Live Chat: Comparing In-house vs Managed Live Chat.

Jessica Peckett
Head of Demand Generation
Live Chat
Read Time: 4 minutes
December 5, 2022

Live chat is an incredibly powerful tool that when used correctly can enhance customer service, drive website engagement and increase sales. But before you get started, the first thing you need to ask when stepping into this exciting new world is “how will you manage live chat?”

There are two options when it comes to managing human-led live chat…

1. In-house live chat: Manage the chat yourself

2. Managed live chat: Outsource this to a third party

And there are valid reasons for each. Let’s explore these.

Now is the pivotal moment of deciding whether to stick or twist. Whether the decisions you ponder are about outlays, personnel or scaling back targets, it’s one of the most challenging business decisions many will make.

1. In-house live chat

Managing chat in-house is when a business deploys chat on its website and their existing team is responsible for the day-to-day operations of responding to any chat queries in real-time. There are both benefits and challenges associated to managing live chat through an in-house team.

Pros of in-house chat management

The core reason to go with in-house chat management is to have complete control over the entire process, that way you can ensure quality.

Cons of in-house chat management

The biggest con for managing chat in-house is the human resource and budget required to get this set up and the ongoing daily operations.

There are a few scenarios in which managing chat in-house is the best option. These include:

A. When specialist knowledge is needed

For businesses whose products or services are complex, in-house chat operators who are on the ground floor will be better served to answer incoming questions.

B. For technical customer service

If the reason for deploying live chat on your website is to provide customer service in which customers are seeking help with technical or account issues, this is best managed by an in-house team.

2. Outsourced live chat

Outsourced live chat, also called managed live chat, is when the day-to-day responsibility of chat operations is entrusted to a third party who specialises in chat. As with running this in-house, outsourcing comes with its own benefits and challenges that need to be considered.

Pros of outsourced chat management

The biggest advantage of outsourcing your live chat is cost savings. You save time and money on hiring, training and managing a team of chat agents. You also have the ability to scale as and when needed without having to worry about headcount hurdles.

Cons of outsourced chat management

You are trusting a third-party provider with a key part of your customer experience. If your trust is misplaced, this can have a lasting negative impact on your brand.

Outsourcing chat operations to a third party is recommended for a number of scenarios. This include:

A. When budget scalability is needed

The reality of outsourcing your live chat is the headache of hiring, training and managing a team is taken care of. As your business grows, the requirement for chat agents is easily managed through your provider, allowing you to focus on what you do best.

B. For 24/7 availability

If the purpose of your live chat is to be available 24/7, the human resource and the cost required to maintain a 24/7 operation is high. Best to outsource this to a company that specialises in live chat and has trained staff ready to go.

Factors to consider when making your decision

While in-house operators can offer personalised and consistent customer experience, this can be more expensive and time-consuming to manage. On the other hand, outsourcing is a cost-effective solution, but may not always match the level of personalisation or customer service needed. There are a range of factors to consider.

1. Your budget

Outsourced live chat providers can be a more cost-effective solution than hiring in-house operators. It’s important to factor in the cost of the software, training, and support when comparing the two options.

2. Your customers’ needs

If you have a large or complex customer base, you may need the personalised attention that in-house live chat operators can provide. However, if the needs of your customer base are fairly straightforward, outsourcing may be a more cost-effective option.

3. Business requirements

Some businesses need live chat support 24/7, while others only need it during business hours. If you need live chat support around the clock, outsourcing might be your best option.

4. Human resource management

Do you have an existing team to manage chat, will you need to hire a team, or is it best to have a third party who specialises in chat operations take the reins? The HR cost of running in-house chat is high, but depending on the use case can be the necessary path.

5. CRM integration  

If your business needs to integrate chat support with its CRM, do you have the expertise to integrate in-house or does your provider allow for your integration needs?

6. The goal of live chat

Live chat can be deployed for a range of reasons. When making your decision, make sure this is front of mind. If it’s technical support then in-house would be best but if it’s based on increasing lead generation then find a provider who specialise in this (like us!)

Ultimately, the best way to decide whether to hire in-house or outsource live chat operators is to weigh the pros and cons of each option and choose the one that’s best for your business.

Why not try our managed chat solution for our 14-day free trial? Book a demo here!

When deciding whether to hire in-house operators or outsource to a third-party provider for live chat support, businesses should consider their budget, customer base, specific needs, and the quality of the live chat software and operator training and support.

Ensure that your decision matches the level of personalisation or customer service your business is banking on to thrive. Live chat has been shown to be preferred by customers, increase sales, and boost website conversion rates.

By considering all of these factors, you can make the best decision for your business and provide your customers with the best possible live chat experience.