A balancing act

Live chat has made customer support faster and more convenient than ever — but can it keep pace with customers’ rising expectations?

Read the full report

Chat may be too fast for its own good. As wait times have dropped to record lows, customers have started to look more critically at the quality of support, driving satisfaction down.

Will your enterprise up its game?

Channel surfing

Globally, phone is the preferred customer service channel, full stop. The contenders for second place variably considerably by country.



Email / Live Chat






Live Chat

A rerouted customer is a frustrated customer

Whatever channel your customers choose, it’s important to resolve their queries in one place. When customers can’t get their inquiry resolved, they usually pick up the phone for live voice support — and these sorts of conversations aren’t always easy. As customer effort increases, customer satisfaction decreases, and operations can wilt, too. Single-channel resolution is a key factor in successful customer support.

live chat is especially well positioned to satisfy customers

the channel strikes the delicate balance

between the speed, convenience, and personalization customers value

but some of the stats suggest businesses still aren’t taking full advantage…

Chat is gaining speed, and recognition

More and more customers consider live chat the fastest channel for customer service — mostly at phone support’s expense. The channel far eclipses self-service and SMS support in consumer perception…

State of Customer Service Experience 2017, The Northridge Group (Statista)

…but it’s also alienating some customers

Customer satisfaction scores for live chat are actually decreasing — in part because the channel has only recently achieved the necessary quality to be deployed on a massive scale. In some cases, wider deployment means more opportunities for letdowns. Although the ubiquity of live chat suggests enterprises rely on the channel more than ever, increased exposure can also mean heightened expectations — and customers aren’t just looking for speed…

LiveChat Inc and Comm100

…they’re looking for r‑e‑s‑p‑e‑C(SA)T

You can’t rush quality. But the sweet spot between CSAT and first reply time — in case you’re wondering — is somewhere between 57 and 64 seconds. Anything much faster than that, and the conversation’s probably not unfolding in a thoughtful, helpful way. Much longer, and they might start to think you’ve forgotten about them.

LiveChat Inc

One touch point,
a whole lot of satisfaction

As much as speed, though, customers are looking for efficacy — the fastest fingers in the world don’t mean much if the responses they’re typing out don’t really answer their questions. That’s why more and more businesses are looking at one-touch resolution as a KPI, as it often correlates not only with operational efficiency, but customer satisfaction.

This might be why, over the last five years, when nearly every other industry saw their CSAT go down, software and professional support services actually reported increases in customer satisfaction.

In 2018, software clocked in some of the longest handling times, and their first response time is on the upper end of that sweet spot, at 1m 5s. Despite these longer waits, the industry manages to deliver higher-quality support that actually solves customer queries — and often in one fell swoop.

So enterprises have their work cut out for them: customers expect near-instant replies, efficient one-touch resolution, and 24/7 availability. They’re not willing to accept anything less.

It’s 10 p.m.
Do you know where your chatbots are?

One final — and much-discussed — piece in the live chat puzzle: chatbots. According to a Drift survey of US consumers published just last year, 64% of respondents stated that they expect 24-hour service. Without chatbots, the costs of always-on customer support can be prohibitive.

This doesn’t mean chatbots are going to replace humans anytime soon — even with great scripts, they can’t match the approachability or responsiveness of a human agent. Nevertheless, the technology will become a key component of the customer service suite that enterprises must adopt and refine to stay competitive.

Can you translate live chat without sounding like a robot?

As if the live chat landscape weren’t complicated enough, enterprises also need scalable translation solutions in place to support global customers at every stage of their journey. It’s not only the right thing to do. It’s also in every business’s interest, with 74% of Common Sense Advisory survey respondents saying they’re more likely to purchase from the same brand again if support is in their native language.

A new hybrid approach to translation, combining the best of machine and human intelligence, is making real-time multilingual support easier and more reliable than ever. With the right tools, businesses can do much more than expand their multilingual coverage — they can scale the authentic service that sets brands apart.

Want to know more
about trends in live chat?

Download our complete chat report for insight into the metrics, benchmarks, and emerging technologies that are transforming customer experience at its core.

Privacy Policy