Currently when using chat, I need to put in my name and chat message -- up to 140 characters -- before I am connected to an agent. If there is trouble connecting to an agent -- like today, when the "connecting" progress dots never completed -- then I lose my data, and I have to re-enter it.
How about connecting first with an agent, then start chatting? This is the way most chats start. The benefits: no learning curve, and no data lost if the chat never connects.