Live Video Chat in eCommerce Websites: The Future of Customer Service?


I interviewed Joan Conlin, vice president of customer care service for the apparel retailer Lands’ End, about their live video chat service, which lets shoppers see and talk to a personal shopping assistant as they exchange messages on LandsEnd.com. Learn from Joan on how she says this cutting edge technology has made online shopping a more enjoyable and helpful experience, which has greatly benefitted Lands’s End’s bottom line.

Internet Retailer first reported on the live video chat service when it was launched back in October of last year. The chat technology, provided by Vee24 out of the UK, has since included the ability for 2-way video chat, should customers also wish to appear on video to their customer service rep.

How Live Video Customer Chat Works

  • Customers select the “Get Live Help ‘Video Chat’” button, which appears on every page of the site.
  • Customers then can choose to do either one-way or two-way video (no camera required), and to either do audio or just text chat using their keyboard.

“While linked to consumers via the one-way video chat service, which doesn’t show the image of the customer, the personal shopping assistants can navigate the site, provide product recommendations, compare merchandise, demonstrate product features, and discuss details about merchandise colors and patterns.” reported Internet Retailer.

Because this is cutting edge technology, The Lands’ End home page also features a Help button which launches an intro video featuring Joan herself; where she gives an overview of the services and an option for customers to learn more about it before actually getting started.

Benefits of Live Video Chat in eCommerce Websites

The obvious main answer to that is the ability to provide a visual and more visceral experience than regular text or audio chat, where both the customer and the specialist are on the same page. Here are some specific benefits:

  • Real-time, one-on-one personal shopper assistance.
  • Customer reps have the ability to share Web screens with the customer, share the site navigation, and direct them to the web page and product(s) they ask about.
  • Customers can see the product up close.
  • Reps can also help customers with questions about procedures on how to do something with a product.
  • Establish personal connections from social conversations and customer help.
  • Make online shopping more efficient and enjoyable.

My interview with Lands’ End Customer Care VP on Live Video Chat

Joan explained to me that having a live assistant and specialist, helping each customer-one-on-one is what really makes that personal connection with the customer.  It makes the shopping experience easier, and gives them a more effective way to see the product. “That’s the kind of service now really made possible in the Internet world.” she said.

It’s also interesting to mention that Lands’ End customer care specialists also have access to a huge physical closet containing all the Lands’ End products. “They can quickly get the product and show it to customer while they hold it up in front of their screen, if they have to. I think that’s been another key part of our success with this,” she said.

Joan, give me a couple of examples of how customers are benefitting from using the Lands’ End live video chat service, and how it benefits your bottom line:

One example was where a customer had a question about some of our luggage and wanted to know whether the piece that they were interested in would be big enough for all of the things they wanted to take on their vacation.  The specialist actually went and got the luggage, and then put products in it so that they could tell how many items would actually fit in the bag.  We’ve found that customers are more willing to buy from us when they can see those kinds of examples.

Do you see your own success in live video chat customer service taking off with more eCommerce websites?

You know, I really don’t know why many other large companies haven’t used video in this way like we have. When we first launched our Website, we were the first company to have a live chat capability, and it was something that was new to customers then as well. I know it’s cutting edge right now, but I think a lot of companies will want to leverage this in the near future.  There are chat lovers all over the place, and people who like to live chat are also more comfortable chatting with video.  I think it’s just a matter of time before it really takes off.

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