Live chat is currently the hottest trend in online customer service. Let's see why this is the case and whether there are any downsides.

Many e-com businesses today choose to follow a new trend and create their primary customer support via live chat. Why? Because it's easy, convenient, and quite affordable. Of course, the strongest argument – customers' expectation to communicate with e-store or service provider in real-time.

We analyzed the feedback, preferences, and wishes of e-store buyers and compiled an overview for those who already use chat as well as for those who are still considering live chat as their customer service tool.

Pros of Live Chat

1. Faster customer support and feedback from customers

Live chat is definitely the fastest, easiest, and most convenient way for a client to contact you over any other option. Customers and their questions will also reach you much faster. According to the Zopim survey, a customer can submit their question in less than 30 seconds. Managing customer support through chat is convenient even for small service teams, as service providers can handle multiple requests at once.

It usually takes about 1-2 minutes to give the customer a quick answer to some simple and clearer questions. It is also convenient to collect customer feedback through live chat.

2. Chat gives the customer faster help with more privacy

Customers can calmly deal with their affairs, while also receiving real-time assistance. Live chat allows users to continue browsing, posting and working – while the service provider handles the customer's request. Over 51% of customers enjoy real-time chat because it allows them to do multiple tasks at the same time.

Customers communicate in a live chat conversation less formally. This allows your service providers to better understand them and tailor responses to their individual writing styles – creating a more personal connection with customers. Unlike e-mail, customers do not have to share information about themselves. Therefore, it is also a popular channel for sensitive topics such as medicines, skincare, or laundry. found that 73% of consumers prefer live chat; only 44% preferred the phone. So it's no surprise that 33% of consumers today take it for granted that a company will offer real-time chat. And as many as 92% of users are happier when served via live chat.

Live chat on your website: pros and cons

3. Chat is easy to find and it reduces shopping cart abandonment

Customers will find you right away. They don't have to waste time searching for contact information or email addresses. Once in your e-shop, the customer will quickly find the chat, open it, and are then already in touch with you.

This reduces amount of navigating across different pages and allows people to find answers to important questions more quickly, which in turn increases the chances of a transaction taking place.

Chat also helps reduce shopping cart abandonment when customers can ask purchase questions in a timely manner. A Forrester survey shows that 44% of consumers say that being able to talk to a service provider in the middle of an online purchase is one of the biggest benefits of live chat.

4. Chat enables multilingual support

For many companies, real-time and automatically translated conversations are one of the main benefits. Conversations between you and your customers are translated in real-time, opening your business to international markets if you wish.

5. Chat is integrated with social media

More and more companies are using Facebook messenger to communicate with customers. TW chat helps you bring all your conversations from different social media channels conveniently into one place. This saves time and agents don't have to commute too much between different environments. Customers get served faster.

Live chat on your website: pros and cons

6. Prevention of damage to the company's reputation

Live chat provides a private space for angry customers who, for some reason, want to “let off steam” due to frustration. When using chat, chances are they won't then do the same in public media channels. Instead, you may help improve a bad experience by providing support and understanding and a suitable solution.

Customer service representatives can very easily feel tired and exhausted when dealing with angry customers. Even when resolving concerns, service by phone or email requires much more effort. Chat, on the other hand, allows you to keep an emotional distance, while focusing on the client's concerns and the best solution to them, without having direct contact with the person.

7. Increased efficiency and lower costs

Creating and contributing to a live chat team is cheaper than, for example, a traditional call center. A 2010 Forrester study shows that a live chat session is about 20-50% cheaper than a phone call. Faster resolution time is the main reason for cost reductions. Virgin Airlines found in its case study that one chat attendant could replace 15 email attendants.

8. Online sales growth potential

Live chat is both a service and a sales tool. You can direct visitors to actively chat with you or offer them special offers depending on which websites they visit and for how long. You can also find out during the conversations which product / service could still be useful for them and smoothly guide the customer to possible purchases of other services / products.

9. Customers' preferred support channel

One of the biggest advantages of live chat is, of course, its popularity. Live chat stands out with the highest level of satisfaction compared to all other customer service channels. found that 73% of consumers prefer live chat; the phone lands a distant second with only 44%.

So it's no surprise that 33% of consumers today take it for granted that a company will offer real-time chat.

As many as 92% of users are happier when served via live chat.

10. Quick resolution of website errors

One of the lesser-known benefits of live chat is its effectiveness in reducing user failures and website errors. The customer receives quick help if, for example, they have forgotten their passwords, there is an error somewhere on the page, or for some reason, the purchase cannot be completed. Common mistakes can be corrected before they cause more damage.

Cons of Live Chat

There are certainly more advantages than disadvantages, but we would also like to highlight potential concerns that you should consider in order to better assist you.

1. Does not work well with the older generation

Although text messaging is high among most demographics, people 55 and older are unlikely to contact the company via live chat. This is stated in the 2015 Software Advice survey. So depending on your target audience, an additional channel may be required (phone, email).

2. The need to be constantly online and respond quickly

As with the phone, online channels require service providers to be online and constantly available. During peak hours, more customer service may be needed, which can increase costs. Although live chat still has an advantage over the phone: the customer can leave a note/message and the agent can still reply to him later when he becomes free.

3. Response time expectations are high

Ideally, the message in the conversation will be answered within 1-2 minutes. This requires sufficient staff to keep response times at an acceptable level.

Thus, there is a need to keep the chat application open and respond to a new question. The service process is similar for answering the phone, so often both the phone and the chat are answered by the same service provider.

Although the pressure of availability is less than with a telephone, you still need to have enough staff during peak hours to successfully serve and keep your customers happy.

4. Identification

The customer cannot always remain anonymous. In some cases, such as online banking, access to personal data is only possible with a secure identity card. You may need to add a phone contact or authentication method directly to the chat.

All in all … we see that there are many benefits to live chat service, perhaps the biggest ones are that customers mostly prefer live chat when communicating with e-shops, and secondly, through chat service, there is an opportunity to build better relationships with customers and increase sales.

If you choose and consider whether using live chat is right for you, we definitely recommend that you be honest with yourself and ask: Am I ready to offer quality customer service through chat? Am I prepared to allocate sufficient resources to ensure that the necessary staff is available? Who are my customers and what do they really prefer?

Being aware of these potential drawbacks is key to effectively managing and inviting website visitors to use your live chat.

How can Askly help you?

When you're ready to take the necessary steps to provide excellent online customer service, then Askly online customer support is just a few clicks away.

We have developed a live chat platform that is easy to use and loved by users. The first 30 days are free, without any obligations.

It only takes 2 minutes to set up and start serving your customers online.