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Live Chat Vs. Phone Support: Which Is Best for Your Startup?

Customer support is a key part of your business’s success. 

Not only does it help resolve issues and keep customers happy, but it also helps build trust and loyalty. 

If your business fails to provide your customers with timely support across the right platforms and channels, you risk losing your competitive advantage.

But what’s the best way for your business to ensure customers receive prompt high-quality assistance? 

When you’re just starting out and want to be as hands-on in your business as possible, answering your own phones may seem like a good idea.

But as your business grows and you become unable to keep up with the influx of customer inquiries, you have to fill customer service needs through the right support channels. 

When it comes to offering highly personalised, on-demand customer service, live chat and phone support are the most common options. 

In this post, we provide a breakdown of the pros and cons of live chat vs. phone support so you know which can best help you improve the customer service experience. 

Table of contents:

  1. Pros and cons of live chat support
  2. Pros and cons of phone support
  3. Live chat vs. phone support: final thoughts 

1. Pros and Cons of Live Chat Support

Interacting with an Agent Through Live Chat

Live chat is a form of customer messaging software that allows your website visitors to interact with human support representatives through a messaging interface. 

It is a convenient way for customers to get quick answers to their questions or concerns without having to pick up the phone or wait for an email response.

It works as an instant messenger where your customers type their questions or comments into the chat box and instantly receive a response from a customer service representative.

Live chat support has been on the rise in recent years, with 41% of sales leaders saying their customers want to communicate digitally more often than prior to the pandemic. 

There are lots of live chat apps for customer service out there, and choosing the right one depends on your specific needs and goals. 

For example, if you’re looking for free options for live chat, there are several apps available on the market that offer free plans – such as Chaport, EngageBay, Smartsupp, or LiveAgent.       

Or, if you’re looking for a more versatile communications solution that brings teams and customers together, you may want to consider Avaya Cloud Office by RingCentral. 

Avaya Cloud Office is available with different levels of functionality, allowing your team members to take calls, make calls, chat, meet, collaborate, and easily communicate with customers.  

It integrates via third-party contact management software and also helps in measuring and analysing customer interactions. 

Now, let’s break down the pros and cons of live chat. 

The pros:

  • Convenience: Live chat enables customers to get immediate support without having to make a phone call or send an email.
  • Increased support capacity: Live chat allows customer support representatives to communicate with multiple customers at a time.
  • Ability to collect contact data: Live chat tools can be set up to collect valuable contact information from users, such as their email addresses. 
  • Access to support data: When using live chat tools for customer support, you can create a database of customer issues and complaints that can be leveraged for continuous improvements.  
  • Faster support: Today, younger generations seek solutions that solve their problems and answer their questions fast. If you’re marketing to Gen Z, the ability to provide fast answers through live chat can be a big draw.

The cons:

  • Limited personalisation: Live chat interactions are typically more impersonal than phone interactions, so customers may feel like they’re talking to a robot. This may be a major drawback, as customers still need human interaction (even in a digital world).
  • Limited problem-solving ability: Live chat is best suited for addressing simple questions and concerns. More complex or nuanced issues may require phone interaction to fully resolve.
  • Pranks and abuse: Typically, live chat is more susceptible to pranks and abuse due to the impersonal nature of the communication. 
  • Poor experience on mobile: Not all live chat plugins work correctly on mobile devices. With more people than ever relying on smartphones, this can be an issue.
  • Time zone issues: If you do not have the staffing capacity to provide 24/7 assistance, it can be frustrating for customers looking for support outside of your business’s designated live chat hours.  

2. Pros and Cons of Phone Support

Getting Phone Support from a Virtual Receptionist

Phone support is a great option for customers who prefer to talk to a customer service representative over the phone.

So instead of customers using a live chat to get assistance, they can contact your business by phone. 

Usually, more established businesses have a call centre with agents providing 24/7 phone support. 

However, as a small business owner, you may not afford the costs associated with recruiting, hiring, and training an in-house receptionist – not to mention the overhead expenses, sick days, payroll taxes, or health insurance.  

In fact, in a lot of cases, business owners are the only ones running the different aspects of a business – including answering calls and providing assistance to customers over the phone. 

Luckily, outsourcing enables you to provide 24/7 high-quality customer service without breaking the bank. 

For example, using a virtual receptionist service – like the one provided by B2B HQ – can save you thousands of dollars each year. 

B2B HQ provides a range of affordable plans that eliminate the costs associated with hiring an in-house traditional receptionist.

If you think that phone-based support can benefit your business, we can help you deliver consistently great customer service on a reasonable budget.

Now, let’s go over the pros and cons of phone support. 

The pros:

  • Increased trust: A landline number can increase the trust potential customers have in your business – especially if you’re running a remote business without a physical office. Including a phone number on your website reinforces that there are real people they can get help from if needed.
  • Suitable for solving more complex issues: Unlike live chat that’s more suitable for addressing simple concerns, phone support is more effective in solving complex problems.
  • Personalised customer service experience: Customers are more likely to buy from businesses that provide personalised experiences. Phone support allows you to deliver a personalised customer experience that’s tailored to customers’ specific needs and expectations.  
  • Access to more complex analytics: Unlike live chat which might feel impersonal and even robotic to some users, phone interactions enable you to analyse the tone of voice and gauge happiness or frustration levels. This can help you gain deeper insights into consumer behaviour.
  • Easy to scale (when using a call answering service): Most virtual receptionist services provide flexible, pay-as-you-use plans, meaning you can easily scale up or down your resources to deal with fluctuating call traffic. 

The cons:

  • Customer support representatives can only handle one customer at a time: Unlike live chat which enables agents to communicate with multiple customers at a time, phone support means that agents can’t assist another customer unless they’re done with the current one.
  • Higher costs: As we mentioned at the start of this section, a virtual receptionist is an extremely affordable answering service that in many ways is similar to a traditional receptionist. However, if for whatever reason you want to hire in-house staff to work on-site and manage calls, you should expect to spend a large amount of money. 
  • Phone trees: Some businesses use automated phone systems. For some customers, it can be frustrating and time-consuming to navigate through the menu to reach the right department. 
  • Limited availability: Unless you use a 24/7 telephone answering service or have the resources to hire a variety of agents to provide round-the-clock support, your phone customer support is limited to the hours of operation for call agents.    
  • Limited access to reports and statistics: As a small business, it can be difficult to record every customer conversation in order to access important reports and statistics. You may be able to record calls if you outsource your customer service, but even so, not all telephone answering services provide this feature. 

3. Live Chat Vs. Phone Support: Final Thoughts

Using a Virtual Receptionist for Phone Support & Live Chat

Now that you know the pros and cons of live chat vs. phone support, you might ask yourself which one is best for your small business. 

The best answer to this question is, “it depends”. 

Ideally, you should offer both live chat and phone support – if you have the budget and capacity to do that. 

These days, customers want to talk to humans through a variety of channels, and customer support that’s designed for omnichannel provides your customers with the right support that makes them want to remain with your brand.  

While there are key differences between live chat and phone support based on costs, nature of interaction, and level of personalisation, you must remember that both of them make real-time interaction possible and could potentially give you high-quality leads.

However, if you were to choose one in the early stages of your business, we would recommend providing phone support to start with.

Why is that?

As we mentioned before, a small business owner is often the only one running the different aspects of a business – they take the roles of CEO, sales rep, receptionist and more at any given time. 

However, answering your own phones can do more harm than good. 

Not only you are being pulled in too many directions, but you also risk missing calls (and customers).

Not to mention that you could lose credibility as customers might think that you can’t afford to delegate certain tasks to other people.  

Sure, you might think that live chat can help you reduce your call volume, but that’s not always the case. 

The vast majority of customers still opt for the telephone when they need to speak to customer service. 

For example, a survey by Salesforce cited by Business Leader revealed that 61% of customers still want to speak to an agent over the phone when they need assistance. 

That’s why you shouldn’t underestimate the value of phone interaction for customer perception. 

A friendly voice on the other end of the phone can show the human side of your business and remind customers that you and your staff are people, too. 

While live chat can benefit your business in many ways, the phone is still the go-to channel for all customers experiencing more complicated issues.  

At B2B HQ, we’ve built our reputation on providing our customers with the best virtual office and virtual receptionist services in order to help them succeed in today’s competitive market. If you’re looking for an affordable solution to provide best-in-class, 24/7 phone support, get in touch with us today. Our professional virtual receptionist services are designed to offer the right assistance to your customers without locking you in long-term contracts or requiring any initial setup fees.  

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