The pros and cons of “live chat” support vs. traditional phone support

When you need to get in touch with customer service agent — for your phone, e-mail, internet connection issues or pretty much anything these days — you usually just pick up the phone and call customer support.

However, things are changing. You may have seen the little windows pop up on many websites advertising “Live Chat” or entreating you to “Chat Now” with a customer service representative.

Live Chat is simply using a computer to type responses back and forth with a customer service representative instead of talking on the phone.

The benefits of phone support include being able to hear the representative’s voice, feeling like you’re talking to an actual person, and being able to use your voice; one issue with live chat is the loss of emotional subtext that carries when you hear someone else’s voice. And many people can talk faster than they can type.

However, some of the biggest headaches with phone support — long wait times, background noise, slow response time, etc. are a thing of the past when you use Live Chat to talk to a customer service representative.

There isn’t any queue, you don’t have to mess with foreign accents or trying to understand someone over all the background noise of the call center.

From the representative end of things, agents can quickly copy pre-written responses to common questions into the text box, they can multi-task and talk to multiple customers at the same time — cutting wait times to nothing and eliminating the dreaded “Please hold, your call is important to us” joke of old.

For today’s youth, logging onto a computer and typing rapidly is second-nature — just look at all the texting that they do — whereas picking up the phone and actually calling someone is often an alien notion.

This helps companies stay up-to-date, hip and connected to young, tech-savvy customers.

In short, live chat support offers a quick and easy way to talk to a representative without the message getting lost.

While it might lack some of the charm of phone support (if there is any left), it more than makes up for it with efficiency and clear communication.

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CTO at LiveHelpNow, LLC Temple University , Computer science 15 years of software engineering experience Connect with me on +Michael Kansky
  • Roy Crocker

    Ben we are a nationwide internet driven company that sells fitness equipment. Internet is our tool to capture every lead or interest .I have implemented live chat into our web site and see that it possibly has effected our call volumes .Do you have any opinion of having this feature as a pro rather than a con?

  • The only cons in having live chat on your website are when wait times are high, answers to questions are not provided in reasonable time (20 seconds or less) or even worse when agents forget to switch their statuses to offline to become unavailable and chat on your site stays on resulting in customers’ chat requests become unattended.