Why customers choose live chat for customer service


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Consumers expect buying and service online to be quick and efficient, and increasingly organisations are recognising the importance of using web self service to help customers find information on their products and services 24/7. Inevitably however, there will be times when the customer requires more detailed information or instant assistance, and all too often their only choice is to leave a website and resort to more traditional methods of service like calling the contact centre.

Unsurprisingly, being forced to move offline to complete your transaction or resolve an issue, can often leave customers frustrated at being kept on hold for a customer service rep, or more likely result in them abandoning their transaction altogether rather than interrupt their customer journey.

According to a 2012 Baymard Institute Report, the average reported shopping cart abandonment rate is 67.75%. That means that almost two thirds of the customers who start to place an order on your site may be leaving before completing their purchase. Difficulties with form filling can be a major contributor to abandonment rates and as this is a critical element in the online sales process for many organisations, it can be a major thorn in their side.

So what’s the solution?

Offering customers help via proactive live chat can significantly increase conversion rates and improve the customer experience and perception of your brand. Contact centre agents can engage with customers by sending chat invitations, based on a pre-determined set of triggers (e.g. pausing on a form or checkout page), escalating customers to one-to-one dialogue, exactly when they need assistance.

In a recent report released by Forrester – Market overview: Chat Solutions for Customer Service, Forrester commented on the benefits of live chat, saying, “The technology has demonstrated its ability: to improve customer service department operational efficiency by collecting information to populate a service ticket and quickly answering customer questions by leveraging predefined answers from a content repository; to improve sales by reducing shopping cart abandonment rates; and to improve sales conversion by helping educate customers during pre and post purchase interactions.”

Whilst voice is still a popular choice for consumers, it is an expensive channel for organisations, and can reduce customer satisfaction levels by routing customers through endless IVR loops. Online chat however, allows contact centre agents to handle 2-3 chats simultaneously, improving efficiency and call response times.

Why do customers prefer live chat?

Live chat offers organisations the opportunity to engage with both potential and existing customers, that may otherwise not contact you via phone. Customers may prefer live chat to calling your contact centre due to a variety of reasons, including:

• They are in a public place and don’t want to be overheard – no talking required.
• The nature of the call is sensitive (e.g. financial / billing support) and they would prefer to speak with a real person but indirectly.
• They want instant support and don’t want to or have time to be put on hold waiting in a queue for someone to answer.
• They wish to remain online and not have their customer journey interrupted.
• Live chat doesn’t cost money – no additional phone costs.
• They may be in a situation where they have no access to a phone.
• Live chat feels like a smaller commitment than a phone call.

Factors to consider when implementing live chat:

• Using proactive and reactive chat: Proactive chat, which is triggered by customer behaviour at appropriate times, is one of the most important features of live chat. Offering live assistance to customers whilst they are in the middle of an online purchase, can help reduce abandonment, improve conversions, and drive customer satisfaction. Reactive chat, which offers the customer the opportunity to engage with an agent via clearly visible buttons at strategic points along the conversion path on your website, is also a key feature.
• Anticipate at what stage a customer will require live assistance: Factors such as duration of time spent on a page, history of visits, area of interest / offers need to be considered – this will require on-going refinement.
• Ensure consistency of information across all channels: Build a centralised, scalable knowledge-base, which can be deployed across all of your customer touch-points (web self-service, live chat, contact centre, e-mail, mobile and social).

The main benefit of offering a live chat solution from a customer perspective, is that it allows website visitors to stay in their channel of choice. Providing customers with the tools to self-serve and also giving them an additional channel to escalate to for live contact with your contact centre, ensures the customer journey is a seamless one.

It is important however to consider live chat as part of an overall multi-channel interaction strategy, rather than as a stand-alone service. Customer service across all channels should be simple, efficient and, above all, consistent. Building a channel-agnostic knowledge-base for customer service and deploying it across your online channels and giving your call-centre agents direct access during chats, will help reduce staff training times and increase consistency and customer satisfaction online.

Organisations such as Yorkshire Building Society, Chelsea Building Society, Barnsley Building Society, Best Western Hotels, Yorkshire Water and Benenden Health have all deployed Synthetix’s liveChat software, to help customers quickly and easily find answers to their questions online, as part of their Synthetix suite of Multi-channel Customer Service Solutions. For more information, please click here.

Neldi Rautenbach
Neldi shares insight and best practice tips on multi-channel customer service from Synthetix. Synthetix is a leading provider of online customer service solutions - working with some of the world's best-known brands. Synthetix create bespoke customer service and knowledge base software that enable customers to self-serve timely, accurate and consistent answers to their questions via the web, mobile, e-mail forms, social networks and in the contact centre.


  1. “They wish to remain online and not have their customer journey interrupted.”

    I know I do that as a customer. I am here, on the site, and I know I will probably get in touch with someone faster via live chat than calling the contact center. It also means I can keep doing whatever I was doing without sitting on hold.

  2. indeed with live chat option we can easily resolve customers questions instantly. Live chat software give online customer satisfaction at short time. I have seen many of such types of software availables like eAssistance Pro, livezilla etc

  3. In my opinion live call answering is also an good option to improve the customer experience as in it customer is not kept at hold but an representative is always there to address them which can improve the experience.


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