9 Live Chat Benefits You Need to Know
Technological innovation in commerce is nothing new as we continue to embrace digitization across all industries. The internet, rising from a commodity to a household asset in two short decades, played a significant role in changing the course of its foundation.
eCommerce is challenged and forced to evolve in the COVID era, pushed to embrace innovation more rapidly. Among these solutions lies live chat, a tried-and-tested asset for customer communication.
In this article, we’ll explore 9 of the most notable live chat benefits you need to know.
Live chat: live agents and AI chatbots
Live chat software offers a direct, easy way for customers to interact with live agents as they browse. People receive this utility well, and that had led to more customers involved. Businesses also embrace it as an asset that cuts down costs and improves efficiency, among other benefits. However, as AI-powered chatbots also integrate into live chats, we must make a vital distinction on this front.
Statista offers a wealth of research into this topic, but its core can solidify over a simple conclusion. Namely, chatbots may undoubtedly be of use, as they already are for simple scenarios, but customers generally prefer live agents. This notion is supported by similar surveys, where approximately 76% of Gen X respondents want to reach live agents. Also conducted in 2017, another survey showed that 80% of customers prefer live agents over chatbots.
These findings are, of course, indicative, not entirely prohibitive or strictly conclusive. Acceptance of AI technologies continues to rise, so chatbots are a viable, albeit selective, alternative. Still, they should help distinguish between live chat and chatbots more firmly. The two frequently overlap as subjects but also carry some distinct differences.
9 benefits of live chat you need to know
Having covered chatbots, as they are an increasingly prominent web development trend, we may now focus on live chat by itself.
At its core, live chat is a customer service enhancement. It usually complements other marketing strategies that all aim to increase customer satisfaction. Specifically, live chat augments the customer experience through better, quicker support, cultivating trust, and fostering loyalty. In essence, it’s both one of many ways to bring your business closer to customers and an asset that enhances the overall sales funnel. It does so through the following benefits.
Enhanced customer support
Live chat offers the distinct benefit of enhanced customer support. Unlike asynchronous communication like emails and ticket systems, it provides swift communication on demand. Furthermore, chatbots can see use for mundane or recurring inquiries, freeing live agents to focus on complicated or demanding matters.
For smaller businesses, it offers enhanced customer support due to practicality. A single live agent can engage in as many as six chats simultaneously, reducing delays in responses. Given its text-based nature, live chat allows both sides to revisit information without needing to inquire again. Understandably, this, too, reduces frustrations on both sides. In turn, it enhances communication and support quality.
Reduced support costs
On the subject of live agents handling multiple tabs at once, it’s equally noteworthy that live chats are incredibly cost-efficient. For one, they call for much smaller customer service teams to handle inquiries, reducing staff costs. Studies identify the cost as up to 50% lower than taking phone calls. Forrester reports that live chat sessions are 20-50% cheaper than phone calls for individual cost comparisons.
Combined with the option of using chatbots to handle low-priority inquiries, live chats offer substantially reduced costs. WP Engine’s support is a prime example; launching live chat on their website allowed them to swiftly and effectively solve 90% of all inquiries.
Enhanced agent productivity
Along similar lines, live chat can substantially enhance productivity. Workload aside — which live chats can help reduce — customer service can be incredibly stressful. Live chats offer a more stress-free means of communication, which can, in turn, increase agent productivity.
For example, 99Firms found that 95% of consumers prefer slower-paced chats if they offer better support. Live chats provide a less hectic support environment, where agents can answer inquiries more thoughtfully. Simultaneously, as mentioned, live chat supports chatbots that can reduce workload and boost productivity through prioritization.
Automated 24/7 chatbot customer service
Finally, on the benefits of chatbots, live chat indeed allows for substantially automated 24/7 customer service. Expecting full customer service automation is ill-advised, as the Statista research (above) shows, but partial automation is a viable option.
As highlighted above, customers grow increasingly accustomed to chatbots. In fact, a Userlike study found proof of this in multiple findings:
- 65% of respondents don’t object to speaking to a chatbot first
- 40% receive immediate help from a chatbot
- 80% have talked to a chatbot before
Of course, Chatbots have their limits, by all means; most respondents to that same study found that chatbots “had too much trouble understanding their request or didn’t know how to resolve their issue”. Nonetheless, partially automated service can undoubtedly remain an option to consider. Chatbots are perfectly capable of addressing simple requests, thus reducing your agents’ workload. Live chat allows you to provide both, ensuring customers can still speak to a live agent if need be.
Improved website experience
Following the above, it’s equally noteworthy that live chat’s benefits extend beyond customer service alone. Increasingly more website visitors now expect live chat options, even if they don’t need to use them. The chat function improves their website experience while also projecting professionalism, modernity, and a proactive willingness to assist.
As early as 2013, Forrester found that 41% of customers expected live chat on websites. Multiple studies confirm that this trend has indeed continued upward to 2021. Today, more visitors hope to see it than don’t – and lacking it can discourage conversions and sales.
On the sales funnel, then, chat also offers demonstrable gains in conversions and sales. Naturally, an improved website experience and better customer service alone can boost conversions due to customer satisfaction. But its benefits are even more substantial.
Among other studies and research, consider the following examples:
- AMA found that B2B companies see a 20% increase in conversions
- A case study with Virgin Airlines showed a staggering 3.5 times higher conversion rate than emails
- A case study with Cyberport found conversions five times more likely with live chat than without
Thus, increased conversions are a very demonstrable benefit of live chats. In turn, higher conversions lead to increased sales, all in a very cost-efficient way.
Increased customer retention
About the overall sales funnel, live chats also provide increased customer retention and engagement. Integrated eCommerce marketing platforms surge in popularity partly due to the same reason; retention is incredibly lucrative. By delivering an oft-expected option and inspiring loyalty through professionalism and responsiveness, live chats ensure customers remain retained for longer.
Most studies agree on this basic premise; acquiring new customers costs much more than retaining existing ones. The exact difference may vary, from a notable 3x difference to a massive 6x difference. As such, it’s a crucial metric to keep in mind to ensure sustained profits. What’s more, satisfied customers frequently outspend new customers on average individual purchases – and live chats can help ensure customer satisfaction.
Increased average order value
Having touched on increased sales and individual purchases, it is noteworthy that loyal, satisfied customers are highly profitable. They make purchases more frequently and typically spend more per purchase than new or one-time customers, increasing average order value. As such, live chats can also have a visible effect on individual sale value and overall sales through improved retention.
Studies find that “satisfaction has a strong positive effect on repurchase intentions” in a retailing context. This trend varies across industries, understandably, but the basic premise still applies. Still, that same study also adds that “[it has] no direct effect on repurchase behavior,” as other factors also apply. Nonetheless, satisfaction is one of the “big three” KPIs to keep in mind, and live chats can affect it rather visibly.
Finally, live chat allows for both agent and customer data collection. This vital asset has multiple benefits; it can inform future inquiries, enhance lead generation and conversion tactics, and even inform product decisions. It can fuel Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, Voice of Customer (VOC), and similar solutions to track success.
Customer data collection can naturally enhance customer service, as interaction history can provide invaluable insights. Recurring inquiries are widespread, and swift access to such prior data can save valuable time. Similarly, agent data collection can inform management decisions. Agent response times, interaction satisfaction, and other metrics can help track performance. In an increasingly data-driven digital landscape, both can be invaluable assets toward success.