Live Chat Statistics: 22 Facts Every Sales Pro Should Know
Last Updated: November 11, 2020
From rising consumer preferences and expectations to increased sales, learn more about the facts and stats surrounding live chat customer support.
When it comes to the sales industry, live chat is quickly emerging as one of the most important and effective components of any customer service strategy. Whether you’re an eCommerce seller, brick-and-mortar shop owner or any other type of retailer, offering this kind of support to your shoppers can improve every company metric — from sales to customer retention.
Why? Anyone who works in sales or retail knows that great customer service is the key to growth and profitability. However, simply providing friendly and knowledgeable support isn’t enough to keep up in today’s ever-changing marketplace. Contemporary shoppers want answers to their questions now, and they want immediate access to agents who can help them.
In order to learn more about how this customer support method can transform your business, let’s take a deeper look at recent live chat statistics and the 22 major insights we can glean from them.
1. Live Chat Is Growing Fast
The world’s first known live chat system — charmingly named “Talkomatic” — was actually developed all the way back in 1973 by the University of Illinois. But of course, it has only been in fairly recent years that a need for widespread chat capabilities has emerged, due to the rise of eCommerce and online shopping.
And as the need for live chat increases, so does the usage. According to Forrester, adoption rates rose from 38% in 2009 to 58% in 2014. By 2015, a Forbes report showed that 54% of retailers were offering live chat features on their websites.
And as of 2020, these numbers are continuing to grow exponentially. Many studies predict that live chat usage will increase by more than 85% over the next 12 to 18 months, while estimating that certain industries could see a dramatic 150% jump in this area.
Finally, as live chat grows, utilization of other customer support verticals is dropping. A 2018 Business Insider study found that customer service interactions via “legacy channels” like phone and email had recently fallen by 7%.
2. Customers Prefer Live Chat
It’s no big surprise that customers prefer live chat. After all, it enables shoppers to receive quick answers to questions, get resolutions to problems or find help making purchasing decisions in real-time.
The J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Chat and Email Benchmark Study concluded that 42% of consumers reported a preference for live chat over any other means of customer service. Just 23% of those same respondents cited email as their contact method of choice, while 16% favored social media or other forums.
3. Customers Expect Live Chat
Not only do shoppers prefer having access to live chat, they also expect it. Research from a wide variety of outlets suggests that anywhere from 40% to more than half of today’s shoppers believe sellers should offer the live contact method on their websites.
4. Live Chat Leads to Higher Customer Satisfaction Rates
Want to improve customer satisfaction? Live chat is a quick way to do just that. In 2013, a study from eConsultancy showed that it had the highest satisfaction rate of any customer service channel at 73%. Email and phone trailed behind at 61% and 44%, respectively.
And even more recent findings showcase that this number is continuing to grow. The newest data from Zendesk shows a 92% customer satisfaction rate for live chat, while LiveChat’s 2019 Customer Service Report shows that number at 82% and Comm100 research puts it at 83%.
Finally, if you compare the 2019 to 2020 data from Statistica on global customer satisfaction rates with the customer support method against the findings from the American Customer Satisfaction Index, you will see that live chat satisfaction rates are higher throughout every industry.
5. Live Chat Encourages Repeat Purchases
In addition to keeping customers happy, research shows that offering live chat can also help you encourage shoppers to return to your store.
For example, a Harvard Business Review study entitled, “The Value of Keeping Customers Happy,” stated that live chat can improve customer retention rates by 5% while increasing profits by as much as 25% to 95%.
Another recent report from Kayako found that 51% of customers say they are more likely to buy again from companies that offer live chat support.
6. Live Chat Can Result in Higher Sales
Not only can live chat lead to repeat business, it may also help you achieve higher sales.
In fact, the aforementioned Kayako study shows that 79% of company owners said live chat has had a positive impact on sales, revenue and customer loyalty. Meanwhile, a survey conducted by Bold Software and shared by eMarketer concluded that 40% of buyers who utilize live chat report being more likely to make online purchases (compared to 22% of respondents who have never used live chat).
Another study by Forrester found that 44% of online consumers cite having their questions answered by a person in real-time while in the middle of an online purchase as one of the most important features any seller can offer. And finally, 38% of customers who responded to a Kissmetrics survey said they had made purchases thanks to a chat session itself.
7. Live Chat = Better ROI
As you improve your company’s sales through offering live chat, you should also see a major boost in return on investment (ROI).
According to several statistics published by Informa (collected from several studies and surveys conducted by entities such as Forrester and Aberdeen Group), live chat leads to a 48% increase in revenue per chat hour and a 40% increase in conversion rate.
Furthermore, businesses with live chat who responded to the Aberdeen study reported the following annual improvements as a benefit: 2.4x increase in cross-sell and up-sell revenue, 9.3x greater agent utilization rate and 2.6x reduction in customer care costs.
8. Customers Want Answers Fast
When offering live chat support, speed is the name of the game. The entire point of this customer service method is to answer questions immediately, in real-time.
So the data on live chat speed expectations comes as no surprise. Hubspot research states that around 60% of consumers actually expect answers to questions within 10 minutes. The report goes on to explain that a majority of respondents rated an “immediate response” at every stage of the customer lifecycle as “important” or “very important” — 82% when asking a marketing or sales-related question, and 90% when it came to customer support issues.
9. Resolution Times Are Getting Shorter
In light of customers’ expectations with regard to speedy responses, live chat is enabling companies to reply more quickly than ever before.
NiceReply reports that, on average, businesses that offer live chat are providing initial responses to inquiries in no more than 42 seconds. Similarly, Comm100’s 2020 Live Chat Benchmark Report found the average wait time between customer request submission and first agent response to be 46 seconds.
However, Comm100 research also showed that longer wait times didn’t always lead to less satisfied customers. We’ll have more on that subject in the next section.
10. More Conversation Can Lead to Happier Shoppers
When you’re offering live chat, speed isn’t the only factor that matters to customers. Yes, they want immediate answers to questions. But shoppers also prefer dealing with chat agents who can address their inquiries and issues knowledgeably and in a friendly manner.
The previously discussed Comm100 study found that many of the companies with higher wait times also had higher customer satisfaction rates. Why? Because their chat support teams were taking the time to understand the questions being asked before responding.
The exact numbers are as follows:
Companies with satisfaction ratings above 90% had an average chat duration of 11 minutes and 47 seconds. Those with lower scores had an average chat duration of 8 minutes and 42 seconds.
11. Companies Use Live Chat to Improve Several Metrics
The main benefit of offering live chat is that sellers are able to interact with customers in real-time. As evidenced, this can help you improve sales, satisfaction, retention and a myriad of other company metrics.
And it seems a large number of businesses are getting in on the trend. According to a recent survey by Zoho, a whopping 87% of companies who responded said they adopted live chat to connect with web visitors in real-time.
The same survey found that 78% of respondents utilize live chat to increase sales, while 63% use it for customer support. On top of that, 43% of companies surveyed said they felt like they gained a better understanding of their customers within one year of implementing live chat features.
12. Most Interactions Occur During Business Hours
Since the primary reason for providing customer service via live chat is to connect with shoppers in real-time, it stands to reason that the majority of these interactions take place around general business hours.
The statistics from Zendesk show that live chat reps most often chat with customers between 7am and 7pm, with peak hours being from 11am to 3pm. The same report found satisfaction rates to be the highest resulting from interactions between 2pm and 5pm, while the quickest first response times occurred between 7am and 12pm.
All of this tells us that agents tend to respond faster during the morning hours, but perhaps provide more effective service in the afternoon. Those trends may be popping up for a number of reasons, some likely ones being: representatives have had more time to “get into the groove” of their workday and employees may be happier after lunch and therefore more friendly and attentive.
13. Many Companies Misunderstand Consumer Preferences
As is often the case with emerging technology, some businesses have been slow to catch on to the new trends. That explains Kayako’s findings that 42% of companies believe that customers prefer phone support to any other means of service (while we know from the aforementioned Forrester research that the majority of customers actually prefer live chat).
The same Forrester research also states that 53% of online adults won’t complete a purchase on a website if they can’t find answers to their questions right away. Meanwhile, a study by Inc.com concluded that 42% of consumers prefer live chat because they don’t want to wait on hold.
14. Customers Want Businesses to Value Their Time
In addition to wanting quick answers to questions, customers also want businesses to value their time.
In fact, Forrester’s research shows that a whopping 73% of consumers said valuing their time is the most important thing companies can do to provide them with good customer service. Live chat is essential in this area, as it’s a great way to show shoppers you care about their time by providing instant access to live support agents.
15. Lack of Live Chat May Result in Abandoned Carts
Here’s a statistic that showcases how the lack of live chat availability can negatively affect your company’s success.
According to the Forrester research, 53% of customers reported being more likely to abandon their online purchase if they are unable to quickly find answers to their questions.
While this data also supports the idea that you should include help documentation and answers to FAQs on your website, not all shoppers will take the time to read through that content. Offering access to live chat support is a great way to ensure issues are resolved on the spot and buyers stay with your site all the way through to checkout.
16. It’s Not Only Young Customers Who Prefer Live Chat
It’s a common misconception that newer support options such as live chat are preferred primarily by younger shoppers. However, research suggests that customers in several age groups will utilize this contact method when given access to it.
A survey released by Software Advice showed that, while shoppers between the ages of 18 and 34 are the most likely to have used live chat “many times,” a significant 32.9% of customers aged 35 to 54 said they had used it for support “a few times.” Additionally, 22.3% of respondents who were over the age of 55 reported the same.
17. Easy Access to Live Chat Is Important
If you’re going to offer live chat as a means of customer service, it’s important that you make it as accessible as possible. After all, many of today’s shoppers complete a significant portion of their purchases via smartphones.
The previously mentioned statistics published by Informa state that 62% of customers expect live chat to be available on mobile devices. What’s more, a vast majority of respondents, 82%, said if the option was available on mobile devices, they would use it.
18. You Can Automate Your Customer Service with Chatbots
Chatbots are a great way to automate parts of the live support process. A chatbot is an AI-powered computer program or software that’s designed to simulate human conversation. They can be used to conduct an on-line conversation via text or text-to-speech, in lieu of providing direct contact with a live human agent.
While we don’t recommend using only chatbots to provide live chat support, they can be very helpful during after-hours times, holidays, weekends or any other time your team isn’t available. You can also use them to pop-up and offer shoppers assistance or product suggestions prior to an agent joining the interaction — or plug auto-responder content into them to answer FAQs.
According to several studies and surveys, shoppers and companies alike are enjoying the benefits of this innovative tool. Ubisend’s 2017 Chatbot Report showed that 21% of customers view chatbots as the easiest way to contact a business. The same study concluded that 1 in 5 shoppers would consider buying goods and / or services from a chatbot.
All of these numbers seem to be trending upward, as well. In 2018, Chatbots Magazine published a survey in which 67% of millennials said they were likely to purchase from brands using chatbots.
Meanwhile, Business Insider recently released findings that showed 67% of consumers worldwide report having used a chatbot for customer support. And at the same time, an Accenture report states that 57% of businesses agree chatbots deliver maximum ROI with minimal effort.
Finally, Juniper Research estimates that business will save a combined 2.5 billion hours by the year 2023 through the use of chatbots. IBM echoes this statement, saying chatbots can help businesses save on customer service costs by answering up to 80% of “routine questions.”
19. Shoppers Prefer Human Agents to AI Technology
While chatbots are obviously a useful tool for answering questions when your team isn’t in the office, it is still important to provide live assistance from human beings whenever possible.
A study released by Forbes entitled, “It’s Alive: Why Live Chat Is So Important for Brands,” showed that 50% of consumers say that having a live person answers questions in the middle of a purchasing decision is one of the most important features a brand can offer.
So, again, using chatbots can be a great way to tend to customers during after-hours or while waiting for an agent to join the interaction. But you also need to implement a sound strategy for providing actual customer care via human representatives.
20. Quality Still Trumps Speed
Although previous statistics have showcased the importance of speed, the quality of support is still the most important factor to customers.
In fact, the aforementioned Kayako study showed that a massive 95% of consumers report valuing thorough, top-notch support more than speed. The same percentage also said they would prefer slower support if it meant the quality of help was higher.
21. Customer Satisfaction Rates Have Dropped Recently
Unfortunately, a few statistics show a slight drop in customer satisfaction rates over recent years when it comes to live chat.
According to LiveChat reports over the years, 86.35% of customers reported being satisfied with the service they received via live chat in 2016. By 2017, that number had reduced 83.54, and in 2019 it was 82%.
On the flipside, the Comm100 study showed that customer satisfaction had actually seen a 2.4 point increase from 2017 to 2018. But both sources confirmed that today’s live chat users have higher expectations than they did a few years ago.
While customer satisfaction is still very high in general amongst live chat users, there is obviously still room for improvement. Based on SuperOffice’s analysis of 1,000 websites, a little over 20% of live chat requests never received a response from an operator. That means the method is growing more and more popular, but many businesses have not yet learned how to best use it.
If you’re going to offer live chat, it is crucial to engage with customers and address each and every inquiry. More on that in the next section…
22. Customer Engagement Is Vital
When offering live chat or any other type of support, customer engagement is vital. We covered a vast array of customer service facts and stats in another recent guide, however, here’s some data on the subject.
Forrester released research in 2018 showing that 69% of adult U.S. consumers shop more with retailers that offer consistent customer service both on and offline. Marketing Insider Group also put out a survey stating that 80% of U.S. customers report being willing to pay more for a product or service if it would ensure a superior customer service experience.
And on the topic of live chat, eMarketer’s report concluded that 63% of shoppers said they were more likely to return to a website that offers live chat as opposed to one that doesn’t. At the same time, 40% of people surveyed by American Express said they wanted customer service reps to take care of their needs faster, and 49% of New Voice Media survey respondents reported having switched companies in the previous year due to poor service.
Replyco Can Help You Crush Your Communication Goals
As is evidenced by all of the data contained in this guide, both speed and attentive customer care are critical to the success of your business. Thankfully, Replyco can help.
From a live chat widget that can be used on any sales website to centralized messaging for all your selling channels, we’ve got everything you need to up-level your customer service. So if you’re ready to crush your communication goals, delight shoppers and boost ROI, start your free trial today!