Choose the best live chat software for your business

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Customer service is fundamental to business success. Today, customer service has gone digital. This means that business owners need to stay on top of technological trends and consumer habits in order to give customers the valuable support they need.

Traditional support methods are outdated, and people no longer accept having to wait in a hold queue or answer 20 questions from an agent before they can resolve an issue.

Live chat is a tool that’s steadily gaining traction in sales, marketing, and customer support. It provides a quick and convenient customer service option while maintaining a sense of human connection.

Choosing the best live chat solution on the market for your business can be challenging. However, armed with the right knowledge and live chat considerations, you can choose the option that best suits your business’s requirements. Here’s a full rundown of what  we’ll cover:

A website visitor using live chat to ask questions and learn more information about mobile products.

What is live chat software?

Live chat is a tool that’s used to offer synchronized online chat support to website visitors via messaging. The software that facilitates these interactions is commonly referred to as live chat software or customer messaging software.

When someone visits your website, a handy chat window or chat widget pops up to start a live chat session. The visitor types their message in the chatbox, and they receive an immediate response. Through live chat conversations, businesses can initiate contact with website visitors, provide customer support, or interact with returning customers.

Live chat can be used by marketing, customer support, and sales teams to enhance communications across the customer’s journey. It enables businesses to provide:

  • Enhanced synchronized support
  • More personalized customer experience with custom welcome messages and more
  • Better brand interactions
A customer using live chat to ask questions about a company product.

Why do you need live chat?

Live chat allows customers to get quick, convenient solutions to their questions and problems, which is what makes it a crucial tool for a marketing or sales team to aid lead generation and conversion.

Live chat can increase conversions and drive engagement by providing streamlined, efficient support to solve problems faster. It’s a valuable tool that enables businesses to:

  • Capture leads
  • Nurture and qualify leads
  • Reduce bounce rate with synchronous support
  • Reduce shopping cart abandonment rates
A contact center agent using RingCentral live chat to answer customer queries.

Is live chat a real person?

Yes, when you talk to a live chat agent you are talking to a real person. Ensuring your chat agents are well-trained is crucial to achieving increased customer satisfaction rates and business growth.

Live chat vs. chatbots: What’s the difference?

A chatbot is an artificial intelligence automated chat solution that can harness machine learning alongside natural language processing to communicate in a human-like manner.

Their purpose is to automate certain responses, and they provide businesses with a cost-effective solution for staying on top of customer demands and streamlining support processes.

They’re transforming customer service and sales industries. Some of their benefits include:

  • 24/7 support
  • Cut down on operational costs
  • Monitor customer data and provide better insights
  • Easy to implement
  • Automate repetitive tasks to free up agents to focus on more important ones

Bots are becoming increasingly intelligent, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between a chat bot and a live chat representative. They provide instant responses and can increase agent productivity and efficiency.

However, they still lack the emotional intelligence of real live agents. For this reason, chatbots and live chat work best when they’re implemented in tandem.

A pop-up live chat widget appearing on the  website visitor’s screen

How do you do a live chat?

When a customer visits your website, they’ll be met with a window where they can request help if they need it. This window can pop-up in the form of a live-chat widget for better visibility. Once the customer initiates a chat session, they’ll either be placed in a queue to reach a live chat agent, or they can interact with a chatbot to solve the problem. If the problem is too complex for the bot, the interaction will be passed to an agent.

Does live chat cost money?

The cost of live chat depends on the vendor, the tools and features they provide, and whether you choose a premium plan. Often, vendors will allow you to trial a solution for a limited time period to test the software and see if it’s right for your business and your needs.

Here are some common categories of live chat pricing:

  • Pay-per-agent solution: These solutions offer pricing that’s dependent on the number of agents who use it.
  • Volume-based pricing: Similar to pay-per-agent models, volume-based priced solutions are based on your website traffic.
  • Pay-per-lead: These solutions bill clients based on their performance. In this way, you pay for the number of leads that are captured via live chat.

How to improve customer engagement with a live chat website plugin

In today’s fast-paced digital world, customers seek convenient and quick results. Integrating live chat into your website provides customers with accessible and timely support, which can be a game-changer when it comes to standing out among competitors.

Businesses across industries are waking up to the enhanced possibilities for engagement that live chat plugins create. They provide customers with fast responses while maintaining a high service standard, so agents can close more deals, improve customer loyalty, and boost brand awareness.

Live chat isn’t just for e-commerce sites, which is why it’s being increasingly used by professions in industries such as:

  • Travel & tourism
  • Hospitality
  • Education
  • Medicine (telehealth)
  • Real estate

Live chat allows you to be in the right place at the right time, to reach out to people who are poised to become customers and to engage them exactly when it matters the most.

A customer using different devices to ask questions about company products and services via live chat.

Types of live chat service solutions

There are different types of software for live chat, but all of them have one aim in common. That is to provide website visitors and customers with enhanced, synchronous support. Various types of live chat solutions use a combination of communication platforms to engage with customers in real-time.

  • Text-only chat support: This is the most preferred by customers. Most live text solutions don’t incur added costs.
  • Video, voice, and text live support: Provide more personal engagement with your customers through a combination of support channels. These can help to build trust and credibility.
  • Co-browsing: Another live chat feature that allows screen sharing between the customer and agent so they can navigate an application synchronously.

Key features of live chat software

When it comes to choosing a live chat service solution, there are some key features to look out for. These include:

  • Proactive chat: The live chat system initiates conversations by reaching out to website visitors and offering immediate help. This can increase customer engagement by facilitating an open communication channel between customers and brands from the first point of contact. Proactive chat can feature a personalized message for a more personal conversation.
  • Canned responses: Companies can create libraries of responses to common questions that agents can use for a more efficient response time.
  • Visitor tracking and insights: This feature provides insights into visitor behavior by tracking information like:

            - Time spent in chat sessions
            - Conversion tracking
            - Transcript reports
            - Customer activity
            - Customer activity (where they were on your website)

  • Chat rating: Customers can rate their live chat experience with an agent or sales rep. Customer feedback provides vital insights into support quality and can inform future support strategies based on customer satisfaction.
  • Chat routing: Chats are transferred to available operators with skills-based routing, to ensure customers are matched with the right agents. Chat routing reduces downtime and ensures agents aren’t overwhelmed by high chat volumes.
  • Operator and chat monitoring: Managers can supervise operators to evaluate their overall performance and target points that require further training and improvement. By monitoring chats, you can see which of your agents are chatting and which aren’t, to reduce downtime and increase agent productivity.
  • Offline forms: If your agents aren’t online 24/7, chat forms allow customers to reach out with their questions and problems at any time of the day. Customers fill out chat forms which are routed to an agent once filled out, to be dealt with as soon as the agent becomes available.
  • File sharing: Agents can drag and drop files like screenshots, offers, and catalogs to share in chats, providing further support for customers.
  • Notifications: Stay on top of your messages and provide timely responses with sound and visual notifications.
  • Queue times: Let customers know an approximate wait time before embarking on live chats with agents. This feature reduces bounce rate and means there’s less chance for sales losses due to long wait times.
  • Reports and analytics: Monitor operator activities, chat histories, conversations, and average handle times for chats. Use the data to inform future strategies and make improvements.
A customer calling a company for assistance while navigating the website and asking questions via live chat.

Benefits of live chat software

Live chats with customers provide real time support that enhances customer experience and boosts conversion rates.

Customer service solutions like live chat play a crucial role in adapting your business to fulfill consumers’ specific requirements. The paradigm shift from segmented to connected CX means that traditional support just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Implementing live messaging software for your website has numerous benefits that lead to better CX and business performance.

Reduce service costs

Live chat is much cheaper than a phone call, which is why it’s the ideal tool for reducing operational business costs. Minimized resolution time means agents spend less time dealing with support requests.

They can also support multiple customers and handle more than one interaction at the same time. This means significant cost savings for businesses as they can rely on fewer agents to provide customer support. What’s more, smart routing ensures that the ticketing system directs requests to the right agents every time.

Boost agent efficiency and productivity

Live chat has reformed traditional call center processes. With live chat, agents can respond faster and provide efficient synchronized answers to customers and site visitors. Empowering agents with live chat enables them to:

  • Keep answers short and offer quick solutions with visual aids (through co-browsing and file sharing)
  • Save time by using canned response to answer common queries
  • Engage in multiple conversations at the same time and chat with your customers based on priority
  • Chat bots can be deployed to handle simple inquiries, allowing human agents to deal with more complex support requests
Live chat specialists using RingCentral to handle different customer concerns.
Optimize conversions

Live chat increases conversion rates by ensuring visitors don’t have to navigate away from your website to get in contact. With support staff immediately available to answer any questions, visitors are more likely to convert as they find information and solve problems before they put off a purchase.

Prevent cart abandonment

There are lots of different reasons a customer might abandon their shopping cart before check-out. If a customer isn’t sure their credit card will be accepted, for instance, they might abandon the cart to re-assess their funds. Or perhaps they can’t locate the shipping costs immediately, they might become frustrated and try their luck with another website.

Live chat reduces cart abandonment rates by showing customers that someone is available to answer their questions throughout their experience with your business. This reinforces transparency between brands and customers, and helps to build trust in online businesses.

Provide context to customers

A live chat platform allows you to share files, images, gifs, and videos with customers. This can’t be done via  phone call. And unlike email, live chat provides more context that can help customers find solutions more efficiently.

For instance, if a customer is contacting a support agent with a request about a product’s functionality, the agent can link the customer to a product demo video that demonstrates how to use it visually.

Collect customer data

Live chat can collect customer data that can be analyzed and used to improve the customer service experience. This involves:

  • Analyzing support request messaging transcripts
  • Feeding customer data into your CRM to provide 360-degree views of your customers
  • Determining common questions that help you to pinpoint gaps in your website and support content resources
  • Building better relationships with customer profiles that enable agents to personalize customer messaging
A call center agent assisting a customer using RingCentral live chat and phone support capabilities.

Increase customer satisfaction

Live chat provides customers with synchronized support that’s preferred over talking to strangers on the phone. It solves many customer frustrations that are felt through traditional phone-based support channels like high costs, long response times, and asynchronous communications.

Some of the ways live chat improves satisfaction rates among customers include:

  • Increases first contact resolution by enabling customers to find an immediate answer to their concernsCustomers don’t have to provide personal information
  • It’s inclusive, particularly for the hearing-impaired, making it an accessible way to contact service teams
  • It’s device-friendly and allows customers to seek help from desktops or mobile apps in a way that’s convenient for them

Track agent performance and success

Live chat service solutions offer analytics that enable organizations to easily track KPIs that align with their business goals. Whatever matters most to your business, whether it’s improving satisfaction rates or increasing conversions, empowering agents with a live chat tool will deliver measurable results. What’s more, data insights can be used to provide feedback to agents and inform customer service strategies.

All-in-one customer service solutions

An all-in-one solution is an integrated set of tools that collects, organizes, responds to, and reports on support requests. It enables businesses to respond efficiently and  resolve issues effectively across traditional and digital channels. There are some features that every great customer service solution should provide.

Top features of customer service software

Omnichannel capabilities

In today’s digital world, businesses must be able to connect with customers and provide a seamless user experience across a range of digital channels. Customer service software provides omnichannel capabilities that allow prospects and customers to reach out to customer service teams with live chat and message via:

  • Inbound and outbound voice
  • Asynchronous web mobile and messaging apps 
  • Social media
  • Live chat and help desk platform
  • Email
  • In-app message
A live chat agent giving a reply to a customer’s question.
Phone support tools

Although people are increasingly finding support over live chat help desks, messaging, and social media, phone support is still a popular method. Internet and cloud-based platforms improve the customer service experience with phone support tools like outbound dialers, call blending, campaign management tools, and list management.

Automation

Customer service solutions that automate support services enable businesses to save on costs, enhance CX, and improve agent productivity and efficiency. A solution that incorporates virtual assistants can make a huge difference to your business’s customer service and streamline the process for agents and customers alike. These tools include:

  • IVR and self-service tools
  • Chat bots
  • Virtual hold
  • Call deflection
  • Marketing automation tools

Intelligent Routing

A solution that can route your customers directly to the right agent is guaranteed to improve satisfaction rates while saving on time and the operational costs of dealing with misconnections. AI and skills-based routing direct customers to an agent with the right skill (language or product knowledge, for instance). APIs can retrieve customer data from CRM systems and make smarter connections to build stronger customer relationships.

Knowledge base software

This is a powerful tool that support staff should always be armed with. This kind of software supports customer self-service channels so they effectively find solutions to their problems and FAQs through stored information.

App integration

App integration with other systems and software  is vital when choosing customer service software. Integrations allow organizations to connect their customer service data to various other apps and tools like:

  • Communications tools that keep your team up to date
  • Management software (CRM)
  • Social tools
  • Internal systems

By integrating customer service with these other platforms, support teams can ensure they always have the right information and context to handle support ticketing requests efficiently.

A customer service representative talking to a customer through live chat.

Live chat is a business trend that isn’t going away soon. Organizations are adopting live chat customer communications to improve their sales, marketing, and customer service strategies. It disrupts the traditional customer engagement model and has the power to influence customer decisions and engagement.

Live chat is a digital solution that enables support teams to deliver a more personalized experience for customers while effortlessly reducing costs and optimizing conversions.

If you need a more robust solution for all your business needs, a customer service platform that integrates with your other essential platforms will allow you to deliver more effective and efficient support. RingCentral Engage Digital service solution provides a live chat feature along with all the customer service tools your business needs to succeed. So you can sit back and watch your business grow.

Are you ready to discover all the benefits of live chat? Try RingCentral Engage Digital now.