Live Chat Statistics: Trends and Insights for 2020
Over the years, live chat has become one of the essential functionalities of a website. The option of chatting with a live customer service agent provides consumers with instant support and quick answers, and the latest live chat statistics show that live chat is a favorite communication channel among consumers.
In one of its annual reports, BoldChat outlined that live chat is at the tipping point of adoption. That was seven years ago. However, we must also take into account that many companies still don’t offer live chat support (including big names such as PayPal). Another question that needs addressing is: how successful online are businesses in delivering the ultimate live chat user experience?
That said, let’s break down live chat by the numbers to verify its latest status. We looked into numerous resources, surveys, and reports to discover how well live chat is accepted from both businesses’ and consumers’ perspective.
Live Chat Statistics 2020 (Editor's Choice)
- 97% of global consumers say customer service is important in their choice of a brand.
- 95% of customers rate high-quality support over speed.
- 47.5% of US internet users feel the greatest challenge with chatbots is they provide too many unhelpful responses.
- 51% of customers want their businesses to be available 24/7.
- The top three players in the live chat software market are LivePerson, Zendesk, and LiveChat.
- At 73 to 81%, live chat has the highest satisfaction level for any customer service channel.
- More than 30% of customers expect live chat on your website.
- Only 9% of companies use live chat.
Live Chat Adoption and Usage Among Businesses Today
1. Only 17% of companies planned on adding live web chat in 2018.
The results of Aircall’s 2018 survey revealed that one-quarter of businesses offer customer support via live web chat. As the source outlined, the most used communication channels were phone and email support. What’s even more surprising, when asked about the channels they plan to offer for the first time, only 17% of companies said they plan on adding web chat customer service the following year.
While 475 customer service leaders prioritized reducing customer effort (21%) and wait times (36%) last year, only a handful of them considered the idea of implementing a live chat solution into their customer support offering.
2. 71% of businesses believe online chat would come on top by 2021.
A 2018 survey from Bold 360 discovered that companies are aware of the shift in communication preferences. Study participants from all around the world recognize how crucial it is for customer support to allow consumers to chat online with people and chatbots alike with 71% of them forecasting that, in terms of popularity, live chat will surpass traditional customer service communication channels by 2021.
3. Consumers expect answers within 10 minutes.
As Hubspot found out, consumers expect to get a response from customer support within 10 minutes or less from the moment they’ve first reached out. The source pointed out that for the majority of consumers an immediate answer translates to up to 10 minutes.
Based on the answers from 1,000 study participants, Hubspot’s live chat study revealed that 60% of consumers want immediate response when contacting a support team. 46% of consumers have the same expectations when getting in touch with the marketing team. The need for speed is at the highest levels with the sales department where 62% of consumers expect an immediate response.
4. 87% of companies adopted live chat to connect with web visitors in real-time.
One of the questions we wanted to find an answer to was why companies adopted live chat in the first place. We took a look at Zoho’s live chat statistics for businesses and discovered that the highest percentage of businesses (87%) that offer this kind of support opted for it to connect with their sites’ visitors in real-time.
Another common reason for live chat adoption is the opportunity to increase sales and conversions, with 61% of companies selecting this answer as their primary reason for offering live chat support.
Other reasons for live chat implementation included website visitor tracking (45%) and providing support that is convenient for consumers (43%). The section below examines if said consumers really find live chat to be the most convenient way to reach out to the support team and whether customers prefer live chat over other channels.
5. 67% of B2C businesses use live chat for customer support.
One of the most common uses of live chat solutions is providing customer support. According to statistics from Zoho, 67% of B2C businesses and 66% of B2B businesses use live chat for customer support. However, there are two more prominent uses of live chat, namely for marketing and sales purposes. The source notes that 74% of B2C and 85% of B2B business use live chat for sales. Lastly, the smallest portion of companies uses live chat for marketing purposes, i.e., 31% of B2C companies and 54% of B2B companies.
User Preferences in Communication Channels
6. 41% of customers prefer live chat as a way to reach out to customer support teams.
Today, most companies offer phone and email support, but the second generation of customer support, namely, live chat and social media, also has a fast-growing user base. Kayako is only one of the sources that prove that customers today do favor live chat over other support channels. Zendesk is another source that confirmed live chat enjoys a widespread usage among all generations, highlighting that the highest consumer satisfaction rates come from this type of communication.
Now, according to Kayako live chat statistics, for 41% of consumers live chat is a favorite communication channel for contacting support, while the percentage of those who give the title of a favorite support channel to phone support stands at 32%. Lastly, email support ranks close behind phone support, with 23% of consumers favoring this support channel.
Social media, on the other hand, has a long way to go before it reaches mass adoption among both consumers and businesses. For now, only 3% of consumers prefer this channel for getting in touch with a support team.
7. Immediate responses are the main reason why consumers prefer live chats.
According to EConsultancy, 79% of consumers favor live chat support as it allows for almost instant responses. Another common reason for communicating through this channel is the fact that while using it consumers can multitask; with 51% of them selecting this benefit.
Next, 46% of consumers agree that live chat is the most efficient way of communicating with a support team, while 29% of consumers think that the information they received from live chat agents is better than what they received over email. According to live chat stats from the source, 15% of consumers believe the same to be true when it comes to information obtained through the phone.
Furthermore, 22% of consumers said they like live chat because they don’t like talking on the phone. We found this last piece of information particularly interesting, as we found that many businesses believe customers prefer phone support over other support channels.
8. 42% of businesses think customers prefer phone support.
At the beginning of this piece, we pointed out statistics of live chat on websites that show businesses recognized the shift in communication preferences. However, some take more time to accept those changes, which explains Kayako’s findings that 42% of companies think that compared to other channels, consumers favor phone support.
Additionally, a report from Forrester is another indication that consumers don’t want to call a business to get the information they need. The report outlines statistics of using live chat vs phone whereby 53% of US online adults won’t complete a purchase on-site if they don’t find quick answers right away. Now, after discussing the decreasing popularity of phone support, let’s see customer satisfaction levels among live chat users.
Live Customer Chat Satisfaction Rates
9. Live chat has the highest consumer satisfaction rate at 92%.
As per Zendesk’s numbers, live chat consumer satisfaction rates stand at a staggering level. On the other hand, LiveChat offers slightly different figures when it comes to happy customers. According to LiveChat’s 2019 Customer Service Report, the percentage of satisfied live chat users is currently 82.26% based on the data from over 25,000 websites with live chat support. Moreover, Comm100 offers a different customer satisfaction rate of 83.10%. So, the safest way to determine live chat satisfaction levels would be to put it in the range between 82% and 92%. Great numbers, nevertheless.
10. Consumers from the Philippines are most satisfied of live chat.
The top three countries in terms of customer satisfaction are the Philippines, Thailand, and Australia. When it comes to live chat users from the Philippines, their customer satisfaction levels reached 91.71%. Thailand customers ranked second with a score of 89.39%, while Australia lost the lead in this category, and ended a year with 87.46% satisfied customers.
11. Live chat customer satisfaction rates have been dropping for the past few years.
We analyzed LiveChat reports from a few years ago to discover how customer satisfaction rates varied based on the source’s live chat statistics. 2019 provided us with insights about live chat data from the last year when, on average, 82 out of 100 customers were satisfied with the services they received from live chat teams. In 2017, the percentage of satisfied customers was slightly higher at 83.54%. Looking back to 2016, customers were even more satisfied with live chat service (86.35%).
When it comes to Comm100, customer satisfaction has seen a 2.4 point increase between 2017 and 2018. Despite some differences in reports, both sources confirm that live chat users have higher expectations today than a few years ago.
12. Customer satisfaction-wise, mid-sized companies rank below live chat benchmarks.
According to LiveChat’s 2019 Customer Service Report, companies with 10 to 49 employees had customer satisfaction levels at 79.93%, which is below the industry standard. When it comes to companies with 50 to 99 employees, they ranked a bit better but remained below the standard at 80.67%.
13. 21% of live chat requests are left answered.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing live chat stats we stumbled upon is that – based on SuperOffice’s analysis of 1,000 websites – a little over one-fifth of live chat requests didn’t receive a response from an operator. One of the conclusions we can draw from this is that – even though live chat is gaining in popularity every year – there are still many businesses that are yet to learn how to get the most out of this powerful communication tool.
Live Chat Benchmarks
14. In 2018, the average first response time was 48 seconds.
When it comes to average first time response times, we did some additional research to check how these figures changed over the years. Live chat stats reveal that 2018 saw a significant improvement in this area. In 2015, the average first response time was 59 seconds, and over the last three years, it decreased by 11 seconds, which is quite an improvement.
Still, a survey from Drift shows that 77% of consumers expect an instant response when reaching out via live chat. The question is: have consumers become unrealistically impatient? The answer is no.
15. 95% of consumers would accept slower-paced chats to get a better-quality service.
According to live chat statistics from Kayako, speed is not everything for consumers. The source discovered that 19 out of 20 customers would sacrifice the overall speed of a chat session if that would mean they would get better quality service. With that in mind, we have to admit that chatters are not impatient as much as businesses need to adapt to a new customer support climate in which live chats dominate.
16. The highest number of chats takes place between 7AM and 7PM.
According to the data from Zendesk, live chat representatives usually chat with people between 7am and 7pm, while peak hours are between 11am and 3pm. The same source also found that satisfaction ratings are highest (80%) between 2pm and 5pm, whereas the fastest first response times have been recorded between 7am and noon.
17. Last year, the average length of an online live chat was 11 minutes and 24 seconds.
2018 saw a 10-second decrease in the average time of an online chat. In 2017, the average time to solve a customer’s case was 11 minutes and 34 seconds, while in 2016, the average handle time stood at 12 minutes and 24 seconds.
One of the things we’ve noticed is that two aspects of live chat have changed in the past couple of years. One: the average handle time dropped by 50 seconds from 2016 to 2018. Two: the number of chats nearly doubled during the same time. The fact that in 2016, the number of chats LiveChat analyzed reached 235.7 million only to jump to 437 million chats last year perfectly illustrates the growth of live chat popularity and its widespread use.
18. In 2018, businesses had 978 chats on average each month.
The number of chats companies had on average was 978 last year. In comparison, the same figure was two points lower in 2017. On the other hand, the number of support tickets has seen a downward trend (a 6.1 point decrease), which means chat agents are leaving fewer cases for later.
The same source also revealed that the games and gambling industry had the highest number of chats in the last quarter of the year. Furthermore, ecommerce live chat statistics from LiveChat show that the retail industry was the second busiest industry during last year’s holiday season with 2.1 million chats during October, November, and December.
Proactive Live Chats
As opposed to reactive live chats, proactive chats don’t rely on website visitors to start a chat session. Instead, live chat representatives or chatbots are the ones initiating a dialogue. Now, let’s see what the stats say about the first.
19. 48% of consumers favor companies with proactive support.
A survey from Zendesk revealed that nearly half of all survey participants are in favor of a proactive approach from live chat support teams. Live chat statistics from Zendesk also showed that 41% of consumers are neutral when it comes to proactive chats, while only 11% don’t have a favorable view of them.
Additionally, the same study found that 67% of businesses use proactive approach. However, only 13% of them use live chat to execute this. These figures show that there’s a lot of untapped potential in getting the most out of proactive live chats.
20. 33% percent of proactive chats initiated received a response.
Olark highlight that one-third of conversations that were started by live chat operators received a response from website visitors. This means that proactive chats have the potential to help companies engage their visitors into a conversation, so it is well worth a try.
21. More than half of all live chats come from mobile.
According to live chat stats, 2018 has seen an increase in chats from mobile devices. If your website chat is not optimized for mobile devices, now is a perfect time to do so. Comm100 recorded a 7.9 point increase in chats coming from mobile devices. So, in 2017, mobile chats accounted for around 43% of all chats, while in 2018, 51.68% of chats, i.e., over 23 million chats came from mobile devices.
The source also pointed out that the Recreation and Customer Service industries had the largest share of all mobile online chat activity. Apart from these stats, SuperOffice revealed that 62% of mobile users expect sites to have a live chat feature. By not offering live chat customer support, businesses have high chances of disappointing a large audience base.
What Customers Don’t Like About Live Chat?
22. Customers don’t like to repeat their inquiries.
The 2019 Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report outlined some of the most frustrating aspects of bad customer experiences. All these aspects focused on all communication channels, and not just live chat.
Businesses offering customer support at the time not convenient to customers was among the biggest frustrations. Scenarios in which customers had to repeat their inquiries were considered an bad customer service as well. The same applies to not being able to find the information on a website and facing different obstacles when trying to get in touch with the support team.
23. 29% of live chat users hate scripted responses.
Apart from all the aspects of bad user experience we gathered from Zendesk, a study from Kayako gave us live-chat specific frustrations that come with bad customer experience. Nearly one-third of consumers are not keen on canned responses as they lack personalization.
Based on the source’s live chat stats we also found out that users don’t like it when they can’t get in touch with chat agents despite the live chat service displaying an online status. Getting disconnected during a chat session is another painful subject to chat users, while in these instances pre-chat surveys don’t make things any better.
24. 47% of consumers haven’t had a positive live chat experience in the past month.
With all the frustrations users are going through during live chat sessions, it’s no wonder that many of them haven’t had a positive experience with the online chat customer service. Based on the answers from a Kayako survey, out of 400 consumers, 188 of them reported not having a good live chat experience in the past month. On the bright side, the percentage of those who were satisfied with the service they received from live chat representatives in the past month is still higher than the percentage of those who weren’t happy with the service.
25. 80% of live chat representatives have to access multiple systems to get the information they need.
There are two sides to every coin. Live chat agents are running into various obstacles while trying to provide customers with fast and accurate solutions. In a CCW Digital’s survey, the highest percentage of organizations (80.28%) agreed that their chat teams have to rely on multiple systems for getting the information customers need.
The efficiency of live chat website functionalities is decreased further as agents spend too much time doing repetitive tasks. Additionally, one-third of companies admitted that their knowledge base is either not easy to use or not updated frequently enough. All of these obstacles keep live chat agents from devoting their full attention to customers.
The Cost of Bad User Experiences
26. 1 in 3 customers will walk away after a single bad experience.
A 2017/18 study from Kayako found that 32% of consumers would stop all interactions with a brand after one bad experience with the customer service team. We dare not think about abandonment rates for businesses that don’t hold a special place in consumers’ hearts.
One of the even scarier statistics for businesses that don’t meet the demands of their customers is that dissatisfied ones don’t have a habit of complaining. 1st Financial Training found that 96% of consumers won’t share their frustrations with a company, while 91% of consumers that are not satisfied with the quality of service they received from a company’s support team never come back.
(PWC, 1st Financial Training)
27. 20% of consumers spread negative word of mouth about poor live chat experience.
We dug into Kayako’s findings about consumers’ actions triggered by negative live chat experience. The source revealed that after having a bad experience with live chat, people would tell their friends and family about it. More specifically, 1 in 5 consumers will spread negative word of mouth if the service they receive from live chat support is poor.
28. In the US, poor customer service is an $83 billion cost.
Negative word of mouth from unsatisfied customers is not the only consequence of poor customer service. According to the data by Provide Support, businesses are losing billions of dollars due to low-quality customer experiences. In the US alone, bad customer service results in $83 billion worth of losses, whereas in the UK that figure is lower, at £37 billion.
Moreover, NewVoiceMedia found that US businesses lose $62 billion each year due to poor customer service. A study from Accenture that discussed provider switchers and found that the majority of consumers switch providers due to poor customer service. In fact, 46% of consumers shifted some of their spending to another provider as a result of bad customer service.
In summation, businesses that don’t meet live chat industry standards won’t just lose reputation, but also profit.
(Provide Support, NewVoiceMedia, Accenture)
Benefits of Live Chat
29. After using live chat for a year, 43% of businesses had a better understanding of their customers.
In contrast to ones with poor customer service, live chat companies with happy customers see a lot of benefits to offering this type of communication to their customers. Zoho found that the highest percentage of businesses offering live chat was able to better understand their customers (43%) after one year of using it.
Websites with chat support also reported an increase in revenue (19%), as well as conversions (38%). Additionally, 26% of businesses that offer live chat saw an increase in user satisfaction and retention, while only a tenth haven’t seen any improvements after live chat integration.
A Kayako study gave us similar information about the positive impact of live chat. 79% of businesses said implementing live chat resulted in increased customer loyalty, sales, and revenue.
30. 22% of companies recorded a 5-10% increase in revenue via live chat.
Let’s take a look at another example of a positive impact live chat has on the overall success of a business. Zoho found that roughly one-fifth of businesses reported 5-10% higher revenues as a result of offering live chat support. Another 4% of businesses with website chat service said their revenue saw an upward trend of between 11% and 15% since implementing chats into their customer service structure. 3% of companies saw their revenues go up by 16% to 20%, while only 1% of companies reported a 20% higher income as a result of live chat service.
Live Chat Conversion Statistics
31. Chatters are 85% more likely to convert into customers.
According to live chat conversion numbers found on Intercom, people who refer to live chat on websites are 85% more likely to become customers than the ones who don’t. Moreover, chatters are bigger spenders as well, and they would pay 13% more than non-chatters.
Another noteworthy fact is that every message increases the likelihood of turning visitors into customers. Only one message over live chat increases conversion odds by 50%. Two messages increase those chances by 100%. The power chat functionalities have in terms of conversions is visible the most when users exchange six messages with a chat operator. In these instances, the chances of visitors turning into customers jump by 250%, which is truly fascinating.
32.63% of consumers who used live chat on a website are likely to return to it.
Based on market research among US online shoppers conducted by EMarketer, the 63% that used a live chat feature indicated they would return to the site, and 62% of them said they were likely to make another purchase from it.
Furthermore, a study from Zendesk showed that for 84% of consumers customer service is among the top considerations for deciding whether they will buy something from a business or not.
Live Chat Lead Management
33. Only 14% of the B2B SaaS sales teams used live chat.
When it comes to hot leads live chat statistics, in 2017 Drift analyzed 433 B2B SaaS companies to determine the average time it took these companies to respond to their sales leads. The results were fascinating! Out of 433 companies, only 32 companies responded within five minutes. In contrast, more than half of all companies failed to respond in the next five days. The companies that demonstrated speed in replying to sales inquiries were using live chat.
Now, why is a five-minute window so important for lead generation? Well, according to Drift’s chat study and another one conducted by Inside Sales, after that five-minute window closes, businesses are ten times less likely to make contact with a lead. Additionally, businesses have 400% higher chances of qualifying a lead if they respond in five minutes than if they responded within ten.
(Drift, Inside Sales)
Live Chat Forecasts and Trends
34. 85% of all customer support activity will happen without a human agent by 2020.
In 2017, IBM published an interesting prediction about further development of customer service. The tech giant forecasts that by 2020, 85% of customer support interactions would exclude human agents from the picture. With the increasing popularity of chatbots, we have to wonder if IBM’s prediction might come true.
According to Acquire live chat statistics, 2018 was a productive year for chatbots. Namely, last year, chatbots resolved 80% of queries without relying on a human agent. So, are chatbot and virtual customer assistant technologies the future of customer service?
Gartner joins IBM’s forecast in customer service without human agents. Only Gartner predicts that one-quarter (compared to IBM’s 85%) of customer service activity would rely on chatbots and VCAs by 2020. Let’s see how consumers feel about these technologies.
(IBM, Acquire, Gartner)
35. 70% of consumers prefer human agents to AI technologies.
Today, we have companies that offer a myriad of options when it comes to customer support solutions – voice, chatting online, co-browsing, and chatbots. However, a study from Zendesk shows that consumers are most comfortable chatting with a human agent.
When asked to voice their opinion about chatting with a human operator, 70% of consumers chose this as their preference. More than half of all study participants said that AI technologies in customer support allow this service to be available at all time.
However, 47% of consumers share the opinion that adding artificial intelligence to customer service would make this service confusing. Additionally, more than 80% of Zendesk study participants said they interacted with a support bot in the past six months, but turned to human operators after these interactions.
With that in mind, how likely do you think live chat companies are to replace human agents with chatbots and VCAs?
2019 Priorities for Customer Support Teams
36. Over 44% of customer support teams plan on improving their knowledge base in 2019.
In this year’s study, CCW Digital highlighted businesses’ top priorities for improving their customer service department. The majority of businesses (46.25%) agreed that one of the top priorities would be improving their digital channel offering including communication via chats and social media. A slightly lower number of businesses consider improving their knowledge base their top priority this year. Other priorities range from better understanding customers to using AI to interact with customers.
37. In 2019, 60.28% of live chat agent salaries will remain the same.
Nearly half of all companies said that their budgets for customer service technologies have increased in 2019. When asked about live chat operators’ salaries, 60.28% of organizations said there were no changes this year.
Based on Drift’s live chat sales statistics, 2017 saw a lot of missed opportunities in lead generation. Sales teams had long response times, and, as we’ve mentioned, only 14% of companies surveyed used live chat. In contrast, we also saw that live chat on websites increases revenues, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction levels.
So, the question is: will we see a higher number of companies with live chat functionality next year? We are quite confident that the answer is positive, as we’ve learned many things while comprising this list of the most important live chat statistics.
Among all the things we learned is that live chat, if used properly, is synonymous with good customer service. It offers speed, convenience, and real-time support. If we add knowledgeable operators that are eager to help customers to the equation, we have all aspects of the ideal customer experience covered.