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What to Look for in a Live Chat Software Solution

August 01, 2011 Jim Iyoob

There have been drastic changes in the business world due to technology advances. Technology has made it possible to increase collaboration internationally, promote flexible work hours, and shop online. In today’s environment there are numerous channels of communication that can be employed; more choices than ever before. Your business most likely already uses some sort of technology for teleconferencing and file sharing. Now it is time to find the right software to invest in for your live chat needs. Making the right choice of customer interaction methods and technologies is one of the most critical tasks for decision makers in businesses of all sizes.

Live chat can be used internally for employees to communicate with one another, or externally to talk with customers. Investing in the right software really depends on the size of your company and the functionalities you are looking for in the software.

With every business aiming to improve their 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 for your business needs. According to a survey conducted by Bold Software in 2010, 53% of online shoppers who interacted through live chat on business websites spent more than $500 online. And 56% of entire respondents showed inclination towards making a purchase if a web site offers live chat.

Choosing a live chat software solution will help businesses avoid dwindling online sales and customer service experience. The right live chat software can increase the online customer base and improve conversion rates.

Selecting the right live chat software solution vendor is an important process as this vendor will be involved in direct communication with customers. There are a handful of best practices that will help you make the most of your live chat implementation. The following are a few items that a business should consider when selecting a live chat software solution.

  • Web-based Software vs. Desktop Software

Chat software is everywhere. Its presence is seen in phones, in desktop computer screens and other web portals we use daily. Many of the legacy live chat software solutions have been desktop based and need to be installed on each computer separately. These softwares also come with a cap on 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 the software. Also, the operators are only allowed to use the machines on which the software has been installed to interact with customers. This provides for less integration while interacting with customers using mobile devices like smartphones.

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 operators the flexibility to login from any web browser from any location. Web based solutions are free from firewall conflicts, upgrades, and can handle high chat volume on high traffic websites.

  • Offline Customer Support

Tracking of visitors in real time can improve sales. Chat software for websites provides the force to have client support and technical aid on a 24/7 foundation. Providing a 24/7 live chat service on a website increases the chances of making a sale and customer loyalty. Questions can be answered faster along with 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 operator is not present online, a text message can be sent to the operators when they are needed. When an operator clicks this message they are directly connected to customers through a mobile web browser.

  • Canned Responses

Attracting customers to a website is one thing, getting them to buy your products and services are another. A guest will spend no more than 15 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 operators to step up even more responses to visitors’ questions.

Canned responses can greatly increase the speed of chat and lead to higher customer satisfaction. It is important to select a live chat software solution that offers operators 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. This knowledge can be leveraged to prepare canned responses that can be used to speed up chats when operators are handling multiple customers.

  • Web Analytics and Reporting Tools

Apart from the basic features like canned responses, proactive chats, co-browsing, and more, live chat software solutions should also include robust reporting tools and free web analytics. The web analytics feature provides insight into visitors to the website, how many times they visited, which pages were visited most, and more. Web analytics can reveal crucial information regarding online behavior of the website visitors.

  • A Customizable Solution

Businesses have the challenge of keeping up with change. A conventional live chat software solution does not cover all the needs of change. In order to better adapt with changing situations, the solution must be customizable to keep up with business requirements. Some solutions provide a cut and paste method to easily integrate code into multiple pages of the website. The solutions should also allow for easy customization of chat buttons, chat skins, themes, customer facing interface and more. Easy customizable solutions ensure that businesses can maintain consistent brand identity across all marketing and customer centric channels.

  • 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 very effective at carrying out this task. Businesses need to first asses their needs before moving forward with a selection of a live chat software solution. Some software solutions provide basic features at a very 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, entrepreneur and executive of various companies including Creative Choice Group in Palm Beach Florida, Naimisha Management, Inc., Etech, Creative Infocity and others 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?” say Barot. “Providing live chat on a website helps businesses reach out to online customers in a cost-effective way. While selecting the live chat software solution to provide live chat on a website, the solution must meet the requirements of each individual business and easily integrate in the business process.”

Visitors often infer trust, loyalty, and word of mouth when given the opportunity to promptly chat with an operator. Today, everything seems to be mechanical and customers are becoming frustrated because of the overuse of technology. When visitors to a website reach the point where they need to connect to an operator, a real person is who they want to contact. Providing live assistance is the solution.

This article was written by Jim Iyoob, Vice President Global Development at Etech Global Services (EGS).  EGS is a leading provider of intelligent sales and service solutions utilizing inbound and outbound voice and web chat.  EGS also understands the importance of customer relationships. Today, and in the future, all of EGS’s solution strategies will be driven by the ‘voice of the customer’. EGS’s goal is to provide industry-leading service, stellar CSAT scores, and high performing sales and service solutions that enable clients to increase revenue and delight customers.  If you would like to learn more about Etech Global Services and their live chat solutions, please contact Jim at info@etechtexas.com.