I don’t know if there’s such thing as a “typical consumer”, but if there is, I’m probably not one.
For one thing, because of what I do for a living, I sit in front of a computer many hours a day. And I’m self-employed. And I’m a pretty good typist.
So, when I have questions about a product or service or need to contact vendors about problems I have with their products or services, I tend to use Live Chat before anything else.
And my purpose in writing this article today is to encourage you to give Live Chat a try — if you haven’t already.
Live Chat is good for impatient people. I’m one.
I’m usually looking for an immediate answer, so email is too slow for me, and a phone call or Live Chat suits me best. But I always have a twinge of dread about phone support because I anticipate being put on long holds or having to listen to all the menu options which reportedly “have changed” or having to strain to hear the faint voice or unfamiliar accent on the other end. So more often than not, I opt for Live Chat when it’s an option.
On balance, my experiences with Live Chat have been pretty good.
I’m sure you’ve seen Live Chat widgets on Web sites. They’re the little graphics hovering in the lower right corner of the Web page with a little banner saying something like, “We’re here to help!”
I haven’t always been a fan of Live Chat.
When I first encountered these little widgets years ago, I avoided them. And when the operator on the other end tried to initiate a conversation with me, I didn’t like it. I felt as if my space and privacy were being invaded. It seemed creepy that someone on the other side of the Web page knew I was there.
But over time I’ve mellowed and wised up.
I’ve come to understand and accept that there’s almost nothing I can do on the Web that is truly private.
And I’ve come to accept that when the Live Chat agent pops up and asks if I want help, it’s no different than the sales associate at my local big box hardware store asking if she can help me find something. (Okay, bad example. Sales associates at big box hardware stores are notorious for never being around when you need them and for turning down aisle 12 way when they see you in aisle 11.)
So nowadays, when I need help or support from an online merchant, I go for Live Chat.
Here’s an example that might resonate with you.
For years, I paid an obscene amount of money every month for wireless service with AT&T. We had a family plan for the four of us. We had signed up for the plan years ago, when “Unlimited Data” plans were the rage. And the plan just renewed every month by default. And the prices increased a little every year or so.
I recent years, the wireless industry changed quite a bit. New plans based on data usage were introduced. The “Unlimited Data” plans disappeared, but we were grandfathered as long as we kept our original plan.
I was hesitant to change plans because I was afraid of these “data usage” plans. I thought to myself, “Ah, that’s how they get you!”
And I was lazy. I didn’t take the time do the research that would have revealed the truth: that my “Unlimited Data” plan offered way more data than we would ever need and that I was throwing my money away.
I compared plans on the AT&T Web site, but things looked too good to be true, and I had lots of questions. So I wasn’t comfortable simply changing my plan online with a couple clicks of a mouse.
The second-to-last thing I wanted to do was go to an AT&T store and engage in a futile and frustrating discussion with some salesman working on commission who was trained to double-talk me into buying something I didn’t need. (Yeah, I can be an untrusting son of a gun at times.)
What was the LAST thing I wanted to do? TALK TO someone at AT&T by phone!
Before I’d change my plan, I had a lot of questions I wanted answered, and I wanted the answers in writing.
So I bit the bullet and started a Live Chat at ATT.com.
Long story short (if that’s even possible at this point), I “talked” with an AT&T agent on a Live Chat that lasted 60 minutes. I got all my questions answered, and within minutes of ending the chat I received an email transcript of the discussion.
I made the decision to change plans, and our monthly bill is now half of what it used to be.
Your mileage may vary. Your circumstances and preferences might differ from mine. But the next time you need pre-sales questions answered or support for a problem from an online merchant, consider giving Live Chat a chance.
In the comment section below, please feel free to share your consumer experiences with Live Chat. I’d love to hear from you.