Business Live Chat vs. SMS Chat: Which is Better for Your Business?

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Almost every business needs a chat option on their website. When customers have questions - as they always do - you need to be able to answer them quickly while keeping the personal touch that makes your business unique.

But which kind of chat is best for your business?

This post is going to pit two popular options against each other - “live chat” and “SMS chat.” Both are good and have distinctive characteristics, but which is better for your business?

Let’s find out.

What is live chat?

Live chat is a widget that goes on your website that lets viewers start online conversations with your business. A company representative sees new conversations in the backend of their live chat dashboard and can type responses as needed.

The entire conversation takes place online, while the viewer stays on your website and the representative stays in their dashboard.

What is SMS chat?

SMS chat is similar to live chat - it’s a widget that goes on your website that lets viewers start conversations with your business. Those conversations appear in your backend dashboard where a representative can respond accordingly.

But it’s different than live chat, because all messages are texts back-and-forth through your business phone number.

Inbound messages appear in your online dashboard, and your responses go straight to that person’s cell phone. They reply, and repeat.

This lets you carry on the conversation after that viewer has left your website, and at their convenience.

What chat lets you answer questions faster?

Up to 50% of sales go to the first vendor to respond, so quick communications are crucial to winning new business. They’re also important to existing customers - speed of service is a top factor in customer satisfaction.

So does SMS chat or live chat help you communicate more quickly?

It’s a toss-up. Your response time is entirely dependent on your representatives - unless you use an autoresponse. An autoresponse is a message sent or shown to viewers immediately after they message you.

Related: How to Use Autoresponder and Create Autoresponses

For example, if someone chats in saying “I need help,” an autoresponse would instantly reply saying something like, “Thanks for your message! We normally respond within [X minutes]. In the meantime, take a look at these resources”

Both chat options work in real-time, and both types of chats should have autoresponse options. How quickly and helpfully you can respond, though, is up to you.

Which provides a better experience for customers?

It depends on the customer. I know that’s not very helpful by itself, so let me explain.

For a customer to communicate with your business through live chat, they must stay on your website for the entire conversation. Sometimes this is a non-issue, and sometimes customers will even enjoy it. They can get what they need and stay in one place.

But sometimes it’s a hindrance.

The average time spent on a website is about 30 seconds. If you can engage customers and resolve their questions almost instantly, then business live chat will probably be a good choice for you. Otherwise, take a look at SMS chat.

PC: 5 Fold Agency

If you can't respond immediately to live chat conversations, customers will begin to bounce - to leave the conversation and your website - before you even respond. It will be difficult to get back in touch with them, and they will probably turn to a competitor.

With SMS chat, viewers message your business, and then they can move on from your site. If you’re able to respond within 15 minutes, people (generally) are very happy, and they will carry on the conversation throughout their day as they can respond.

If you want some wiggle room for responding to inbound conversations, SMS chat is probably the better option.

Which is easier for the business or organization to manage?

SMS chat and live chat should be equally easy to manage. Both come with:

  • Multi-user dashboards
  • Name and time stamps
  • The ability to handle multiple conversations at once
  • Notifications of new messages
  • And a customizable website widget

You might be charged differently depending on which tool you use (many live chat options charge per user, while SMS chats normally do not), but day-to-day you should be able to manage both fine.

Which is easier to integrate?

This is a product-specific question that’s difficult to answer without diving deep into the weeds.

Most live chat and SMS chat options are able to integrate with other customer relationship managers (CRMs), applicant tracking systems (ATSs), and other software. However, which specific apps they integrate with varies greatly from product to product.

Zapier Integrations Search

The three common factors are:

  • Most products will integrate with Zapier, which will connect your chat widget to over 1,500 other apps
  • The more dominant your CRM is in its market, the more likely live chat and SMS chat tools are to integrate with it
  • And Better products will also have an open API that you can use to create custom integrations

(P.S. An “integration” in these cases normally syncs contacts and their conversations between two products.)

Which is better for sales conversions?

Sales and marketing are all about connecting with the right people at the right time. The right people are already coming to your site and starting sales conversations with you. That’s good.

The problem is that very few sales will happen right at that moment. Typically people are scouting for information, then they’ll make a decision later. And “later” is crucial.

You have to be able to follow-up with sales leads effectively, or you’re going to miss out on a lot of business.

You can require leads to give you their name, email, and phone number in order to start a chat with you, but it’s very difficult to have a conversation with a prospect in one place and then have to connect with them through another channel.

That’s why SMS chat beats live chat for sales conversions. SMS chat conversations happen through the prospect’s cell phone, and texting is going to be the quickest way to follow-up with sales leads (95% of texts are read within 3 minutes).

Texting is also proven to increase sales conversions by over 100% compared to following up via phone call or email.

PC: CrazyEgg

How do you get started with live chat or SMS chat?

If you’re leaning towards using live chat, there are hundreds of live chat options to choose from. Popular choices include LiveChat and ZenDesk.

If you’re leaning towards SMS chat, Text Request has a world-class SMS chat for you. You’d also get:

  • All of our individual and group (broadcast) messaging features
  • Unlimited users and contacts
  • Integrations, and more

You'd be able to text throughout your sales, service, marketing, and HR departments. To learn more about Text Request’s SMS chat, schedule a short and free demo. Or if you’re ready to get started right now, you can sign up on our Pricing page.

Got questions? Text us using the SMS chat in the bottom right corner of your screen, or visit our contact page.