Customer Service & Support Articles

Live Chat – How to Do It Right

by Niamh Lynch
Published on 4 August 2014

girl_headset_support Live chat. It's all the rage, and you may have already decided that it's the right move for your business. If you read my previous post on the subject, you already know why it's a good idea. It amplifies your existing customer support, allowing you to reach more and more varied customers. Not everybody will send an email or call, but most everybody will chat. But that's not all…

The Benefits of Live Chat

Live chat will:

  • Improve your customer service
  • Save you money
  • Make more sales
  • and give you an edge on the competition

And that's only the beginning. You may even have taken a look at the different apps you can use to set up live chat on your website, but there's something holding you back. What is it? Does it feel intimidating? Too many apps to choose from? A fear of wasting money on an unsuitable system? Too big to undertake yourself, but you don't have the help?

All the while, your competition is nailing it, using live chat to help deliver the best customer experience they can, detecting problems as soon as they happen, and even boosting sales by re-routing potential customers to specialist sales people. You're falling behind!

Don't worry

I've got 4 steps that will take you from "I don't know what to do" to "I can't believe I didn't do this sooner". Read on:

1. State your goals on paper (or screen)

  • What's your primary aim? Customer support, sales or both?
  • When (what times of day) are you going to provide it?
  • Do you have the staff to meet these demands?

if not, modify what you're aiming to provide and when you're going to provide it. If you don't have the human resources, no software is going to help you.

2. Find the right app for your business

Take a look at your existing client relationship management system. Does it offer live help? Is it a good fit for the demands you've outlined above?

Some CRMs that offer live chat include:


Kayako's a classic CRM that provides over 30,000 clients with live chat capabilities, so they must be doing something right! It's got all the mod cons, like branded chat windows, screengrab, linking and image features, and an intelligent chat routing option, which is particularly good for multi-language websites.


This upbeat CRM provides live chat via Olark, in itself an established live chat tool. The main hook here is the ability to convert your chats directly into tickets, which means that it's the perfect tool when the main purpose of your live chats is customer support. is an old-school CRM powerhouse with a no frills live chat feature that prides itself in being very easy to set up. It's based on LiveChat, and if you're looking for a basic, easy to use tool, it may be worth a look.


Zendesk is the cheerful CRM, and the live chat function is no exception. Depending on when you started to use the app, you will have either a built-in chat feature, or, for newer customers, a licence for Zopim chat, described below.

if yes , contact your CRM support and talk to them about adding live help. if no , check out the following standalone apps, or, if you don't currently use a CRM, examine the possibility of adopting one.


This stand-alone live chat app is very easy to use, and shows you exactly how to enable it - and the benefits you can expect - in a video on its website. As well as chat itself, it offers extensive reporting abilities and a "virtual operator" to cover you when your agents are at rest.


Zopim is one of the best-known names in the live chat business. It's a nice-looking app that gets copious amounts of praise, has great features and has even won awards, so it's definitely worth checking out.


Casengo prides itself on the compact "one inbox" approach to customer contact, including live chat. That means that your operators will have all their sources of contact - like email, social networks, and more - all routed to the same overview.

3. Follow the app's instructions for setting up

This is not a complicated task and you'll be able to accomplish it in a matter of minutes, especially if you use the app's customer support or online knowledge base. Most importantly, it's likely to involve no or minimal coding knowledge.

4. Organize and inform your human resources

This means assigning the relevant support staff to the live chat module, deciding the operating guidelines, and providing those support staff with the appropriate instructions. This part is crucial - all live support modules are technically similar. Where the real difference is made is in how the chat function appears to your customers and that's something your customer support staff are responsible for.

It's a very good idea to seriously plan a live chat handbook or physical guidelines that your staff members can read, use as reference, and that can be passed onto new employees when necessary. Your staff need to be capable, consistent and accountable.


Live chat as a customer support and sales tool is not yet widely used. Even though you feel behind now, the very fact that you're reading this article means you're already ahead of the curve. Start at my first piece of advice and work your way through, and before long you'll have a customer support solution that adds up to much more than the sum of its pieces!



Apps mentioned in this article