Why use live chat? What’s the truth behind the statistics?

Last updated on June 13th, 2023

Pardeep Kullar
Pardeep Kullar

Many blog posts have great statistics on live chat but what’s the truth behind each one? We’ll add our actual experience to each commonly stated statistic.


Live chat and customer service statistics

44% found chat to be important in making decisions

A survey conducted by Forrester Research reveals found that 44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a Web site can offer.

Our experience? You can tell who the likely buyers are during a chat. They ask very specific questions as if they’ve done their research. They’re often looking for clarification on a key point. We believe live chat contributed to 60% of our overall sales so 44% sounds low.

62% switched due bad customer service

62% of global consumers switched products due to poor customer service.

Our experience? We have pretty damn superb customer service in terms of responsiveness and accuracy but we can’t cover everyone — people asking questions at 5am London time for example. Did some of them leave and were annoyed we did not respond quickly? Yes. However, because we have live chat on our desktop and phone, we responded to 90% of people quickly. We don’t know enough to comment on the 62% stat but if there is a phone that no-one picks up or a long winded ‘contact us’ form then that stat is no surprise.

63% were more likely to return because of live chat. 38% made a purchase because of it

An ATG Global Consumer Trend study found that 90% of customers consider live chat helpful and an emarketer.com survey found that 63% were more likely to return to a website that offers live chat. 62% reported being more likely to purchase from the site again. A further 38% of respondents said they had made their purchase due to the chat session itself. All these attitudes were even more prevalent among respondents who bought online at least weekly

Our experience? Hell yes. Getting key questions answered, building trust and people liking you make all the difference between a maybe buy and a yes buy.

2/3 of consumers encountering problems went to a competitor

More than two-thirds of consumers who encountered a customer service/customer experience issue on a brand’s website left the site or visited a competitor

Our experience? As I write this blog post I’ve just got a message about a competitors success rate and support. We’ve heard this so many times that we’ve added a comparison page and linked it to the home page. So yes, in our experience this is absolutely true.

6–7 times more costly to attract a new customer than retain existing one

It is 6–7 times more costly to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer. 89% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service

Our experience? Yeah, no brainer. When an existing customer needs something then helping them helps keep them. Churn is deadly!

35% increase in use of live chat in 3 years

Over 3 years between 2009 to 2012 there was a 35% increase in the number of people who had used live chat at some point

Our experience? All our competitors are installing it by default. There is probably 1 company in 10 in our space that does not have live chat and I’ve seen how many reviews their product has. Not bloody many.

Why does it work?

It’s immediate

“The higher levels of satisfaction with online chat are partially due to the efficiency and immediacy of the experience””

Our experience? Yes and no. Live chat is a bit like texting and that’s why we like it. People do like an immediate response of course but just like texting they’re also happy to get time to drink a coffee while chatting.

It builds trust

“77% of people shopping online would like to make contact with a real person before making a purchase, and over half say that the lack of interaction has caused them not to purchase.”

Our experience? This point has already been made but there is a something to add. Plenty of people buy without chatting to us, however live chat helped us figure out how to make this happen. The questions they asked on live chat told us where we were going wrong: 1. Have a better about us page. 2. Have more testimonials. 3. Simpler pricing and FAQ. 4. Have a comparison page with competitors.

It’s cheaper and faster

“Agents can support multiple customers simultaneously (typically 4–5, but sometimes more!) this is far less costly than phone support where agents can support only one customer at one time”

Our experience? Yes and also we can work as a team. The live chat tool I use allows me to type @Joe and get Joe into conversation when I can’t handle it.

It’s natural

We found that it also lets users multi-task as well. They are doing multiple things and just like text messages, you can take a moment to compose without the pressure for an immediate reply. On a phone it’s weird to pause for too long and on text it’s natural. Lets face it, we don’t even phone our friends these days when a text will do.

What are businesses saying?

These are statistics taken from companies using a range of different live chat services.

Increased signups by 31%

Ez Texting managed to increase signups by 31%. The chat widget was strategically placed so that if a user has any doubts before making successful signup, he could ask it on the live chat widget.

Average order value is 15% higher

Virgin Atlantic has had tremendous success using live chat to upsell customers, they encourage you to speak with a person as opposed to sending inquiries via email.“Virgin also has found that average order values for consumers who use live chat is some 15% higher than for consumers who do not use the tool.”

50% greater response for feedback inquiries

The Desk.com team gets a greater than 50% response rate to their Intercom inquiries for feedback. They’re also able to reach more customers with Intercom. Overall, the number of responses they receive has skyrocketed. And those responses, says Scott, are far more detailed and insightful than old survey results. Desk.com customers are happier to hear from a product manager instead of receiving an impersonal survey.

40% response rate to ‘why did you cancel’

When people cancel, it’s important to understand why. Droplr triggers a message to users who have canceled their accounts. The response rate is nearly 40% and has provided nuggets of insight into Droplr’s audience and needs

Response rate for feedback increased to 26%

BugHerd. The team tried engaging users through emails sent with its existing lifecycle marketing solution, but response rates were well below 10%. Lack of quality feedback posed a major hurdle in prioritizing further development of the product. (After live chat support) stack engineers saw response rates shoot up to 26%. They still send emails to reach a small subset of users who haven’t logged into their app in a while, but in-apps have been a far more effective way to engage with their audience.

30% increase in trial-to-paid conversions

The result of being able to deliver targeted communications is sheer efficiency. Nick says that Intercom has given the sales team the ability to manage a large number of leads very quickly, leading to a 30% increase in trial-to-paid conversions.

14% reduction in churn

Put.io has been using Intercom for about a year to listen and talk to its users, and according to Hasan, the dynamic has completely changed. Best of all, it’s led to a 14% reduction in churn. After replacing its support forum with Intercom

Suddenly, the tone of our customer conversations went from negative to productive.

Open rate of auto-messages is well over 70%

The average open rate of its auto-messages is well over 70%, while response rates to requests for feedback typically fall in the 30% range

Sign ups doubled from 4% to 8% of visitors creating a free trial

We started to see results soon after installing Olark. For instance, visitor to trial sign-up rates doubled, increasing from four to eight percent of all visitors creating a free trial.

£1,000 sale on chat in one day

“Having an ‘always on’ communication channel and the ability to customize the chat experience makes our customers happier, and makes us appear to be a larger operation than we really are,” says Tevita. “This in turn instills trust in our new and returning customers, which leads to a higher likelihood of completing a sale.”

24% of our new customers initially contact our team via live chat

Before implementing live chat, Touch Support already had a pretty high average customer satisfaction score of 84 percent. After the implementation, it bumped up by 11 percent! “Our live chat customer satisfaction rating this past month was 95 percent!”, said Brent.
High customer satisfaction has direct relationship with their sales. “So far in 2015, 24 percent of our new customers initially contact our team via live chat, what translates into over 30 percent of our expected revenue”, stated Brent.

Technical issues resolved 4 times faster

Live chat also helped to save countless hours on support interactions. On average, Touch Support technicians resolve issues within 34 minutes through their helpdesk. Customers that reach them via chat typically have their issue resolved in 9 minutes or less, nearly four times faster than before!

Unexpected uses and benefits

7% to 26% jump in additional use by using chat services to send reminders

To tackle this problem, we used Intercom.io to send conditional emails depending on where in the chain you are. The results have been incredible to watch. While on average just 7% of users who start a trial will add a custom theme or domain name, that number jumps to 26% if they watch one of our tutorial videos and go through the onboarding progress steps.

200% increase using one reminder feature

“How can I possibly reach my revenue goal in time?” it dawned on me that I could use Intercom to accomplish this reminder window with very little work. I had a 200% increase in subscriptions the day I turned this popup on. I ended up meeting my goal 9 days early! And the increased rate has held steady.

Any problems?

If you are not looking for feedback and are simply looking to encourage sales then there might be too many low quality leads depending on your service. We did find many questions that could just as easily have been covered by an FAQ and conversations that led nowhere.

“Live chat is a living distraction. Whether you’re writing something, programming, or even responding to customer tickets…once you hear the “ding” of a live chat, your brain is derailed. Even worse, the customer on the other end may have large gaps in their response — giving you just enough time to restart your previous task before getting distracted again.”

If a customer encounters a live chat widget, they expect to be able to talk to you right away so if you don’t respond immediately then you can instead end up disappointing them.

Final thoughts.

Live chat will be default for most businesses. It fits with a buyers mind set and expectations. Phone numbers still matter but live chat makes more sense for both the buyer and the business.

Pardeep Kullar
Pardeep Kullar

Pardeep overlooks growth at Upscope and loves writing about SaaS companies, customer success and customer experience.