Having a live chat feature on a website is increasingly expected when users visit a website. They provide customers with a quick and convenient way to get the answers they need in real time without being overly invasive or interrupting. They can be a very valuable tool in converting website visitors into customers. This is why it’s important to understand the different types of live chat software for websites and how to use it for your business.
There are many different live chat providers to choose from, each with different features, focuses and value proposition. Some pop up after a user has been on the page for a bit. Others are less intrusive and are an option at the bottom of the page. For many, the purpose of live chat is to gain new business and engage and capture the visitor’s information before they leave the page.
Choose Your Provider Carefully
Live chat is an important component of many business websites and provider should be selected with careful study. Each have their strengths and features that may be applicable to your business. Six providers that offer live chat software to websites are Zopim, Snapengage, Ngage, Olark, LiveChat and vCita.
While this review of companies is by no means exhaustive, comparing the major differences between these providers, you may determine which one might be a better fit for your business.
Both providers Zopim and Snapengage offer free trial periods of about two weeks. Zopim provides users with a free package (the Lite Plan) that comes with one live chat agent and concurrent chats. Beyond the free trial period, Snapengage does not offer a free package.
Zopim offers three paid plans. The Basic Plan is $11.20 each month for each agent with an unlimited number of chats, and the Advanced Plan costs $20 a month for each agent with no limit on chats, in addition to analytics and reports.
Zopim’s Premium Plan comprises $44 for each agent every month, as well as monitoring in real-time, IP address block features, and widget unbranding (an option to remove the Zopim logo that normally appears at the bottom of the page). As always, pricing is subject to change at any time.
Snapengage offers four plans that users pay to access. The Business Plan provides users with four agents at a cost of $66 per month (it includes full branding customization), and the Plus Plan comes with eight agents for $140 every month (with full branding customization, white label, and HIPAA compliance).
The Premier Plan consists of 16 agents for a fee of $460 every month (with all of the features of the first two plans, plus SMS-to-chat and several other features), and the Enterprise Plan allows users to customize a plan to fit their needs.
Support and Training
Businesses that use Snapengage can get assistance in the form of phone support or live support. Those who utilize Zopim may get assistance in the form of live support and support tickets, and training is also available. You should be aware that Zopim has recently changed its name to Zendesk Chat – but for now, it may still be found at zopim.com, as well as at zendesk.com.
Ngage is a live chat platform that focuses a lot on legal and medical offices, as well as auto dealerships, home service businesses, and other selected verticals. They also work with contractors and general businesses as well, and offer some great features such as greeting customers immediately, interacting and collecting pertinent information. Ngage then uses a wide range of options to then connect the visitor to the business directly, like live call transfer, email and mobile SMS.
Ngage offers 24/7/365 coverage for your business. This is important since as many as half of your contacts will likely occur outside of business hours. They also offers Spanish speaking chat specialists so that you can expand your options and service to consumers. Ngage connects easily with analytics and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems, so that you capture as much usable data as possible.
Ngage Live Chat pricing is a pay-for-performance model, which means you only will pay for quality leads and opportunities garnered. You will pay an activation fee, and that will afford you assistance installing code and getting it up and running on your website.
We currently use Ngage as the live chat service for our website. You should see it in the lower left hand corner or may have seen it as a pop up on your screen.
A Different Level of Commitment
Picking up the phone and calling a business indicates a certain level of commitment some user’s aren’t yet at. Ngage is skilled at handling potentially sensitive information users are sharing. Their operators are trained to be highly professional and provide just the right amount of information to obtain the user’s information. That’s one of the real values of live chat is the some topics people to don’t want to be having phone conversation on a sensitive topic around others.
Ngage is best suited as a powerful lead capture tool for businesses where the value of a customer is in the hundreds if not thousands of dollars as opposed to more of a customer support based chat platform.
Olark is a simple to use live chat platform that has been around for years. You can set it up, and customize it, on your website yourself with just a few clicks and use it to chat with your customers. You can have Olark up and running in mere minutes, and use the customization features to add themes, text, and languages.
Olark tells you who your visitors are and what they are looking at on your website, even what they have in their shopping cart. It is a great addition to other support avenues you already have, like phone, email and social media. Additionally, Olark can connect with CRM systems and help desks to capture all your conversations and data.
With Olark, you can chat when you want to, or need to. When you aren’t available, the system will take a message for you. Your customers are on your site – talk to them and find out what you can do to help them do business with you.
Olark has a tiered pricing plan, starting with a free forever plan for low volume users. It allows you 20 chats per month. For enhanced features and the ability for multiple chat users, you can upgrade and pay from $12 – $17 per month, based on payment frequency.
Olark is a good option for small businesses and startups. It’s not cost-prohibitive, but gives you the basic features you need to capture customers on your site. NGage is more complex, but the right type of solution for complicated businesses like auto dealerships and attorney’s offices, where users expect instant, professional answers to all of their questions.
This may get confusing as this live chat company’s name is LiveChat with the eponymous URL LiveChat.com. Their system is easy to use and navigate. They scale with your team so you always have at least one operator and more if and when you need it.
With many affordable plans LiveChat is used by everyone from burgeoning startups to established Fortune 500 companies. They offer easy movement between accounts to accommodate business trends and if you require something special, just ask as they likely can tailor something special unique to your needs.
LiveChat works great with automated responses, archives, and locating customers. The ability to transfer chats to other reps is very useful if/when needed.
LiveChat offers four package tiers of service: The Free tier offers 30 days of log retention and up to 2 employees. The Standard tier offers up to 8 employees with 90 days of log retention at $9.99/month. The Advanced tier offers up to 30 employees with 1 year of log retention and total customization for $49.99/month.
Their Enterprise packages are completely customizable to meet each company’s exact needs with unlimited employees, unlimited log retention and is branding free. LiveChat can provide an individualized quote for your company’s unique needs on the Enterprise tier.
vCita – An Enticing CRM
vCita helps you build an actionable online presence where your clients can easily interact with your business. vCita is a simple yet powerful tool with all the features you need- including online scheduling where clients can set and reschedule appointments and book services anytime and on any device.
This more integrated chat and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool offers a more comprehensive solution where you can choose to display an interactive online event calendar and let clients register and pay online.
vCita Features and Benefits
vCita allows you to accept credit card payments online and you can create and email invoices and track income with a centralized dashboard. Customizable forms, document sharing, notifications and reminders are all great tools for promoting you business and keeping your client information saved in your CRM.
Vcita is a good fit for companies looking to integrate a live chat system with a useful CRM. It particularly shines with online appointment bookings and may work well for business such as a small accounting practice or dentist’s office.
vCita provides four subscriptions: The Free plan allows access to the LiveSite client portal, the business management app and stores up to 300 client records. The Essential plan offers online payments, online appointment booking, email and phone support for a single user at $19.90/month.
The vCita Business plan also offers SMS client notifications, event and class registration, analytics and integration and support for 3 staff members at $39.90/month. The Platinum plan includes a dedicated account manager, branded CRM, staff roles and permissions and more for 3 staff members at $59.90/month, $14.95 for each additional user.
Want You Don’t Want
Whichever live chat service you choose for your business, one factor to be aware of is that Google is penalizing sites that have overly intrusive interstitials, that pop up over a screen, should not be overly intrusive in taking over the screen, particularly on mobile. Google views these as overly intrusive diminishing the user experience.
So you should be aware that live chat boxes that take up large portions or the entire screen could put your business at risk of a search engine penalty. However, most reputable major live chat providers are aware of this and a loss in rankings would be no good for anyone. Nonetheless, sites with live chat on their sites should be aware of the issue and the chat shouldn’t block large portions of the screen and be overly intrusive in the user experience.
All of these providers have plenty of features worth considering, so you may want to explore a few of them to decide which one will work best for your business. Each are responsive and should work well when the website is viewed on a mobile device. There are many other providers, and some that cater to only specific verticals such as real estate.
Live chat isn’t a magic panacea for websites. They need high quality content, compelling offers, a visually enticing and mobile-friendly design which greatly affect the user experience and conversion rates. You also need enough traffic to your site to justify any set up costs of live chat.
Customers increasingly expect prompt response to their questions and inquiries on the Web and many users like the convenience and immediacy of live chat support. Giving your customers an easy way to reach you is a great way to keep them satisfied and on your site as long as possible by providing instant feedback and professional service is a great benefit.
As a business, you want to squeeze all the performance you can out of your marketing. Can you really afford to be losing business from customers that want real time service on your website? Take the plunge and test the perfect live chat system for your business.