Customers are becoming increasingly reliant on live chat to communicate with businesses, according to a recent study from chat software company LiveChat.

Live Chat Statistics

More specifically, LiveChat’s report found that demand for live chat features on company websites grew by 8.3 percent in 2017. But small businesses weren’t able to keep up with that growing demand as well as large companies. Enterprise grade businesses were able to decrease the number of chats that went unanswered in 2017. But small businesses saw a 19 percent increase in those chats over the past year.

For small businesses looking to adapt to this new form of communication, finding a way to respond to those chats in a timely manner is paramount. There’s no point in having a chat option on your website if you’re just going to leave customers waiting for a response.

Having customer service reps dedicated to answering live chat messages can be a big help. You can also outline hours clearly on your website indicating when you’ll be available to answer requests. Beyond that, integrating new technology like chatbots can help you quickly respond to certain frequently asked questions without having to actually be available at that time.

Szymon Klimczak, CMO at LiveChat said in an email to Small Business Trends, “As the report shows, small and mid-sized companies should work towards organizing their business in a way that makes it possible to offer instant customer service (e.g. via live chat software). One of the solutions in this case are chatbots. Currently, they are completely ready to handle the most common and repeated inquiries which don’t require any human reaction. Thanks to them, companies can run complex, 24/7 support (even with limited resources) and improve customers’ satisfaction and loyalty.”

LiveChat’s report features data from more than 21,000 companies that received at least one live chat from customers daily throughout 2017.