Providing a live chat solution on your website not only goes a long way
towards earning consumer trust, but also helps educate them as to what makes
your business or product different and better than the competition.
Doing your research to find the best and most cost-effective solution (hosted or
installed) available is a good first step, but determining what works best on a
single website or a package that works for multiple websites is an important
factor. Hosted live chat and server side solutions are very different, both in
cost and functionality, so knowing the difference is imperative.
The fees associated with the live chat solutions will be a major determining
factor in your selection. Keep an eye out for free trials and use them to get familiar with the software. But much like other software
solutions, keep in mind that there may be setup fees and even monthly costs for each individual operator that is using the system.
Features are another key component of successful live chat features. Look for
the ability to notify users that chat is offline or temporarily unavailable,
built in (or customizable) chat buttons and images, remote administration, sound
and visual alerts that notify operators of pending requests and even sharing –
or what is know as “chat transfer” – should operators not be able to answer a
question. Some advanced features may include document sharing, co-web browsing
and the ability to invite users engaged in a session to chat with an operator.
Tracking should also be a consideration. Being able to identify repeat visitors,
generate transcripts and tracking referrers and even the ability to establish
visitor footprints will give you a first-hand understanding of what your
customers need and how they are moving through your website.
There are a handful of best practices that will help you make the most of your
live chat implementation. For instance, you may want to consider using live chat
exclusively for paying customers, reserving the use for more complex requests.
Website managers may also want to promote their live chat in place of contact
forms, as most queries can be handled quickly without forcing an automated
Live chat solutions are a great way to humanize your website. Successful website
owners and managers realize that they must do whatever it takes to build trust
and educate their customers and, for the money, there is no better way to do it
than live chat software.
Cost: Live Support Software
Who’s On by Parker Software: $35 monthly or $395 outright
WebsiteAlive.com: $69.95 + setup fee of $99.95
SiteChatter.com: $14.95 - $29.95 per month
LivePerson.com - LiverPerson Pro: $99.99 per “seat” or concurrent user
BoldChat.com (Enterprise CRM Edition): $79 monthly - $68 per user annually