An Argument for Web Chat?

So, why is there so much growing interest in web chat?

In the UK (where I live), over the last five years, web chat usage has been steadily growing but personally, I prefer to talk  as opposed to typing – must be an immediacy thing!

Web chat usage has gone from under 3% in 2007 to almost 10% in 2009, across several verticals. According to Datamonitor, the retail industry tends to regularly exhibit the strongest contact centre technology adoption rates across most areas1  

For some verticals, chat is seen as a stage before accessing a “live person”. For example, if you were on a particular car manufacturer’s website and hovered too long on a page, how would you respond to a chat window appearing? But if you were looking for medical information, for example, the chances are you’d be more likely to respond.

In the UK, Web Chat is no longer viewed to be a costly customer service channel: on the contrary, some agents can handle several conversations simultaneously in the time it can take to handle a single phone call. It continues to grow in popularity and importance for the increasing numbers of customers who prefer an instant, online experience over a phone interaction.

Report findings show that:

  • 58% of “silver surfers” would call or email a company for help,
  • Yet only 43% of 18-24 year olds would call or email a company for help
  • The younger age range were much more inclined to want to contact a company using live chat, with a fifth saying this was their preferred method compared to only 10% of the older generations.

So why chat?

One of the keys to running any successful online business is making the most of every visitor to your website by providing them with an attractive and professional site and an easy way to contact you for more information. Web chat software applications are a great option for connecting with your website’s visitors. 

Main reasons to implement web chat are:

1.        Reduce phone interactions

2.        Valid alternative to email

3.        Drive more revenue – through proactive chat (especially at checkout stage)


According to Gartner, chat can be an important component of a business’ CRM strategy, since it can help electronic business sites maintain a persistent customer base, cultivate customer loyalty, and build brand awareness by encouraging visitors to remain on a site longer and then consistently return to it.


So what do you think? Does Web Chat as a media contact source really work? Will it ever be as easily accepted as voice?


Christian Ehinmola


1 Business Trends: Contact Center Investments In Developed Markets (Customer Focus) – 2009