Why live chat fails (and what to do about it)

Live chat software brings with it a multitude of promises. It provides a fast-paced support method, for immediate assistance. It lets you connect with customers in a format they prefer. And it helps you support the customer journey from the second they land on your site.

But for all its strengths, potential and functionality, it’s not infallible. Live chat fails too. And, when it does, it can hurt the customer experience. Fortunately, there are things you can do and use to reduce the chance of a chat failure ruining a customer’s day.

Here we explore the reasons why live chat fails, and what you can do to prevent it.

Before the chat

Live chat fails can hit early — even before the customer connects with you.

It’s too hard to find

If visitors must hunt for your chat option, they likely won’t bother. So, your live chat fails to even attract customers.

To combat this, you should make your chat option reachable from any page. We recommend placing a chat button in the bottom-right corner of your site. Don’t bury it in your footer or on your contact page. You can also use proactive chat invitations to invite your visitors to get in touch.

Pre-chat hurdles

A common practice is to ask customers a few questions in the form of a pre-chat survey. But too many questions create a hurdle to effective chat service. And so, your live chat fails.

To combat this, make sure you’re only asking for crucial information — the kind you need to provide the best service. With chatbots, you could even make this process into a conversation of its own, reducing the hurdle further.

Long wait times

When consumers connect to chat, they expect a speedy reply. Your live chat fails, then, when they’re kept waiting. This might be due to a long chat queue driving up wait times.

So, you need to ensure effective queue management. An effective queue system should display how long each customer has waited to connect, and send triggered messages as needed. Meanwhile, features like concurrent chats and suggested response also help fight long waits. With them, your team can optimise their queue management and keep wait times down. 

No availability

Even worse than a slow reply is no reply. It might be out of hours, something could have gone wrong, or everyone is simply too busy. No matter the cause, not getting a reply is a huge bugbear for live chat users.

Addressing this means making sure you have suitable offline settings configured. You can configure your live chat button to respond to office hours and agent availability. This means you can choose to automatically remove the chat option when your agents are busy or logged out. Or, you can display an offline message and offer the option for visitors to request a call.   

During the chat

Your chat channel isn’t off the hook once the visitor has connected either. There are more pitfalls to navigate. And a failure to do so means there’s a possibility your live chat fails during the chat too.


Untimely disconnections are a huge reason that live chat fails. Having put in the effort to connect via chat, it’s excruciatingly frustrating to then get prematurely disconnected. You then have the joy of repeating the whole process and starting from scratch.

If the customer has not replied for a while, don’t just disconnect right away. First, send a follow-up message and give them a chance to reply to that. If they still fail to reply, give them a way to connect with you again before disconnecting the chat. So, you haven’t left them out in the cold if they still need you.

Repeating messages

Live chat also fails when customers find themselves forced to repeat themselves. Maybe it’s for a new agent after a chat transfer, maybe it’s due to inattentiveness. Whatever the cause, it shouldn’t happen.

A good live chat solution will have features to help prevent this forced repetition. For instance, skills-based chat routing reduces the chances of needing to transfer the customer. Agents can also make use of handy CRM integration and chat history, so that they have all necessary info to hand.

Forced channel switching

Sometimes a support experience calls for more than a standard chat can handle. Here is another area where live chat fails. Customers can find themselves forced to swap to email to share files, or on the phone, queuing up to get vocal discussions.

But live chat doesn’t have to fail here. With a comprehensive chat service, everything you need is there in the client. For example, file sharing means you can send and receive files through the chat window. And if you do need to connect via voice, omnichannel calling lets you do so seamlessly.

Meeting the promise

Your chat channel is not a silver bullet. Without a great strategy and empowered agents, it’s not going to create great customer experiences.

Sometimes, live chat fails. But for the most common and bothersome reasons, you now know what to do, and the feature that can help. With the right strategy, you can meet the potential of your live chat channel.

Useful links

How to improve live chat usability: a quick-start guide

One lump or two: knowing your customers has never been easier

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