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If you run a business and are looking for a new tool that offers immediate support and information to your customers, live chat software could be the answer.
Use this guide to help you work out what software could fit the bill for your business. Read on to find out more.
What is live chat software?
Live chat software helps your business to communicate with customers in real-time through instant messages exchanged via a chat widget on your company website.
Having a live support option can bring customers peace of mind that they're able to contact you easily to arrange purchases or answer any questions. As well as customer service support, a live chat application can be a useful aid to converting leads into paying customers.
What to look for when comparing the best live chat software
- Freebies or discounts. While it's hard to find quality live chat plans that don't charge, many providers offer free trials for a set period such as 14 days or one month.
- Proactive chat. If your company would benefit from an instant help function – in which you reach out to users directly to initiate a conversation, such as via a small live chat window – this is a feature to think about. Some widgets will notify your chat agent about recurring website visitors who may be seeking more help.
- Chat ratings. This can be a great tool for getting feedback from your customers about the quality of your support.
- Mobile-friendly. It's likely you'll want your chosen software to useable by customers on their phones. So, look for Mobile Apps with both iPhone and Android functionality.
- Visitor tracking. Some providers will offer detailed insights into how your live chat users behave. For example, conversion tracking metrics.
- Video, voice and screen sharing. You may want to offer a more personalised experience than text-based support only.
- Chat monitoring. Track chat conversations in real-time, helping you to manage more than one chat agent.
- Queue times. By giving customers a good indication of how long they'll need to wait before they can start a live chat, your users may feel more satisfied with your service.
- Offline messaging. If your company doesn't offer round-the-clock support, it can be beneficial if your chat widget has the functionality to turn into a contact form.
- Business support. Choose a provider with a strong reputation for features such as 24/7 help, security and data management.
Live chat software available in Australia
- Hubspot Live Chat. Using integration with CRM, companies can auto-deliver more personalised messages to existing customers. Other features include targeted welcome messages and custom branding.
- Intercom. Multiple in-app functions including screen sharing, voice or video calls and meeting bookings.
- Pure Chat. Smaller teams and entrepreneurs can take advantage of intuitive functions and a very simple sign up process.
- Userlike. Businesses can automate parts of their customer interactions. Also, combine website chat with mobile messaging.
- Jivochat. CRM and a range of business tools can be integrated. With Jivochat, customers are able to request a call back from within the app.
- Snapengage. Features that lend a human touch to your customer interactions include the ability to personalise your agents as well as the live chat widget appearance.
- Olark. Searchable live chat transcripts make this a solid choice for startups and small businesses who are looking to gather customer insights.
- LiveChat. Suited to meet the specific needs of SMEs. Businesses can use as many customised chat widgets as they need, managed from a single account. Online training and webinar support included.
- Zendesk Chat. Monitor and chat with website visitors in real-time and with ease. Share files efficiently with customers. This includes screenshots, product guides and more.
- ClickDesk. Great for video and voice chat as well as integrating third-party tools that are already in use, including Twitter.
- LiveAgent. Enjoy a host of slick features including the ability to follow up on task tickets via Slack.
Does your company belong in this list?
Pros and cons of live chat
- Offers convenience to customers, especially when compared to many wait times at call centres
- Likely to be cheaper than phone support
- Builds trust and loyalty in your brand
- User experience is an ongoing challenge as conversations are usually lost if the chat box is closed (or following a poor Internet connection)
- Live chat windows are incompatible on some mobiles
What should I keep in mind when it comes to cost?
When you're comparing providers, the cheapest deal may not be the best option for you. You can expect a greater range of features with more expensive subscription plans and it's up to you to weigh up whether a small extra cost will pay off in the long run. Consider a credit card with no foreign transaction fees to pay for your subscription.
Many live chat providers are based in the US, so, you'll want to be clear on the conversion rates you're offered. The most basic paid-for plans typically start from around USD$12 per agent per month.
Live chat can help your business with a range of functions on your website, helping to solve customer pain points while at the same time offering you the chance to gather some useful marketing information.
We advise you to compare multiple options and keep in mind that the type of software that's best for you ultimately depends on the needs of your company and the specific customer problems you need to solve.
Frequently asked questions
Can I integrate my live chat with any business tools that I already use?
Yes, many providers will let you connect apps such as Google Analytics and Mailchimp to help you streamline your data analytics.
Should I choose Cloud-based or self-hosted software?
Most providers will offer cloud-hosted software, which at its most basic means it's facilitated by the Internet and kept on a third-party server. Self-hosted services are kept 'on-site' using your own company's tech infrastructure. Generally, cloud-based services are chosen more often for a range of factors including its affordability, ease of updates and accessibility.
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