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Live Chat Software

Live Chat software helps organizations connect with their customers in real time. Live Chat applications can be used for customer support, lead generation, and customer engagement.

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Live Chat Software Buyers Guide

Live chat software makes it easier for a business and its staff to interact with customers in real-time. Live chat applications are also known as customer messaging software. They allow for support or sales agents to communicate with clients through an instant messaging platform in real-time by exchanging instant messages, pictures and files. Live chat applications make it easier for a company to respond to their customer's questions, and help them build a better relationship with their customers by making it easier for customers to interact with businesses.

Some of the core features of live chat software include chat widget customisation options that allow businesses to customise the chat widget to match the look and feel of their website. Also, expect to see a stored responses feature that enables agents to respond to the questions their customers have with pre-formulated answers to the most common questions that customers may have. Live chat applications can also reach out to customers proactively by sending them automated messages based on specific metrics such as their browsing history, browser language or account balance.

Live chat software, also known as website chat software, benefits businesses by simplifying and enhancing the communication between an organisation and its customers. Although live chat applications can be used for any type of business communication, it is especially useful for sales and support departments. Apart from this, live chat software also makes it easier for a business to track key conversations between the company and their clients. In addition, live chat applications can store these conversations for future reference and enable a business to analyse how they communicate with clients. Furthermore, this will provide valuable insights that can be used to expand business offerings, provide better customer support and increase profitability.

Live chat software often is used in specific business areas, similar to sales, marketing and customer support software. Live chat applications are versatile enough and can be used successfully in most business departments, including customer support, sales and marketing. Generally speaking, live chat solutions are available as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products or stand as standalone products. The right type depends on the specific needs of the business.

There are several considerations that businesses should take into account when choosing a live chat software solution. These include the intended application for the software, the size of the business, and the level of compatibility between the live chat software and other business systems. Live chat applications usually allow users to:

  • Facilitate real-time communication between businesses and their clients
  • Store chats for future reference to reduce the need for clients to repeat information
  • Gather basic pre-chat information from clients to improve the efficiency of communications
  • Export data for analytical purposes to anticipate future client behaviours and requirements

What is Live Chat Software?

Live chat software enables a business to connect with its customers in real-time. Live chat applications can provide customers with instant support and advice through an instant messaging system. In addition, live chat applications can also be used to archive chats and analyse customer data, which can give businesses valuable insights into the behaviour of their customers. These insights can make important business decisions that are based on customer behaviour and trends. Live chat applications include widgets that can be added to existing websites and customised to match the corporate image of a specific business. Live chat applications are also available in a more feature-rich standalone version that allows businesses to keep track of interactions with customers, view response rates and monitor conversions.

By using live chat software, modern businesses can communicate with their clients more effectively in a way that customers prefer and appreciate. Past conversations can be saved for future reference, which makes it easier for staff to refer to any previous queries or requests a particular client may have had, resulting in a better support experience for the client. Live chat applications also enable the bi-directional sharing of images, documents and other files, making it easier, more secure, and faster to share data when needed.

What are the benefits of live chat software?

The benefits of live chat software mostly centre around communicating with customers in real-time. Live chat applications can be used in more than one area of a business, including sales, marketing, and support. Some of the advantages of using live chat applications include:

  • Increases customer convenience: Live chat software is convenient for clients because the average waiting time is lower when compared to call centre waiting times. Therefore, customers can continue doing something else while waiting for an operator. At the same time, customers can get answers to questions that relate to purchasing a product while making the purchase, which can result in higher conversion rates.
  • Ability to provide canned responses: Quick responses can be saved for future use with live chat software. This means that staff can select from several different canned responses which can be sent to a client instead of needing to type a customised response to each question. Live chat software also provides custom messaging functionalities for when they are needed.
  • Allows archiving of historic messages: Website chat software lets businesses save the conversations with their customers for future reference. This allows operators to view past message threads, avoiding the need for the client to explain their issue several times and saving valuable time.
  • Pre-chat forms increase efficiency: Live chat software allows businesses to collect information such as names, contact details, request descriptions, and email addresses from customers before a live chat session is initiated. This makes it easier for the business to connect with clients in the future, but more importantly, it prevents spam from messages being sent.
  • Gives insights into customer behaviour: The data collected during a live chat gives businesses insights into the behaviour of their customers, and this data can be used in decision-making processes, targeted marketing, and trend identification. This valuable information can ultimately increase the profitability of the business.
  • Fully customisable: Live chat software is usually fully customisable, and visual elements such as colours, logos, and fonts can be adjusted to match the corporate image of any business. This makes it easy and quick for businesses to integrate live chat software into existing websites and applications without sacrificing the custom look and feel that matches the company's identity.

What are the features of live chat software?

Live chat software features generally consist of a core, common, and optional feature. Although the core and common features are usually similar, the optional features can differ greatly from software solution to software solution. Here are some of the most common features: Real-time communication: Talk to customers in real-time via instant messenger. In most cases, customers prefer being able to access instant support and/or advice when they need it and live chat provides this functionality. By giving customers the ability to instantly connect with support or sales agents, the business stands a greater chance of converting an interested customer into a purchase and/or keeping a customer happy.

  • File sharing: Share files with customers and accept files from customers with bi-directional file sharing. Most live chat applications let customers share documents, photos, and files with support staff via an instant messaging platform. This eliminates the need to use third-party services like email to send files, which saves time and makes businesses more efficient. For example, file sharing can be used to share documents such as bills, error reports, and photos so during an active customer support session.
  • Canned responses: Answer questions with pre-formulated responses. Canned responses make it easier to answer frequently asked questions quickly and effectively by allowing staff to send pre-formulated answers to customers instead of needing to type out an individual response to every question. Canned responses work especially well for frequently asked questions, and they can give customers basic information in seconds, which keeps customers happy and support agents effective. In general, canned responses can be formulated by analysing data on frequently asked questions and identifying which questions customers ask most often.
  • Message archiving: Archive past conversations with message archiving. Being able to look back at previous messages is helpful in many situations, and it can further increase the efficacy of live chat support for clients. Message archiving saves past conversations and allows support agents to access these conversations when needed, but it also makes it possible to identify trends and problem areas, especially when used in a customer support application. Message archives are usually searchable so that support agents can easily look through data to find any relevant information that can be used to support a customer.
  • Offline forms: Capture vital customer data before a live chat session begins. Offline forms can collect information such as names, contact details, and problem descriptions before the assigned support agent connect with the client. In addition to collecting important information, this feature also reduces the likelihood of spam messages being sent. Offline forms can be customised, and businesses can request information from clients so that support agents can have all the relevant information in front of them when speaking with the client.
  • Data analysis: Analyse customer data and extract valuable insights to drive revenue generation. Live chat systems are often capable of analysing data and identifying trends that allow businesses to learn more about the behaviour of their customers. This information is critical to any business and can be used for a variety of purposes, including marketing and lead generation. Data is a powerful tool in any organisation and being able to use and extract key metrics from data sources like live chat applications is critical for every modern business. Transfers/routing: Transfer a conversation from one agent to another in real-time. Some live chat systems allow agents to transfer an ongoing conversation from one support agent to another. This is especially useful when a query is specific or technical and might require someone with specialist knowledge to provide an answer. Being able to transfer a conversation means more convenience for the customer, resulting in higher customer satisfaction rates and higher conversion rates.
  • Campaign management: Manage ad campaigns for more targeted and better results. Live chat can be used for more than just customer support, marketing campaigns are also possible, and by using automated messages, businesses can make sure that their message reaches the intended audience. Campaign management functionality allows businesses to create customised live message campaigns that send specific messages to clients based on their browsing patterns, account balance, and cart contents.
  • Third-party integration: Integrate the live chat app with other business applications seamlessly. Businesses often require more than one system to function smoothly, and for a business to operate effectively, all the different business systems must function together as one connected system. By integrating with other business systems, live chat can share data with, and obtain data from, these systems. This contributes to the smooth running of the entire business. Data can automatically be combined into one central database for maximum efficiency and ease of use.

What should be considered when purchasing live chat software?

When purchasing live chat software for businesses, buyers need to consider several variables. There are numerous live chat solutions on the market, but not all of them are created equally. For example, some live chat solutions have features that make them particularly useful for small and medium enterprises, while other versions are better suited to corporates with more demanding needs. In addition, some live chat applications are available as widgets that can be bolted onto existing infrastructure such as a website, while others are standalone products that can be used without any supporting infrastructure. For these reasons, finding the right live chat solution depends mainly on the needs of the business and its employees. Some of the more specific considerations that need to be considered are outlined below:

  • What are the key features of the live chat solution? It is key to consider the key features of the product in question and evaluate whether or not these features meet the needs of the business that needs to use the software. Some live chat applications have a longer list of optional features than others. Still, it is crucial to understand which features are non-negotiable and which ones are not essential. By knowing what is needed, businesses can strike a good balance between costs and functionality. Investing in a live chat solution that doesn't meet the business's needs can result in a large and unnecessary expense which might not yield the desired result. For this reason, it is recommended to be very clear on the exact purpose of any live chat solution.
  • What are the main objectives that need to be achieved? Since not all live chat applications are created equally, it is important to understand exactly what the system is intended to achieve before opting for a specific solution. Some live chat applications are designed specifically for customer support applications, while others are more geared towards sales and marketing. It is important to have clarity on where the solution will be deployed, to be able to choose the solution that works best. In many cases, one solution can be used for more than one purpose. This is because live chat solutions are usually flexible and can be customised for a particular purpose.
  • Is the pricing structure appropriate? Pricing is the main consideration for every purchase, and it is key to clearly understand the pricing structure of any purchase before committing. The pricing structure of most live chat applications mainly depends on whether the service is sold as a standalone service or based on a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. With SaaS pricing models, there are usually very little to no upfront costs since the software is billed every month. By contrast, standalone solutions usually do come with significant upfront costs and low to no monthly expenses. The right approach is dependent on the business's budget and needs.
  • Is the live chat application compatible with other business systems? Businesses often rely on more than one system, and this is why it is important that live chat solutions can integrate with other systems. Integration of systems makes it possible for various data sources to combine their respective data into one centralised database, which can be very useful for businesses. Through system integration, businesses can better serve their customers, and the sharing of data means that businesses can gain better insights into customer behaviours and trends, which ultimately makes it easier to manage the business profitably.
  • Is the software legally compliant? Businesses need to be aware of the latest developments and laws that govern how businesses interact with their customers. In the case of live chat, businesses should be especially sensitive to the requirements of data protection regulations because live chat applications can gather and store personal information. It is always prudent to make sure that the solution in question meets or exceeds all the relevant guidelines for personal data protection.

Businesses are sensitive to trends, and they must be factored into the decision-making process when choosing a live chat solution. Some of the most relevant trends to consider are:

  • Demand for fast and efficient service: Most modern customers are used to instant service, and people have come to expect exactly this when interacting with businesses. This also extends to live chat, which is especially influenced by the rise of automated chatbots that can respond to customers instantly. Live chat can play a critical role in keeping customers satisfied and gives a business the ability to respond to customers in real-time.
  • Need for better data analysis: Live online chat represents a great source of data and information on customer behaviour for any business. This fits in well with the growing trend of using data and artificial intelligence-powered business systems to drive sales and better engage with customers. Live chat provides businesses with valuable data that can be analysed to learn more about the behaviour of customers and predict new trends that can boost revenue. Data analysis is a very powerful tool for most businesses, and businesses will likely be relying on this more in the future.
  • The continued growth of eCommerce: eCommerce is one of the strongest driving forces behind the development of software like live chat applications. This is because more and more customers are opting to purchase goods and services via the internet instead of visiting a brick-and-mortar store and the trend of shifting towards eCommerce is not likely to change any time soon. Many people find it easier and more comfortable to type a message and prefer this form of communication over other forms such as telephone calls and emails.