Phone Call vs. Chat – Is There a Winner?
Communicating via Viber, Twitter, Facebook, Skype – or just plain phone call? There have never been so many ways to get in touch with another human being. Comparing a phone call to chat, you’ll find that both have irreversibly evolved in the past decade. Enghouse Interactive wrote a compelling report about the evolution of contact centers, from white paper and calls to the future of chat communication. Dealing with a similar issue, Global Contact Centre benchmarking report states that:
“People want to engage with companies in a way which is familiar to them. So solution design needs to be framed around how they work, live, and connect with the world around them. The complexity of providing customers with a connected journey that frequently spans multiple channels. That including Internet, web chat, social media, and phone – requires greater capability and understanding.”
This speaks volumes and confirms the continued of evolution and drastic changes made to different communication channels over the years. In the traditional sense, users usually just picked up the phone to call a company’s support center. This changed with new and emerging communication channels, mobile apps and cloud services. Social networks and web chat became the number one choice for users when it comes to contacting a customer support service. Benchmarking report proves that 53.2 % customer support centers provide social media support and that chatting on social platforms is the first contact option for people aged 25 or younger. This means that an increasing number of users don’t pick up the phone and call, except as a last resort solution.
Chat is the way of achieving desired service outcomes, although the phone call has its benefits. Most importantly, this involves a much faster understanding of the consumer’s message. How many of your calls last less than a minute? Even when taking into account the growth of mobile technology and the development of different kinds of mobile devices, the number of minutes spent on the phone is constantly decreasing.
Picture 1. Interactions by channel
Chat is a great solution for customers because online chat solutions allow customers direct access to help, wherever in the world they currently are. In addition, users can multitask while waiting for an agents’ response.
Evolution of the phone call
People claim that chat is only an evolved form of the phone call. This is true when we look at services like Viber, Skype, and Facebook. Even then, Facebook supports audio and video calls, but almost no one uses them. Why? Largely because of millennials. Disliking phone calls, millennials prefer to chat, text and instant message. Looking at platforms like Facebook, chatting will always be the first option for its users. This says a lot about the success of chat as the primary channel of communication. Millennials have a deep appreciation for their time and don’t want to waste it. The last thing they want is to buy a product or service, and then spend hours waiting for a response or assistance. They’re digital nomads and many of them are used to working with smartphones or laptops, home or abroad. Time matters – that is the main reason for using chat services.
Picture 2. Chat vs. Phone call
Also, you can see the usage of live chat by age.
Picture 3. Usage of chat by age
In his article about live chat demographics, Craig Borowski states that:
“Younger people (ages 18 to 34) are more likely to have used live chat “once,” “a few” or “many times,” while older people (aged 55 and over) are more likely to have “never used” live chat, or to have used it without success (meaning, they were unsuccessful in getting their question answered).”
Benefits of using chat
Chat removes the frustration of a customer waiting for an answer – it’s instant. Waiting can be removed completely because the immediate feedback keeps the customer from leaving the chat while waiting for answers.
Chat reduces the cost of telephone bills and consistently proves it can save the time it takes the agent to solve customer problems. Increased efficiency allows agents to handle multiple conversations at the same time, which means reducing the need to hire more of intermediaries for the company.
It’s easier to write than to speak
It’s easier to explain something in writing because you can edit the text. You have time to think about your words. Chat solves the problem of misunderstanding of what a person is saying. For example, Viber is a great solution for chatting with customers. It offers public chat for communication between customers and companies. In a similar manner, using Facebook for business is a great way to communicate with your users directly.
Other chat apps
Chat apps like WhatsApp and Viber are used for “evolved” calls. Communication via these apps includes both audio and video, which is great for users because everything is available in one place. In addition, WhatsApp and Viber support variety of platforms, not just iOS, Android and Windows Phone. They also support classic phone ones, such as Nokia S40 and S60.
Improved Customer Service
Comm100 Live chat says that using chat to improve customer service and loyalty is helping companies to get a better understanding of customers.
Picture 4. Using live chat, email, and phone
„With numbers like these, it’s easy to see why customers return to businesses that provide live chat. Simply put, customers feel more confident doing business with companies that make support easy, hassle free and instantaneous. “ – Kevin Gao, Com100.
In the end, chat gives the power to users. It provides an easy way to talk and helps to provide immediate assistance. Today’s communication is precisely developed for short messages with friends, family, co-workers and the trend has just transferred to business talks. In fact, companies are happy because chat is a trend and because it allows them to connect with multiple users at the same time. Talking with five users at once takes less time than telephone interviews with five users, which must be carried out one by one. Customers are always online and they are increasingly impatient. Using chat is great for the first contact with users and offers support for customers answers and queries. The very nature of the phone puts it at a disadvantage when it comes to dealing with people, as it takes a lot of time and manpower.
However, the development of new technologies has contributed to the evolution of chatting, and the phone call took a secondary role. Development of new communication channels and social networks provide the users with more freedom in choosing the appropriate channels for communication with companies when it comes to responding to current user demands.
The millennials are increasingly choosing chat as an optimal communication channel, which proves that phone calls are slowly becoming history. It’s easy to use and provides effective results. Chat history ensures that users don’t have to worry about forgetting what they agreed to, and don’t have to remember all the answers they got over the phone. Has chat killed the phone call or is the phone call still alive?