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We're adding a live chat button to our site which will display within the help and support section. This is positioned in the bottom right, similar to Facebook.

Should I display the live chat option only when an advisor is available or should I show a disabled state to say 'chat is offline' or along the lines of chat being unavailable? If clicked, this might display with an option to email instead for example.

My only issue with this is that we would want to encourage visitors to self serve before directly contacting us.

Thanks!

  • Personally, I hate those ≈ 95% of all chat-enabled websites that I visit which promise to have a support chat, only for me to discover that the chat is currently offline after I clicked an icon. – Uwe Keim Sep 8 '15 at 7:45
  • Why don't you just display a "contact us via E-Mail"-Button instead? Sometimes it doesnt matter if it's live or not. Sometimes I just want my problem/question to be solved/answered which means that I somehow want to concat them and want good response as soon as possible - live chat is fine but e-mail is also fine as long as they don't hide the concat button/adress – BlueWizard Sep 8 '15 at 13:16
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    Possible duplicate of Lack of Agent feedback - Live Chat waiting time – New Alexandria Jul 16 '19 at 22:16
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  1. First, showing system status is always good for UX (Visibility of system status)
  2. According to what You wanted to do, show him the way.
  3. Give a solution to user. (Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors)

Ten Usability Heuristics

So the UX can be;

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

  • Looks good to me, but why hide information users need right now behind an additional click? Working hours are so small, even doctors who work 1-2 different time periods per day manage to print them on their business card. My advice: put the hours out there instead of the link, then move the alternative advice a bit further to give it its own visual cohesiveness and prevent overcrowding. – rumtscho Sep 8 '15 at 8:43
  • Thx @rumtscho. I'm focused on Jade's main problem "self serve before directly contacting us". Yes second click meanless, if you want to show working hours. At the other hand, if you give users to working hours at the first sight, you will lead the users for wait live chat. – Megawolt Sep 8 '15 at 11:19
  • Why should someone hide the contact times via spoiler? – BlueWizard Sep 8 '15 at 13:17
  • Hi all, thanks for your comments. Like @Megawolt said, we'd want the customer to try to self serve before immediately seeing a live chat button and getting their answer via an advisor. We also don't have a great amount of online advisors at the moment so live chat would not be available to everyone during a certain time period, therefore, would specifying times be even more annoying? – Jade Sep 8 '15 at 13:53
  • Hey @Jade, it's bad UX, if you can't be online during these times. So, honest texting may be more attractive. I mean "Sorry we don't have too many advisors to be online for now :/". – Megawolt Sep 8 '15 at 14:08
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Display that Advisors are offline, but keep the EditText functional.

You should proceed with an explanation, including the following lines:

Our Advisors are offline. However, feel free to ask us any questions.

If the user sends a query..

Our Advisors will get back to you on this in X unit of time.

If you happen to leave this webpage while the Advisors are offline, you'll get an Email to users-email@domain-name.com with a reply.

We can continue to advise from there!

This ensures that the feature isn't useless on your webpage and you can always get back to the User via Email if they are offline.

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Live chat is a feature that people want. So it's likely a nice thing to mention all the time.

However, when it's not available, the next likely bit of information a user would want is when it will be available. So I'd suggest the following:

Live Chat
Sorry, chat is unavailable at this time
Chat hours are from 9-5 CST

  • +1 for mentioning time. That's what I look for when the support agent is not available. – Adit Gupta Sep 7 '15 at 18:29

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