As the global business landscape evolves into a complex ecosystem with break-neck competition, technology seems to be the only solace!
It offers a technological boon to spearheaded business growth via innovative capabilities and unbeatable workplace efficiency through chatbots and live chat tools.
Apart from offering a direct line of contact to your customers, the website chat tools can do a lot more, such as:
- Gathering leads
- Delivering guided shopping experiences
- Swift support for frequently asked or repetitive queries
- Collecting customer feedback
- Collecting contextual information for support staff
Due to these utilities and intelligent capabilities, 69% of shoppers in the USA demand live chat solutions on websites. Further, 73% of the customers find website chat tools a more satisfying way of query resolution.
While the advantages of embracing workplace customer tech like live chat software are immense, you have to pick the best software for the best results.
So, what are some of the best live chat software for business? And, are they relevant for all the companies?
Below, we share the answers in detail and tips to choose the best live chat tool for your business.
What Is Live Chat Software & How Does It Work?
Live chat software is a customer support tool that offers real-time resolution to customer queries. Your customers and website visitors can click on the widget and submit or choose their concerns. The innovative AI-powered live chat tools might also offer autonomous solutions if the query is simple. Otherwise, a support rep interacts with the customer in the chat window.
So, live chat software is just like a direct line of contact between your support staff and customers or visitors.
Suppose a visitor arrives at your website, the live chat tool will send an automated greeting after a few seconds. The visitor looking for information will type a response, and a live chat agent will take over the chat window. This “instant messaging” is how live chat works.
However, this is not all about it!
The top live chat software options in the market come with many smart capabilities that reduce the burden of your support staff.
These live chat support tools target several business processes, as shown in the following image:
A lot of you might want to get a support system after looking at how live chat integrates into different business processes. That’s why we’ve discussed some of the must-have factors that you should consider when choosing a live chat.
How to Choose the Best Live Chat Tool: 10+ Must-Consider Points For Every Business Owner
Every business has unique support and service requirements. For example, an eCommerce business might look for smart interaction capabilities to boost the customer experience. On the other hand, an online software solutions company might prefer simple web-based chat software for interacting with customers.
Hence, every business has a different criteria list for choosing the best live chat software.
However, one universal fact remains – the definition of the “best live chat tools” is cumulative!
It results from various factors you must consider while choosing a live chat tool for your business. But then again, what are these “must-consider” factors?
Let us find out!
1. Use Case
Your business use cases have a substantial say in your final choice of live chat software. For example, if you plan to deliver customer support via live chat, you must opt for a tool with help docs. The tool must also pull out the purchase or communication history of a customer as and when required. This will come in handy for gathering contextual information for any query.
On the other hand, if you plan to have live chat software for sale, it must connect to your CRM. The sales chatbots have many features that guide the customers towards the ultimate goal of every business interaction – Purchase!
Also, you must consider your scaling goals to choose a live chat software that scales well with your enterprise. Many enterprises evolve in terms of “live chat” requirements. They might need smart customer automation to deliver behavioral insights into the customer data or offer guided purchase experiences right inside the chat window!
So, your business use cases are the first thing that will point towards the right direction.
As mentioned above, many business owners might want to offer automated interaction features. They might be looking for chatbots that can deliver striking and engaging customer interactions.
Apart from answers to basic queries and collecting contextual information for the human support agents, chatbots can help you close more sales. They can overtake the customer chat, make recommendations and present the best products as per their wishes.
For example, take a look at the way Sephora’s Chatbot interacts with customers:
From borderline support to impeccable guided personal shopper-like experience – chatbots can do a fantastic job!
So, if your business requires chatbots, opt for the live chat tools with bot functionalities.
Integration capabilities are one of the most important things to consider while choosing the website chat tools. If your live chat tool links to your help desk software, a knowledge base system or even a CRM, you can leverage it for many purposes.
It can help you create a support bundle that can offer your agents a centralized view of all the customer interactions across all the channels. That means they’ll easily find context for a support query. Your agents can leave the prospecting and qualified lead gathering to the smart live chat software and focus on more crucial work.
Small business owners’ purses have strings that play a vital role in deciding many things, such as:
- Software suite
- Team size
- Support system
- Scale of operations
While there is no doubt that legacy live chat vendors offer an exceptionally well-built set of functionalities, the prices are high too!
Further, the SMEs and start-ups might not even require so many features in their live chat tool.
So, always start with identifying your pain points in support, experience, sales, and website capabilities. Next, compare these pain points against the feature set of the live chat tools and opt for the most relevant, economical tool.
Also, never forget to check for the complimentary trials and free versions that come with basic functionalities. These are some of the most helpful tips to choose the best live chat tools.
5. Customer Support
Check your customer support requirements and goals. Do they include smart AI or ML capabilities to direct your customers to the correct pages, offer product recommendations, and deliver personalized shopping experiences? Do you wish for them to be greeted and followed up as well?
If the answer is yes, you must opt for the live chat tools with chatbot functionalities. The chatbots automate the customer support, service, and sales processes to a great extent. They can reduce the burden of your support staff and deliver them actionable insights and more qualified leads than ever.
However, here we reiterate a few things – check your business scale, budget, and the number of audiences. Only then opt for the live chatbots.
6. Mobile Application
Nearly 60% of the searches come from mobiles. The customers are aggressively using mobiles for shopping, contacting support, and even browsing their favourite websites. This is why more than 42% of SME businesses already have a mobile app.
Offering live chat capabilities on your mobile apps elevates your customer experience levels and brings uniformity to your business model. It is exceptionally tiresome for your app users to log on to your official website in case of any query or seek support.
So, if you already have a mobile app or are planning to get one, it is essential to opt for a live chat software that works well with it.
Evaluating your chatbot needs for mobile, web, and social media handles is crucial when picking a live chat vendor.
7. Customization Options
The degree of customization in software is one of the critical considerations for investing in that software. Depending on your business’s unique needs, you might want different degrees of branding and customization. For example, no watermarks, brand logo name, and brand graphics on every chat window, email, message, etc.
Hence, opt for an online live chat solution that is highly flexible and highly customizable and offers options like:
- Web pages where you live chat widget must appear
- Welcome greetings, chat availability status, etc
- Automated workflows and notifications etc.
Highly customizable live chat tools allow you to do many more things, such as texting customers or visitors after leaving the chat window for follow-ups.
8. Security Changes
With one cyberattack happening every 39 seconds and incidents like the Kaseya ransomware attack affecting businesses across the globe, security is also a key consideration. You must know the deployment details of your live chat tool, such as whether it is cloud-hosted or web-hosted or on-premise software.
You must know the frequency of back-ups and risk mitigation attributes as well. Check for the validation and authorized access policies, firewall status to prevent data breaches, and vendor’s security policies.
Do a thorough assessment of all these things, and then opt for a live chat tool that is safe and secure.
9. Product Onboarding
The best live chat tools offer excellent onboarding and come with a negligible learning curve. They must not appear as an operational or learning overhead for your support staff and make their jobs easier and better. Opt for the live chat tools that don’t come with coding requirements and get the support staff started within minutes.
The first goal of embracing automation is to simplify things and make the processes more efficient.
So, always opt for tools that reduce your burdens and not become one with a complex UI.
10. Company Size
Always pick a live chat software keeping your team size in mind. It is vital to opt for fully scalable software that scales as your business and team grow. Don’t use a live chat for large groups or opting for a plan for 30 team members when you have just 20 support staff with no expansion plans on the horizon. It is just an additional cost.
If you are unclear about your expansion and team size, you can opt for the live chat vendors with a “per person” payment model.
11. Agent Usability
Establish the core requirements for live chat software. Identify the non-negotiable features and usability characteristics. If you are a sales-driven team looking for qualified leads, opt for a conversational platform. If you are a support-oriented team, opt for tools with chatbot functionalities.
Check the overall UI and make sure your team will find it easy to use.
Further, keep your eyes open for the kind of utility the software can offer to your teams, such as:
- Sales insights
- Automated sales processes
- Social media coverage
- Help desk integration
Which Type of Live Chat Is Perfect for Your Business?
There are different types of live chat, and all of them focus on various aspects of customer communications.
1. Informational Live Chat
Informational Live Chat is the most basic type of live chat to provide information and answer the visitors’ questions. This chat is oriented towards offering factual and objective information that your visitors can use for decision-making.
The complex and uncommon questions are directed towards the support staff.
2. Sales Live Chat
This type of live chat focuses on the sales and sales processes. Not only does it gather visitor data, but it also steers them towards sales. The chat tool will also gather sales data, process it, and present it to your sales team with actionable insights.
3. Customer Service Live Chat
This type of chat focuses entirely on customers, preferences, shopping behavior, and delivering stellar service. From handling customer queries to offering product recommendations, these chat tools can handle everything. The customer service chat also collects contextual information for your support staff.
Top 5 Live Chat Software in 2021 [REVIEWED]
1. ProProfs Chat
ProProfs Chat is one of the best live chat tools designed to capture more leads and delight your customers. With proactive customer engagement options such as chat greetings and announcements, it becomes easier for a business to connect and engage with website visitors.
What’s more, you can find actionable analytics delivered via delightful reports that make ProProfs Chat an excellent tool for businesses of all scales and all types. You can set conditions for automating chat routing, storing leads in your CRM, and capturing visitor details.
- Enables your team to create announcements to keep customers informed on the latest updates
- Allows you set chat triggers that help your agents to initiate a proactive chat with visitors
- Automates customer support process and captures leads with the chatbot
- Offers in-depth reports for operator performance, chatbots, and an in-depth insight on incoming chats
- Essentials: $10/agent/month
- Premium: $15/agent/month
- Enterprise: Available on call
Who should use: Businesses of all scales and all types; from freelancers to large enterprises
What you’ll like: We like that they have in-depth reports that help a business identify the knowledge gaps an agent may have regarding the support process.
What you might not like: We feel they should bring in more chatbot templates for their clients to set up a chatbot on their website faster.
A dedicated live chat solution, Olark is perfect for small and medium businesses. The agents can use chat transcripts and notes created during customer communications. The tool allows you to customize chat messages by looking at the browsing history and communication history of a customer.
It allows you to send automated targeting messages to your website visitors and integrates well with popular third-party platforms.
- Presents support agents with contextual information
- Supports smart chat distribution and team monitoring features
- Actionable visitor insights for lead scoring, chat personalization, and prioritization
- Monitors knowledgeability, friendliness, and responsiveness with customer feedback
Single Plan: $29/agent/month
Who should use: eCommerce and SaSS SMEs
What you’ll like: We appreciate that they bring support automation and in-depth analytics to the table for their customers.
What you might not like: What we’d like for Olark to improve is its file-sharing system. It is difficult for agents to share images with customers during an ongoing chat.
Live Chat offers an excellent set of features and comes with impeccable customizability. Apart from the generic features of live chat software, this one provides lead generation, multichannel support, online surveys, NPS, and in-app support.
You can set up queues for your agents, route chats to specific teams, and tailor the software to your needs. So, it is one of the most versatile website chat tools.
- Allows adding product cards during live chat sessions.
- Provides access to AI chatbots and custom forms to qualify leads
- Allows you to see what a customer is typing and even before he hits the ENTER key
- Calculates chat ROI and customer segmentation
- Starter: $16/agent/month
- Team: $33/agent/month
- Business: $50/agent/month
- Enterprise: Pricing available on call
Who should use: eCommerce and SaSS businesses (small businesses to large enterprises)
What you’ll like: They have a detailed feature set for security settings that gives their clients the satisfaction that none of their data will go missing.
What you might not like: LiveChat needs to upgrade its system. That’s because many customers have complained about facing lags during an ongoing conversation with their customers.
Chaport brings multiple live chat features together that enable your business to generate leads and boost sales. You can send auto invites to engage more frequently with your website visitors.
Agents can also gain access to real-time customer typing insights. This will prepare them to answer customer queries faster and make sure that they leave satisfied with the brand.
- Offers mobile-friendly and multilingual chat widget
- Tracks visitor’s browsing behavior and triggers proactive chat
- Provides messaging features such as file sharing, notifications, offline messages, and more
- Automates incoming support query queue with a chatbot
- Free: Free of cost
- Premium: $15/month
- Business: $23/month
- Enterprise: Request a quote
Who should use: eCommerce and software vendors ranging from small businesses to large enterprises.
What you’ll like: It offers multiple engagement features such as chatbots and proactive chat triggers.
What you might not like: They need to work on optimizing their mobile application. The mobile app supports fewer features and isn’t upgraded for the latest iOS versions.
Officially branded as a “conversational relationship platform“, Intercom comes with many smart features. You can boost your site conversions via targeted messages, real-time chat, and chatbots. Intercom leverages outbound communication to onboard, activate, and re-engage customers.
It comes with excellent self-help features and proactive support tools to make your support better and more efficient. Your agents can manage customer interactions happening across multiple channels from a single dashboard.
- Conversational Chatbots for lead qualification, automated meeting scheduling, and product tours
- Customer segmentation for personalization and better customer targeting
- Performance optimization with A/B testing and message versioning
- Insightful customer analytics for personalized experiences
- Starter plan for small businesses: $79/month
For all the other pricing plans, get in touch with their support team.
Who should use: SaSS Companies (small businesses to large enterprises)
What you’ll like: Its conversational chatbot is quite impressive as it not only focuses on offering support but also markets the products and identifies sales opportunities.
What you might not like: They don’t have a stable support process. Intercom fails to deliver a good support experience when their customers are stuck with the product.
Best Results Stem From Right Implementation
While it is great to employ customer-facing tech to improve your sales, support, and overall availability for your customers, the proper implementation is vital.
So, not only do you have to choose the right software, but you also have to implement it perfectly. If you cannot resolve queries, even after having the best-in-class live chat software, it is of no use. Remember, an exceptional support system results from the perfect amalgamation of human and tech resources.
So, implement your live chat keeping the end goals in mind!
Further, SMEs might get enticed by the legacy live chat systems that offer a wide range of functionalities. But, they must opt for the tools that cater to their current requirements, keeping scaling and evolving business needs in mind.
Now that you have all the options to start with, choose the one that fits your support requirements and kick-start the transformation!