When a customer needs help on the go, is in a hurry or just doesn’t feel like talking to an agent on the phone, live chat is a great option for providing support. But live chat benefits extend beyond convenience; it’s an affordable and effective channel for driving sales and conversions, boosting agent productivity and lowering costs.
There are dozens of reasons this channel of choice is the one customers enjoy using most. We’ll outline the top ones here, cover the most important features of live chat and make the case for how adopting this communication channel can benefit your business.
What is live chat?
Live chat is an online tool that enables website visitors to communicate with a company’s customer service agents or chatbots in real-time. It’s also referred to as webchat. It allows brands to answer questions, provide technical support and nurture leads to produce sales.
Live chat is unintrusive, typically appearing as a small icon in the lower right corner of the user’s screen. It can run in the background so users can continue to browse the website or work on other tasks while continuing their support conversation.
Live chat is incredibly user-friendly, taking place in a messaging window that’s part of a brand’s website. The customer has instant access without needing to install any plugins or download any apps to use it. They can upload photos and other attachments, and agents can respond with rich messages like links and other media.
Live chat can function as a standalone channel that serves as an alternative to phone support or can be used to supplement the support provided on other available channels. Because it’s so well-suited for automation, live chat is a great option for offering a form of round-the-clock support when you’re not able to have agents manning the phones 24 hours a day.
The benefits of live chat
Live chat has a low barrier to entry. Pretty much anyone with rudimentary computer skills knows how to use a chat interface. It can be accessed from any device and doesn’t require a lot of bandwidth. Live chat can even overcome language barriers with real-time translation.
Sometimes you need help but it’s not a good time to talk on the phone. Other times, you need a quick answer and don’t want to jump through the hoops of an automated phone system just to get some basic information. Live chat is a fast and convenient support option that doesn’t require a phone call.
Live chat solutions are inexpensive to deploy and can be implemented without adding additional infrastructure. Because agents can work in multiple chats at once, it’s more cost-effective than phone support, which requires a one-to-one interaction with callers.
Helps with lead generation
At a time when most customers prefer to do their own online research before making a decision on what to buy, live chat acts as your salesman on the proverbial showroom floor of your website. Agents can use it to offer assistance, answer questions, gather information on what the customer is looking for and provide helpful suggestions. Every new chat session is a fresh lead.
Gathers valuable data
Chat sessions are a rich source of customer data, from basic profile information like their name and email to details on their product needs and communication preferences. Through live chat, brands can gather a wealth of data and tie it to the customer’s record, then store the transcript so it’s easily accessible for future reference.
Live chat helps you create additional touchpoints with prospective customers that move them further down your sales funnel. And it’s not just about winning new customers; live chat is also a valuable tool for nurturing existing customers, welcoming them back to your website and promoting repeat sales.
Boosts agent productivity
On the internal side, increased efficiency is one of the biggest live chat benefits. Chat agents can service several customers at once, use canned responses to provide rapid-fire answers and leverage scripting for the most common conversation topics. All of this leads to faster resolutions and lower wait times.
Sometimes a support inquiry is best suited for a phone call. When the conversation begins on chat, however, brands can use it to gather cursory information like the customer’s name and account number before transferring to a voice agent so the customer doesn’t have to repeat themself.
The benefits of live chat become even more potent when you layer on artificial intelligence through smart chatbots. Today’s chatbots go far beyond the copy-and-pasted Q&As of years past. Thanks to natural language processing, chatbots can “understand” what a customer is asking about and intelligently direct them to the best resource for their needs.
Produces quick feedback
Gathering feedback is instrumental in improving your customer service (not to mention your products themselves), but getting customers to actually take feedback surveys is an uphill battle. Live chat doesn’t always have to be for providing support; boost customer feedback by using it to prompt visitors with a quick one-question survey that takes only seconds to answer.
Leads to a positive customer experience
Live chat has everything customers crave from a support experience. It’s fast, so they can spend less time waiting for answers and more time going about their day. It’s convenient, so they can access it from anywhere, on any device. Most importantly, it’s effective, routing them to a resource that actually solves their problem. The result is a better overall user experience that leads to higher satisfaction and longer customer relationships.
Frequently asked questions
Why do customers prefer live chat?
Customers prefer live chat because it’s simple, fast and convenient. They can access it from any device without installing an app or downloading a plugin, and it doesn’t require working through an automated phone system or speaking to a live human.
How can live chat improve customer service?
Live chat helps customer service agents do their jobs faster and more effectively. Unlike voice support, which necessitates one agent speaking with one caller, live chat agents can interact with multiple customers at once. This leads to faster service and lower wait times.
Do customers prefer live chat?
Customers prefer live chat to nearly every other support channel and are growing increasingly satisfied with their chat interactions. Customers are particularly interested in mobile chat, which is responsible for more than half of all live chat sessions.