Live Chat vs. Email Support: Which is Best for Your Website?
Excellent communication is an important aspect of any business’ growth and marketing strategy. A lack of proper communication can negatively impact a brand’s reputation and perception. In fact, 80% of customers in the United States would pay more for a product or service if it meant getting a better customer experience.
As a website owner, this should be a wake-up call for you, if you haven’t already invested in customer engagement. Providing excellent customer support is essential to keeping your customers happy and retaining them.
However, choosing the right communication channel is crucial to ensure timely and efficient support delivery.
There are a lot of communication channels available in our technologically-driven world today, but two of the most popular communication channels for businesses are live chat and email support. You might wonder, which option is better? Live chat for website or email support?
In this article, we’ll compare and contrast the benefits and drawbacks of both communication channels to help you decide which one is best for your website’s success.
Live Chat Support
Live chat support is a real-time communication channel that enables customers to interact with a support agent via a chat window on your website. Adding live chat on your website allows you to offer instant responses to customer queries and is known to improve customer satisfaction. This is especially true for the e-commerce and retail industries which have the fastest live chat usage so far.
Benefits of Live Chat Support
- Instant Responses: Live chat enables customers to receive instant responses to their queries, which can improve their overall experience. It’s a great tool for facilitating conversational marketing.
- Personalization: Live chat agents can address customers by name and use the context of the conversation to provide personalized solutions. Chat data can also be used to make personalised recommendations to customers.
- Convenience: Live chat can be accessed from any device with an internet connection, which makes it convenient for customers to seek help.
- Efficiency: Live chat agents can handle multiple conversations simultaneously, which makes it more efficient than other communication channels.
- Record Keeping: Live chat transcripts can be saved and used for future reference, which can help in resolving similar queries in the future.
- Cost-Effective: Live chat requires fewer resources than other communication channels, which can make it a cost-effective solution for customer communication.
Drawbacks of Live Chat Support
While live chat support software can be beneficial for customer communication, there are also several drawbacks to consider. Some of these include:
- Availability: Live chat support requires agents to be available in real-time to respond to customer queries. This can be challenging, especially during peak hours, and may require additional resources to ensure that customers are not left waiting.
- Training: Typically, live chat support software requires agents to be proficient in written communication and multitasking. They must be able to respond quickly to queries while handling multiple conversations simultaneously, which can be challenging for some agents especially when they have slow writing speed.
- Complexity: Some customer queries may be complex and require detailed explanations or troubleshooting. Live chat support may not be the best channel for these types of queries, as agents may not have the time or space to provide in-depth solutions.
- Technical issues: Live chat support relies on technology to function, and technical issues can occur. These issues can interrupt conversations and lead to frustration for both customers and agents.
- Miscommunication: Live chat support relies on written communication, which can lead to miscommunication or misunderstandings. Tone, context, and intent can be lost in written communication, leading to customer dissatisfaction.
Email support is an asynchronous communication channel that allows customers to send queries to a support team via email. It’s a popular support channel because it’s easy to use and accessible to customers. However, it has its own limitations.
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Benefits of Email Support
- Accessibility: Email support enables customers to reach out to businesses at any time, from anywhere in the world. Customers can send emails outside of business hours and receive a response when the support team is available.
- Detailed information: Email support allows customers to provide detailed information about their query, which enables support agents to provide accurate and relevant solutions. Customers can attach files or screenshots to provide more context for their query.
- Efficiency: Similar to live chat support software, email support enables support agents to handle multiple queries simultaneously, which makes it a more efficient communication channel than phone support. Support agents can prioritize urgent queries and respond to non-urgent queries when they have time.
- Record keeping: Email support provides a record of all customer queries and responses, which can be useful for future reference. Support agents can refer to past conversations to provide better solutions to recurring issues.
- Less intrusive: Email support is less intrusive than phone support or live chat support, as customers can send emails at their own pace and wait for a response. This makes it a more comfortable communication channel for customers who may not want to engage in real-time conversations.
Limitations of Email Support
- Slow Response Time – Email support is an asynchronous communication channel, which means that customers have to wait for a response. Response times can take up to 24-48 hours or even longer, depending on the support team’s workload.
- Impersonal – Email support lacks the personal touch that live chat support provides. Support agents have to make an extra effort to personalize their responses to make the customer feel heard and valued.
- Miscommunication – Email support can result in miscommunication, especially when the customer doesn’t provide enough context or detail about their query.
- Complexity: Sometimes, customers may have complex queries that require back-and-forth communication, which can be challenging to handle through email support. It may take longer to provide an accurate solution, leading to longer wait times.
- Spam Filters: Emails can get caught in spam filters, and customers may not receive a response if they don’t check their spam folder.
Now that we’ve looked at the benefits and drawbacks of both live chat support and email support, let’s compare them based on several factors:
Live chat support offers an instant response, while email support takes longer to receive a response. This is evident by research by Hubspot, which shows that about 66% of customers expect businesses to provide an instant response to their queries.
However, some live chat support agents may take longer to respond during peak hours, which could lead to longer wait times. Email support response times can vary, but they are generally slower than live chat support.
Live chat support enables agents to handle multiple conversations simultaneously, which makes it more efficient than email support. On the other hand, email support agents can take their time to provide detailed responses to queries, which can lead to accurate solutions.
Live chat support offers instant responses and personalization, which makes customers feel heard and valued. Email support lacks the personal touch but enables customers to provide detailed information about their query. Both support channels can result in high customer satisfaction, depending on how well they are executed.
Live chat support offers personalization by addressing customers by name and using the context of the conversation to provide relevant solutions. Email support requires agents to make an extra effort to personalize their responses, which can result in a less personal experience for customers.
Which One is Best for Your Website?
The answer to this question depends on your website’s needs and your support team’s capabilities. To help you make the decision, let’s look at some statistics:
- By 2023, about 85% of businesses are expected to opt for live chat support.
- Live chat delivers 73% satisfaction, compared to 61% for email and 44% for phone support.
- Live chat engagement is higher (1.7%) on desktops than on mobiles (1.4%). Still, mobile chatters are 6.1 times more likely to convert compared to mobile non-chatters.
- Having a live chat service increases a company’s conversion rate by 3.87%
- Live chat can increase customer loyalty by 51%.
If you have a small support team and want to offer instant support, live chat support may be the best option for you. There are different live chat techniques to keep in mind so you can boost your customer satisfaction rate and indirectly grow your business – satisfied customers make great word-of-mouth marketers. You can also take advantage of the fast adoption of technology to offer customers a more personalized way of interacting with your business by trying out the free plans of live chat software to determine what suits you best.
On the other hand, if you have a larger support team and want to provide detailed solutions, email support may be a better option. You can also include live chat if your budget supports the provision for both of them. Studies show that the satisfaction rate for live chat is 85%, compared to 82% for email and 91% for phone support. This shows that you can get the best of both worlds and increase your conversion rates.
Live chat support and email support are both popular communication channels for customer support. Live chat support offers instant responses and personalization, while email support provides detailed information and accessibility. It’s essential to choose the support channel that best suits your website’s needs and your support team’s capabilities.
It’s also crucial to consider factors such as response time, efficiency, customer satisfaction, and personalization when choosing a support channel. In the end, you may also want to consider offering both live chat support and email support to give your customers more options.