Live chat vs phone support: differences and similarities

Live chat vs phone support: differences and similarities

TL: DR

  • Live chat and phone support are two different customer support channels that businesses can use to assist customers.
  • While live chat provides the benefits of speed and convenience, phone support allows for more personal connections and deeper interactions.
  • Companies should consider their individual needs when deciding which customer support channel is best for their business. For example, live chat is ideal for answering short, straightforward questions, while phone support is best for more complex customer issues.

Today, most businesses have a multi-channel approach to customer support, allowing customers different ways to reach out and engage with their support team.

However, even with multi-channel support, businesses will still need to choose which channels they'd like to use, which channels will be the primary point of contact for customers, and how to allocate resources most effectively between each of those support channels.

For example, some companies might offer live cobrowsing support only for priority or enterprise customers and not everyone else.

Two of the most popular ways to provide customer support are live chat and phone support. Live chat is a live messaging service, while phone support provides customers with the ability to speak to a live representative over the telephone.

Both live chat and phone support have their own advantages and disadvantages, which must be taken into account when deciding which type of customer support will work best for your business. 

In this article, we'll discuss the differences between live chat vs. phone support and explore live chat vs. phone support statistics to help you decide which channel is best for your business.

Pros of live chat

Did you know that 9% of companies worldwide use live chat for customer support? Live chat offers customers a convenient way to get help in real-time without needing to call or send an email. Here are a few of the pros of using live chat in your business:

Works for both sync and async support

One of the main advantages of live chat is that it works both synchronously and asynchronously. This means that customers can still receive an answer to their questions if the live chat representative isn't available at that time.

Ability to attach screenshots and share links

Another benefit of live chat is that customers can easily attach screenshots, links, or other relevant files when chatting with an agent. This makes it easier to troubleshoot customer issues and provide more detailed answers.

Helps direct customers to the right support staff

Live chat also helps customers find the right support team quickly and effectively. Agents can route conversations to the most relevant department or specialist, which makes it easier for customers to get the help they need without having to wait in line or explain their issue multiple times.

Helps reduce customer wait times

Live chat can help reduce customer wait times. Instead of having to wait on hold, live chat customers can get their questions answered in real-time through automation and then be passed on to a live representative if necessary.

Cons of live chat

Although live chat offers many advantages, it also has some drawbacks, including:

Not always a smooth experience for mobile devices

Unfortunately, live chat doesn't always offer a smooth experience on mobile devices due to the smaller screen size. This can make it difficult for customers to use live chat while they're on the go.

Must manage expectations on response times

It's also important to manage customer expectations when it comes to live chat response times. This is especially true if you're using live chat automation, which can lead to delays in responding to customers.

Customers may disappear instead of getting the help they need

Lastly, live chat can be problematic in certain cases if the customer doesn't get the help they need. Customers may become frustrated and simply disappear instead of waiting for an agent to respond or even follow up with them later.

Pros of phone support

Phone support is still one of the most popular customer support channels, with 76% of customers preferring this method of communication. It offers customers an immediate connection to live support staff, which makes it a great option for certain types of customer issues or queries. Here are some of the pros and cons of using phone support:

Easy to use — all customers need is a telephone

Phone support is one of the easiest customer support channels to use, as all customers need is a telephone. This makes it convenient for customers to contact your business without having to go online or log into an app.

Allows for live conversation with customers

Phone support also allows live conversations with customers, which can be helpful for more complex issues or questions that require a human touch. This type of support provides the opportunity for live agents to build relationships with customers and provide more personalized service.

Feels more personal to customers

Phone support also feels more personal to customers than live chat or even email support. It allows customers to talk directly with an agent and receive a live response, which can make them feel more confident in the service they're receiving.

Easier to troubleshoot technical issues

Lastly, phone support can also be useful for troubleshooting technical issues. Having live conversations with customers allows agents to ask more detailed questions and get a better understanding of the issue before providing a solution. Even better, you can augment phone support with cobrowsing, the way this company did, for even better results!

Cons of phone support

While phone support has many advantages, it also has some drawbacks that are worth noting. These include:

Multi-language support might be trickier

Phone support can be tricky in terms of providing multi-language support. If you need to provide live assistance in multiple languages, live chat can be a more efficient option as it allows for text translation.

Harder to manage a queue

Phone support can also be more difficult to manage in terms of handling a queue of customers. It's harder for live agents to keep track of who's waiting on the phone, and there are fewer options for automating the process.

Might require additional resources

Phone support can require additional resources in terms of live agents and equipment. This can be costly for businesses that are just starting out or don't have the budget to hire additional staff.

Can lead to long wait times

Finally, phone support can lead to longer wait times for customers. This can be especially true during peak hours, when live agents may not be able to keep up with the volume of calls.

How are the two channels similar?

There are some similarities when it comes to phone and chat support. For example, both live chat and phone support are designed to provide customers with fast response times. 

Additionally, both live chat and phone support make it easy to route customers to the right department via automation.

Lastly, live chat and phone support both provide a simple way to connect with customers, allowing businesses to answer questions quickly and efficiently, even if they're not physically present in the store.

How to choose the right solution for your business?

Depending on your business, live chat or phone support may be the best option for better customer service.

When it comes to choosing the right solution for your business, it's essential to consider a few key factors, including:

  • Decide if you need an agent-assisted or self-service solution. Agent-assisted solutions provide a high level of customer service and take on more complex inquiries, while self-service offers customers the opportunity to quickly get answers to basic questions without help from an agent.
  • Consider whether you're looking for a more direct phone line or an asynchronous communication style like chat. While live chat has its advantages, it's often better to use a live phone line when dealing with complex customer issues.
  • When making your decision, it's also wise to look at whether the tool has seamless integrations with other software or tools that you use, such as a CRM. This can help you streamline customer service operations and create a better overall experience for customers.
  • Finally, it's essential to measure customer satisfaction levels with existing support channels before selecting a new one. Choosing wisely will ensure that your customers feel heard and understood so you can engage them positively as they move through their journey. 

Conclusion

When it comes to live chat vs. phone support, it's important to consider the pros and cons of each option before making your decision. While live chat provides an immediate connection with customers, phone support offers a more personal experience for complex customer issues.

Whether you choose live chat or phone support, ensure you measure customer satisfaction levels and that your tool of choice integrates seamlessly with any other software or tools you use. Doing so will ensure that your customers get the support they need quickly and efficiently, creating a better overall experience for them.

Author

Shifa Rahaman

Content Marketing Manager

Contributor