The top performers in our review are LiveHelpNow, the Gold Award winner; Zopim, the Silver Award winner; and LiveChat, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a system to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 live chat support software.
No matter what industry you are in, it is important to establish relationships with your customers and be readily accessible to your customer base. This is important because customers quickly turn away when a business is hard to reach. Live chat support software gives you an avenue for actively communicating with your customers while also providing valuable tools for tracking these interactions.
This software lets you interact with your website's visitor via an instant messaging system. Live chat provides quick answers to questions or concerns and is easily accessible on your website. You can use this software on a desktop, smartphone or tablet. Your customers should be able to reach you through multiple platforms as well. No matter where you are, this software allows your customers to reach out to you or your service reps in real time and provide them with direct, speedy assistance
In addition to customer support options, chat support often helps you track your interactions with your customers and gain valuable insights. Most live chat software provides you with visitor monitoring and traffic analysis. Some software on the lineup provides even more in-depth tracking, but you can expect certain features to be standard across the board in live chat software. You can read some of our articles on Live Chat Support software for more information.
If you plan to have more than one to five agents, you might want to check out our Enterprise Live Chat Support site. If you need other help and support options, you might want to check out our Call Center Services site.
Tracking & Reporting Live Chat Features
Online chat service gives you the ability to track interactions with your customers and provides you with powerful data that you can use to grow your business. These tools are designed to help you get the most out of your live chat software while also providing your customers with real-time support. Each company on our lineup offers these features, so you will not find them on our side-by-side comparison. You should expect live chat software to have these features for you to utilize when you reach out to your customers.
Proactive Chat Invitation
This feature allows you to reach out to visitors on your website before they come to you and ask you for help. For example, if you notice that a visitor has spent a lot of time on one page or has left the site and then come back, you can reach out to them with simple statements like, "Hi, I noticed you're back. Can I offer assistance?" This opens the doors of communication with visitors and potential customers.
Repeat Visitor Identification & Chat History
When you notice someone has visited your site on a repeated basis, you can automatically deliver chats to him or her, welcoming them back and asking if they need assistance. You can also look up statistics about when the customer last visited, how long they spent on the site and what pages they visited.
The visitor chat history function allows you to view previous chats that you have had with certain customers so you can track your interactions and their specific needs. This feature gives your chats a more personal feel, allowing you to pinpoint customer needs and give them the same level of personalized support over chat that customers would expect in your store.
Real-Time Visitor Monitoring
Real-time visitor monitoring provides information about your visitors. Most commonly, these monitoring features include visitor's IP address, host name, country, type of web browser and the pages visited. This data gives you valuable information that you can use to pinpoint your visitors and establish more targeted marketing strategies.
Live Chat Software Pricing
Pricing for chat software usually depends on how many agents you have operating the software per month. Each service we looked at has the capability to serve a small business that only operates one to five agents per month, but each service also has the ability to grow and expand with your business.
Typically, software providers charge you per month, per customer service agent. If you pay on an annual basis, the fee is often lower. However, you will be locked into a contract and lack the flexibility to find a new software without losing hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
If you pursue the month-to-month option, you will have the flexibility to leave a service when you find it no longer works for you, though you will often pay a higher monthly price. The difference is typically about ten dollars per month. Fortunately, every service on our lineup offers either a 15- or 30-day free trial, so you can view and use the software before committing to it.
To provide a fair comparison, we evaluated the basic package from each customer chat service software. These packages include basic live chat services that are best for small and medium businesses. We did not review the larger plans that work better for larger, enterprise-level companies. We reviewed the live chat software independent of influence from any of the companies on our lineup, and we did not provide them any advance notice of our testing prior to publication.
The tools that you have access to as an agent or account administrator make a big difference in how you interact with your customers, influence your ability to reach out to them and control how you can use the data collected by the software.
In our evaluation, we looked for a solid, customizable platform. Custom features that we looked for included customizable chat windows and buttons, which allow you to choose the look and feel of the chat window that appears on your website, and offline messaging, which allows customers to fill out a form and submit an email when your operators are not online. And, with the rising popularity of tablets and smart phones, we also noted whether or not the live chat is mobile-enabled.
While these features are valuable, they are not unique and can be found in the majority of live chat software as industry standards. One stand-out feature we found in the administrator toolset is IP address blocking. This feature allows you to block IP addresses from chat when someone is trolling your site and using chat to harass your agents. Though Kayako falls near the middle of the lineup, it provides this useful feature.
Another great feature is agent monitoring, which allows you to see how your agents are handling conversations without peering over their shoulders. This information is valuable for training and creating precise strategies.
Another important consideration when looking for live chat support is what services are available to the customer. When you chat with customers, you need to be able to do more than just instant message back and forth. Many chat service providers allow you to share documents with customers. The best software offers co-web browsing, a feature that allows an operator to take a customer directly to a web page rather than sending a link.
Another unique tool available from the best live chat services provides translation services so that your communications are not limited by language barriers. Only about half the software on the lineup offer translation options, including Comm100.
With the right tools, you can see the websites your customers come from. 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. You can 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.
Integrations help you get the most out of your chat service by making it fit with the rest of your workflow. All of the software we reviewed integrate with Google Analytics. Google Analytics takes your live chat data and helps you use it for your marketing and keyword tracking campaigns. Another popular integration for helpdesk includes Salesforce, this integration allows you to track leads and integrate chat data with your sales data.
About half of the live chat software on our lineup integrate with Salesforce for a small fee, but the best software we reviewed, including Casengo, provide this service for no extra charge.
Help & Support
The last area we carefully evaluated in our research was help and support options available to you with each software. While you are providing help and support for your customer base, it is important that you have the support you need to ensure the software is working how you need it to. Each software on our lineup offers live chat and phone support, but the best companies provide this support 24/7, so you know you can reach something whenever there are issues.
Another service that the best chat software companies offer is tutorials that teach you how to use your chat support software to its fullest capabilities.
As a customer, there is nothing more frustrating than bad support. Providing inconsistent or poor support is one of the quickest way to lose customers. Live chat software is the fastest way to connect with your customer base and those visiting your site. In our research and evaluations, LiveHelpNow, Zopim and Live Chat stood out from the competition for their impressive administrator toolkits and customer chat options.
Other notable companies on our lineup Velaro for its comprehensive help center, which is complete with downloadable PDFs and a regularly updated blog. Another noteworthy software is WhosOn, which stands out for its monitoring and training capabilities.
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 benefits your corporate marketing strategies. Few endeavors provide a both a vastly improved customer experience and a business data goldmine. Live chat software does both.