We are often flummoxed to choose between a support community and real-time chats, but we're confused about when to choose the latter and when to choose the former; it gets us scratching our heads often!

Let us put an end to this dispute by comparing which is the best option under crucial situations and circumstances!

Before getting started, what is the difference between real-time live chats and a support community?

What are real-time live chats?

When customers have an issue that needs quick solutions as they are using the product or service, it can be resolved right away with the help of live chats. A real-time live chat is the ultimate deal-breaker that eliminates long email exchanges and long call-waiting queues for customers. A customer can clarify his/her issue without being repetitive and avoid the long process of explaining their problems, customers can share images, screenshots, or videos to clarify any issues they have while they are currently using your product or service.

What is a support community?

A support community is a user-generated knowledge base full of information that can help each other. This creates an ability to reach many users at once and can be particularly helpful when dealing with emerging issues, new features, or product updates, as customers will often have lots of feedback or repetitive questions. A support community does the heavy lifting for its support team in deflecting the support tickets and addressing advanced customer's issues that are not answered by the support team. Also, a support community’s knowledge base can help customer support staff to find solutions to customers' intricate issues.

If you wanna get the bigger picture of how a Support community works and how one of the most powerful SaaS companies in the world carried out a perfectly planned support community, you should definitely not miss out on this.

When is the right time to go for live chats and when to look for a support community?

Live chats

Choosing live chats can come in handy for the following reasons:

  • When customers are looking for a quick response to their queries -- instant solutions or looking for some quick-resolve routes that present the least hassles.
  • No customer loves to opt for phone or email support since it can go back and forth never-ending conversations and leads nowhere. With live chats, they can get images, screenshots, links, and documentation that would help resolve their issues effectively.
  • When customers are looking to resolve their issues in a more discreet and private space.

Support community

As a support community, you can have the following reasons for which your customers visit the community.

  • Customers come to your community to find answers to complex and advanced questions that involve deep solutions. This happens mostly when the live chats were absolutely of no luck. When customers want to navigate their way through inclining towards self-service, they look out for documentation, knowledge base,  or solutions to their problems in a support community rather than asking it in live chats.
  • When customers want to do some serious introspection and decision-making, they come to your support community to seek valuable advice from peers and community experts.
  • When customers are looking to try something new with the product or have missed any updates that have happened and if there are any benefits associated with them.
  • When customers interact and engage with your community members about the new product updates and features that are released and are looking for several cool ways to try out those features.
  • A support community is also a place where a company can figure out precisely where your customer service is underperforming and how satisfied your customers are with your product/service, also increase the NPS score of customers, reduce the time and effort that goes into support tickets.

Congruences of Live chats and Support communities

                Live chats

    Support community forum


Live chats provide instant connection without the need to dial a number and choose option by option for an hour until you finally get connected to an agent. It is such a meandering process and it is eradicated in live chats. A customer just has to type in the query.

Support communities also provide an instant connection with other members or experts in the support community.

Wait time

The wait time in live chats is negligible and the customer queries are addressed immediately.

The wait time in a support community depends on what query the customer has. A customer can simply search in the community related to the issue he is facing, if it is already posted in the community then the issue is resolved instantly. If not Knowledge base, FAQs, and resolved answers can be of great help.


Multi-tasking is one of the beautiful features a live chat provides, a customer can continue doing his work when there is any short wait time.

In a support community forum, a customer can either find the solution to the query or put out their question and continue with their work until they get an answer.

Saved queries

When the same customer has multiple issues, it is much easier to refer back to previous interactions to guide them for quicker resolutions.

You are not the only one facing the same issue, before submitting or posting your question in the forum, make sure if similar issues have been resolved in the community already. This saves a lot of time.

24/7 availability

Live chats are available only when the agents are on the clock. 

Support community forums are available 24/7 as well. Like they say it's always 5 o'clock somewhere! Someone is always available to help you out.

The final battle

The demands and needs of customers vary depending on their situation and their purpose. There are always going to be situations when customers resort to live chats, when in need of urgent and quick solutions. Whereas a customer can tune into a support community whenever they want deep solutions, advice, and knowledge from your community to learn more about how to use new features of your product or service when they don’t feel very comfortable doing it over a live chat.

Having live chats and support communities goes hand in hand like a piece of pie with a dollop of ice cream on top. You can always eat a piece of pie or a scoop of ice cream separately, but together they make an ultimate combo! Ultimately, Live chat & Support community both are inevitable and it keeps changing according to your customers' needs.

Don't miss out:

Now that you know the importance of having a Support community, why search for a community-building platform everywhere, when you could start your community with us?

If you are seeking answers to anything related to community-building, our weekly AMAs could be of profound help to you, check out our previous AMA sessions here and fire away your questions. Ooh! Also, don't forget to take a look at what's been the buzz all about the DevRel community lately!

Oh!!! We wouldn't want you to miss out on the fun part especially if you are a community enthusiast, who loves to talk and share your experiences All about community, do join us in Community & cold coffee where we have hearty, fun, and real conversations with fellow enthusiasts. See ya there!

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