Live chat is a web-based chat session between a customer and a company representative. A current or potential customer communicates in real-time about support issues ranging from technical support to questions about available products.
Live chat is a confidential way to community with a customer service representative. It takes place between only the two parties. It is not a chat room setup where multiple people can see the conversation.
Websites have the option of using a passive or a proactive live chat option. In a passive system, the user must seek out and click a link to initiate the live chat. A proactive live chat is a box that pops up automatically to encourage communication with the website visitor. A visitor may be chosen based on factors such as what he views or how long he spends on the website.
Live chat allows customers to ask questions without making a phone call. Users get an immediate answer, unlike an email which may not receive a reply for hours or even days. The information the customer service representative can share may be limited to general information rather than account-specific details for privacy purposes.
Some websites offer chat support at certain times. Others may have a wait if all chat representatives are busy.