchase.