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Live chat helps businesses attend to their customers in real time, engage with them to solve their queries, and ensure customer satisfaction throughout the process. This helps businesses improve their sales, expand their customer base, and ensure long-term brand loyalty.
In a survey of businesses, 79 percent say offering live chat has had a positive effect on their sales, revenue, and customer loyalty. It also found that 38 percent of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that offers live chat support, while 51 percent are more likely to stay with or buy again from such a company.
This fact should highlight that live chat is important for businesses, and that it makes sense to invest in live chat software. We created this buyer’s guide to provide businesses important information about the software so that they can make an informed purchase.
Here’s what we’ve covered in this guide:
Live chat software is a platform for businesses to engage with their customers in real time. Businesses can send proactive chat messages to first-time website visitors as well as returning customers. They can respond to chat messages from customers in real time and offer support, which can improve the customer’s engagement with the brand.
Live chat software can help a business empower its sales team, marketing team, and customer service team. The tool allows them to send personalized or automated messages to customers any time.
Find out more about developing a customer-focused strategy.
Explore the three types of live chat software commonly available in the market and choose the option that suits your business needs. Here are the options for you:
Traditional live chat software: This software offers live chat functionality to help agents engage with customers in real time during specific business hours.
Modern live chat software: These solutions integrate live chat functionality with artificial intelligence (AI) to serve customers 24 hours a week. Businesses can create a list of templated responses that chatbots will provide customers when agents aren’t able to respond immediately.
Integrated customer service software with live chat: This software combines features such as messaging platforms, video chat, and web text chat.
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: Can I buy one type of live chat software and add features to it as my business expands?
In both on-premise and cloud-based live chat software, the live chat functionality is integrated in the business website. Here are more details about the two deployment options and the key differences between each option:
On-premise live chat software: This software is hosted on the business’s own servers and can be accessed only from specific devices on which it’s installed. This option suits businesses that want to integrate live chat software with their other on-premise solutions or to significantly customize the software.
Cloud-based live chat software: This software is hosted on the vendor’s servers and can be accessed from anywhere. Customer service agents or sales representatives can also respond to queries in real time using any device.
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: What is the pricing structure for the deployment type you offer?
Read about the features of live chat software before investing in a solution. Here are some of the common features of this software:
Real-time consumer-facing chat: Allows customer support agents or sales representatives to chat with customers in real time via an embedded chat widget.
Embedded chat in the website via LiveChat
Proactive chats: Sends push notifications with links, product information, discount options, greeting messages, etc., to website visitors. These will prompt them to interact with the website.
Proactive chat in My LiveChat (Source)
Chat monitoring: Allows supervisors to monitor chats in real time to gauge the performance of their employees. They can use these insights to train agents on efficient communication, so that agents are able to understand the customer swiftly.
Overview of all the chats in LiveAgent
Visitor tracking: Tracks website visitors so that it can gather information such as a customer’s contact details. You can also find out about the source from where the visitors came to the website.
Track and monitor visitors on your website in LiveChat
Chat transcripts: Provides access to chat history and previous customer interactions at any time. The archived chat transcripts are typically searchable and can be retrieved using phrases, agent names, time, day, etc. Users can also email the transcripts for future reference.
Find the history of all chats with a customer on LiveChat (Source)
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: Are all the common features mentioned above offered in your basic package?
Some of the advanced features aren’t required by all businesses. However, it’s good to know about these features so that you can anticipate your future needs. Some of these advanced features could help you scale up as your business expands. Here are the features that are you should know about:
Chat routing: Allows agents to transfer chats to other agents based on the availability and expertise in handling a particular customer query. This ensures that customers get the right and prompt responses.
File transfer: Offers drag-and-drop functionality to let agents and customers exchange files (a screenshot, product guide document, or links) in a live chat.
Reports and analytics: Provides reports about the chat time between the agent and customer, the number of visitors who left without chatting, satisfaction levels of customers, and other such vital metrics.
Canned chats: Creates canned responses to the frequently asked questions (on common topics such as pricing, discounts, and product pages). You can use these responses to serve the customers faster than you earlier could.
Ticket management: Creates a ticket if a chat can’t be resolved immediately using the built-in ticketing feature. Agents can either assign the ticket to another agent or take care of it themselves at a later time.
AI chatbots: Answers customer queries with the help of chatbots or conversational agents. The responses can be predefined and provided to customers when agents aren’t available or are busy.
Key question to ask your vendor before you buy: Are there any special or advanced configurations that you offer but your competitors don’t?
Integrating the live chat software with your other business applications allows you to cater customers effectively. Let’s look at some popular integrations that you should know about before you invest in a solution:
Customer relationship management (CRM): Your live chat software should integrate with your CRM solution so that all your customer data is in one place. Your agents can just refer to the consolidated customer profile and assist the customer based on information from previous interactions, chats, activity, preferences, etc.
eCommerce software: Your live chat software should integrate with your eCommerce solution to help you assist customers during their shopping experience. The feature will allow you to see the total cart value, cart details, and the last order details.
Key questions to ask your vendor before you buy: Do you send updates about new software integrations? If yes, how often are these updates?
You should always be aware of the upcoming trends in the market. Knowing these trends can help you offer better customer service. Let’s discuss two of the current top trends that businesses are adopting, or planning to adopt:
AI to enhance customer interactions: Research found that 53% of small and midsize businesses are using or planning to use artificial intelligence (AI) by 2021-22; 39% believe that AI is critical to their business. For instance, a chatbot can gather customer data, understand the needs of the customer, and direct them to a live agent. An agent can then continue the chat and co-browse with the customer in real time to guide them through the issue. This avoids customers having to repeat their questions and re-explaining the problem to every agent that they get assigned.
Data-driven chats to personalize communication: Businesses could merge data analytics with live chat for more personalized communication with customers. They can send proactive chats with information about preferences, most searched products, trends, etc., to get a customer’s attention and increase engagement with the brand. By 2030, analytics data will inform nearly all decision making, while Gartner predicts that more than 40% of all data and analytics projects will relate to an aspect of customer experience by 2021.
We have referenced the following documents while creating this guide:
GetApp live chat catalog (Date accessed: 4/17/2019)
10 predictions for the future of IT and the management strategies that will follow (Date accessed: 4/17/2019)
Gartner report: How to Select Live Chat Applications for Customer Engagement (Date accessed: 4/17/2019)
Top 5 Tech Trends for Small Business (Date accessed: 4/17/2019)
*Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context, and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations, obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.