Robbin brings up the fascinating and potentially scary aspects of such a tool, and also questions what it means for conversion.
A web analytics tool I’ve tested out called Visitorville also has the ability to initiate chats with users directly from the application itself. I tested out initiating chats with users on a small ecommerce site to gauge their reaction. By no means was it an official experiment, but I had about a 0% conversion rate on the chats I initiated. The majority of the time the user ignored my chat request, and the rest of the time they usually had some question but didn’t end up buying. It really wasn’t enough data to call it conclusive, but I did feel while doing it as if the users did not expect to be greeted by someone while visiting the site, and they seemed put off by it opposed to welcoming the contact.
In the comments of Robbin’s post the president of RevealSite talks about their goals of having the internet be like real world stores where you do expect to greeted by a salesperson. However, don’t a lot of people like shopping online for the pure fact they can just browse as they wish and not deal with salespeople?
I think the bottom line on this one is that initiating chats could help a site’s conversion rate in certain cases, and put off users in others. Before using such a tool, think about your audience and ask yourself if they’d want or expect such an online experience.