Why Is Live Chat Customer Service So Hard to Get Right?


Adding live chat for customer service was supposed to solve all your service challenges.

Investing in the channel was a no-brainer, or so you thought! It would allow your staff to delight customers with quick, frictionless support. For most Customer Support Managers, that hasn’t happened yet.

Even Amazon, with its ‘world’s most customer-centric business’ ethos, hasn’t avoided embarrassment.

Just ask Chris Williams, an app developer whose hour-long live chat with an Amazon customer service rep caught headlines a few years back. Williams published the full transcript online (contains swearing) after receiving what he later described as “perhaps the worst customer experience I have had.”



Williams’ problems were caused by an unlikely level of ineptitude on the other side of the screen, but even good reps can create friction in live chat too.

…and customers really care about their experience.

When Kayako surveyed 400 anonymous consumers about live chat, 38% said poor user experience is the channel’s biggest flaw.

Typical frustrations include:

  • Effort required to start a live chat when pre-chat forms are required
  • Support not being online despite live chat displaying as available
  • Being disconnected during a live chat
  • Taking too long to respond
  • Asking for information the rep should already have

Improving the customer experience should clearly be priority number one. …and two, three and four.

Everyone loves live chat for customer service …when it works

Using live chat for customer service makes sense to the people who matter most:

  • 41% of consumers we spoke to had used live chat for support in the past 3 months


  • 40% were not confident they will get the support they need in a reasonable amount of time when starting a live chat

For all that it promises, live chat has simply become the ‘least bad’ option. This probably won’t surprise you if, like 38% of the businesses we surveyed, you know your user experience is not good enough.

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To recap, here are things we already know:

  • Customers like the idea of live chat
  • They wish the user experience was better
  • You’re not the only business that wants to improve

Why live chat? Customers want a modern messaging platform

More importantly, you know why a customer has opened live chat. They want instant answers.

A recent study by Twilio and market research firm Vanson Bourne confirmed this. The duo investigated how consumers from seven different countries want to use tech to talk to businesses and brands in 2016.

Consumers want live chat applications to work like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, and iMessage. They expect modern businesses solutions to mirror the messaging apps they use everyday.


Despite all of this knowledge, something’s missing from the picture. Our survey results suggest the key lies with how those answers are delivered.

It’s not your reps letting your customers down, it’s your software

With the best will in the world, live chat reps can be guilty of wasting customer time, creating friction rather than reducing it. More often than not, a team’s ability to support customers adequately is limited by one thing, a lack of context around their query.

Here’s a typical dilemma we’ve all seen:


A request for help …but without much of the information we need to help. What is Taylor’s goal? Has she already tried to solve the issue herself? Which precise bits of information does she need from you at this moment?

No live chat is an island

If you’re using typical support tools, this is the point where frustration sets in for both sides. You can’t offer support without asking questions, so you start a Q&A which continues until you find out what the problem is.

In this case, the CVV on the back of the card was entered incorrectly – a typical user error, but the back and forth messaging it took to reach the solution can create a lot of friction.

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In addition, many live chat tools create an isolated channel. This leaves understaffed support teams handling a tool that’s either poorly integrated alongside their help desk or customer service software. To work properly for customer service teams, live chat tools need to integrate into support inboxes.

Context and integration matter. live chat should not just add another channel, it should improve your customer support offering.

Make every live chat with customers count for more

When using live chat for customer service, your app should mirror what customers expect from a live chat conversation. To do that, it needs:

  • A support inbox that has all conversations going into one place
  • Proactive live chat
  • Personal and contextual information

With Journeys and Conversations in Kayako, every interaction your customer has with your business becomes part of your support process. Site visits, purchases, shipping history, plus events from your own product, app, or service. So there’s no need to ask additional questions.

The information your team needs to respond quickly and personally is right at their fingertips. Let’s look at Taylor’s problem again using Journeys and Conversations:


A simple message asking Taylor to try the last three numbers on the back of her card, and she’s back on her way – no friction, no frustration.

Your customer wants an advocate for their issue

Using live chat for customer service needs to imitate the format we use to message friends, and the feel of those interactions.

Our friends anticipate what we want because they implicitly understand our context; with the right information to hand, so can your reps.

By pulling all contextual information into the support process, you can understand every step of the support journey.

Your reps now have the information they need to craft exceptional interactions that are timely, relevant and effortless. Your customers feel assured that a friendly, knowledgeable human being understands and supports their needs.

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Who wouldn’t take that opportunity?

Here is your opportunity to deliver on live chat’s promise

83% of consumers have given up on a live chat out of frustration at slow responses and poor replies. We think that number should be lower …and with your help, we can make that happen.

Kayako Messenger users know firsthand that integrated, contextual data can be used to delight customers with Live Chat responses that are effortless, personal, and proactive.  If your current software doesn’t deliver that to your team when it’s needed, it’s time for an upgrade.

Reduce friction in Live Chat for customer service and deliver effortless experiences to your customers today using journeys and conversations in Kayako. Sign up for a 14-day free trial.

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