Live Chat Case Study: Titus, Europe's Nr.1 Skateboard Shop

Titus started out as a tiny skateboard shop in Münster at the end of the 1970s. Today, with over 30 shops spread over Germany, it’s Europe’s leading retailer for skateboard-goods, funsport equipment and related clothing. However, Titus’ fastest growth area isn't its street stores anymore, but its eCommerce website Titus.de.

For more than 35 years, Titus’ physical stores have been building up a great reputation for service. Yet transferring this reputation to its online shop required a targeted approach.

In 2013, Titus.de implemented Userlike to chat with its website visitors. Pius Knebel, leading eCommerce and online-marketing at Titus, tells us about their experiences with live chat.

What did your service setup look like before Userlike? Which service channels did you offer?

Those were the classical channels: telephone, email, Skype, mail, fax even - for the few that were still using it. We tried to meet our customers on as many levels as possible.

How exactly did you use Skype in customer service?

Our customers can call and chat with us over Skype. A big obstacle, however, is that both sides need to have the program installed. Although it’s widespread, not everyone has it. That’s an unwelcome barrier for customers that want to contact us via chat.

Why did you decide for Userlike?

My colleague pitched it to me. We wanted a chat program as an additional service channel. There were several providers to choose from. Me and a colleague looked at it from an ecommerce-perspective and made a pre-selection between two or three tools.

The service department looked at those to see which worked best - or which worked at all. The tools were comparable, but we chose Userlike for the great money-value ratio and usability.

How was your start?

The ease of the implementation was a definite plus. There weren’t any problems, which is just what you’d wish for. Compared to the other solutions we tried, we basically fell for the absence of unexpected obstacles.

Our shop is run on an external system. Every chat provider we contacted said the same thing: “It’s super easy. No more than three lines of code. Paste them in your site and you’re good to go”. But I’ve seen the weirdest things. Mostly the software just wasn’t good or not compatible with our shop system. We would have to overthrow our entire setup to be able to use one single tool. None of those things happened with Userlike; the start was smooth and uncomplicated.

What sort of questions do you get over the chat?

With live chat we wanted to engage customers, to reach out and give answers more quickly. This works for the simple questions, until a certain level of complexity. For instance, when a customer wants an extensive consult about which skateboard or component suits his specific style of skating, this usually happens via phone. For ‘little’ questions, like where to find something, chat is the perfect channel. Simple queries can be closed up faster, so we have more time for the complex ones.

How does live chat differ from the channels that you have used previously?

Without having counted the clicks, I’m sure that all of the classic channels require at least one more click compared to chat. Whether it’s to look for the right phone number or to switch to your email-program, you have to leave the product page. With chat customers stay where they are. Each following step takes place from the relevant page, and they’re in the desired conversation right away. The other tools just aren't that handy for online shopping.

For example, when you know the location of a customer you could easily recommend a nearby Titus-shop for issues that are easier solved in a store. This would apply to technical product questions as well.

What was your most positive experience with Userlike?

I have to give a general answer here: both customers and service representatives have reacted very positively to the high pace in which issues can be solved. Both sides have embraced the chat channel for its ease of use.

What are your goals with live chat?

Our main goal was to open up another channel of communication with our customers, to be more available. This we reached by implementing Userlike. There are some records of quantity that could become goals one day, for example a 90% chat availability during business hours. It could also be an option to offer the chat in different languages besides German, but we haven’t decided on that yet.

Has live chat affected your customer happiness?

We measure customer satisfaction via surveys, and also specifically for chat. We can say that it’s a popular channel among our customers. It has made us faster in solving simple queries. Also, to reach younger target groups it’s important to adjust to their preferences in communication, which usually is all about usability and speed. That’s why we expect live chat to only become more important.