When asked about their preferences for support channels, customers say that they prefer live chat over social media, email, and even phone support. Why? Live chat support is fast, efficient, and convenient.

But the benefits of live chat stretch far beyond just giving your customers a faster and more convenient way to get in touch with your customer service team. In addition to improving the support experience, live chat can boost agent productivity, help you get to know your customers better, and inform your product decisions.

Let’s take a look at the top nine benefits of live chat for customer service teams.

1. Live chat improves the support experience for customers

The top reason why customers prefer live chat is that it lets them get their questions answered immediately.

With live chat, you give customers a way to reach you in the exact moment that they have questions or problems they can’t solve. This feels much better than sending an email to a support team; with email, it’s hard to know when you’ll get a response back.

The immediacy of getting help is likely why customer satisfaction ratings tend to be higher for live chat than other types of support.

2. Live chat helps with customer acquisition and onboarding

Live chat is a great way to connect with prospective and new customers and give them the confidence they need to use your product or spend money on your website. According to Forrester, consumers who use chat are 2.8 times more likely to convert than those who don’t.

Being available to help builds trust, even if your customers don’t need to talk right then and there.

3. Live chat lets your agents build rapport with customers

In an ongoing chat, agents can observe a customer’s tone and sentiment and adjust their styles to fit the situation best. By mirroring style or adjusting formality to match a customer’s, agents can quickly build rapport and establish a friendly, helpful relationship.

Messaging platforms also offer a more authentic way to showcase your agents’ personalities than traditional channels.

4. Live chat reduces repetition for your customers

No one wants to have to explain the issue they’re having over and over again. In fact, 72% of customers expect an agent to know their details — including support history and product information — without asking for them.

With quality live chat customer service software, agents can read the text supplied by the customer while also reviewing other details they have access to. This may include things like an indication of which screen the customer is currently viewing and notes from previous interactions with customer support.

During a chat session, some tools will even allow an agent to share a screen with the customer or easily send links and screenshots to help them better understand a set of directions, making everything crystal clear.

5. Live chat boosts your customer service team’s productivity

Live chat is also helpful in improving the productivity of your customer service agents. While a person can only be on one phone call or reply to one email at a time, with chat they can juggle a few at once.

For trickier issues requiring research and reporting, they may want to stick to one or two, but if they’re working the chat queue full of quick and simple questions, handling five at once is manageable with some practice.

Since features and chat handling vary for each tool, be sure to choose the software that works best for your workflows and team. Even better, look for customer service software that can handle your chats, emails, and other support channels all within one tool so agents can focus in one place and get the work done.

6. Live chat lets you provide 24/7 support

With careful scheduling, live chat support can be made available 24/7 — if that would be beneficial to your business — or any other selection of hours you prefer.

By expanding your instant availability to cover the whole day, your customers will have little reason to complain about their questions going unheard. Even if you can’t keep chat staffed around the clock, your self-service support options, like a knowledge base full of content about your product, is available anytime.

When chat isn’t available, be sure it’s quick and easy for customers to find their way to your support documentation. Many times, people are perfectly happy to help themselves, but they aren’t sure where to find the information they need.

With your knowledge base and chat working together, customers will feel taken care of regardless of what hour of the day they find themselves needing support.

7. Live chat increases customer engagement

When you make live chat readily available, you’ll likely see an increase in interactions. While some of that may be customers who switch to using chat instead of email/phone support, a portion of the growth will be people who found chat and realized they could get help instead of giving up and possibly ditching your product altogether.

With increased customer engagement comes a chance to make a good impression and give customers a reason to stick around. To add to the inviting feel, set up your chat tool to display agent names and photos (if possible), and implement a conversational chat style.

8. Live chat can give you an edge over your competition

If your competitors don’t offer live chat (or provide low-quality chat support), that gives you space to do it right and earn their business.

Think about this: if you were a customer in a hurry trying to decide between two products, would you pick up the phone and call support to get your questions answered, or would you be more tempted by the company that was readily available on their website?

Most people are more likely to ask questions over chat than they are willing to make a phone call. In fact, more than half of consumers prefer chat over phone support.

9. Live chat data helps inform product decisions

One major perk to providing support via chat is all of the data you can collect. Depending on your live chat software, you should be able to store, organize, and tag chats to filter them for review later.

By putting the work in up front to sort chats and review them, you can create a collection of data that informs your support team — and your product and marketing teams, too.

For a simple starting point, develop a set of tags all agents will use, and have them tag their chats. Consider tagging for things like feature requests and bugs, as well as by question type or topic to help pinpoint any frequent issues.

As you tag by type, you’ll be able to spot the places in your product that may need updating or require more support documentation to help your customers out.

Achieving support success with live chat

Today’s customers are getting more and more comfortable with live chat technology. And not only do they prefer it, they expect it, too.

Beyond improving the customer experience, the ability to increase agent productivity — combined with the data you’ll collect — will lead you to greater success with live chat as part of your customer support plan.

Sarah Blackstock
Sarah Blackstock

Sarah is a freelance writer specializing in technology and customer support and a former Happiness Engineer at Automattic. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.