Messaging vs. chat: What’s the difference?

Both traditional chat and messaging enable businesses and customers to communicate with each other to answer questions, get support, or make buying decisions. However, there are some key differences between the two types of communication. In this article, we’ll compare chat and messaging so you can decide which customer service channel makes the most sense for your business.

Person messaging on  their phone in living room around family

The main difference between messaging and chat

Traditional live chat typically occurs in realt-time on a company’s website or app. Like phone support, chat support is synchronous, meaning the customer and agent have to be available to communicate at the same time. If one person leaves, the chat session gets terminated. 

Messaging, on the other hand, more closely resembles a text message or social messaging exchange where customers and agents get the best of both worlds: They can respond immediately, in a few hours, or even after a few weeks. Messaging can occur on a company’s website, app, or social media.

Chat vs. messaging key differences:

Let’s take a deeper dive into how exactly they compare.


  • One-time, session-based chat

  • Real-time participation (synchronous)

  • Customers and agents must stay “in the chat”

  • Sessions expire after lack of activity or upon exit

  • Transactional

  • Typically text-based only

  • Conversation history only available to agent

  • Available on web and mobile web

  • Two-three concurrent chats per agent

  • Less cost-effective due to additional staffing requirements


  • Ongoing relationships
    and conversations

  • Flexible participation (asynchronous)

  • Both parties can come and go as needed

  • Sessions can live indefinitely, always able to restart

  • Conversational

  • More modern design that allows emojis, GIFs, etc

  • Customers can access conversation histories

  • Available anywhere your brand and customers are (web, app, social, SMS)

  • Twenty-thirty concurrent conversations per agent

How your business can benefit from messaging

While offering live chat is helpful when customers need immediate assistance, messaging improves live chat’s capabilities by offering ongoing support. Here are a few ways messaging can make a difference for your business:

  • Agent efficiency: Agents are more effective in managing a higher volume of asynchronous conversations at the same time compared to chat.

  • Improved reach: You’ll reach more customers by extending conversations beyond your website onto social, SMS, and your own branded app.

  • More communication channels: You’ll have the flexibility to leverage third-party messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, in addition to your own branded messaging, all in a single interface.

  • Increased flexibility: Agents can be synchronous when needed but can also handle asynchronous conversations when a customer re-engages at their convenience.

“Live channels such as phone, live chat, and email cost an average of $8.01 per contact, while self-service channels such as company-run websites and mobile apps cost about $0.10 per contact.” 

- Gartner

Messaging vs. chat: Which one’s right for you?

Both chat and messaging are useful customer service channels, but messaging has rapidly evolved to meet the needs of modern customers, becoming a preferred method of communication. With saturated social media newsfeeds, the popularity of mobile phones, and the ease of communication on the go, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that messaging is quicklybecoming a preferred method of communication.

Now that three billion people use messaging apps regularly, this conversational interface is also transforming how consumers expect to interact with businesses. With over two billion messages exchanged between consumers and companies monthly, messaging is quickly becoming the preferred method for conducting customer support.

Meet modern customer service demands with Khoros Service

To deliver exceptional customer service, it’s essential to meet customers where they’re at, including their preferred customer service channels. With Khoros Service you don’t have to pick and choose between channels; our all-in-one digital contact center solution offers service across any channel without compromise. Additionally, our features such as AI-powered self-service and an intuitive omnichannel agent desktop empower service managers and agents alike, boosting efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Learn more about how Khoros can help you deliver an exceptional customer service experience by requesting a demo today.