12 October 2020

Live Chat vs Phone Support: How Do They Compare? | Aaron Henriques

Phone support as a method of customer service has been gradually decreasing over the past decade, and its likely to continue in this way. This is due in part to increasing digitisation and younger audiences entering markets.

On the flip side, the use of live chat in customer support is growing by huge amounts. And, arguably, its revolutionising customer service thanks to the convenience, the speed of response and the ability to multitask while chatting. But is live chat actually superior? Let’s see how live chat compares with the conventional phone support.


Reactive vs proactive customer support

Reactive customer support is the process of answering customer enquiries as they come in, such as answering incoming phone calls or responding to emails. This is a perfectly fine way to do business, however, it’s important to realise that many people won’t always ask for help. Proactively reaching out to the customer and asking if they need help (proactive customer service) will increase the number of people who will engage with a business.

It’s pretty difficult to carry out proactive customer service on the phone. You can always call current customers and ask if everything is okay, but what about those who aren’t yet customers? Proactive live chat allows businesses to proactively pop up to website visitors – while they’re browsing the website – and ask if they need help. This way, the business can alleviate customer pain points before they have the chance to arise.


Live chat is faster than phone support

Customers rate speed of response as an important factor when it comes to customer service. In this fast-paced, always-switched-on society, businesses who take too long to respond to enquiries will likely lose that customer to a competitor. Customers simply want an accurate, fast answer to their queries.

Phone support often involves listening to an automated message, before waiting to get through to a support agent. Live chat, on the other hand, is immediate – our own reports show that live chats are answered in 14 seconds on average. Not only this, chat agents are able to send help guides, documents and screenshots to customers through the chat window itself to speed up troubleshooting.


Customers prefer live chat over phone support

Studies show time and time again that customers now prefer live chat over other communication channels. A study by eDigital Research revealed a satisfaction score of 73% for live chat, versus just 44% for phone support. There are many reasons for this preference, such as the ability to multitask while chatting and receiving immediate responses, while some people simply don’t like talking on the phone. Whatever the reason, you should cater to your customers’ preferences if you want to stand out from your competitors.


Live chat collects transcripts and analytics

Live chat software can collect data from users, such as what page they landed on, what device they’re using, and more. This knowledge is valuable for understanding customer behaviour, which is great for market research purposes and for improving the customer experience.

Furthermore, chat transcripts can be analysed to learn what customers are liking and disliking about a product or service, what their pain points are and what questions keep coming up. This information can be used to create content addressing these questions, or by improving the customer journey by working to alleviate pain points.


Live chat is more cost-effective

We’ve seen how live chat compares to phone support when it comes to pleasing customers, but what about the business itself? Phone support can be somewhat costly, given the employment of phone personnel and dialling charges. Live chat, on the other hand, works out to be much more cost-effective. An individual staff member can only handle one phone call at a time, but is able to manage 4-6 chats at once, on average. This means that less staff are needed for the same volume of customers, allowing businesses to make serious savings in their customer support costs through reductions in estate size and employee salaries.


Live chat vs phone support: The verdict

While live chat rises above phone support for most cases, it’s important to note that not every customer will want to use live chat. Elderly people, for example, may not be familiar with the technology and will prefer to call.

We recommend using a multi-channel support strategy, where several options for contact are available to your customers. 89% of consumers want choices for how they contact customer support, so it’s a good idea to provide these choices. A multi-channel support strategy consisting of live chat, phone and email ensures that most demographics can get in touch through their preferred method, in a way that’s most convenient for them at the time.


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