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What’s the buzz with online chat for banks?


Online chat isn’t new. In fact, sending text from one computer to another has been around since the earliest days of the internet.

Anyone out there remember chatrooms?

Businesses have been leveraging live chat for customer support since the turn of the century. Those chat boxes ranged from annoying popups to less-than-believable bots chock full of stock replies to truly helpful interfaces for immediate connection. The use of online chat ebbed and flowed in the years to follow.

Today, real-time messaging is once again prevalent in websites for many industries, and the trend only seems to be gaining speed. According to, prospects who chat are 82% more likely to convert than non-chatters (source). One Facebook study found that 53% of customers are more willing to spend with a business that has chat platform functionality on their website.

But what about banks?

In 2012, The Financial Brand found that about 20% of banks and credit unions used live chat. 18% responded that they didn’t have the service at the time but planned to implement in the future (source).

In 2018, when asked how customers would prefer to address an issue or complaint with their banking provider, 43% said they would prefer to use a bank’s live chat or chatbot. The only answer to get a higher percentage was calling a service representative (source).

A review of major national banks reveals that many of the “big boys” are using it, and live chat seems even more popular overseas. How many smaller financials in the U.S. use online chat remains a mystery, but BrownBoots has seen an increase in clients that integrate chat with their custom bank websites.

In fact, live chat integration has become a recurring topic of conversation when scoping out our website redesign projects. We expect that some of our existing clients will introduce that functionality to their websites in 2020 as well.

One of our recently launched websites, Lakeside Bank, leverages Intercom’s live chat tool. The application lives in the bottom-right corner of the screen. The icon is unobtrusive but easily found for those who want to text a customer representative.

Although the use of chatbots to automate customer interactions remains controversial — and a vastly uneven experience across applications — connecting your (human) product and service experts to your customers via live chat is a potentially lucrative opportunity for increased customer and prospect engagement.

As banks try to reach tech-savvy audiences (i.e. a younger demographic), embracing new technology goes with the territory. That may include a robust suite of online banking tools, ITMs and, yes, live chat.

With more and more customers seeking online solutions for their banking, why wouldn’t you add another channel for customer service and sales?

While live chat isn’t a mandatory component for every bank website yet, future-focused financials would do well to consider adding it to their customer-communication repertoire.

Learn more about our full-service bank marketing agency.

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