Buyers Guide – How To Choose The Best Live Chat Software

best live chat softwareDo you really need a Live Chat Software for your Business?

You don’t need to be a marketing guru to figure out that quality customer service is key to the long-term success of any business.

Your customers are your best bet when it comes to spreading the word about your products or services. And by offering the good support you can help turn them into evangelists who help grow your customer base further.

One way that businesses have been creating an engaging experience for their customers is by installing a live chat software on their website that offers real-time answers to their queries.

A live chat service not only helps builds customer’s confidence as they shop online but also helps boost conversion rates.

Read more about Benefits of live chat software

In this post, we are going to talk about things to look for when selecting the best live chat software for your business, along with some useful information that you might need down the road of reviewing available live chat solutions.

Few things to Consider as you Look to grow your Business

As a business owner with an online presence, probably the most important thing on your mind is to be able to engage with your website visitors.

You want to offer instant support to them as they land on your website and help increase your conversions. When it comes to having offering support via a live chat software, some of your business objectives would be:

Quick Navigation - Key Considerations while Picking the Best Live Chat Software

  1. Cloud-Based vs Self-Hosted
  2. Onboarding
  3. Simple or Multi-Channel Live Chat
  4. Mobile Support
  5. Easy Customizations
  6. Advanced Features
  7. Software Integrations
  8. Pricing
  9. Infrastructure and Security
  10. Customer Support

So, to begin, note down all your business requirements as you embark on a mission to select the best live chat software that meets these goals. Following is the checklist that will make this process easy for you.

1. Cloud-Based vs Self-Hosted Live Chat Apps
best Live Chat Apps

The first question that you need to answer when going shopping for a live chat software is whether to purchase a self-hosted service or to go cloud. Let’s talk about the differences between the two.

In the case of self-hosted (or on-premise) services, the applications are hosted on the organization’s own technical infrastructures.

Cloud-hosted software, on the other hand, resides on a third-party server and is facilitated by the Internet.

There are pros and cons to using either, but there are some clear advantages to using a cloud-hosted application:

Regular upgrades – new product features are released regularly letting you stay up to date automatically.

Cheaper and allows you to pay only for what you use – cloud-based applications are generally much cheaper as compared to self-hosted ones, and there are flexible payment options that allow you to pay only for what you use. It’s easy to upgrade or downgrade your contract to tiers that are based on usage.

No IT infrastructure needed – since the application is hosted on third-party servers you don’t need to invest in costly infrastructure and your IT team is free to focus on your core business instead.

Anywhere, anytime access – probably the hallmark of all cloud-hosted applications is their anywhere, anytime accessibility. All you need is an Internet-enabled device (desktops, laptops, tablets, or mobile devices) to access your applications from anywhere in the world.

Security and bug control – most cloud-hosted apps offer enterprise-level security and quick bug resolutions.

There are many other reasons to pick a cloud-hosted live chat software as they are more user-friendly, flexible, offer better data backups and recovery as well as round-the-clock 24/7 support.

2. Onboarding

Choose a live chat tool that is simple, offers ease of use and can be integrated into your website in a few minutes. It is best to go for a solution that will require you to simply copy and paste the chat code on the web page so that chatting can be initiated within a matter of few minutes.

Going for a tool that offers ease of use will ensure that you don’t waste time to understand how it works and can focus on things which are more important for your business.

3. Simple Live Chat or Multi-Channel Live Chat Support?

Based on your business requirements you also need to decide if all you need is a simple live chat tool or if you would like to provide something more. Today there are several modern live support chat software available in the market that provides additional functionality like integration with a knowledge base, NPS surveys, call back-support and more.

Ideally, you would want to go for best live chat software that allows you to extend support and offer a complete 360-degree support for your prospects and customers.

Integration with a knowledge base software, for example, that answers their questions instantly and in detail would help you go the extra mile when it comes to customer delight.

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4. The Best Live Chat Software will provide you seamless Mobile Support

With more and more people accessing websites via mobile devices and shopping on the go, it’s important that a live chat software is mobile ready.

A good live chat system should be available on all devices and platforms so that you don’t miss any of customers trying to seek support.

While shopping for a live chat software ask if the application is mobile ready and if it works on multiple devices.

Native apps for Apple and Android devices is an added benefit. At the very least, the live chat application should be mobile responsive.

5. Easy Customizations to Match Your Brand

best live chat software

Most businesses work on building an image for their brand – something that their customers can easily identify. You too need to work on maintaining a consistent visual experience on your web pages that reflect your brand's look and feel.

The live chat application (especially if hosted by a third party) should be an extension of your brand and design guidelines as well. Therefore, choose a live chat software that can be customized as per your requirements and help promote your brand image in a cohesive manner.

A good chat software offers complete customization options for your chat window, including fonts, colors, styles, customizable chat banners, languages and so on. It should be easy to use and intuitive.

You should be able to control every little aspect of the chat window like the messages you want to show on pre-chat and post-chat windows, the feedback collection mechanism, the way you view your reports and customize the offline message form for visitors so that you are able to add or edit fields as per your business needs.

6. Advanced Features

Although most live chat software offers many useful features, there are certain must-have features that you should make sure the app of your choice offers. Here are some of them:

  • Proactive Chat

Pro-active Chat invitation

Lets your chat operators reach out to your website visitors and offer instant help even before they ask a question. Proactive chat allows you to send invitations for initiating a chat with your customers and prospects anywhere on your website.

  • Chat Rating

Chat rating

This feature allows the customers to rate a chat conversation with the support agents. It is an excellent way to understand if your clients are satisfied with your chat support, keep a close watch on the performance of the agents etc.

Live Chat Routing

Clients look for prompt responses. Research shows that nearly 60% of clients hate to wait on hold for even a minute and they are most likely to abandon a website if they aren’t offered quick support. It is key to ensure that the client satisfaction level doesn’t waver and your support agents don’t feel burned out when the chat volume rises. With chat routing feature, the support agents can transfer the chats to any of the free operators.

  • Operator Monitoring

This feature allows you to monitor your chat operators and provides valuable insights on which of your agents are performing and which aren’t. You can check their chat transcripts in detail and use it to train and improve your chat support. The best live chat software allows for real-time chat monitoring as well.

Real time visitor monitoring

This feature allows you to get a deeper understanding of your website visitor’s behavior. This is a highly advanced feature of modern chat applications that make it easier to access and analyze the key metrics for success and allows you to optimize the entire process for both your customers as well as agents.

Canned responses feature allows you to save snippets of text that you use frequently on chats and reuse them on subsequent chat sessions with just a few keystrokes. This allows your chat operators to speed up their chat response times and provide accurate answers in lesser time.

  • File Transfers

a good live chat software has built-in functions to transfer files between operators and visitors with controls on allowed file types and file sizes.

  • Reports and Analytics

Detailed reporting and analytics that allow you to monitor key metrics like visitor details, average time spent on chats, operator activities, conversion tracking, chat histories and so on are just some of the things you should be looking in a chat software.

  • Queue Times

A good chat support system allows your visitors to get a close approximation of wait times before starting a conversation with a live chat agent.

  • Smart Triggers

A smart chat system will allow you to set custom triggers for specific events on your website. For example, if a visitor is returning to the website for the third time, the operator could be notified about it, and he (or she) could start a proactive chat session with the visitor.

7. Third Party Software Integrations

live chat integrations

Most people these days have the luxury of selecting (or disqualifying products) based on how well they integrate with other applications. Businesses today rely on powerful, feature-packed applications to help them stay ahead of the competition. Yours shouldn’t be any different.

Make sure that your live chat application of choice integrates seamlessly with current business tools, for example, Microsoft Dynamics CRMSalesforceZendeskMailchimp and so on.

It should also be compatible with popular website platforms like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento and so on. Having data flow easily and seamlessly between your toolset will not only save you a lot of hassle but time as well.

Some common systems with which your live chat application should provide integrations with are:

  • CRM(Customer Relationship Management) systems
  • Helpdesks (Ticketing systems)
  • Call center systems
  • Analytics solutions (like Google Analytics)
  • Social media applications
  • Knowledge base software

8. Pricing

All good live chat applications come with a flexible and competitive pricing plan that charges you based on your requirements and should allow you to change plans as needed. That’s what you should be looking for while going shopping for a live chat solution.

While deciding on how much you want to pay for live chat, ask yourselves things like how many chats you are expecting to handle every month, the kind of reporting you require, how many websites do you need to install live chat on, recurring payment options, discounts if any and so on.

Then look for chat apps that provide pricing around these points. Also, make sure you know what exactly is included in the price and if there will be any additional charges down the road. Some handy questions to ask:

Recurring Charges: These are the monthly/yearly fees that you pay. These may be charged based on the number of chat operators, by chat numbers, or additional features.

Additional Charges: for things like technical support, software upgrades, backups, and maintenance.

Termination Policy: if you terminate the contract early, will you receive a refund or will you have to pay a penalty? Make sure that the termination policy is spelled out in detail.

Discount Policy: There may be discounts for things like multiple sites, non-profit status, schools, etc. Be sure to ask what discounts may be available to you.

Make sure you understand the vendor’s pricing properly so as to avoid any surprises down the road.

9. Infrastructure and Security

In today’s times of data breaches and cyber hacking, having a robust chat application is an absolute necessity. If the chat software is cloud-hosted, then you need to know how far and how often are backups being made, and how well does the application handle load at crunch times.

You can ask your vendor some specific questions like:

  • How well is the data protected against hacks and unauthorized access
  • Is there an active firewall to prevent data thefts
  • What is the infrastructure in use and how does it compare with the top of line options
  • What is the vendor’s data backup plan as well as recovery options
  • What are the vendor’s privacy policies in this regard

10. 24/7 Customer Support

Excellent customer support is the best way of delivering value to any product offering and it is not matter of 9-to-5 job anymore.

You want to choose a live chat software that offers 24/7 customer support 365 days a year so that you can get instant assistance anytime you need it.

If you are looking to ensure the best customer support through a live chat application yourself, there is no reason why you shouldn’t expect the same for yourself.

You need to ensure that you can reach out to them anytime via phone, chat or email support.

Final Words

Once you have made a decision to implement a live chat solution on your website, you're well on your way to enhancing and enriching your customers’ experience. The benefits of having best live chat software on your website are clear, and we hope that this checklist allows you pick one that’s just right for your business.

About the author

Chandan Kumar Singh

Chandan Kumar Singh is VP- Digital Marketing at Proprofs. Apart from donning the hat of an esteemed position with accompanying responsibilities and duties, he believes in living life to the fullest. A mellifluous voice, passionate cricket enthusiast, avid photographer are a few things that describe him. Owing to his passion for new ventures in the world of technology, latest trends, close monitoring of technical processes, he writes to inform and educate. His works have been published in various top-notch sites all over the world. Sharing of new ideas and finding innovative ways to implement them is his general motto and driving factor in life.


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