Live-Chat vs Messaging: What’s the Difference?

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Today, the way customers interact with organisations is evolving swiftly. Digital is king, and serving them across each channel is vital. Why? Because that is where they are and anticipate brands to be. They also expect timely and resolutive responses in such cases.

As a CMO or board member with responsibility for customer propositions, service or experience that companies know they need to differentiate and move to more integrated customer communications, that more readily reflect how customers want to engage with brands. Integrating Live-Chat and messaging into the digital channel strategy through the website experiences and apps is a vital part of that transition — connecting customers to agents who have sufficient technology to manage their needs with fluency and ease.

One of the crucial mistakes is to conflate live-chat and messaging as the same thing – they are not.  As an executive looking to understand where best to deploy digital channels to best effect, let’s look at them more closely.

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What is Live-Chat?

Live–chat is a must-have for any brand’s website. Customers react positively and prefer it over email and phone. Live-chat provides customers with real-time interaction they desire. Analytically, it is more adaptable than other channels, easy to monitor, and cost-effective. That’s why 44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person during an online purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer. The convenient and hassle-free nature of the channel is appealing to customers, as Live-chat is integrated on your website, and the customer need not leave a page to speak to an agent.

What is Messaging?

We use messaging apps daily to connect, and the number of users engaging on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp demonstrates this. However, it does not stop there; now there’s an increasing number of companies using these messaging channels to meet demands placed by clients and prospects. This helps to answer the expectations of 75% of consumers who are more likely to purchase from a company that knows their name and purchase history and recommends products based on their preferences.

If you have not already incorporated messaging into your business, there are reasons why companies should start doing so. In particular, channels such as WhatsApp Business Solution and Apple Business Chat.

How can I tell live-chat and messaging apart?

  • Conversation history
    Messaging is asynchronous meaning it can keep a conversation history between agent and customer. The conversation can also continue at different times as one thread, meaning information does not need to be repeated. Live-chat is synchronous and does not keep the blocks of chat as historical data. If the customer leaves the page or doesn’t answer fast enough, the chat session ends, and they have to explain his problem again.
  • Cross-device
    Unlike Live Chat, messaging apps are available across multiple devices, giving customers the freedom to switch between devices, and still see ongoing conversations in their app.
  • Availability
    To be offered as a contact channel to customers, live-chat requires the presence of agents at all times. If no one from the customer service team is available or outside opening hours, live-chat is not displayed on the website. On the other hand, messaging can be used by customers at any time. If an agent is available, they reply instantly; if not, the request can still be received by the brand and answered later.
  • Target customers directly
    One of the specificities of live-chat is the ability to send a pop up to customers browsing a specific page. This can be very useful to target qualified visitors and increase conversions. This approach can also be used with messaging through a website widget but is less common. Messaging is usually offered to all customers.

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Live-chat and messaging are some of the most common digital channels for customer service today. While live-chat is mainly adapted to usage on a desktop for sales questions to provide immediate assistance, messaging can be used throughout the full customer journey, across multiple devices.

Messaging has considerable advantages over Live Chat as we have read above. It doesn’t mean however that you should ignore Live Chat.  The reality is that every organisation needs to understand its customer base and their typical behaviours online.  You can then make decisions that will define the digital channels you need to use, and how they should be connected together to give a unified view of the customer.  That understanding is the secret to delivering outstanding customer service as a differentiator that will drive up brand loyalty.

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