Live chat. What is it? No, it doesn’t have anything to do with the chat rooms made popular in the 90’s (does anyone visit these anymore? Looking at you, Facebook Rooms). We’re talking about the invaluable, ESSENTIAL channel of communication that allows businesses to engage with website visitors for support, lead generation and more. See that little blue tab at the bottom of your screen? That’s live chat.

website live chat

Even though predictions were forecast almost a decade ago about the rise in popularity of live chat, a significant number of businesses are still dragging their heels when it comes to adding this much-preferred method of communication to their websites. As the old Chinese proverb says: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. So, if you’re still wondering about whether or not to introduce live chat to your business, we’re going to explain exactly why you should. And if it’s something that’s already made its way to your website (bravo for being on your game), how can you really use it to its full potential?

Live chat is now consumers’ most preferred channel

According to a study by eDigital’s Customer Service Benchmark, an incredible 79% of users prefer live chat support as, more often than not, it provides instant responses. As well as quicker response times, live chat offers a much more efficient and convenient way to communicate. Not only are users able to see the whole conversation before their eyes and refer back to it, but they are also able to communicate whilst performing other tasks.

For example, if I need support from a company, they most likely offer support hours similar to my working hours. This can make things difficult if I need to make a phone call while I’m in the office, about returning the delightful Christmas elf costume I purchased for my cat because it arrived three sizes too small. With live chat, I can initiate contact, provide the relevant information and have my issue resolved in minutes. All at my own pace and without disrupting my colleagues or workflow.

live chat statistic

Until live chat came along, email was another channel for those who could not, or simply would not, reach out by phone. At some point, we’ve all tried this method and I think we can agree it’s tiresome, inefficient, and often frustrating for all parties involved. You email XYZ company and someone replies, let’s call him Dan. He gets back to you the next day but he misunderstands something you said, so you have to reiterate and wait for another response. Urgh. Yes, Dan, we know it’s not your fault but you’re the one we’re talking to, you know? And don’t even get me started on time differences!

Live chat resolves all of this, and with 46% of consumers in agreement about it being the more efficient way to get support, it’s not something that should be overlooked when it comes to ensuring customer satisfaction.

Optimisation for a better customer experience

Unbeknownst to the average consumer, the strategies businesses use to effectively manage their customer communications can be quite sophisticated. For a small business dealing with only a few customers each day, there’s probably not much optimisation needed. But for larger enterprises that likely deal with thousands of support requests, it’s crucial for a chat agent strategy to be implemented to ensure the most efficient experience.

Chat agents can be grouped and added to queues so that once a chat comes into that queue, everyone is notified. This gives the best chance of the chat getting picked up with the least amount of waiting time. Once the chat is closed, it goes back to the general queue so the log can be viewed by all agents. All of this is developed with both the customer and the agent in mind for the most efficient experience for everyone involved.

live chat statistic

But, sometimes live chat just isn’t enough

OK, I hear you. Sometimes both customers and agents need a little more than chat to resolve an issue. Or maybe you want to turn your chat into a full blown sales pitch. Well, believe it or not, what starts out as text chat can easily be elevated to a voice or video call. So if you need to get a visual on your customer’s issue, or if you think whipping out a sales presentation will help secure a lead, you can seamlessly transition to another channel of communication.

It’s hard to think of an industry in which website live chat doesn’t work. Not only does it help agents to work more productively, make more sales and gather more leads, but it also takes the customer experience to a whole other level. It’s a simple feature that can make a huge difference to customer satisfaction scores because quite simply, it’s what consumers are asking for.

If you would like to see how live chat can work for your website, try out 3CX for free. 3CX is a software unified communications solution that can be installed on-premises on Windows or Linux or in the cloud in your own cloud account, and includes free website live chat & talk.