March 2013: Live Chat Tools

Live chat tools are online resources that provide immediate, real-time access to a customer service representative. This allows clients to reach out to their bank without having to endure long wait times or devote their full attention over the phone. In this edition of Bank Monitor Report, we reviewed all available live chat tools provided on the public and private sites of each firm, focusing on the tool itself, such as the accessibility, features and capabilities of live chat. As we examined each bank’s live chat tools, we focused on the following issues:

  • Is the chat tool available on the public site, private site or both?
  • Is live chat available for customer support or only for general information and product details?
  • If chat is unavailable, does the firm alert the client?

During the time of this report, 11 out of the 17 firms tracked by
Bank Monitor offered a live chat tool on their public site, with only six of these firms also providing live chat within their private site. Every firm, except for one, offers visible graphic chat links only when an agent is available to speak with a customer. Only one firm always informs users about the presence and availability of online chat by offering a message in place of the chat link if Live Chat is unavailable. The availability of these tools differs among firms, with some providing easy access to live chat throughout their sites, and others limiting the tool to a single area. Two firms only offer live chat capabilities solely from within their online application. Nine firms also utilize “push” notifications as an additional way to inform the customer that chat is available.

Seven firms ask users to provide personal information prior to speaking to a live representative, with only one firm asking this on the private site. Of the six firms that ask for information prior to public site chat, three require users to provide their name, while the other three firms that ask for information make it optional. Chat topics are also an option provided by four firms, allowing users and clients to pre-select topics, and this can help dictate the flow of conversation and perhaps resolve the customer’s inquiry more efficiently.

Additional key findings from our report include:

  • Eight firms provide users with the option to print the chat transcript
  • Users have the option to turn chat notifications on or off within three firm’s chat sessions
  • Live chat is made available by 72% of banks in this report within their online applications