Do Customers Really Prefer to Use Live Chat Instead of Sending an Email?


March 9, 2021

Written by

Merlene Leano


In marketing, having an omnichannel strategy for communication is your best bet at generating leads and traffic. However, if you run a startup, you will likely be introduced to several platforms involving the use of live chat and email management. These are the two most frequently used messaging channels for B2C and B2B communications.

There is an overwhelming preference of customers over live chat, with 46% more users finding it more convenient. Email undeniably also has its charm, with over 29% of the customer population using it over other forms of communication on the internet. 

The burning question then is this: How are you going to choose between these two? You have to understand their definition individually then contrast and compare each to create a conclusion to answer the question, ‘Do customers really prefer to use live chat instead of sending an email?’

What is Live Chat Support?

What does chat support do? 

It is a real-time conversation tool that is in text form. Typically, live chat support manifests in a company’s marketing scheme through a chat bubble appearing or popping up on the lower right side of their website. The chat bubble allows you to connect with your customers for the purpose of boosting sales and customer retention. 

Live chat can be used with other third-party applications. Chat support duties include managing up to 5 bubbleheads to accommodate your visitors, collect market data, and increase accessibility for better customer experience.

What is Email Support?

On the flip side of the spectrum, is the definition of email support. While live chat can store data in the cloud, emails serve as a digital waybill for you and your clients. Unlike live messaging, email is asynchronous and therefore does not follow a specific flow of time or instant connectivity between you and your end-users. 

As such, when using email support, you are typically waiting on leads and clients to reach out at their convenient time. The trick is to give them a response the soonest you can to keep them engaged. It is ideal for concerns that require more in-depth deliberation to resolve.

Now that the individual definitions have been briefly discussed, it’s time to get to know the difference of chat and email.

Contrasting Communication Channels: Email vs Customer Chat Support

The comparisons between live chat and email will be based on five key aspects. Each aspect describes advantages or strengths that shed light on the functions of each. By doing so, you get to understand why you need both or why you must focus on one more than the other.

1. Response Time

Email and Live Chat Support are polar opposites when it comes to how quickly you can respond to your end-users. With live chat, sending a reply in real-time or in a matter of seconds is possible. Email, on the other hand, takes longer for the sender and recipient to establish a consistent and continuous interaction. The duration and gap between replies may take days.

Yes, speed is crucial in keeping customers interested and ensuring they don’t feel disregarded or insignificant. But you also need to consider where response time is applicable. For instance, if a customer inquires about product variations involving other sizes or colours available, then responding through live messaging is the best option because end-users are able to make a decision on their purchase right on the spot. 

But, if the message involves explaining details involving customer information (account information, payment details, order information and verification), enticing them to subscribe to new promos or promoting a new lineup of services or products, then it would be better to discuss it in detail through email.

Think about the kind of services that you offer and your target audience. If your market comprises the younger generation, it would be best to concentrate on live chat support and then supplement it with email messaging. Businesses catering to the older generation, or people who are not as active and tech-savvy would do fine with email marketing and support.

2. Flexibility

Want to know how proactive a communication channel is? Check out how many tasks are completed. Evidently speaking, live chat allows more leeway for proactivity because of the reduced time it takes for customer service representatives to handle multiple messages. An agent can multitask to the extent that around 5 chat heads are open. The flexibility supports more flexibility on your major tasks. While email is not as proactive because it entails more intricate responses, you can still use it to win customers with professionalism and skillfulness.

3. Clarifying Issues

Always consider the complexity and urgency of the issue or question sent by your customer.  For minor and easy to solve problems, live chat is your best friend. Resolving concerns involving product inquiries and clarifications take a minimum of 42 seconds for live chat. However, if you are looking for a more extensive way to resolve your client’s concerns, use email support. You have more time to reply because it is not time-dependent and it allows more space to explain possible steps to take to handle the issue. 

4. Personalized Element

What is online chat support and what is the email support process? Understanding this is essential in calculating the degree of how empathetic your company treats your customers. Both email and live messaging have the tendency to sound robotic or too formal. 

But, it is easier to add a personalized and human element in live chat. Messages sent via email are prone to adopting a formal tone. Compared to live chat’s short character limit, email’s inclination towards lengthy responses can transform how you convey your brand to your target audience. 

Live chat’s tone is easier to manipulate since you reply in short messages and in real-time. If you want to maintain a personalized assistance using both channels, you can start by getting to know your customers better. When you speak the language that your end-users use or communicate with a tone and voice that reflects sincerity,  then meeting customers halfway and reaching an agreeing point becomes easier. 

5. Confidentiality

Email wins this round because of how the messages go directly to you. Conversations are not just exchanged through the live chat widget. One weakness of live chat is the messages can disappear anytime once the website or browser is closed. Email is more secure since you instantly have your own copy of your message along with the responses of your recipients. There are also stringent security measures you can make to ensure your emails reach your desired audience. What you need to look out for in email is the emergence of phishing scams that tend to imitate business emails to lure unsuspecting victims. 

You can still increase end-user privacy in live chat, provided that you ensure your website itself is secure, updated, has an SSL certificate installed, and most importantly, is HTTPS encrypted.

So to sum up whether customers prefer live chat over email, the answer is both a yes and a no. Depending on the nature of your business and your customers’ needs, you can use either channel of communication. Both give you the edge for your business and allow you to be more proactive.

New Media Services offers both live chat support and email support solutions for startups and small to mid-sized businesses. We support multiple languages and round-the-clock management for your live chat and email needs. To learn more about how we can augment your communication and customer service operations, send us an email!


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