Chat technology and the paradox of communication

A live chat channel is designed to make conversations quick, easy, and convenient. But the paradox of communication means that high-powered technology does not necessarily equate to high-quality communication.

Your live chat service might have every bell and whistle available. It indisputably makes support more accessible. Unless you’re using it effectively, however, you’re still not guaranteed a meaningful or valuable conversation.

Here, we explore this paradox of communication and what it means for your live chat service.


What is the paradox of communication?

A host of clever technology tools enable different ways to converse. Think computers and the internet, smartphones, social media, and live chat software. Technology has lowered the barriers to connecting with each other.

It follows, then, that as technology improves, it will enrich our communication. And yet, the quality of human communication hasn’t improved alongside technology adoption. Indeed, in some cases, it may have worsened.

This is the paradox of communication. The technology through which we can communicate is advancing both rapidly and radically, yet the quality of our actual communication remains stagnant.


Defining communication

The key seems to lie in how you understand communication. Specifically, what differentiates sub-par communication from quality communication.

So, you might turn to the dictionary definition of communication:

Communication, (noun). The imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing or using some other medium.

If we use this definition of sharing information with other people, then the latest technologies should result in excellent communication. After all, never before has it been so easy to exchange files, data, images, ideas, appointments, links, and all manner of material with one another.

But high-quality communication goes further than explicitly sharing the thought or fact. And so, the paradox of communication persists. 


The second side of communication

While technology is fantastic for making it easy to share information, it’s less adept at conveying the human aspect of communication.

This, then, is where the root of the paradox of communication lies. Quality communication has many levels. You can’t neglect the role of empathy, understanding and non-verbal communication.

It’s easy to get (and give) an answer over chat, email, social media, etcetera. It’s harder to convey engagement, understanding, and the sentiment behind the messages.

You’re looking at a screen, not your conversation partner. How, then, can you fully connect and engage with them?


Live chat and the paradox of communication

So, how does the paradox of communication manifest in your live chat offering?

Live chat software can enable both sides of communication. Like any communication tool, it’s a great way to handle quick-fire Q&As. But you can also use it when your customer calls for more meaningful conversation.

But how exactly?  The key lies in the way you use your chat channel.

It starts with making use of your more robotic or inflexible features sparingly. For example, canned responses, live chat scripts and chatbots. These tools are best used for routine questions and basic information requests. The moment the chat extends beyond repetitive questions, you need flexibility.


Live chat communication

Beyond being wary of the robotic response, you need to promote the human touch through your chat service.

So, you might start by personalising your chat window with agent avatars. This reminds customers that they are chatting to a real person — not a bot or a script. If it suits your brand, you could also use emojis to help you communicate emotion or tone.

Empathy is a core component of any quality communication. Chat mood detection can help you keep track of how customers are feeling during busy times. But empathetic responses must come from each agent. (Empathy statements can provide a helpful guideline to start with.)

Quality communication comes from understanding and connection. So, agents must engage with each customer. That is, they should take an active role in the chat experience. This means asking clarifying questions. It means avoiding negative and passive language. And it means demonstrating to the customer that are actively looking for (and implementing) a fix to the problem.


Beat the paradox

Communication technology connects us and improves accessibility to conversation in a way that would be otherwise impossible.

But the paradox of communication means that you must view your live chat software as a tool, not a solution. You must avoid overreliance on the robotic, and you must focus on amplifying the human touch.


Useful links

The Mehrabian myth, non-verbal communication, and live chat software

Beware the robotic response

Emojis in live chat – engaging or confusing? 🤔