Remember when email was king and texting was something that barely existed? Or was only something kids and people from other countries did?

Well, those days are well behind us now. In fact, live chat or live messaging for business is quickly revolutionizing sales, service provision, and the overall customer experience for most products and services.

To explain, live chat refers to the messaging apps that pop up when you’re on a business’s website, but are increasingly available in a wide variety of other apps as well. Live chat allows a customer instant access to customer service, without waiting on hold or to receive an email response.

Perhaps even more importantly, live chat can be embedded in other apps, including mobile apps on smartphones. According to the Pew Research Center, 72% of adults in the U.S. own a smartphone in 2017, up from only 35% in 2011. Clearly, the ground is fertile for live chat to grow quickly. Here are three reasons why it’s definitely here to stay.

Flexibility

Live chat can be used in a wide variety of ways.

The first and most common way to encounter live chat at the moment is the pop-up chat on websites, which enables you to ask questions, place orders, open accounts, or complete any number of other tasks in a more customer-friendly way. You may be thinking about the experience from years ago on a banking or car dealer website. Think again. The experience is much better.

Next, chat can be embedded into any number of apps and is rapidly taking the place of traditional help FAQs or other, less responsive methods of taking questions. HubSpot has very good in-app chat for problems and questions and Apple recently the rollout of its new Business Chat, which will allow responsive chat conversations with companies that can embed links to other apps as needed.

Finally, you can use both chat bots, or online programs that handle FAQs in chat conversations, or actual humans to interface with your customers.

Efficiency

Closely related to flexibility, the software’s malleability makes it substantially less expensive to use than the typical call center.

First, chat “bots” are extremely inexpensive and are able to handle many FAQs.

Next, human service providers can respond to several chat inquiries or service needs at the same time, which great improves productivity.

By combining both, you can refine the balance of cost and level of service that works for your particular business.

Convenience

Perhaps most important is the effect that live chat is having on the consumer experience. Rather than waiting on hold or getting passed around to various ‘specialists,’ filling out online forms and waiting for responses, or sending an email in hopes of a response, live chat allows for instant interaction with a company’s representative which, when actual humans are available for more complex issues, typically proves far more satisfying an experience.

Even as far back as 2009, this survey found that 63% of respondents were more likely to return to a website after they had engaged in live chat.

Another found that 45% of companies that offer web chat or something similar more site traffic and a reduction phone inquiries at the same time.

Finally, a survey by eDigital’s Customer Service Benchmark found that live chat provides the highest satisfaction levels for any customer service channel.

Given the advances that have taken place in the technology since then, we can expect that this experience will be replicated many times over in the years to come.

The Time is Now

In spite of the strong evidence that live chat can help your business, many companies have yet to employ live chat in their business. If you want to get or stay ahead of the curve, look into what live chat can do for your business.