Never mind the old-fashioned help desk or the awkwardness that comes with being put on hold on the phone while trying to get through to an airline’s representative to get more info about your upcoming flight: the next big thing in customer service is already here, and it is live chat. Consumers and companies alike seem to be thrilled with this development, as it carries significant advantages for both sides – not least in terms of effort, time and money spent on resolving an issue.

Live Chat on the Rise: Humans vs. Chatbots

In recent years, more and more companies across several industries are integrating live chat in their customer service and mobile strategy strategy. The concept of having a representative respond in real time to solve a problem or complaint raised by a client is far from new – that is precisely how things were done in the early days of entrepreneurship. Back then, you could drop in a brick and mortar store and have all your questions answered on the spot, but with the advent of new technology and the rapid expansion of businesses in a globalized world, businesses and clients struggled to meet in person – it was time for phone centers and emails to take over. Now, enterprises revisit the notion of live support and they have quickly grown to appreciate its many advantages.

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There are more than one ways to introduce live chat on a company’s website – and which option is better also depends on the industry. Amazon, the online retail giant has introduced live chat across several languages to help customers with issues like undelivered or missing packages. As Amazon focuses on high consumer satisfaction and reliability, having human agents do the trick builds a more personalized customer experience that helps Amazon users build a trust relationship in the otherwise quite detached experience of shopping online. Other industries also routinely opt for human live chat.

Casino site Betway, for example, has a live chat option, which more than makes sense considering that clients usually need urgent and tailored responses and that they are used to human interaction from a distance in the live casino and live poker settings of similar websites.

Enterprise-level cybersecurity provider Incapsula is yet another example – their live chat pops up on the bottom of every page, and also makes it clear to the site visitor that it’s humans they’d be chatting to rather than a

Other industries, however, prefer the chatbot live chat option, where an AI agent takes care of a client’s request, adapting to their feedback to come up with a solution that is part of a pre-programmed toolbox. Introducing a chatbot might seem less “personal” to some clients, while others appreciate the cutting-edge feeling that comes with it. Marriott International, a leading name in the hospitality business, recently opted for a chatbot as part of their customer service approach, while several other businesses in real estate, insurance and finance have had their fair share of turning to chatbots.

Moreover, restaurants can now take reservations and feedback through AI agents like Chatobook. As artificial intelligence keeps evolving and more and more applications spring up, it is likely that we will also see more developed chatbots that will be employed in customer service.

Companies and Clients Both Satisfied by Live Chat Option

The benefits of having live chat as a customer support option are significant, both for companies and for consumers. First and foremost, it seems to keep clients satisfied – which is a central goal for many companies with online presence. According to research, 90% of consumers find the option of live chat helpful and 44% of people shopping online and trying to identify the best buying opportunities consider being able to talk live to a company representative whilst purchasing online as one of the most appealing features of a website. It also means that sales for businesses that offer live chat are likely to increase their revenue: According to the same source, 63% of online consumers are more likely to come back to a website that offers the option o
live chat, and 62% stated that they are more likely to buy from that website again, while another 38% of consumers surveyed reported making a purchase precisely thanks to a live chat session.

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No surprises there, since consumers like to feel that their time is valued and that their problems are resolved as quickly and effortlessly as possible. But live chat is also good for business not only in terms of retaining and winning over customers, but in terms of cutting costs, too. It increases efficiency by allowing human company representatives to handle on average 2-4 chats at the same time – while chatbots can respond to unlimited requests simultaneously.

Chatbots are also available 24/7, so they reduce labor costs and reinforce that sense of reliability in clients who feel like they can reach out at any time. It is no surprise then that there are currently more than 60 different types of live chat software that are being used on over 1,700,000 websites worldwide. When it comes to customer support, live chat seems to combine the best of both worlds: That old-school sense of speaking directly to a company representative and getting tailored support, while at the same time taking advantage of cutting-edge
technological developments.

And that is why it is here to stay.

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