On the end user's end, I'd expect that most visitors don't want a chat widget following them around -- until they actually do want to chat, and they look for some kind of chat option. (I've no data to support this but anecdotes like the fact that this browser extension got released suggests me that my hunch might not be too far off.)
On the company's end, you definitely do not want the chat widget visible at all times. It's costly to man the thing so users get a quick reply. On the website it's usually worthless sales contacts with trivial questions; inside the app it's often support-related stuff whose answer is a search away.
The only time the pop-up should be around is when:
- The site visitor or app user is actively looking for some kind of "Contact/Chat" button.
- The site visitor or app user just did something you hypothesized was worth investigating. And in this case the chat should open with a question -- albeit only if a competent operator is actually around.
OT aside: Intercom et al gets too expensive way too fast when you don't purge visitors that didn't sign-up and users that engaged without paying and eventually left without buying.
“Hi, how can I help?” Pop up at every random time I might be browsing? No way these guys are staffed 24/7. Probably not human.
Stock photo showing pretty telephone operator? Definitely not human.
If I want to type something for help, I’d honestly prefer a good, working search box.