If setup and used properly live web chat is a great customer service option for your e-commerce site. It has low usage among consumers (24% used in the previous year) but it has a higher level of satisfaction for customer support than email, social media and even phone.
- Don't show it if no one is there. We have all seen the "Live support not available" graphics on web sites and this just seems so last decade to me. If no one is there, just replace the graphic with something else. It is not like they can look through the window and see you. Saying no one is there is like telling a customer you don't care enough about their convenience.
- Load chat last. In our tests, loading a 3rd party chat widget slowed a clients page load by up to 2 seconds. Load it last so the shopper can get started.
- Engage with engaged users. Only present a prompt to start a chat support session to shoppers who have been on a page for long enough or looked at enough pages to show that they are engaged. This also solves items 1 & 2 and stops the annoying prompt as soon as the page loads.
- Send a transcript. Am i going to give you my email address so you can spam me? No. Will I give you my email so you can send me a transcript so I don't have to keep notes? You bet!
- Follow up. This is Sales 101 but send an email the next day asking if they had any further questions. This could be automated but the personal touch can close the sale and create brand evangelists.
Those are the basics, but underlying the implementation and basic processes are the human beings that staff your support team. They need to be trained, knowledgeable, friendly, and empowered so they can connect, engage, inform, and support your clients and help you grow your business.
(statistics from http://www.edigitalresearch.com/news/item/nid/151475278)