Live chat software is a type of customer service software that allows for instant, real-time communication between customers and businesses. The software can be used to answer customer questions, offer advice and troubleshoot technical issues. It is sometimes used by companies to monitor what their customers are saying about them.
The live chat software industry has been growing steadily over the last decade, and it’s estimated to reach $1 billion by 2023.
Now think about all the companies with designated customer service, technical support or sales phone lines. Those are the companies fueling this growth. They generally benefit the most from live chat software, as it can help reduce call volume, free up personnel for other high priority tasks, provide customers with more convenient support and enable communications outside of traditional business hours.
For instance, travel services can use the software to provide an easier route of communication between hotels and customers. On a real estate website, a live agent can quickly respond to prospective home buyers, adding a human touch to otherwise stiff industry electronic communications. Or, a home services company may offer live chat to answer billing questions or troubleshoot technical problems in the house.
Live Chat Software – Human or AI?
Let’s say your customers would really benefit from live chat on the website and it would help you save on labor costs, but you don’t have the time or resources to staff a live agent 24/7. Not a problem. You can also consider a chat bot ―AI-powered chat software ― that serves as the first touch.
Chat bots are considered asynchronous communications, while a live agent is referred to as synchronous communication. Synchronous is easy to understand ― that’s a live person who is available to interact with customers when they inquire through the chat box.
With asynchronous communications, the bots are set up to respond to the most common customer questions without the need for a real person to manage the conversation. Or, they can collect information to direct customers to the right level of service with a live rep. Do your customers continually call with the same questions, over and over? A) You probably need us to look at your overall marketing communication structure and messaging, and B) these may be the ideal questions to answer over asynchronous chat. The customer gets quick and easy answers, while your reps are left in peace.
When considering an AI-powered chatbot, you also need to be aware of the limitations the AI has; it may not fully understand all questions asked, or it may direct the customer to the wrong place. Be realistic and fine tune the program as you get feedback.
Some of the Best Live Chat Tools on the Market
There are plenty of live chat tools available. Here are some of the most well-known and highest-rated software, as of March 2022.
- Intercom (G2 rating: 4.4 out of 5 with 2,094 reviews) – specifically for sales. Some features include routing leads to specific reps, continuing messaging via email and targeting contacts by browsing behavior. It also integrates with other tools such as Slack, Zoom and HubSpot.
- Zendesk (G2 rating: 4.3 out of 5 with 3,580 reviews) – has features including automated triggers, pre-chat and offline forms, chatbots, chat routing, tags, shortcuts, analytics and more.
- LiveChat (G2 rating: 4.5 out of 5 with 729 reviews) – includes a built-in ticketing system, daily summaries, automated greetings, high-level security and 24/7 customer support.
How to Choose Which Live Chat Solution Fits Your Needs
There are many factors that go into choosing the best live chat tool for your business depending on your industry, customer expectations, budget and available resources. Here are a few to consider:
- Cost: The first thing to consider when choosing a live chat tool is the overall cost and pricing model. Will you be paying per agent or per customer? What about free trials? If a tool charges by the number of customers on your site, you’ll have to factor in the cost of running this tool and the time it takes for each customer to engage with your live chat. Prices can vary widely, so vet carefully.
- Features: The second thing to consider when choosing a live chat tool is what it offers. Are you using chat for customer service, sales, tech support or a combination? Will the tool allow you to customize your chat experience? Can you design a custom landing page for your visitors? What features will help to maximize revenue and customer satisfaction?
- Website performance: Many live chat programs can affect your website speed and overall performance, as they will most likely need to load extra functions and/or scripts. It would be wise to test out proposed platforms to see which ones work best with your website and ideally do not slow it down or affect its performance too much.
Conclusion: Start Using a Live Chat Today to Supercharge Your Customer Service
Live chat tools are available for businesses of all sizes. They can be integrated with other customer service software, websites, CRMs and help desks. Live chat tools provide a direct line of communication between the customer and the company when phone and email aren’t convenient or preferred.
Live chat software can also be used to get a better understanding of the customer’s needs, how they are using the website, what kind of questions people are asking and more.
Are you interested in implementing live chat software on your business website? Aker Ink’s professionals can help you decide if live chat software would support your internal teams or amplify inbound marketing efforts. We can also assess the overall user experience on your website and offer suggestions for improvement.