Live Chat vs. WhatsApp: Which is Right for Your Business?

September 12, 2023
Time:
7
mins
Live chat vs. WhatsApp benefits

Digital communication has transformed the way we connect with people in our lives - and this extends to how we interact with brands.

With a plethora of contact channels now available for customer communication, it can be challenging to determine which one best suits your business needs.

Two popular options that have emerged in recent years are live chat and messaging apps like WhatsApp.

Both of these technologies bring significant benefits for businesses and consumers alike - but which is right for your brand?

In this article, we’ll explore this debate and aim to answer that very question. We’ll cover:

  • What is live chat?
  • What is WhatsApp?
  • The benefits of live chat and WhatsApp
  • Live chat vs. WhatsApp: Which is best for customer support?
agent answering customer chats and messages

What is live chat?

Live chat is a popular communication channel that allows businesses to provide real-time digital customer service.

With live chat, consumers can engage in a back-and-forth conversation with a business via their computer or mobile devices.

It’s typically used for remote sales, lead generation, digital engagement, and general customer support (e.g. troubleshooting issues, answering product queries, etc.).

Unlike traditional support channels like email or phone lines, live chat software is embedded within a brand’s website or app - facilitating instant customer interactions via direct messaging.

This enables your website visitors and app users to quickly access the assistance they need with minimum disruption to the customer journey.

agent using live chat for customer support

What is WhatsApp?

WhatsApp is a cross-platform instant messaging service with millions of users around the globe.

It enables users to exchange text messages, voice calls, video calls, and multimedia content over the Internet for free - regardless of the participants’ locations.

Consumers can access and use WhatsApp messaging on both mobile devices and PCs. 

Unlike live chat, WhatsApp began as a means for personal communication rather than business interactions.

However, in recent years, WhatsApp has also been adopted by many leading brands as a tool for social media customer service and marketing.

Businesses can embed a WhatsApp widget into their website/app - just like with live chat. 

The key difference is that when a customer starts a live chat interaction, it’ll take place on the website page within their browser or within the business' app. 

Whereas if they start a conversation via WhatsApp, the WhatsApp application will open and the interaction will take place within it.

WhatsApp security advantages

Benefits of live chat

Now that we’ve covered the basic definitions of live chat and WhatsApp, let’s dive into the key benefits of these two channels.

First up - the advantages of live chat customer service.

1. Fast problem-solving

The ability to chat with customers in real time results in faster and more efficient problem-solving.

This is especially true for queries that require multiple back-and-forth exchanges.

It’s why live chat interactions reach a resolution 13x faster than email chains.

Fast resolutions are important because they contribute significantly to a positive customer experience.

If you keep customers waiting, they’re likely to become frustrated and may even abandon your brand for a competitor.

You’ll also run the risk of gaining a reputation for poor customer service.

fast resolutions benefit

2. More conversions

Live chat can be a game-changer when it comes to increasing online sales and revenue.

In fact, some studies report that live chat can boost a brand’s conversion rate by 40%.

By integrating live chat into your website/app, businesses can provide swift assistance to consumers who may have questions or hesitations while browsing products.

This real-time interaction can also offer personalization, enabling businesses to address specific customer needs and build trust.

Moreover, live chat allows agents to guide customers through the buying process, suggest relevant products, and overcome objections, ultimately leading to increased conversions.

Plus, with the ability to handle multiple chats simultaneously, agents can efficiently engage with a larger customer base, ensuring that no potential sale query goes unanswered.

magnet attracting customers

3. Seamless customer journey

As we touched upon earlier, live chat software is typically integrated into a business’s website or app.

This makes it a consistently accessible widget that’s embedded within the digital journey.

As a result, potential customers will no longer have to dig through your website to find contact details or further information if they have any queries.

Nor will they have to leave your website/app in order to reach out for support.

Instead, the assistance they need is already there for them, within their browser - just a click or message away.

This easy access minimizes consumer effort and helps create a seamless customer experience.

happy customer using live chat

4. Reduced cart abandonment

Cart abandonment can be a significant problem in the world of ecommerce and online retail.

It occurs when a customer adds items to their online shopping cart but doesn’t complete the purchase.

This can happen for a number of reasons, such as the customer getting distracted, not being able to find what they’re looking for, or encountering difficulties with the purchasing process.

Live chat for ecommerce helps reduce cart abandonment by keeping customers engaged with your website/app and by facilitating instant support as they shop.

‍It’s vital that you provide this, as 57% of customers will abandon a shopping cart if they can’t get their questions answered quickly.

By being available to answer queries, provide guidance, and help with any problems, you can keep customers on track to completing their purchases.

ecommerce shopping cart

Benefits of WhatsApp

It’s clear that live chat can be a lucrative addition to your customer service strategy - but what does WhatsApp have to offer?

In this section, we’ll explore how you can benefit from using WhatsApp as a customer engagement channel.

1. Huge scope of reach

Unlike live chat, which is limited to your website/app visitors, WhatsApp gives you access to a vast number of consumers.

Today, WhatsApp has over 2.7 billion global users - making it the most popular and widely used messaging app worldwide.

This impressive user base presents a golden opportunity for businesses to expand their scope of reach to a massive audience.

Regardless of your industry or target demographic, chances are that a significant portion of your customers (and potential customers) are currently on WhatsApp.

By using WhatsApp as a social media customer support tool, you can meet your customers where they are and potentially tap into new markets.

WhatsApp icon

2. Mirrors consumer behavior

One of the best things about WhatsApp is that it aligns with the communicative behaviors of the modern consumer.

The majority of your customers are likely already familiar with messaging apps and will be using them regularly to connect with their social circle.

This makes WhatsApp feel like an easier and more natural way of engaging with a business, compared to some other channels (e.g. email).

WhatsApp messaging also adds a personal touch to customer conversations, as it mirrors the dynamic of chatting with a friend or family member.

It’s why 64% of users agree that WhatsApp messaging helps foster a more personal connection to businesses.

Adding this personal element to digital interactions benefits brands by strengthening customer relationships and building brand loyalty.

messaging apps surrounding WhatsApp chat interface

3. Maximum convenience

If there’s one thing consumers value in this day and age, it’s convenience.

In fact, 70% of customers are willing to pay more for a convenient experience, and 80% are more likely to recommend a brand if it provides convenient customer service.

Consumers today want the same convenience when contacting businesses that they have when they’re messaging friends or family.

WhatsApp offers this ease and convenience - it's already at the tip of your customers’ fingers, traveling with them on their mobile devices.

With messaging channels like WhatsApp, a customer no longer needs to take time out of their schedule to wait around on hold or in a live chat queue.

Instead, they can effortlessly start a conversation with a single message and get on with their day.

happy customer messaging agent

4. Multimedia communication

WhatsApp’s support for multimedia communication is a game-changer for businesses.

With WhatsApp, you can send images, GIFs, videos, audio clips, and even PDF documents directly through the app.

This feature is particularly beneficial when dealing with visual products, providing step-by-step tutorials, or sharing documents.

Incidentally, if you’re worried that the PDFs you need to share can’t be altered - because, as we all know, the great thing about PDFs is they retain their format for sharing on any device and platform - don’t despair. You can fix your PDF now for free with an online editing tool.

You can even use editing tools to make your PDF more visually compelling - which could be invaluable when sharing on WhatsApp.

Multimedia content enriches the digital customer experience by making it easier for users to understand complex information and visualize products or solutions.

It can also be used for troubleshooting, as customers can share images or videos of issues they are facing, allowing for faster and more accurate problem resolution.

customer enjoying multimedia communication channels

The debate: Is live chat or WhatsApp better for customer support?

Both live chat and WhatsApp can be great tools for engaging and serving your digital customers.

When it comes to deciding which one is better for your business, there are a number of key factors to consider:

  • Situation: The context of a customer interaction matters when you’re choosing between live chat or WhatsApp. Live chat is ideal for real-time product assistance, urgent queries, and problems that require a fast resolution. On the other hand, WhatsApp is more useful for general inquiries and issues that require continuous support over an extended time period. Customers can start a WhatsApp chat and engage with it how and when they please, whereas a live chat interaction tends to keep them stuck on your website/app.
  • Target demographic: Understanding your target demographic is crucial as different types of customers have varying preferences for how they engage with brands. For example, if your customer base is mainly online shoppers who need on-the-fly product advice while browsing your website/app, then live chat is probably the best option. However, if your business serves customers who require ongoing support (e.g. B2B clients or consumers with long sales cycles), then WhatsApp might be more appropriate.
  • Customer expectations: Live chat sets an expectation of fast response times and instant assistance. Messaging platforms, on the other hand, suggest less immediacy and a more relaxed conversation. You need to be realistic about how fast you can respond to customers and choose the channel that’ll align with this to manage your customers’ expectations.
  • Resources: Not all businesses have the staff or resources to provide adequate live chat support. Messaging apps offer a more flexible approach where customers can still request help at any time, but without anticipating instant assistance. This means that businesses can provide exceptional WhatsApp support without having agents available every minute of the day.

Ultimately, the choice between live chat and WhatsApp depends on your industry, business needs, and customer service goals.

It’s also important to note that it doesn’t necessarily have to be either/or.

In fact, you may find that adopting a combined approach, where your customers can use both WhatsApp and live chat to contact you, is what serves your brand and customers best.

By providing both channels as an option, your customers will have free reign to choose the one that best suits their situation, needs, and personal preferences.

customer viewing chat options on website

The takeaway

It’s clear that both live chat and WhatsApp are extremely valuable customer engagement channels.

Both of them offer a personalized and convenient digital experience that'll benefit both your business and your customers.

But whether you decide to utilize live chat, WhatsApp, or a combination of the two, you need the right customer service software to facilitate them.

That’s where Talkative comes in.

Our digital engagement platform provides a complete suite of connected customer contact channels - including both live chat and WhatsApp messaging.

What’s more, both our live chat and social messaging solutions come with a myriad of capabilities to help you engage and convert more customers - from an advanced widget editor to sentiment analysis, AI agent assist, real-time translation, and much more.

It means that, whether you’re using live chat or WhatsApp, you’ll be fully equipped to deliver an innovative customer experience that’ll set your brand apart from the crowd.

Want to learn more? 

Book a demo with us today and discover how you can power premium digital customer service with Talkative.

Engage more customers in just three minutes

Get your weekly three minute read on making every customer interaction both personable and profitable. Sign up to the Talkative newsletter now.

Smiling customer on a smartphone