In the rapidly evolving world of support technology, definitions can seem like moving targets. Take, for example, in-app chat support versus live chat. They’re the same, right?
While customers can use both of these tools to reach their favorite brands on a mobile device, the actual mechanisms and the user behavior they drive are very different.
With live chat, users are redirected to a brand’s website, where they enter a session-based browser window. Live chat was originally designed for a larger screen, so although it’s often now available on mobile, it’s not necessarily mobile-native. In-app chat support, aka in-app messaging, on the other hand, was designed to be accessed right from within a mobile app, so the experience is intuitive and convenient for users.
In the past year, there’s been a 25 percent rise in the proportion of consumers for whom chat-based messaging is the preferred method of contacting customer support.— Helpshift’s Report: State of Customer Service Automation 2019
Why is this important? Because mobile phones have become the universal remotes to our lives. In the U.S., the average smartphone owner spends 3 hours and 10 minutes a day on their device — and 90 percent of smartphone use is spent in apps. We use mobile devices for everything from communicating to consuming content to buying (and selling!) things. These devices now enable an on-demand world where we expect to be able to accomplish anything at any moment — and that includes reaching out to a brand.
It’s essential that support be mobile-driven in order to cater to today’s customers, and understanding the difference between in-app chat support and live chat is the means to mobile support success. Here are five reasons why in-app chat support wins over live chat every time.
1. Customers don’t get stuck waiting on hold with In-app chat support
The great myth of live chat is that it is always live. In reality, customers often have to wait in a queue for their turn and support agents are juggling multiple customers at once — so even when a customer’s turn comes up, the conversation is often stalled along the way.
96 percent of consumers say it’s important to be able to return to and pick up a customer support conversation where it left off.— Helpshift’s Report: State of Customer Service Automation 2019
This is not to say that asynchronous communication — when the two parties reply on their own time — is always bad. On the contrary, consumers used to communicating over SMS, iMessage or WhatsApp almost always prefer it. But for asynchronous communication to be a good experience, it must be a transparent one.
With in-app chat support, users send a message and can then exit the thread. They’re notified with a push notification when there’s a response. They can stay within the app (or not) and go about whatever they were doing, without ever having to wait in a queue or on hold.
But in addition to that, incorporating Bots into in-app chat support means that customers can receive a response instantly, and in many cases the chatbot can surface knowledge articles or self serve tools so that the customer never has to wait on hold or speak to an agent at all.
2. Conversations don’t just disappear
With in-app chat support, a user’s entire conversation about an issue is self-contained in one single thread. Sometimes, previous conversations about previous issues will lie within that thread as well. Multiple support agents can access the thread and easily catch up on what they’ve missed. From the customer’s point of view, never having to repeat information or feel the pain of being transferred to someone new and starting at the beginning is a major experiential shift.
With live chat, conversely, customers are forced to start all over again every time they open a new chat window. That’s frustrating enough when the conversation happens over consecutive days. But when the customer gets accidentally disconnected from chat in the moment — say, by closing the browser window — it can be highly aggravating to have to start all over again.
3. You can show and tell
Sometimes, there aren’t enough words in the world to explain a problem well. If they don’t have the language to describe the problem they’re having, the ability to take a quick screenshot and upload a picture can be priceless for customers. This is easy with in-app chat support, but live chat often doesn’t have this functionality. And even if live chat does support image attachment, that picture might be lost if the conversation is interrupted or has to continue later.
4. Agents know who customers are right away
Live chats are launched from a web browser. This means that unless a login is required to start a chat (not typically the case), the support agent has no context for who the user is, and must start every conversation with a series of logistical questions.
With in-app chat support, on the other hand, the SDK can automatically collect information about the user and device, as well as specific usage of the app. Agents have instant access to the user’s history and can prioritize accordingly. This segmentation and applicable responses can be automated as well.
5. They feel like they’re talking to a friend
It’s critical that support feels as seamless and conversational as possible in order to optimize the overall user experience. The best way to achieve this is to give your users a support product that they already know and love.
Messaging is a familiar support medium for people: WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have nearly 3 billion users between them, with WhatsApp users sending over 65 billion messages per day. (source)
iMessage, WhatsApp, and WeChat are some of the most popular communication tools today, and customers are already accustomed to talking with their friends and family on these platforms. The more closely a customer support platform can hew to the messaging paradigm, the more intuitive and familiar it feels for customers.
6. In-App chat support can move the needle on your ratings
Possibly the biggest reason to use in-app chat support over live chat? Because the former enables you to ask for feedback in the moment. Getting immediate feedback at scale can help your team drive future product iterations and align your design more closely with your customer needs. And asking customers to rate your product once you’ve successfully resolved their issue leads to higher ratings.
For some brands, offering both live chat and in-app chat support makes sense. But if you have to choose where to portion your resources, in-app messaging gives a lot more bang for the buck.
To read more about specific use cases where in-app chat support is superior to live chat, read 3 Routine Live Chat Examples Made Better Through Messaging.
Want to learn more?
- Additional Solution Information: Helpshift for Mobile Support
- Blog Post: 10 Reasons In-App Messaging Should Be Your Primary Support Channel