5 surprising trends in digital communication

Weply has handled more than 10 million chat interactions for over 1,500 businesses. This has among other things, given us a lot of valuable data that reveal some interesting trends in digital communication. We will share the most surprising findings from our own chat data and from an official survey about digital communication in 2022. Read along if you want to know more about the preferred method of communication to companies, when people are usually chatting, and how they communicate in a chat. Let's get right to it!

1. Clients prefer to contact companies by chat

An official survey from March 2021 shows that chats are the favored way of communicating with a company. 45% in the age group 18-59 prefer to chat rather than communicate through e-mail or phone. Looking at the younger generation, we can see that the majority prefers to communicate through chat. In the age group 18-29 it is 67% that would prefer chat. A global survey from J.D. Power also found that live chat is the most favored contact method. The results from this survey was that 42% of customers prefer live chat compared to 23% for e-mail and 16% for social media or forums. Chats has definitely become a need to have communication channel in 2022.

When customers have a question specifically related to a business' website, 100% prefer to communicate through chat. So, if a potential customer visits a website and a question pops up, customers would prefer to ask their question through chat. If this is not possible, the customer's first impression might be negatively affected, which in the worst case can lead to increased customer churns. The rate at which website visitors opt-out from doing business with a company due to missing opportunities to get in contact is high. Our data shows that every second customer will search for another business, if it is not possible to contact a business through their preferred channel. And as we just told you, 45% of customers prefer to chat. Businesses can therefore risk losing a bunch of potential customers, simply because they do not have chat as a possible contact method.

2. More than 50% of customer inquiries happen outside regular office hours

We often get asked how important and valuable it is to be online and handle customer inquiries outside regular office hours. That's why we broke down our chat activity by the hour and found some clear patterns.

Only 49.4% of all customer inquiries in our customers' chat happen between 9 AM to 4 PM on weekdays. If your chat is only online and active within this time frame you're potentially missing half of your potential customers. If you add an extra hour on each end of your chat opening hours, so it is open from 8 AM to 5 PM, you would still only reach 61.7% of customer inquiries. So, even though you have a dedicated team in charge of handling customer inquiries nine hours a day, you will still miss out on a third of potential customers! That's why being online 24/7 is essential to reach your full sales potential.

3. Chat activity peaks on Mondays

If we look at chat activity throughout the week, Monday is the day with most activity. On Mondays 17.4% of all customer inquiries happens. The chat activity is distributed evenly between 8 AM through 9 PM with a minor decrease from 6 PM and onwards. Even though chat activity is higher on weekdays than weekends there is no doubt that it is important to be online then as well. Over 20% of all chat inquiries actually happen on Saturdays and Sundays! This underlines the importance of being available every day of the week if you want to attract and convert as many customers as possible.

4. Mobile device usage has increased significantly

It is no surprise that mobile devices are more popular than ever before. Our data shows what device people are using when chatting, and it confirms this trend. Just looking at the development between 2016 to 2020 the results are clear. There has been a significant shift in what device people are using when chatting. Today, over half use a smartphone or tablet compared to 2016 where only 26.1% got in touch in our chat through a mobile device. The percentage of people using a desktop computer has at the same time decreased from 73.9% in 2016 to 47.4% in 2020. This shift tells us that people today expect availability and immediacy significantly more than five years ago. Having a live chat on your site can help meet these needs.

5. Live chat conversations are typically short and to the point

Customers nowadays expect immediate service and they will not wait long before moving on to your competitor. The demand for prompt answers is reflected in the average duration of a chat conversation and the characteristics of the communication. The average length of a Weply chat is 8 minutes and 40 seconds and consists of nine interactions between the customer and chat consultant. The sentences are typically straightforward and will be clear about what they are looking for or want to know. For chat consultants, specific and clear questions are much appreciated, as it enables them to answer quicker and accurately. Giving prompt answers requires chat consultants that are trained in chat communication and able to give good simple answers, otherwise, potential customers will get impatient. At Weply we wish to meet website visitors' need for immediate answers, as we guarantee that every chat is handled within 2-4 seconds. 

There is no doubt that people love to chat – also in purchase-related situations. If you want to optimize your business's chance of converting website visitors to sales, you must be as available as possible. Consumers tend to chat outside regular office hours which is important to cater to if you want to achieve the full potential of your website visitors. The chat activity is generally good all week, but Monday is the day with the most activity. During weekends, over 20% of all customer inquiries happen which underlines the importance of being available on the weekends too. Over half of the people with internet access use a smartphone or tablet when chatting, which indicates that people expect to businesses to be available and give immediate answers to service or product-related questions.