CRM live chat: the quick win it seems?

The days when a CRM was simply a CRM are long gone.

Now, all the major players in the CRM space also offer a host of other (complementary) technology services alongside their core offering. Think web analytics, marketing automation, email services, SEO tools, and a glut of other functions that you can bundle in or out of your package.

Increasingly, live chat is one such service that the big-name brands can roll into your CRM platform. But is CRM live chat the quick win it seems?

While accessing all the technology tools you might need under one umbrella, from one vendor, is undoubtedly a smooth route to take, it’s not necessarily the best one.

When it comes to CRM live chat, what you gain in convenience, you often lose in quality.

What do we mean by CRM live chat?

CRM live chat is a web chat service that comes as an add-on option from a CRM provider. Typically, it will include fundamental live chat features only, with further add-on options for chatbots if needed.

This chat add-on (and any subsequent bot add-ons), are part of an ever-expanding suite of services that run alongside the central CRM component. So, chat comes to you along with a bundle of other tools to power digital sales and support.

Most compelling for buyers, though, is the fact that the CRM live chat add-on will integrate into the CRM as a given. The integration is automatic and effortless. After all, both chat and CRM are powered by the same provider.

So, this seems like a quick win. You can streamline your tech stack and deal with one provider for multiple services – all with quick and easy system integration.

What’s not to like?

The issue with using CRM live chat

The problem is that when you choose to use the live chat add-on bundled into a CRM package, you’re using a sideline solution.

Chat isn’t the key development focus, and its features aren’t a priority for the provider. The CRM is the heart of the business; chat is a footnote to it.

So, the chat channel you end up with will be basic. It won’t have advanced chat features, and it won’t have a great deal of flexibility.

This isn’t to say the chat component will be poor or faulty. It will be a perfectly serviceable option – just not a particularly sophisticated one.

And a simpler live chat solution might be fine. If you’re a small business with only one or two employees using the channel, the less advanced nature of CRM live chat shouldn’t present a problem.

It’s for large contact centre projects that CRM live chat becomes problematic.

Contact centre project complexity

For contact centres, chat is a business-critical component. Dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of live chat operators may be handling chats at any one time. Such a large service effort creates a wealth of demands that the live chat channel must be able to meet.

To list only a few considerations:

– Chat must have a rich range of operator monitoring and performance reporting options

– Advanced features such as translation, sentiment analysis, AI chat summaries, co-browsing and so on will often be necessary or desirable

– The chat platform may need specialist hosting provisions, such as a dedicated server or on-premises deployment

– Live chat operators will likely need to access chat via a desktop client, as well as options for a web client and a mobile chat app

– Chat may need to comply with regulated environments and offer the strictest possible security features around data processing

– The contact centre in question may need chat deploying across locations in multiple countries around the world, with the correct language provisions per country

– Chat must be able to meet all custom brand guidelines, including options for white-labelled chat or access to a chat API

– The chat provider may need to shape chat to suit the needs of a bespoke project, requiring custom development work on behalf of the contact centre

– The chat solution will need to integrate far beyond the CRM alone, and into the full contact centre tech stack

Simply, you can’t meet these kinds of considerations with a useful little CRM live chat side-line. You need a dedicated, specialist live chat solution – one focused on delivering enterprise chat projects.

Questions to ask before choosing a chat deployment route

For small businesses, CRM live chat can indeed be a quick-win. For contact centres, however, it’s not going to offer anywhere near the level of sophistication required. But what if you’re hovering somewhere in between?


How many live chat operators do I need?

If you need more than 5 operators, you should really start considering a chat solution with features advanced enough to support them and to support a high volume of chats.

Is chat a business-critical project?

If you only need chat to handle a few inbound queries a day, a live chat add-on that comes with your CRM will be sufficient. If you want to deflect busy call lines onto chat, however, CRM live chat may not be able to offer the level of coverage you’re looking for.

Does chat need to meet any specialist requirements?

For example, does your chat need to comply with a specific regulation like PCI, or HIPAA? Do you need chat to integrate into a custom system? Do you need to be able to fine-tune chat on a granular level? If so, you likely need to work with a specialist chat provider.

For the most part, knowing whether or not CRM live chat is suitable for your needs is a simple judgement call.

Using a basic chat add-on is neither a binary “good” or “bad” option – it’s just suited to a specific use case and project type.

Partnering with the experts

If it’s an advanced chat deployment that you need, then start transforming your contact centre with the UK’s leading live chat provider. WhosOn is a sophisticated live chat solution built by specialists.

Get in touch today to discuss what we can deliver.