How a boring furniture company used live chat to 10x conversion rate [Growth Hack]

Good marketing boils down to two primary areas: perfecting standard processes (like AARRR metrics) and uncovering new innovations (popularly termed “growth hacks”).  Hopefully this series on clever growth hacks will inspire new ideas that push the envelope. A small furniture chain in southern California noticed that 75% of their potential customers started online rather than in-store. So naturally they decided to look for strategies to increase their online conversion rate.  For this store, live chat - a little box letting potential customers chat 247 - delivered outsized results.  Customers who engage with live chat have a 1,000% better conversion rate than those who don’t[1. Jerome’s Furniture sees 10x times better conversion after implementing LiveChat].

Data aside: People love throwing around numbers like “10x better” without really sharing anything meaningful.  And while I don’t doubt this company did profit from live chat, their 1,000% number is nonsense.  Here’s why - a “X% increase if they use Y new tool” is pure correlation.  Just because two behaviors - using Y tool and converting - tend to go up at the same time doesn’t mean one is driving the other.  In this case, it’s almost certain that people already planning to convert are more likely to engage in live chat - so how much is live chat driving conversions and how much is it just finding them?  I have very little doubt live chat did help overall conversion rate, but for useful results this should be tested in a proper, controlled A/B test - something that’s easy with the likes of Visual Web Optimizer and Optimizely.

But back to the growth hack - why does throwing a live chat box onto this website work so well?

#1 Classic sales

When you spend time around your sales team, you’ll probably hear them talking about “objections handling” - essentially trying to find the best way to respond to common sale blockers.  ”It’s too expensive” is a common objection across industries (and price ranges incidentally). During in-person sales, objections can be surfaced and solved, but on your website objections will often go unsolved.  That’s where live chat comes in - by giving your customers a low-friction way to reach a live person, you can surface and handle objections. Because furniture is fairly high on the scale of pricey things to buy, people will often want a high-touch experience.  Rather than just purchase after reading a website, they’ll want to come in, sit on a few difference sofas, talk with the sales rep, and eventually make a purchase - live chat aligns perfectly with that buying behavior.

#2 Customer service

What if customer service is one of your company’s strengths?  How do you communicate this to new customers? Well you can obviously try telling them, but “97% CSAT” just doesn’t have the right ring to it, and “dedicated to customer success” sounds a bit fake. Much better to show it by anticipating customer needs before the sale and being there to help.  Once again, live chat is a great way to do this - you can even use it to read minds.  Once you’ve chatted for a bit, you’ll start to notice trends which you can use to address the most common questions on each page. On the product page, your chat box might read, “Want to see how this feels in-person?  We’re here live to help find your local store or answer any other questions”. During checkout, your chat box might read, “Want to chat about shipping? We’re here live to help with that or any other questions!”. Don’t just tell new customers you have great customer service - show them.