Once, you had two options to contact customer service: a call center with interminable wait times, or a catch-all email address that often made requests disappear into cyberspace. Now a third option has emerged that offers many benefits with fewer drawbacks: live chat.

Not only is live chat easier for customers, it also makes customer service teams more productive as well. Small wonder so many companies are signing up for live chat services offered by Intercom, HubSpot, Olark, Userlike, and other businesses.

Not sure if live chat is right for your customer service team? Here are six benefits you should consider before making your final decision.

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  1. Live chat saves customers the hassle of getting on the phone.

Customers really, really hate getting on the phone with customer support. Long wait times, confusing menus, disconnected calls, and help agent transfers make the process a stressful time suck — the opposite of what customer support is supposed to be.

Email, the traditional alternative to call centers, offers its own drawbacks. Customer support email lines are notorious for taking forever to get back to customers, if they even respond to them at all. For customers with time sensitive issues, email is often way too slow.

Live chat offers the best of both worlds, allowing customers to message with help agents in real time. They don’t have to go through the stressful process of getting on the phone, but still get a response in a more timely manner than they would via email.

  1. Live chat reduces repetition by creating a written record.

Pretty much everyone has had the experience of explaining their situation in detail to a customer service rep, only to be transferred to a different department, restarting the process all over again. It’s not uncommon for customers to have to explain things multiple times to multiple help agents before they finally get a solution. This is frustrating and time consuming for the customer as well as the help agents, increasing both call time and hold times for customers who haven’t been helped yet.

By creating a written record, live chat makes it easy to transfer someone to a new agent without the customer having to re-explain their issue. The new help agent can quickly catch up on the situation by skimming the previous chats, reducing the time both the agent and the customer have to spend in the chat. This means that one agent can help more people in the same amount of time, reducing wait times overall.

  1. Live chat increases productivity.

Some of the things we’ve already touched on — such as reducing wait times and creating a written record — makes help agents more productive and able to chat with more customers in less time. Besides these features, live chat also allows help agents to multitask. With simple issues, a help agent can potentially have several chats going at once, responding to one customer while another one is typing. This simply isn’t possible with a call center, where a help agent can only talk to one person at a time no matter what.

Live chat also allows customers to be more productive. Rather than waiting on hold, unable to go anywhere or do anything else, they can leave the chat up in the background of their computer or phone and go about their day. This further improves the customer’s experience and improves their opinion of your product or service, a win-win.

  1. Live chat can be used to extend customer service hours.

For instance, you might want to install a chatbot that can help guide customers to the appropriate documentation 24/7. If the issue needs escalating to a live help agent, then the chat record will be waiting for them first thing in the morning. Once the agent responds, the customer can get back to them at a convenient time, no hold required.

Most companies understandably limit their call center to normal business hours, as employing around-the-clock help agents can be quite expensive. Chat makes it easier to extend your customer service hours, or to provide other kinds of help outside the live chat hours. 

Also Read: How to Build Customer Loyalty as eCommerce Takes Over

  1. Live chat data can give your business an edge.

If you have live chat, and your competitors don’t (or they don’t implement it very well), that can set you apart from the pack. With more than half of consumers preferring chat over call center, offering live chat support can seal the deal for potential customers. If you’re not convinced yet, ask some of your current customers about their helpline experiences and whether they would use a live chat option — you might be surprised by the answers.

  1. Live chat data can provide beneficial insights.

Gaining data from phone calls can be tough. Sure, you can tell the length of the hold and the time the help agent spent on the phone, but that may not give you the insights you want or need. Certain live chat software gives you the option to store and organize chat to review later using a tag system. As agents add more and more tags, you’ll be able to see patterns over time. This sort of chat data analysis can help you identify common feature requests, recurring bugs, and more helpful trends.

A good chatbot starts with a great customer service software

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