What to Look For in a Live Chat Software Solution

By Jim Iyoob

There have been drastic changes in the business world due to technological advances. Technology has made it possible to increase collaboration internationally, promote flexible work hours, and shop online. In today’s environment, there are numerous communication channels that can be employed – more than ever before.

Making the right choice of customer interaction methods and technologies is one of the most critical tasks for business decision makers. Live chat can be used internally for employees to communicate with one another or externally to talk with customers. Now is the time to find the right software for your live chat needs. Investing in the right software depends on your company’s size and the functionalities you are seeking.

With businesses aiming to improve online sales, it is essential to have a credible and reliable live chat software solution to cater to the online customer. There are many chat software options available in the market to address business needs. According to a survey conducted by Bold Software in 2010, 53 percent of online shoppers who interacted through live chat on business websites spent more than $500 online. And 56 percent of all respondents showed an inclination to make a purchase when a website offered live chat.

Live chat can increase your online customer base and improve conversion rates. The following are a few items to consider when selecting a live chat software solution:

  1. Web-Based Software Versus Desktop Software: Chat software is everywhere. Its presence is seen in phones, desktop computer screens, and Web portals. Many of the legacy solutions are desktop-based and must be installed on each computer separately. These software packages also come with a cap on the number of times the software can be installed and require licenses for additional installations. These solutions are meant for handling low chat volume on low-traffic websites and require IT expertise to set up, install, and maintain.

Web-based live chat software solutions offer greater benefits than desktop software in terms of flexibility, scalability, reliability, and better integration with Web browsers on mobile devices. It allows agents the flexibility to login from any Web browser from any location. Web-based solutions are free from firewall conflicts and upgrade requirements, and they can handle high chat volume.

  1. Off-line Customer Support: Tracking of visitors in real time can improve sales. Chat provides client support and technical aid 24/7. Providing a 24/7 live chat service on a website increases the chances of making a sale and developing customer loyalty. Questions can be answered faster along with providing assistance in finding particulars for interested shoppers, supply incentives, and receiving feedback.

Many Web-based chat solutions ensure easy integration with mobile Web browsers and are compatible with any phone. This means that when an agent is not present online, a text message can be sent to the agents when they are needed. When an agent clicks this message, they are directly connected to customers through a mobile Web browser.

  1. Canned Responses: Attracting customers to a website is one thing – getting them to buy is another. A guest will spend no more than fifteen seconds to find what he or she is searching for before leaving the site. Live chat software installed on a website is an outstanding way to save time for visitors and quickly help them locate what they are looking for and turn them into customers.

Canned responses can also be used by agents to increase the speed of chat and lead to higher customer satisfaction. It is important to select a live chat software solution that offers agents a quick reply to customer queries or complex questions. These solutions can store useful information from day-to-day operations and form a comprehensive knowledge base, which can be used to prepare canned responses that can then speed up chats when agents are handling multiple customers.

  1. Web Analytics and Reporting Tools: Apart from the basic features such as canned responses, proactive chats, and co-browsing, live chat software solutions should also include reporting tools and Web analytics. Web analytics provide insight into website traffic, such as repeat visitors and which pages were visited most. Web analytics can reveal crucial information regarding online behavior of the website visitors.
  2. A Customizable Solution: In order to better adapt with changing situations, the live chat software solution must be customizable to keep up with evolving business requirements. Some solutions, for example, provide a cut-and-paste method to easily integrate code into multiple pages of the website. Solutions should also allow for easy customization of chat buttons, chat skins, themes, and customer facing interface. Easy customizable solutions ensure that businesses can maintain consistent brand identity across all marketing and customer-centric channels.
  3. Pricing: Customer service through chat is an excellent way to keep customers happy. Not only is it a relatively inexpensive way to provide the attention customers demand, but it’s effective at carrying out this task. Businesses are wise to first assess their needs before moving forward with a selection of a live chat software solution; some software solutions provide basic features at a low cost per single user while others provide ample amount of features that can be scaled to meet business requirements and follow a monthly billing model. Businesses should conduct a detailed analysis as to which solution satisfies their needs and provides good ROI.

Live chat is becoming an increasingly important element of the overall customer service and sales strategy for many businesses. Chatting is an immediate and direct way of communicating your business message to the buyer. Being the most talked about business in your field is possible, but you must create a following first. Thankfully, there are many ways to a customer’s heart.

Dilip Barot, owner of Creative Choice Group, has found live chat to be an integral part of his customer service strategy. “Live chat is a simple solution to customer service and sales. I would not open a brick-and-mortar store without sales associates, so why let our prospective customers browse our websites without any assistance?” says Barot. “Providing live chat on a website helps businesses reach out to online customers in a cost-effective way. When selecting software to provide live chat on a website, the solution must meet the requirements of each individual business and easily integrate in the business process.”

website visitors often infer trust and loyalty when given the opportunity to promptly chat with an agent. When visitors to a website reach the point where they need to connect to an agent, they want to contact a real person. Providing live chat assistance is the solution.

Jim Iyoob is vice president of global development at Etech Global Services (EGS), a provider of intelligent sales and service solutions utilizing inbound and outbound voice and Web chat.

[From Connection Magazine September 2011]

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