Live Chat not so Live, Study Finds  

More than 1 in 5 live chat requests go unanswered

Author: Monica Melton

May 17, 2017

More than one in five live chat requests to retailers go totally unanswered, according to a new study. And even when responses come through, they often happen slowly.

SuperOffice, a provider of CRM software, made live-chat requests on 1,000 web sites in the US, the UK, Germany, and the Nordic countries. In 21% of the cases, they received no response with 30 minutes.

Further testing the meaning of the word “live” in “live chat,” the study found that the average wait time for requests was 2 minutes and 40 seconds. The longest wait time recorded was 9 minutes. All the chat requests were made within posted support hours, Superoffice said.

“Live chat is failing to meet the basic needs of good customer service,” Superoffice concluded.

Failure to respond to any inquiry is clearly a poor customer experience, but the shortfall is even more glaring given consumers’ increasing reliance on live chat. A September 2016 survey by customer engagement company [24]7 found that 29% of US consumers preferred to interact with digital retailers via online chat or messaging app while making a purchase, about the same as the percentage who said they preferred phone or email. And perhaps not surprisingly, millennials were even more inclined to use live chat or messaging apps.

(Interestingly, though, when it comes to resolving issues after a purchase, US consumers were much more likely to prefer phone or mail to chat, the [24]7 study found.)

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Meanwhile, many companies have not even mounted efforts to offer live chat service. IBM’s 2017 edition of its customer experience index study found that 61% of retail and consumer products brands don’t offer online chat at all.

Those that do offer live chat are falling short of the mark, the SuperOffice study found. It said that 23% of websites do not ask for contact information before a chat begins. This not only takes away from the personalized customer service experience consumers have come to expect, it also bypasses an opportunity to collect valuable data for CRM databases and future personalized outreach.

SuperOffice also found that 55% of websites did not offer a copy of the chat transcript, and 45% failed to ask for feedback after the chat ended.