Think Webchat is 30% Cheaper Than a Phone Call? Think Again


New evidence has revealed that agents can only handle 2 webchats before quality is compromised.

In a recent webinar on Best Practices for Voice, Email and Webchat, we asked the question of how many chats an agent could handle. The conventional wisdom is that an agent can easily handle 3 webchats or more.

But it looks like the true answer is that only 2 webchats can be handled before quality starts to be compromised.

A significant number of respondents (39%) thought that an agent could handle 3 webchats, but only 4% of the audience thought that it could be 4 or more. The sample size was 113.


The sample size for this poll was 113.

It was probably best summed up by a member of our audience who said, “Our advisors are giving us advice that handling 3 webchats at the same time is pretty intense.”

Webchats are no cheaper than phone calls

All this then brings into question the old rule of thumb that “a webchat takes twice as long as a call when an agent has 3 simultaneous chats.”

[Web Chat is Cheaper than a voice call ]

This has led to the assumption that webchat is 17%-30% cheaper than a phone call. It now looks like this could be a flawed assumption.

It looks far from being 30% cheaper, as the cost of a webchat could be much more similar to the cost of a phone call.

There may be some additional cost savings possible with webchat, for instance bringing in some form of automation or outsourcing it to India or the Philippines (with webchat a foreign accent is less apparent).

The problem is that both of these savings are likely to have some impact on the service experience.

So, in many ways, webchat may be more about making life easier for customers than it is about cost reduction.

As another audience member put it, “For us the number 1 benefit of webchat is – it’s what our customers want.”

With thanks to Jonty Pearce at Call Centre Helper

Are you finding that webchat is cheaper than phone calls? Are you managing to maintain quality levels?

We’d be interested to hear your opinions in an email to Call Centre Helper

Author: Megan Jones

Published On: 21st Oct 2015 - Last modified: 31st Mar 2020
Read more about - Industry Insights, , , ,

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  • What amazes me is that this is self-evident. Anyone who has tried to carry on three or more conversations via IM or text, knows exactly how frustrating it becomes to follow the conversation, make appropriate comments, and deliver any type of service.

    Thank you for the additional research.

    Dave Salisbury 22 Oct at 14:38
  • Web chats are definitely cheaper. All you require in terms of cost is training and subscription. The issue with this process is: its use. Company’s tend to have an unfair expectation as to the quantity. One chat is perfect and will move faster than confusing or expecting the attention span to be engaged with two or three chats. If it is used properly the benefits would be awesome.

    Diane Haslam 22 Oct at 19:20
  • For Webchat to be cost effective the essential factor is training. A number of organisations believe that Webchat is so simple minimal training is required to support an agent. Webchat is a great customer service tool if used properly, with reference to overseas management creating a help guide with phrases and training is even more critical.

    Shereen Kenyon 23 Oct at 12:00
  • As a call centre agent myself, I know that 2 chats are well within the range for a single person to handle on their own without any compromise to the quality of the conversation. I do this daily and have been over achieving on customer satisfaction surveys. The concurrency increased to 3 chats simultaneously and everything went downhill. I felt like pulling my hair out. It would be great for the people that feel it is possible to sit in an agents seat and feel what it really is like on a day to day basis.

    Anonymous 26 Oct at 19:31
  • As someone who is both a consumer and a contact center consultant, I find the abuse of web chat to be yet another theme on blocking customers from speaking with CSRs via poorly designed IVRs.

    Yes there are appropriate uses of web chat – for a quick question during a potential order for example. But all too often, web chat is foisted on customers as a cost saving measure that doesn’t take into account any customer experience. (BTW, I average 117 WPM typing)

    So I believe that web chat should be considered only when appropriate. But I realize, current contact center management will hear only crickets and go ahead and punish customers.

    Kevin Brown 5 Nov at 01:36
  • Hi,

    I am trying to understand a few points related to the benefits of web chat:
    1) What is the impact of web chat on overall customer contact? For example, web chat typically replaces X% of voice contact
    2) What are the cost savings achieved as compared with traditional voice chat?
    3) How to measure customer satisfaction? any standard metric/score (apart from CSAT and NPS)

    Vikram Sharma 9 Jun at 08:22