As a customer, there is nothing more frustrating than bad phone support. Either you wander through an automated menu and end up on hold or the number answers immediately only to instruct you to “stay on the line and your call will be answered in the order it was received.” Understaffed support teams and long wait times breed customers who vow never to buy from such a company again. Online chat software changes that experience by giving customers the help they need almost instantly.
If you’re a small or medium business owner or a department head that offers customer support services, it’s good to know that live chat benefits the business as well as the customer. Not only can your agents answer customer questions in a more modern, prompt and personal way, they can interface with several customers at the same time. This is far more productive than spending time on a phone call or email. Online chat software also provides your business with a variety of tools to mine and analyze the important data that accompanies live chat.
We found that for small and medium businesses, the top live chat services were LiveHelpNow, Zopim and LiveChat. As you check out our live chat software reviews, you’ll see side-by-side comparisons of these companies and find articles about live chat support software.
Live chat support services give you the tools you need to grow your business and turn a first-time web visitor into a lifelong customer. We used the following criteria to rank these services:
A solid but customizable structure or host environment was our primary consideration. We looked for software that enables you to customize the style of your entire chat window. We also considered whether you could administer your live chat application remotely and if the customizable application interface (API) would allow your technical department to connect your live chat to your existing applications. And, with the rising popularity of tablets and smart phones, we also noted whether or not the live chat is mobile-enabled.
In almost all the applications we reviewed, pre-programmed messages to speed up conversations, a built-in spell checker and the ability to chat with multiple customers at once were fairly standard features. However, for the very best return on your investment, we also considered other functions such as pre- and post-chat surveys to determine agent performance along with tracking that allows you to see if a promotion is bringing customers to your site. We also noted if the live chat software can be implemented in different languages or contains real-time language translation. And while one-on-one video chat is not a time saver, if you need it occasionally, we also let you know of its availability.
Tracking & Monitoring
With the right tools, you can see the websites your customers come from. You can also see the browsers they use, their geographical locations, their past purchases and chat histories, and much more. This data is invaluable to your marketing department and helps you build a more targeted business.
Many customer relationship management (CRM) applications can take the data you gather from your live chat and use it to synchronize sales and marketing with customer service. If you're running a CRM like Salesforce, NetSuite, SugarCRM or Zendesk or if you're using Google Analytics to help analyze your web traffic, you'll want to know if they can integrate with your live chat software. You can find this information in our side-by-side comparisons.
Help & Support
A support service should, of course, provide good support. Choose software that gives prompt access to technical support via telephone, email and live chat. Case studies, a knowledgebase and a FAQs page also indicate a company geared to answer your questions.
The best live chat software enables your company and your customer to text in real-time by computer, smart phone and tablet. Your staff can answer questions, suggest appropriate purchases and build stronger brand loyalty. Your company can also retrieve statistical data that will benefit your corporate marketing strategies. Few endeavors provide a both a vastly improved customer experience and a business data goldmine. Live chat software does both.