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Are you ‘Chatting’ with Your Customers? Consider Adding Live Chat to Your Business Contact Methods

In a recent post we mentioned that the ‘business’ of a business to offer variety—this goes for products, and this goes for contact methods. We’ll be the first to say that phone is a great method of communication (after all, we are in the phone business), but we’re also the first to say that it’s not ideal in every situation, and that it can certainly be complemented by other options. That’s right—a variety of contact methods can actually work in conjuncture with one another to increase efficiency and improve customer satisfaction.

But you probably don’t just want to hear it from us...

A recent survey conducted by Avaya found that, out of over 5000 global customers, 40% preferred alternate contact methods like web chat, self-service, and text messaging, over phone-based customer service. Another survey, by the research company Clickfox, further refined this observation by separating “Simple, repetitive tasks...where between 40% and 80% of customers indicated using the web” and “more complex interaction types” where “they will try to reach a live service agent between 40% and 70% of the time.”

The “simple tasks” can be managed by an IVR; it’s the “more complex” types that clog down your phone lines and tie up precious resources. This brings up a question: “Isn’t there a method other than phone that can effectively connect customers to a live agent?”

The answer is Live Chat.

Live chat is like a hybrid, or a happy middle, between phone and email—bringing the best of both without the downsides of either for a fraction of the cost (see our comparison table below).

Live Chat, Email, Phone Comparison Table

Another interesting infographic released by Clickfox that surveyed over 400 customers to assess the viability of Social Media as a customer service platform offered an insightful breakdown, averaging the percentage of users using any given contact method and the cost per interaction. Here is the lowdown on our relevant three: 40.2% call Customer Service at a whooping $15/interaction, 16.9% send an email at a conservative $3/interaction, and 15.7% use instant chat at a modest $5/interaction.

But Live Chat is not not just cost effective 'out of the box', it can help you save further by taking on some of your incoming traffic and reducing call volumes. This can help you keep within the limits of your monthly virtual PBX plan. What's more, the customers who do chose to call will experience faster service and have a better experience.

Of course, nothing is for everyone, and Kim Boatman of warns that if you’re going to do it, you better do it right. That’s always a sensible suggestion, and the article goes on to outline a list of questions to help determine if chat is right for you.

The gist of it? Make sure you can afford to put in the time or to hire someone who will—and, if you're going with the latter option, make sure that ‘someone’ can actually provide quality service. You don’t want to just populate the chairs with scarecrows—they may not be very effective at scaring away crows, but they’ll surely send your customers flying the other way!

So how do you get started?

Assuming you’ve decided that chat is right for you, the next step is to get set up. Luckily, there’s a wide array of solutions, ranging from the free to some that will set you back several thousands of dollars. Conversation Support is an excellent option if you want to stay within the family. A contact center might be a good solution too, especially if you're already using one for a live-answer service. Some, like Answer Connect, include Live Chat in their standard packages and won’t charge you anything on top of your per-minute rate.


While our latest addition of SMS-enabled phone numbers already expands your arsenal of contact options, there are always proactive steps you can take on your own to make your service more accessible. Instant chat is an excellent tool and will likely become even more popular as consumers grow increasingly savvy and stop shying away from virtual solutions. If you think it’s something that can fit your business, you’ll definitely want to give it a try.

Chat away!

Related Articles:

  1. Look Out for SMS Messaging: Coming Soon to the Business Phone System Near You!
  2. 4 Ways a Virtual Phone System Can Improve Customer Experience in Your Business
  3. Tired of Playing Phone-Tag with your Customers? A Virtual Phone System is a Whole New Game!
  4. How Our ‘Find Me/Follow Me’ Service Can Help You Never Miss Another Call
  5. How a Live Answer Service Can Supplement Your Virtual IVR

posted by Maty Grosman @ 10:34 PM