In-app Chat vs. Email Support – Which One is Right For Your Mobile App?

Last Updated: April 6, 2021

The drastic transformation of mobile phones from an additional communication device to a core support channel can be attributed to their ubiquitousness in the support space. The ability to solve issues on a handheld device has made mobile apps a go-to support channel for customers. 

New-age companies are actively considering in-app chat as a feature-rich alternative to one of the primary channels in the world of support – emails. While these channels serve unique purposes in their own ways, there are certain instances where one could prove more useful than the other. 

Here’s a comparative study of in-app chat vs. email support.

The Prevalence of Email Support

First things first.

54% of customers used emails to contact customer service last year, making it one of the popular support channels used today.

This clears any confusion surrounding whether email support is here to stay. Emails are universal and they are used by pretty much everyone around the world. Email support analysts report steady user engagement despite the growth of social media and chatbots, making it a must-have no matter what business you are in. Email clients come in-built with every smartphone and they don’t necessarily tie users to their devices when reaching out for support. Customers can raise an email request and go on with their day, expecting to get their issues addressed sometime later that day or the next depending on the complexity of the issue. 

A Real-time Email Support Alternative

Email support needs an alternative when there is a need for speed. While customers like email experiences in general, they are not on board with the inherent delay email support comes with. Say a website visitor wants to know if a specific use case is allowed by a product, or a customer wants to download an invoice for a recent upgrade. What should be a quick call or a text can turn into a drawn-out email thread with both parties spending hours to arrive at a solution. Email support is inevitable, but it’s not for every situation. They are instances where instant real-time support is necessary, and that’s when emails take a back seat and in-app chat becomes a great alternative. 

Email support can also lead to information overload, as it’s not exclusive to your business and your customers. In some cases, your messages can be misconstrued or get lost amidst the ocean of spam content. Most customers also prefer digital channels that don’t make them wait to get in touch with a human agent for support, attributing to the success of humanless support channels like a knowledge base, and live chat software.

Benefits of In-app Chat for Customer Support

The popularity of instant messaging apps like Facebook messenger and SMS paved the way for in-app chat, a more effective and all-inclusive communication channel. The reason why businesses didn’t stop with SMS or Messenger is due to the fact that they operate in silos. They still require customers and the support team to switch between interfaces which could easily interrupt the user experience and lead to inefficient use of time and energy. However, speed is not the only competitive edge in-app chat support has over email support. With a focus on proactive customer experience and faster responses, the in-app chat service improves your overall support metrics. The benefits of in-app messaging are manifold.

  • Real-time customer support
  • Instant responses
  • Provide support without having to leave the app
  • Increased quality of engagement
  • Adaptiveness to brand tonality
  • Contextual support backed by chat history
  • Less dependency on other channels
  • Rich, personalized support experience

However, in-app chat and email support have some key differences that can impact when and where you use them.

In-app Chat vs. Email Support

In-app ChatEmail Support
Real-time supportAsynchronous support
Support without switching devicesOperates independently
Supports rich multimedia such as screenshots and videosAlso supports multimedia, but within the limitations of the email clients
Best for instant communicationImmutable, hence best used to maintain an audit trail of issues

In conclusion, both in-app chat and email support cannot replace one another but when used simultaneously to their own advantage, can be hugely beneficial. The key is to understand when to use what. As a thumb rule, in-app chats are better used for real-time communications whereas, in terms of familiarity, ease of access, and even cost-effectiveness, email support may be more suitable.


Modern in-app chat solutions allow easy CRM and API integrations, and they blend seamlessly into your omnichannel strategy. They can even be scaled with automation workflows when you grow. HappyFox In-App Chat SDK is a simple yet powerful tool that can be integrated with your help desk in a matter of minutes. It increases your ability to provide support within the mobile chat window, right when your customers need it. The more the positive customer feedback on your app, the more the customer satisfaction and hence your conversion rates and retention.

HappyFox SDK also sends you updates on all future iOS and Android upgrades so that you can upgrade your in-app chat widget without breaking any features.

Check out our in-app chat vs email support infographics for a quick recap or sign up for a HappyFox In-App Chat demo to get onboard with in-app chat experience today!