Chat vs. Messaging: understanding the distinction

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Chat vs. Messaging: understanding the distinction

The age-old business mantra emphasizing the importance of customer service true even in today’s competitive digital age. Therefore, choosing the right mode of interaction is more important now than ever in a customer journey: live chat vs. messaging – which one is the right fit for your business?

Picture this: your customers are online, ready to – engage with your brand, seek information, or make a purchase. But which channel should you choose to meet their expectations? Which channel your customers are likely to prefer?

FACT: 59% of customers trust the brands they interact with. And the quality of brand interactions is integral to building customer trust.


Let’s explore.

Chat vs. messaging: Understanding the differences

The primary difference between chat and messaging in customer support is their communication styles. Chat or live chat allows immediate response and quick resolutions. Messaging, however, occurs at the user's convenience and is better suited for less urgent inquiries. Live chat is ideal for real-time assistance, while messaging allows for flexible, ongoing communication.

Chat offers immediate engagement, while messaging provides a more flexible response time. Both are essential tools for any business that interacts with customers regularly.

Chat, also known as live chat, typically takes place on a company’s website or application, requiring real-time participation from both parties. It's a real-time method focused on instant support.

Messaging provides an easygoing way to interact across a company's website, app, social media, and email. It's asynchronous, meaning you can engage at your own pace and always revisit the conversation history.

What are chat messages?

Chat messages are the digital equivalent of hallway conversations in the tech world. Just as you might have a quick chat with a colleague about a project at the office water cooler, these real-time online interactions enable immediate feedback and collaboration.

Whether it's troubleshooting a software issue or brainstorming a new feature, chat messages streamline communication, making it efficient and user-friendly for both teams and customers. It's the modern way businesses keep users engaged and operations smooth.

Live chat offers a direct line of communication – allowing businesses like yours to address customer inquiries, provide solutions, and engage in personalized interactions instantly.

With the help of AI, live chat offers quick responses to common queries and assists with routine tasks. Live chat operates 24/7, allowing resolutions of numerous questions simultaneously, enhancing efficiency in customer support.

As per Insider Intelligence's article on the chatbot market in 2022, 40% of internet users worldwide prefer chatbot interactions.

When should you use live chat?

Live chat is an essential tool for effective customer interaction. It's important for boosting customer support and engagement. Here's when it proves invaluable:

  1. Immediate customer assistance: Live chat is a very effective medium when your customers want instant automated resolutions. For example, an e-commerce user can start a new conversation through chat to learn more about the product.
  2. Complex queries: When your customers have issues, live chat provides a platform for detailed real-time explanations. Later, your tech support teams can utilize the information discussed and stored in chat sessions for troubleshooting.
  3. Sales: Live chat session can be a game-changer for sales because it assists in the decision-making process and directly increase conversions.

Proactive engagement: It can be a way for you to initiate conversations with visitors. For instance, a SaaS company might proactively reach out to website visitors who've spent time on their module calculator tool.

How to integrate a chat module on your website or app?

Integrating a chat module on your website or app is a strategic step toward enhancing customer engagement. Here's a brief guide on how to do it:

  1. Select the right tool: Choose a chat platform or live chat software that aligns with your business needs, whether a live chat solution with human agents, a chatbot-driven system, or a hybrid solution such as DevRev.
  2. Integrate the chat widget: Install the live chat widget on your website or within your app. Ensure it is prominently placed for easy access by visitors.
  3. Customize and configure: Personalize the customer portal to match your brand's aesthetics and define automated responses. Configure chatbot rules and set working hours.
  4. Train agents or program chatbots: Train live agents to handle different queries and/or program chatbots to respond to common queries and manage routine tasks.
  5. Test and optimize: Test the chat module thoroughly, gather user feedback, and continually optimize the system for a better user experience.

Following the steps mentioned above, you can seamlessly implement a chat module and improve customer interaction on your platform.

Using an AI-native platform such as DevRev, you can manage in-app live chat with ticketing in a unified way. You can also integrate an in-app GPT chatbot that is pre-trained with your knowledge base into support ticketing workflows.

When chat is a highly convenient and cost-effective way to connect, it should be noted that it also comes with a challenge – once a chat window is closed, it cannot be restarted.

Ultimately, by using live chat, businesses can achieve the following:

What is messaging?

Messaging is a continuous conversation between customer support agents and customers or potential customers. It takes place on social media apps, the company website, and apps. It is a step up from live chat. It is asynchronous communication, enabling customers to send and receive messages at their convenience without the compulsion of immediate responses.

There are two types of messaging: social and embedded.

Social messaging takes place on the messengers or DMs of social media platforms, such as Facebook Messenger, X DM, Instagram DM, etc. Social media has become a part of daily life. Therefore, getting in touch with customer support through social media is the most comfortable way for today's customers. For businesses, it streamlines communication, offering efficiency, convenience, and real-time support to enhance the overall customer experience.

Embedded messaging is like sending text messages for a specific inquiry or issue. Customers can initiate conversations with support agents or AI chatbots, seeking assistance while remaining on the same platform. For instance, a retail site may employ an embedded chat widget to help shoppers with product recommendations, ensuring a seamless shopping experience.

It is a preferred method of communication for customers because of its familiarity and convenience. However, reaching a resolution may take a few hours to days.

Some of the key findings published by Forbes in an article titled ‘save your customers time and money with SMS customer service’ include:

  • Americans use SMS more frequently in comparison with other messaging apps.
  • Americans send nearly 26 billion SMS messages every day.
  • Reports show that – unlike emails and social media messages, consumers open approximately 98% of SMS messages, and other 90% of SMS messages are read by recipients within the first three minutes.

When should you use messaging?

Messaging can be used for purposes like inquiries, current status, updates, etc. Here are some scenarios:

  • Ongoing conversations: When customer interactions require time flexibility, messaging allows you and your customers to start, pause, and resume discussions without losing context.

For instance, a user with a complex issue in SaaS can have an ongoing dialogue with the support agent and receive updates and step-by-step instructions.

  • Multiple messaging channels support: Messaging offers a unified platform for multichannel support. You can integrate messaging into your websites, apps, and social media, ensuring consistent support across various touchpoints.

Your customers can send messages through multiple devices and consistently talk/follow up with the support agents.

  1. Personalized interaction: Agents can address customers by name and provide tailored solutions, enhancing the customer experience.
  2. Document sharing: Messaging enables the sharing of documents, images, and videos, making it suitable for scenarios where visual aids or file exchange is necessary, such as technical troubleshooting or product demonstrations.
  3. 24/7 support: Considering it is an asynchronous communication method, it helps you provide customer support 24/7, catering to more customers in different time zones and accommodating late-night inquiries.

How to integrate messaging into your customer support?

  • Set up the messaging platforms: Build and update your social media profiles, and then set up your in-app and website chat messaging, as well as third-party messaging apps.

Note: It is important that you select the ones that best suit your target audience and objectives.

  1. Train your team: Ensure your customer service team is well-versed in messaging etiquette and quick response strategies. You can create a manual or a checklist for them to follow.
  2. Implement automated responses: For common and repetitive inquiries, you can integrate chatbots or automated responses to provide quick answers through messages and free up your team to focus on more complex issues.
  3. Offer 24/7 availability: Quick answers directly result in higher customer satisfaction. Therefore, consider offering round-the-clock support, especially if you have a global customer base.
  4. Monitor and improve: Closely check your messaging performance, customer feedback, and success ratio. You can use the analytics to identify areas of improvement and then strengthen your messaging strategy.

Understanding your business: Aligning with customer perspectives

Every industry has its unique communication preferences, influenced by the nature of its business and the expectations of its customer base. To clarify, let's examine a couple of industries.

If you have a travel business —

Your customers are more likely to have a mix of inquiries. For support-related issues like booking changes, travel arrangements, or itinerary updates, messaging is highly effective. Travel plans can be complex, and your customers appreciate the flexibility of messaging to address their queries at their convenience.

On the other hand, when travelers are exploring destinations and need assistance with trip planning, offering a live chat can help them receive personalized recommendations and prompt booking assistance, ensuring a smooth customer experience.

If you have a tech product –

When customers face technical hiccups, they often prefer messaging tech support to explain the issue, share error details, and interact at a time that suits them.

Take this scenario: A user experiencing software compatibility problems can send over their system details through messaging, allowing the support team to give precise fixes.

If someone's researching your software's features for consultancy needs, having a live chat feature on your website is beneficial. Using a blend of chatbots and human agents ensures questions are addressed efficiently and promptly.

Find the perfect balance

Live chat and messaging play important roles, so striking a balanced mix is essential. Factor in your industry, the nature of your product, and your operational setup to determine the best communication channels for your customers. Aim to create a cohesive environment where customers can effortlessly switch between web chat, text messages, and emails, ensuring a smooth and satisfying experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

A chat strategy is a carefully created line of action or process containing detailed steps to be taken by the customer support team. A powerful chat strategy can be prepared after analyzing the entire customer journey, evaluating self-service options, and reviewing previous customer service conversations on all mediums.

Communicate promptly and effectively with a complete focus on helping your customers with their inquiries. You can maintain a friendly yet professional tone to create a positive atmosphere and personalize your interactions so that your customers feel valued.

The three primary instant messaging apps used are Telegram, WhatsApp Messenger, and Apple Business Chat. These apps take the traditional messaging experience to the next level, making it convenient for customers to contact customer service agents, and effective for companies to assist customers during the pre and post-sales journey of the product.

Customers can tell when the information is genuine. Therefore, companies will bring personalization to their instant messaging strategies. In the future, messaging will give way to two-way conversations when it comes to customer support, enhancing engagement and improving relationships between companies and customers.

Jeel Patel
Jeel PatelMember of Marketing Staff

Jeel Patel, a marketing team member at DevRev, excels in writing about customer support, CRMs, and startups. His expertise shine in every piece!

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