Michiel Gaasterland
Michiel Gaasterland
Chief Brand Officer
Mar 25, 2020

Trend #5: Learn how to love Live Chat

5 Live chat mail img

This is the fifth post in our series of Seven Customer Service Insights for 2020 and Beyond

Generation Z and Millennials now make up the most populous segment of all consumers, online and off. [Forrester] When it comes to channels, they love Live chat and hate bots. Unfortunately, most brands hate Live chat and love bots.

To stay competitive, brands need to update their customer service channel strategy for 2020 and beyond — and find the proper place for Live chat. Our four thinking points will get you heading in the right direction.

#1 Live Chat is the preferred channel of today’s consumers

After more than four years of 10% YoY growth over the last decade, Live chat is now the preferred customer service and brand communication channel of the majority of customers. [Forrester] Service leaders believe that customer Live chats grew by an incredible 87% in 2017 and 2018. [Customer Think]

On average in 2018, almost 52% of all chat queries (that is over 23 million chats) were sent from a mobile device. That is a 7.9% increase from 2017. Mobile chat is growing, and shows no signs of slowing down.

Brands are also getting Live chat right more and more. Live chat now has the highest consumer satisfaction rate of all channels — anywhere from 83% [LiveChat] to 92% [Zendesk], depending on which stats you prefer.

So, Live chat is working.

It is set to only get bigger.

It will become increasingly done on mobile — and will no doubt remain the channel of choice for 2020 into the foreseeable future.

What happened to bots? Weren’t they supposed to be the saviour of customer service for brands? Well, it’s funny you should ask…

#2 The backlash on bots is driving preference for Live chat 

While brands and businesses experimented with all sorts of virtual assistants and bots from around 2015 on, the consensus in 2020 from a customer perspective is that bots are basically a fail.

Reversing earlier trends that saw customers eager to use bots, only 30% now believe that chatbots and virtual assistants make it easier to address customer service issues; a stunning 86% of customers now prefer to interact with a human rep rather than a chatbot; and 71% are less likely to use a brand if it does not have human customer service reps there to help. [CGS Survey]

And as we already know, Live chat is the preferred channel for that human customer service. But just because Live chat is the preferred channel for customer service does not mean that Live chat is what customers want most of all.

#3 Customers would rather help themselves

Brands and businesses often struggle conceptually with Live chat. They think it will ‘open the floodgates’ for unwanted service conversations. But this is only the case when the rest of your customer service strategy is not in good order.

Remember: a massive 81% of all customers would rather help themselves than reach out to a rep. So why would you not help them help themselves? This basically means you need to:

  1. Get your self-service strategy in order via a well-designed knowledge-base or other;
  2. Get your chatbot strategy right by using AI sparingly and use rule-based bots for simple, repetitive questions; and
  3. Continually analyse your self-service interactions to optimise self-service content.

Then, with the right conversation management tool, there will be no ‘floodgates’ to be opened.

The bulk of the questions left will be those that are either too complicated to be answered by tech alone, or high-commercial value questions as asked by relational shoppers — those representing a smaller share of your overall traffic but a larger share of sales, higher closing ratios and higher average sales.

This brings us to our last thinking point.

#4 Live chat offers benefits on every level

79% of businesses say offering live chat has had a positive effect on sales, revenue, and customer loyalty [Kayako]. While it varies per industry, the figures include ‘chatters’ being 82% more likely to convert to customers [Intercom]; they are worth up to five times more than non-chatters [Lcmi]; and live chat can improve conversion rates by up to 45%.

Our own experience is that on average companies usually convert between 20% and 50% of their live chats into a sale. Either way, there’s plenty of stats to help you build an internal business case for the commercial benefits of Live chat — which is what we suggest you do.

There are operational benefits as well.

While most brands prefer phone or email as their main channels, reps can only handle one interaction at a time in those channels. With Live chat, especially when connected well with chatbots, reps can handle up to nine chats per hour by employing a good mix of pre-scripted and personalised responses.

Finally, as Michiel, our brand chief, is fond of saying, “Service conversations are critical touch-points to the entire customer experience”. Manage them well, and you will have a stronger grip on the customer experience itself.


The takeaway Learn to love Live Chat. Get self-service in order. Automate only simple, repetitive questions. Build the internal business case for Live chat around customer, commercial and operational benefits. Pilot and measure!

Seven Customer Service Insights for 2020 and Beyond

Introducing Seven Customer Service Insights for 2020 & Beyond

#1 Customer Service Just Changed Forever

#2 Measure What Customers Value

#3 Fix Customer Self-service

#4 Get Chatbots Right!

#5 Learn How to Love Live Chat

#6 Prepare for Hyper-personalisation

#7 Adapt to Conversational Commerce

Live chat


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