Technology provides marketers options that were unimaginable years ago. We can capture every click during a customer’s electronic shopping spree. We can combine shopping and buying patterns to create a custom marketing campaign for each customer. We can watch as shoppers browse the website and offer assistance if they loiter too long on a page.
But, should we go that far? It is one thing to capture and use information to create personalized promotions. It is something entirely different to interrupt a shopping experience with a pop-up offering to help.
The theory behind pop-up customer service is simple. It emulates bricks-and-mortar shopping by providing access to a sales associate. The execution is creepy. It drives people away instead of engaging them.
Ten years ago, I observed a presentation by a company who had developed software for pop-up customer service. I remember the enthusiasm in the room as the sales representative demonstrated the tool. Jane Customer is shopping online and having difficultly making up her mind. She keeps returning to the same page, but doesn’t click to buy. After her third visit to the same page, the pop-up appears. It notes that she seemed to be having a challenge making up her mind. Did she know that help was a click away?
Jane is ecstatic, of course. All of her dreams have come true. She has a sales associate at her fingertips, promising to answer any question. After the presentation, I discouraged my client from purchasing the software. I knew that shoppers would find it invasive instead of enticing.
Let’s jump from the presentation 10 years ago to last November. I was watching a friend shop for her daughter. She is showing me the cool gadget that she is thinking of purchasing. While we are studying the screen, a pop-up appears offering assistance. It was a deal breaker. My friend immediately closed the windows and said, “Eeeew! It is like they just walked into my house.” That is the difference between in-store and electronic shopping. When you pop-up online, you are popping in to someone’s home.
Offering Live Chat is a good thing if it is customer activated. Automatically activating it reeks of big brother and stalking. Is that the image you want for your business?