Live Chat used to mean using a service such as MSM Messenger To send real time messages back and forth to each other.
It was a separate piece of software that you installed on your computer and you could only talk to those people in your contacts list.

As social media came onto the scene, thanks to the creation platforms like Facebook and Twitter, private messaging and live chat functions began to be integrated into these sites, leaving the individual messenger programs as largely obsolete.

It meant that you no longer needed separate software but that the ability to chat in real time was now part of the social media experience.

As technology has improved these functions have become much more advanced. It is now possible to have video conversations using Skype or even Facebook. Live chat has even moved to mobile devices, with people receiving and responding to live chat messages in the same way they would a regular SMS on their phone. The 24/7/365 mentality is truly underway.

Another way this has had a major impact on business is through Support Services. In days gone by if you had an issue with something then the main main options were either to look at the FAQ sections of the website or to ring or email the helpdesk. This meant you had to sit and wait for a response that might not come for several hours.

With the advent of the live chat facility, many companies now offer immediate, one-to-one help via a chat box to some of their clients.

Thus cutting the response from hours to minutes.

The live chat online help facility has gone from being something provided only by very large companies, to something even small, local companies will use to ensure great customer service and customer satisfaction.

Some sites now even offer live video support, so that the helper can show you photos or diagrams of what you need to do – or just to enable the customer to speak to someone face to face. This is only offered on a few sites, notably as support with the Kindle Fire hand held device, but it is something that seems to be catching on and spreading reasonably quickly.

When the Internet first started to become popular, it seemed to make everything a great deal less personal, with automated services and emails being that extra step removed from speaking to a person on the phone regarding a query. These days companies seem to be moving away from the standard “Have you read our FAQs” response to customers’ queries and are instead being proactive with their customer service, offering a more personal touch. These days on some websites, a chat box will open with a message immediately: “hi, my name is XXX is there anything I can help you with today?” It seems companies are responding to our preference for personalized service and new website innovations are making that possible, even at a great distance