According to a story in Forbes.com today, Lands' End's "Ask Us" button which gives shoppers live instant (typed) chat with a customer service rep, "The company says that the average value of an order increases by 6% when a surfer uses its instant message technology. An online visitor who uses Lands' End's IM is 20% more likely to make a purchase than a customer who does not."
The story doesn't give comparative numbers on how much a shopper who calls the site's 800 number for help (versus using the chat/IM function) is worth. I'm betting that 800 callers are worth even more. Having experienced both at the site while using a speedy DSL line, I personally got fed up waiting for the chat to happen and picked up the phone. Then maybe I'm more trigger-happy caffeinated than the average shopper. According to the story, roughly 10% of Lands End operators are trained to use phone or IM, which is somewhat indicative of demand.
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