Real-time chat: definition, features, and use cases in 2024

Sara Ana Cemazar
April 27, 2023
min read

Digital communication today has evolved to connect people from across the globe with each other in an instant. One of the most popular ways to communicate digitally is via real-time chat.

This efficient mode of communication is used for personal communication, but also for business one. Organizations use real-time chat solutions to connect their distributed teams and to assist their customers.

In this article, you can learn what real-time chat is, its prominent features, and how to choose the best real-time chat platform in terms of privacy and reliability.

What is a real-time chat?

Essentially, real-time chat is a method of communication that enables two people to connect and converse live irrespective of their location, as long as they have a working internet connection. 

Also known as real-time messaging, real-time chat has become increasingly popular in the past decade due to the ease of communication.

Initially, real-time chat focused on connecting people with their friends and families. The online chat rooms are still popular virtual places that center around real-time messaging. However, nowadays, businesses are leveraging this tool to build lasting relationships with their customers, upsell their products, promote collaboration between team members, and more. 

In short, real-time chat has become a crucial component of reliable business communication and is changing how businesses interact with their customers. Real-time chat is superior to SMS texting because of growingly digital nature of consumer communication.

With 33% of all customers being frustrated by having to wait on hold, real-time chat with chatbot functionalities provides a great alternative to ensure greater customer satisfaction.

real time chat

6 must-have features in real-time chat solutions

To help you choose the most efficient real-time chat app, the core features of a real-time chat app, irrespective of industry niches, are listed below:

1. Messaging

Enabling group conversations in addition to one-on-one messaging is one of the most important features of any real-time chat app for a business. Most top-rated real-time messaging solutions, such as Rocket.Chat, also have message threads to keep your conversations from getting off-track.

Customers usually prefer businesses that can be reached conveniently on their choice of channel. It's no wonder that companies that offer omnichannel customer engagement see a 9.5% year-over-year surge in annual income in comparison to others. For example, in-app messaging has become a standard feature for eCommerce apps. Additionally, businesses can be reached via Instagram, Facebook, and other Social Media.

Thus, an omnichannel infrastructure to support effective customer service from different sources is a favorable feature of real-time chat app for customer service.

➡️ Learn the best ways to engage users with an in-app chat from these examples.

2. Storage

Being able to retrieve previous conversations can help your team in personalizing customer experience in addition to solving the customer’s query quickly. This can result in higher customer and user engagement.

Data retention requirements differ from industry to industry (and location), and on the unique needs of a business. Determining storage options while choosing a data-compliant and customizable real-time chat app is essential.

3. Message editing/deleting

Customers are usually in a hurry to resolve their desired product/service or query, and your team members may also have urgency to complete their tasks before deadlines. 

This rapid-paced environment increases the chance of mistakes while sending a message or sharing a file. Allowing users to edit or delete a shared message can eliminate confusion and prevent accidental information leaks.

4. Audio & video calls

Although real-time messaging is one of the best tools for enabling efficient communication in the B2C and B2B space, a good real-time chat app must also have audio and video call features. 

A customer may be more comfortable communicating over the call, or the business representative may need to explain a complex procedure, requiring the real-time chat app to have calling features.

5. File sharing

Whether you are onboarding a new employee and wish to share training/orientation decks with them, send care/instruction manuals to a customer, or track your team’s progress on a team project, the real-time chat app you use must support file sharing. 

The capability of sharing images, videos, audio files, and other formats is one of the most desired features of a real-time messaging app.

6. Enabling push notifications

Uninterrupted communication is essential for teams to function effectively and is key to enabling real-time messaging. A team member missing important details of the current project may cause mayhem and result in revenue loss. 

Thus, a good real-time chat app must show push notifications to engage users with a new message or other updates, even if they are inactive.

real time chat

Apart from the features mentioned above, having the following features is an excellent add-on for a real-time chat app:

  • Read receipts
  • Message reactions
  • User’s presence indicators
  • Authentication and authorization for users
  • Complex text enabling URLs to become clickables, name tagging with ‘@,‘ etc.
  • Message labeling.

Real-time chat app: 4 key use cases

real time chat

Real-time messaging tools can aid a business in many ways, some of which are listed below:

Customer service

Engaging with customers conveniently — real-time messaging — is helpful in query resolution and increases their chances of purchasing your product/service. The real-time chat can also be implemented as an in-app chat solution that's embedded into an app.

Team collaboration

Connecting with team members instantly is crucial for improving productivity of remote teams. Real-time chat enables synchronous and asynchronous communication which makes it easier to work in different time zones effectively.

Cross-organizational collaboration

Many organizations outsource a short-term project partially/completely, and real-time messaging can efficiently support multiple teams engaging in cross-functional collaboration.

It's important to note that teams can consist of people in different organizations. In such cases, it's important to look for a real-time chat that can enable secure collaboration between cross-organizational teams.

Community building

Customer-centric businesses are focusing on building communities relevant to their niche to inform their customers about the problems their product/service solves and create an opportunity to advertise it.

For example, a business operating in the pet-care industry can develop customer loyalty and increase its revenue by using real-time chat apps to discuss community problems and present the participants with solutions that will eventually add to their bottom line.

Challenges of building a real-time chat on your own

Although building a real-time chat app from scratch is the best way to ensure you get an ideal messaging platform for your business, there are certain challenges that you will need to overcome.


To create a suitable real-time chat platform, you need to invest some time in researching the desired features, assign a dedicated team to learn the necessary skills required to code it and run tests, and more. This process takes more time than comparing different options available in the market and buying one.


If you plan to create your own efficient real-time chat app that complies with data security laws, you will need to get the internal team of engineers trained or outsource the task to an organization. Both of these options cost more than purchasing an application.


Creating a real-time chat app requires a certain level of expertise to make an efficient product and keep improving with relevant updates. Most businesses often lack the relevant skills or expertise to successfully create and deploy a safe real-time messaging platform.

4 Key benefits of implementing a white-labeled real-time chat app

Leveraging a platform as a service (PAAS), such as Rocket.Chat, is the best way to deploy a real-time messaging platform without the complexity of building it yourself.

real time chat

1. Speed of implementation

By purchasing a PAAS, you can immediately deploy the solution in your organization and have your team familiar with it in a matter of a few weeks.

2. No hassle of running and testing

A white-labeled real-time chat app does not require you to test it and fix any problems. A PAAS has completed these initial steps, and the application is ready to use.

3. Developed by pros

Expert developers create a white-labeled real-time chat messaging platform to ensure maximum efficiency and allow you to customize and integrate features.

4. Brand alignment across channels

Using a white-labeled real-time chat app that offers omnichannel communication lets you maintain your brand image across different channels in one space. This will also help with your user engagement.

Final word

In conclusion, real-time chat apps have become essential for modern communication. With their ability to connect people from different parts of the world in real time, businesses increasingly rely on these apps to communicate with their customers and teams. 

Moreover, the rise of mobile usage has made real-time chat apps more accessible than ever, making them a necessary component of any business's communication strategy. 

Overall, incorporating real-time chat apps into your communication toolkit can help improve communication and streamline business operations.

Rocket.Chat: secure real-time chat right at your fingertips

Rocket.Chat is one of the most secure, flexible, and scalable real-time chat apps used by highly regulated industries, such as the military. 

It is an open-source communication platform that offers complete customization, an opportunity to streamline your workflows and customer interactions and integrate anything in your communication infrastructure.

Learn more about Rocket.Chat's Chat Engine and how you can use it to deliver exceptional customer experiences.

Get started with Rocket.Chat’s secure collaboration platform

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Sara is an SEO Strategist at Rocket.Chat. She is passionate about topics around digital transformation, workplace experience, open source, and data privacy and security.
Sara Ana Cemazar
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