The 37 Advantages and Disadvantages of Live Chat

There is a real hype around live chat. We tell you why – and if there is a dark side to all the live chat advantages.

Many companies jump on the bandwagon and implement live chat, because it’s easy and relatively cheap. But should you, too?

We pored over studies and scoured our own customer feedback to come up with a definitive list of live chat advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of live chat

1
Faster support

Obviously chat is easy to reach for your customers, but what’s more is that the average resolution time is significantly lower than with traditional service channels. It takes less than a minute to resolve a customer issue using live chat.

When it comes to people, customers expect the same quick response they are used to getting from electronic equipment and technology.

Shep Hyken, Customer Service Expert

2
Real-time text preview

One of the handy advantages of live chat is the option to see a real-time preview of what the customer is typing before she hits enter. It gives your chat agent the chance to think about a solution, research and impress users with prompt, customized answers.

3
Instant customer feedback

Feedback is easily collectable. Users can rate your chat service right after their interaction with you. This is a benefit for your service agents too because they get instant feedback on their performance. This makes it easy for them to connect the dots.

image shows the feedback function of Userlike

4
Less drama

Chat agents experience less emotional exhaustion after difficult service interactions. It’s easier to distance yourself from a mean text than a shouting customer hurling complaints.

5
Prevents agent fatigue

Avoid one of the main burnout reasons in customer service: boredom. By preparing templates (Chat Macros) for frequently asked questions, chat agents have more time to focus on complex issues and personal customer interactions.

6
No waiting queues

Customers reach you quicker. According to Zopim research, in less than 30 seconds. This is possible even for small service teams because agents can handle multiple requests at the same time. Research by Software Advice shows that the extinction of waiting queues is the primary reason why people prefer live chat.

Graphic shows live chat advantages from Software advice study

7
Non-intrusive

Customers can go about their day while being helped. Live chat allows users to continue browsing, posting and working – your agent solves the case along the way. Over 51% of customers like live chat because it allows them to multitask.

8
On-site

Because the conversation takes place on the website, the context is mostly clear. During a chat, the service agent can see in the Message Center what page the visitor is currently looking at, and easily guide the user around the site with direct links or screenshots.

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9
Low barrier

Customers find you right away. There’s no need for them to waste time searching for contact details or email addresses. They simply land on your website and launch a session.

It reduces the risk of page bouncing because people can clear doubts and questions without hurdles.

10
Prevents cart abandonment

Customers can ask purchase-related questions just in time. According to a Forrester study , 44% of consumers say that having the ability to talk to an agent in the middle of an online purchase is one of the greatest live chat advantages. Bold Software came to similar conclusions in their study : Chatters are 1.8 times more likely to make online purchases in comparison.

Graphic shows that live chat users are more likely to purchase a product than Non-live chat users

11
Quick resolution of site errors

One of the less obvious benefits of live chat is its effectiveness in driving down user fails and site errors. Customers with forgotten passwords, or who are stumbling over 404 pages, are helped immediately. Annoying errors can be fixed before they cause greater damage.

12
Team force

Forward messages to members and specialists of different teams, even if they are not part of the core service team. You can group by department, function or language. It’s possible to create multiple 'lines' of support, so that specialists are more protected and only get the inquiries that the generalists cannot cover.

Live chat obviously made our users happier and our service department more efficient.

Alexander Proske, Statista

13
Instant documentation

With traditional channels it can be difficult to understand pain points of customers. Usually only individual agents are faced with them – it takes time to extract learnings from lengthy phone calls and emails. With live chat, supervisors have access to all chat histories, which can be sorted, searched and filtered, e.g. by rating scores or keywords.

14
Advanced analytics

Live chat is easy to break down in numbers. To improve the efficiency and quality of your customer service, live chat software gives you numerical insights like peak hours, the average first response time and chat duration.

15
Quick selection menu

Customers can categorize their query type within a second, before the chat even starts. They may, for instance, choose specific departments or topics. This is a clear advantage to phone where customers are often forced to listen to a robo voice running through multiple options before making a confident decision.

Graphic shows how Userlike allows to select a group before the chat starts

16
Clear context

Customers don’t have to repeat themselves if they are forwarded to another agent. The new helper can ask the customer to give him a minute to go through the previous conversation and take it up from there right away.

17
File transfer

Agents can provide customers with documents, charts and contracts right within the chat window. No need to ask for contact infos and change service channels.

18
Multilingual support

For internationally engaged businesses, one of the key benefits of live chat is automated message translation into a chosen language. Your native messages are translated in real-time, opening your company to international markets.

GIF shows how the Userlike translation tool works

19
Mobile Messaging Integrations

More and more companies add WhatsApp, Telegram or Facebook messenger to their channel portfolio. Modern live chat software allows you to connect third party messengers to the central live chat panel and answer all incoming texts from here. Even good old SMS can be docked.

20
Chatbot automation

You can connect different types of chatbots to your live chat software, thus taking the strain from your chat agents. Employ either a simple greeter bot that handles the first introduction and data collection or a complex chatbot that will answer frequently asked questions and proceed to a human agent only if necessary.

21
24/7 support

Connected to a chatbot, your support is available 24/7 no matter what time zone. If the question can’t be solved, the bot arranges a follow-up with an agent.

22
Personal

Customers communicate less formalized in chat. This allows your service agents to understand them better and adjust responses to their individual writing style - creating a more personal connection to customers.

The first thing they write is ‘Hey Matt’. It’s just different than just ‘Hello Titus’.

Matt Kuncaitis, Titus Customer Service

23
Discrete

Unlike phone and email, customers don’t have to give away any details about themselves. That's why it's also a popular channel for sensitive subjects such as medication, skin care or lingerie.

24
Reputation management

Live chat offers a private space for angry customers who need to let steam off right away. Instead of jumping on your public Facebook page or Google reviews, you can fight the fire in a private, discrete space.

25
Food for your CRM

In registration mode, live chat collects customer data like names, email addresses and preferences and feeds them to your CRM system. Holistic live chat software like Userlike can even replace your current CRM system: No matter if the message comes in through your website, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, all customer data streams into one Message Center, allowing you to build in-depth customer profiles.

26
Build strong customer relationships

Modern live chat software promotes ongoing conversations with your customers right on your site, putting conversations, not tickets , in the center. Think of your website as a message hub like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger that your customers return to whenever the next message comes in.

27
Increased efficiency / reduced costs

Entertaining a live chat team is cheaper than the traditional call center. A 2010 Forrester study suggests that a live chat session is about 20%-50% cheaper than a phone call. The minimized resolution time is a main reason for this cost reduction. Virgin Airlines found in their case study that one chat agent can replace 15 email agents.

Study shows that one chat agent can replace 15 email agents

28
Data security

Live chat software is built for secure interactions with your customers. Conversations are exchanged solely encrypted. At Userlike, we place great emphasis on data security. Our live chat software is GDPR compliant and all data is stored on German servers underlying strict governmental regulations.

29
Best channel for mobile communication

Live chat is flexible; it can be started and paused no matter if the customer is at work, on the train or at home. It combines the digital aspect of email with the immediacy of a phone call, the best aspects of both worlds.

30
Engine for online sales

Live chat is a service tool as well as a sales tool. You can actively invite visitors to chat with you about their questions or offer them special deals depending on which sites they visit, and for how long. A case study with Virgin Airlines , for instance, showed a 3.5 higher conversion rate and a 15% higher average order value since offering live chat.

Study shows that live chat results in a 3.5 higher conversion rate

31
Customer’s favorite channel

Of course, one of the biggest advantages of live chat is its popularity. Live chat stands out with the highest satisfaction levels compared to any other customer service channel. Econsultancy found that 73% of consumers prefer live chat; phone lands far off with only 44%.

So, it’s no surprise that 33% of consumers take it as a given nowadays that a company offers live chat.

Disadvantages of live chat

Sure, as a live chat software company, we like to stress the advantages of live chat. But we are honest with our customers and educate them about live chat disadvantages as well. With over 10,000 clients, we have learned a lot about potential challenges and how to face them.

1
Doesn’t work well for older demographics

While texting is second nature to most demographics, people 55+ are more unlikely to contact a company via chat. This is suggested by a 2015 research study by Software Advice . So, depending on your target group, an additional channel might be mandatory (phone, email).

2
The need to be online to offer support

Same as for phone, synchronous channels require people to be online. Having enough staff during peak hours can be costly. Though there is still an advantage to live chat compared to phone: the live chat window automatically turns into a contact form so visitors can easily contact you on every page of your website, even after hours.

3
First response time expectations are high

Ideally, a message in live chat is answered within 30-60 seconds. That requires the right amount of staffing, so that the first response time can be kept at an acceptable level.

This disadvantage is reduced since chat agents can take care of 10 customers simultaneously. For instance, if an agent is already serving two customers, he can easily send short greetings via chat macros to new customers. Alternatively a simple chatbot can take over the first greeting and ask for the issue.

4
Identity verification

In some cases like online banking, access to personal data is only possible by secure identity check. This might require telephone contact.

5
Online Trolls

Because you can chat quite anonymously, internet trolls are a phenomenon. That's why Userlike offers features like blocking and ignoring. To protect the privacy of operators, it is possible to use operator aliases.

6
Peak hours

Although the pressure of being available is less than with phone, you will still need to staff during peak hours.

Unified Messaging: Fixing live chat disadvantages

Being well aware of the biggest live chat disadvantages, we developed a powerful extension to live chat: Unified Messaging (UM). This new version of Userlike not only tackles the main problems by the root, but turns your website into a messenger hub, similar to WhatsApp and Facebook.

Advantages & Functions of UM

No need to be online at all times. Agents don’t have to be online 24/7, they just answer the next time they are. The customer receives an email as soon as the agent replies.

Ongoing conversations. Every time the customer returns to the website, the same chat can be continued. This allows for an ongoing conversation, like customers are used to from the messenger apps they use daily.

Takes the strain off of peak hours. You can spread out your answers over an extended period of time. Since users can return to the same chat any time, the urgency to answer back in under a minute is gone.

Website strengthening. Due to the possibility of asynchronous communication, customers will return to your website because it now functions as a messenger platform like WhatsApp or Facebook.

Integrate different channels. Unified Messaging streamlines your customer support because you can use the Userlike Message Center to answer texts from your website, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram and SMS.

Learn more about Userlike’s unique Unified Messaging features and how they improve chat communication.