The way we communicate with each other has changed rapidly over the last few years. From letters and phone calls to instant messaging and social media, there’s plenty of choice when it comes to how we talk with each other.

As people grow more familiar and comfortable with new messaging channels, using them regularly to chat with their friends and family, they’re also opting to use the same channels when interacting with businesses too.

This article will look at one of the most popular channels, live chat, and answer your questions including:

  • What is live chat?
  • How does live chat work?
  • What are the benefits of live chat?
  • Creating a new experience with live chat

What is live chat?

Live chat definition: Live chat refers to where website visitors are able to communicate with a company representative in real time, directly from the browser. Similar to instant messaging apps (such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp), the visitor can use an on-site chat window to ask questions and get them answered via text.

This could be where a prospect talks with a sales rep, to learn more about a particular product, or where an existing customer chats with a customer service rep, to get support with their purchased service.

The live chat definition also covers more advanced versions, such as where the user can use voice and video chat, as well as screen sharing.

How does live chat work?

While live chat may look similar to the messaging apps to talk with people you already know, there are a few differences. For starters, live chat software is used by businesses looking for modern real-time communication channels to talk with their prospects and customers. As everything is handled on the website/app side — usually with a cloud-based setup — the visitor doesn’t need to install anything or sign up for any service to get started.

In most cases, website visitors will know online live chat is enabled by seeing a chat logo in the bottom right corner, like this.

live chat software
Live chat widget on the website

The chat window may also open or otherwise alert the visitor that live chat is available.

Visitors are then usually greeted, either by a human representative or a chatbot (with the possibility of being transferred to a real human after answering a couple of questions). Where website live chat services use AI chatbots, these are a great way to handle the initial contact and gather some initial data. This enables the bot to route the visitor through to the right department and give the rep the information they need to offer the most effective help.

What are the benefits of live chat?

The biggest advantage of customer care live chat for websites is the speed with which you can answer customer questions in a way that’s convenient to them.

In today’s fast-paced world of today, nobody wants to wait for an email reply or be stuck on the hold waiting for someone to pick up the phone, just to get a simple question answered. With live chat though, a website visitor can have a conversation with a rep in real time and get the answers they need immediately.

With the right setup, online live chat also allows customer service agents to be more productive. While you can only answer one email or talk with one customer over the phone at a time, with customer service live chat and sufficient resources, a rep can help multiple customers at the same time. In addition, advanced website live chat services also give the rep additional customer data, such as where they’re calling from, what page they’re looking at on the website, previous support tickets, and more.

Live chat is incredibly versatile too, helping businesses of all sizes to drive a variety of different results. Want to increase sales? Your sales team can use live chat software to proactively initiate conversations with prospects browsing product pages and showing intent to buy. Want to improve your customer retention? Customer care live chat allows you to reach out to existing users who are spending time on your support pages or who otherwise appear to be in danger of churning.

Creating a new experience with live chat

Live chat isn’t just about another communication channel to add to your omnichannel strategy. When used with a service like SnapCall, you’re able to upgrade live chat to include voice calls, video calls and screen sharing, depending on what would suit the visitor best. This allows you to improve the customer experience, ensuring that their needs are met in the most effective way possible. That’s what Valley Driving School found when they started using customer service live chat:

“Our customers are asking for the ability to chat, swap to a call and then sometimes even swap back to chat again, so allowing them to do that in the most convenient way is perfect. Because for us, it’s all about what the customer wants, how they want to connect and that’s how we need to be available to them.” Melissa Hannam, Director of Marketing, Valley Driving School

live chat to call, click to call inside live chat
Video call, powered by SnapCall, happening inside the live chat conversation

SnapCall integrates with several of the leading live chat for website providers, including LiveChat, Intercom and Zendesk. Each of these integrations are easy to set up with one-click installation and give your team full control over who is able to switch to a voice or video call right inside the chat window.

By allowing customers to choose how they engage with you and making it as convenient for them as possible, customer satisfaction increases. Rather than having to search to find the right phone number or worrying about international call rates, they can get their questions answered in minutes, leaving them to get on with the rest of their day.

Conclusion

As the way people talk with their friends and family has changed, so has the way they prefer to communicate with businesses. Live chat allows website visitors to reach out to companies and talk with them in a way that’s fast and convenient. At the same time, your reps can be more productive and resolve issues faster than ever, making live chat a win-win for you and your customers.

Level up your live chat with SnapCall. By integrating with leading customer service platforms, SnapCall makes it easy to talk directly with your customers with voice/video calls and screen sharing, all from the chat window. Book a demo and start your free 14-day trial today.