How Much Does One Second Cost?

Posted by
Vikas Bhambri
LivePerson Contributor
Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 15:47

Online consumers crave convenience. They appreciate quality and intuitive website design, a quick checkout process, helpful customer service, and above all else, speed and efficiency. While you might have  the coolest web graphics and sleek product demos on your site, if you’re homepage is slow to load, the checkout page is stalling, or there’s a long wait time for support—you’ve lost a potential customer.

It’s no surprise that website speed is the first step to delivering the prime shopping experience.

According to this KISSmetrics article from 2011, a 1-second page loading delay could mean $2.5 million in lost revenue annually to a company that averages $100,000 daily. The relevancy of online shopping has only increased in the last two years—and it continues to grow in popularity. Can you afford to lose millions in revenue due to page delays? It might be worth investigating additional investments in the basics.

Time is top-of-mind for online shoppers. Beyond quality brand interactions, customers want content, answers and assistance—and they want it now.

“The three key elements of a great online customer service experience are getting an issue resolved quickly (82%), getting an issue resolved in a single interaction (56%) and dealing with a friendly customer service representative (45%).” 

A Global In-Depth Study of the Online Customer Experience,  LivePerson, 2012.

The 3 Keys to Prompt Customer Service

1. Website Speed & Performance

Ever become impatient waiting for a website to load on your desktop or phone? You’re not the only one. How long do you give websites before turning away? Surprisingly, research finds that brands have less than a second to hold a visitor’s attention. In fact, Google engineers found that the “blink of an eye” or 400 milliseconds will deter a visitor, according to The New York Times. 

Online shoppers don't wait. If your site is slow to load, you’ll likely lose their interest–and their business. On top of that, slow website performance can cost your business coveted page ranking opportunities—remember that Google factors load times.

Consider every element of the website, including higher resolution product images or videos, as speed matters across the board.  According to the New York Times, “Four out of five online users will click away if a video stalls while loading.”

Take inventory of your website’s loading time. Test your page speed using a free tool, like PageSpeed or YSlow. How does it compare to your competitors? Once you have your benchmarks, take action to remedy slow site performance with additional tactics: optimize images and content, and “minify” CSS or Javascript code. These two linked articles will show you how.

2. Optimized Checkout Process

Consumer engagement is most pivotal when he or she approaches final conversion. There are several high impact stages throughout the customer journey where engagement is essential; however, it’s crucial to simplify (and speed up) the last step—checkout.

Checkout is a high-impact scenario where shoppers are most likely to abandon.  Why?

  • 38% of shoppers abandon a cart due to a “complicated registration / login process.” (LivePerson)
  • 30% were unable to obtain some form of customer service. (LivePerson)
  • Shipping is another factor with high potential for cart abandonment. (comScore)

To reduce the likelihood of cart abandonment, simplify (and automate) the checkout process, and analyze your data to look for ways to optimize checkout. It’s also important to ensure  that everything your customer could possibly need to make a confident purchase is available at the point of sale. For many customers, live, personalized assistance at that crucial moment to make can help guide a confident decision purchase.

3. Real-Time Assistance

Coupled with quality site development, another critical factor to fast (and easy) customer experience is to provide real-time engagement at the moment of need. According to LivePerson’s global survey, 93% of shoppers see real-time help being beneficial during their online customer journey, whether it’s before, during or after their purchase process.

An unanswered question could mean a lost sale, or worse, a win for your competition. Customer service professionals can provide the ultimate convenience factor to customers with immediate, on-site help. Almost half of shoppers (44%) said a critical online feature is “having questions answered by a live person” during a transaction, according to Forrester Research.

LivePerson research found that live chat  was most effective to meet the needs of today’s shoppers. Consumers appreciate the convenience of instant answers without the hassle of delay—in fact, 51% are more likely to purchase if they’re able to get real-time answers via chat.

Your business strategy should be centered on customer needs and providing the ultimate brand experience. While online shoppers want their brand experience to be unique, it’s clear that they also demand efficiency and speed.

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