The Truth About Live Chat

Authored by Kayla Brehm

Published on March 4, 2015

Software Advice’s recent report uncovers the truth about live chat- it’s easy to use, and millennials love it.

There are very few things worse than the dreaded automated line “please wait while we find an available representative to take your call”. After all, how long will it really be? A few minutes? Ten? Twenty? Very few customers are okay with waiting an extended period of time in order to be heard, and have started exploring additional channels to help solve their problems. 

We’ve written about the gradual shift from traditional voice channels to self servicebefore, but what about live chat? Forrester, an independent technology research company, predicted that 2014 would be the year that more and more customers start exploring outside traditional customer service channels. The help desk evaluation business Software Advice published a recent report that goes a step further, and proves that chat, not phone, is where Millennials will seek help for their customer service needs.

“Customers want to use a breadth of communication channels for customer service. Across all demographics, voice is still the primary communication channel used, but is quickly followed by self-service channels, chat and email. In addition, channel usage rates are quickly changing…In 2014 and beyond, customer service professionals will work on better understanding the channel preference of their customer base, and guiding customers to the right channel based on the complexity and time-sensitivity of their issue.”

Forrester Top Trends for Customer Service in 2014

Millennials love live chat

56% of of respondents ages 18-34 prefer live chat to phone

I know personally when a question or issue pops up when I’m online, I try everything imaginable before reaching out to call a company’s customer service department. Software Advice’s recent study proves that I’m not alone. In fact, of those surveyed, 56% of of respondents ages 18-34 prefer live chat to phone, compared to 27 percent of respondents ages 35 and older.

We know that millennials prefer chat, but why? What’s the draw? Software Advice reveals that it’s the convenience of chat and the lack of wait times versus trying to call a company for help. For Millennials, a generation that grew up with texting and email, live chat seems the most natural vertical.

Software Advice also points out that chat provides a sort of safe-zone for customers who want to avoid sales pitches that they would have received from talking to a representative via phone. 

“I think people are intimidated to get on the phone with a sales rep and ask about pricing or process questions too early, because they don’t want to get hard-sold when they are just fact-finding,” explains Katie Meurin, marketing director of ZCO Corporation. “Live chat allows them to get answers with no delay, but also gives them the ‘out’ of being able to sign on and off chat as they please.”- Software Advice


There’s a time and place

The survey’s last key finding is that millennials prefer live chat, but only for simple issues. Regardless of age, if a complex issue (like a question about your finances) pops up, customers will turn to phones. Quite the opposite for simple inquiries like questions that occur while shopping online. For those, millennials prefer to turn to live chat.

What does it mean?

Software Advice’s survey provides great data for companies to reference if they’re on the fence about implementing live chat on their website. Know your audience! If your company is geared towards a younger (or more technological) demographic, perhaps live chat could be a great vertical to help you reach them further.

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