Live Phone Support vs. Live Chat: Which is Better?

Live chat versus Live Voice

Customer-focused businesses are always looking for ways to increase consumer satisfaction. One way that companies can do this is by providing customers the communication channels that work best for them.

Traditionally, the live phone support has been the standard, but as technology advances, there seems to be a push towards live chatting instead of over the phone interaction.

Companies are moving to live chat for a variety of reasons, but mostly for its convenience and cost-cutting initiatives.

With so many companies moving to chat, this must be what customers are asking for.

Surprisingly, research says, “no.”

Customers still love talking to a live voice

A large scale 2016 survey conducted by Verint® Systems Inc. in partnership with Opinium Research LLC and the research and advisory firm IDC found that over 83 percent of customers still believe that speaking with a person will always be an important part of the customer service process.

Customers prefer a live voice versus chat

But what did they mean when they said “speaking”?

Maybe this question is answered best by the fact that Verint also found that the phone is still the most popular way for customers to contact service providers, bypassing both face-to-face contacts (second place) and live to chat. Email and other ways of communicating such as online accounts were also listed as options, but still, phone communication reigned.

Human Element Remains Part of Customer Service

In the Verint study, they asked consumers what their channel preference was for handling certain customer service situations, which include: email/SMS, speak to someone on the phone, speak to someone in person, my account online, live chat, and web self-service. Speak to someone on the phone, led in these customer service situations:

Stats for importance of live voice support

  • An answer to a simple question/ request (24%)
  • To investigate products/service (tied with the website at 22%)
  • To ask a question about my bill (34%)
  • To register a complaint (24%)
  • Urgent Technical Assistance (43%)
  • An emergency service (45%)
  • My product/service fixed (30%)
  • My Bill Refunded (28%)

Impact of a Live Voice

If you are curious how a live person can benefit your brand, Verint’s survey revealed when consumers have a good customer service experience on the phone or in-store, they are more likely to behave positively towards a brand, than when online. These are the findings directly from their report:

  • 38 percent more likely to renew their product or service, even if it isn’t the cheapest option.
  • 27 percent more likely to sign up to an organization’s loyalty program
  • 19 percent more likely to leave a positive review

So, what is it that is stopping customers from choosing online options such as live chatting over traditional calls?

Customers named two things: slow speed and the inability for chat operators to be intuitive to their needs.

Consumers simply believe that being able to talk to someone rather than write them is an easier way to get their point across.

Are companies missing the mark?

Because customers are still taking a traditional route to communicate with service providers, one would assume that businesses would continue to invest in phone-based service channels such as answering services.

But the Verint survey found just the opposite. Many businesses wrongly assume that their client base prefers a more tech-savvy communication service and is investing more in bots and chat boxes and in phone channels the least. This eye-opening fact provides a unique opportunity for businesses to capitalize on this lack of customer-focused communication and offer phone-based options that consumers want and need.

What was revealing, stated in the report was “almost three quarters (74 percent) of respondents say they don’t like dealing with companies that don’t provide a phone number for them to contact.”

Create an experience your customers will love

An important step on your journey to deliver an amazing customer experience is to understand your customers’ communication preferences.

Although we are living in a technologically advanced world, we simply consider that many customers still prefer an “old school” approach. Investing in phone-based options such as a professional answering service or a managed help desk can be a stable solution to ever-changing businesses. If you’re interested in learning more about such services, click here to learn how a live voice could have a positive impact on your business.

About the Survey by Verint

“The Digital Tipping Point: How do organizations balance the demands for digital and human customer service?” by Verint, a global leader in Actionable Intelligence® solutions. Verint [1] commissioned a survey from 23 June to 20 July 2016 in association with Opinium Research LLP, a UK-based research company. More than 24,000 respondents across 12 countries were questioned by Opinium Research LLP. Verint additionally polled more than 1,000 businesses as part of the study.

Devin Bailey
Devin Bailey
I've been in the call center industry for over a decade. A big part of my job is educating businesses on the role telecommunications and outsourced task procedures can play for their business. Understanding their processes is critical to verify and implement the right services. When I am not in front of clients I manage the technological infrastructure in the call center.