You may have noticed that more and more websites feature a live chat – not only online stores, but also government sites, banking portals, etc. Along with emails, live chat has become one of the most important communication channels. 75% of people prefer to chat, and 63% say they will return to a website because it has a live chat. These numbers alone should convince you that you should have a chat on your own website. If you still hesitate, we will look at some advantages of using chat software, and we will show you how you can add a chat to your website.
- What is live chat
- Why do you need live chat?
- Good practices
- Adding live chat on your website
- So, a standalone chat app, or an instant messenger?
- Chat application
- Instant messengers
- In conclusion
What is live chat
The answer may seem obvious – software for exchanging instant messages between the site visitors and an operator. Live chat is more than that, though. It is an opportunity to improve the overall user experience on your website by providing timely information to your customers. It is an alternative to email and phone support, so if people can contact you in some way, it may be a good idea to add a live chat on your site as well.
Why do you need live chat?
Adding a live chat to your site has a number of advantages. Of course, chat is supposed to be almost instant, so it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to respond to a customer’s inquiry if the chat application is online. 60% of people using such a service expect to receive a reply instantly. If this isn’t something you can provide at all times, you should set working hours for the chat. Here are some of the advantages:
- Available 24/7. If you have an operator to manage the chat, people can contact you round the clock, no matter what their time zone they are in. Even if somebody around them is asleep, they can exchange messages with you.
- Available worldwide. People can reach you from any country around the world, which is a great advantage, as this can boost your sales. Many potential customers that have questions about your products or services may not have international calls or may not want to spend money to call abroad. Adding live chat allows people from any town or village to contact you as long as they have Internet connection.
- Faster response time. You can respond faster to a live chat than to an email or a support ticket. While some issues need time to investigate and require a ticket/email, general questions can be handled easier and faster over a chat. People will appreciate it if they can get information right away, not in a few hours or a day.
- One operator can assist several visitors. While some chat sessions may require the full attention of a chat operator, in the general case one operator can handle several chats simultaneously. General questions are answered easily, so the quality of your site support will not be compromised. If possible, you should have phone support as well, but a phone operator can handle only one call at a time. In short, using live chat means that you will have short or even no queue time.
- Easier to provide information. If people have to provide a username or send you some text, or if you want to give them a link or send them a screenshot, for example, a live chat is the best option to do that. This isn’t something you can do on the phone. A customer may misspell a word, or there may be some misunderstanding between the customer and the operator.
- Saves you money. Using live chat software can lower your helpdesk expenses. You will need fewer operators compared to a call center, and you will not have to spend money on an additional VOIP server and phone equipment if your business grows.
- Turn visitors to customers. Sometimes people are on the verge to order, but something holds them back. This is where a live chat comes in handy. You can offer additional information right on the spot, so visitors may be more inclined to order if they receive the information they need to make up their mind. As a result, you will have more satisfied customers and fewer returns.
- Gives your site credibility. If people can chat with a live person, they will find your site to be more trustworthy. Real-time quality support will show your customers that you care for them, which can help you to build a long-term relationship with them.
- Multilingual support. You don’t actually need operators speaking different languages. You can use a tool like Google Translate or some built-in software to translate messages both ways. While the translation may not be perfect, you can have a decent conversation with people speaking any language. This isn’t the case with phone support, where you need people speaking each language you want to offer support in.
- Easy to engage new visitors. If people come across your website, they have followed either a direct link, or a search engine result. Either way, they were clearly interested enough to visit your site. Having a live chat on the site allows you to be proactive and try to engage them. You can configure the chat to greet your customers after a certain period of time, asking them if there is anything you can help them with. Once they reply, you can start a chat session.
- Ask for information you really need. You will come across quite a few different chat applications on various websites. Some of them ask only for a name, others require a lot of additional details – username, order number, support pin, etc. You should find the right balance between the information you require and the information you ask for. If you ask for too much information, people may get discouraged to use the live chat. If you ask for too little, some time will be wasted to identify the customer or their order.
- Send a copy to the user. Some live chat applications allow you to send a copy of the conversation to the user – either at the end of the chat session, or by user request. This option is useful as people may not remember everything you have told them on the live chat, especially if the information includes technical details, order numbers, etc. If the chat session is interrupted for some reason, sending the transcript to the customer can save a lot of time to both sides, especially if they cannot contact the same chat operator to start where they have left off.
- You can use a chatbot (but be careful). You can add some pre-defined questions people can choose from, and their respective answers. This way, people may be able to find the answer to their query even before they start a chat session. It is important to find the right balance between displaying pre-defined questions using a chatbot, and giving people the opportunity to actually contact you. A chatbot cannot replace an FAQ section on your site, and some people can get annoyed if they exchange messages with a program, not a live person.
- Set realistic working hours. If you have a small website, you may not be able to offer 24/7 support. If this is the case, you should make sure that you set working hours for the chat on the site. You should not accept messages there 24/7, hoping to answer them when you are available, as people will get the wrong impression that you only pretend to have live chat support. It is better to turn off the chat if you or another operator are not really available.
- Use a third-party chat operator. This is something you may or may not want to do, but for some types of websites, you can use a third-party chat support service. This way, you can have chat 24/7 and people will be happy to get the information they need when they really need it. You have to estimate if the additional expense for this option is worth it, though. Usually, if a third-party chat operator cannot answer a question, they will ask the customer to contact you directly using an alternative channel of communication. In the general case, however, they are white-labeled chat support that people believe are a part of your team.
Adding live chat on your website
You will find different live chat applications that you can add to your site. Some of them are dedicated chat applications with lots of useful features, such as LiveChat, Tawk.to, Zendesk, or Crisp, for example. They come with an operator console and with lots of customization and branding options. Others like Messenger or WhatsApp are actually instant messengers that can be integrated as website chat applications. They have a number of options you can customize, but there isn’t a separate console to manage chats. Instead, you will receive messages in your preferred IM – on your phone or on your computer.
Our Website builder. If you use our Website builder to create a website, you can add any chat software on it with ease. In the Apps section, you will find ready modules for Tawk.to, Smartsupp and Crisp – three popular chat clients that you can add by simply entering your account ID (Crisp, Smartsupp) or personal widget code (Tawk.to), and the Website builder will integrate the chat across your entire website.
If you want to add Messenger, WhatsApp, or Telegram, for instance, you can use the Custom HTML module, where you can add the code displayed in your account with the particular messenger, or use an online tool to generate the code you need. You can usually add any live chat client to any platform by pasting a script code in an HTML block. You may have to customize the block a bit if you want it in a specific position or with different colors.
Most other platforms allow you to add a live chat as well. With some, you can do this easier than with others. If you use WordPress, the most popular content management system out there, you can choose between lots of chat plugins. Some of them like Messenger or LiveChat are app-specific and come with lots of built-in options by the same developers that have created the actual chat applications. Other plugins like Floating chat widget or Join.chat are more generic and facilitate the integration of third-party chat application. Of course, you will find lots of standalone WordPress chat plugins that you can use, but you will have to be logged in to the WordPress dashboard to use them, so this option may not be very convenient.
If you use a different application for your website, you can always add an HTML block and paste the chat code, but if you prefer a point-and-click option that allows you to edit different settings, check if there are modules for that specific application.
For instance, for Joomla you can use extensions to add Messenger, Whatsapp, Telegram, but also standalone chats like JChatSocial or Paldesk. If you use Drupal, you will find significantly more modules, including popular ones like LiveChat, Slack Chat, or Zopim.
You have a wide choice of extensions for e-commerce platforms as well, and you can add them with a few clicks in the store dashboard. For Prestashop you will find Tidio, Smartsupp, Tawk.to and a number of generic extensions that allow you to use various instant messengers and chat platforms. Magento comes will less extensions, but you can still use Zendesk, LiveChat and some generic ones. The issue here is that most chat extensions for Magento are paid, so you don’t have much choice what chat to add to your website.
So, a standalone chat app, or an instant messenger?
This is really up to you. Either option has its pros and cons, so which one you will use depends on your preferences, needs, and budget. Here is a short comparison (have in mind that some applications may have unique features that are not a part of other applications, or some functions may be paid separately):
Multiple operators, each one with their own account, settings, profile picture.
Chat transfers between operators if collaboration is required for some issue.
Chat notifications that allow your customers to receive an email with the chat transcript.
Chatbot scripts that can automate some work and save you and your customers some time.
Custom fields when starting a chat to obtain all information from the start in order to assist customers faster and better.
Exchange files easily – archives, images, documents.
Operator ratings to track customer satisfaction and operator performance.
White label your chat window with your brand name and colors.
Support if you have any problems with the chat software.
Start a proactive chat to engage your customers.
Some applications are paid; free ones may have paid features as well.
A chat console should be installed on a computer, so you cannot use the chat while travelling or on your phone.
Some people believe that chat applications are impersonal and are worried that they will talk only to a bot, not a real person.
Use your existing social account / phone number
Respond to your customers even from your phone
No need to install any additional software
No real support if you experience problems
Hard to track issues in past chat sessions
Single shared account for all operators
Limited options to add predefined questions, no real chatbot
Good user experience is very important for the success of your website. If you want your customers to be satisfied, you should have not only good content, but also a convenient way for them to contact you and what better way for that than a live chat. This option has a number of advantages – it is quick, easy to use, available worldwide and allows any type of information to be exchanged. Having a live chat on the site can also save you money and help you to engage your customers, thus boosting your sales. Of course, phone and email support have their perks as well, and you should strive to offer at least a couple of communication channels. If you do not have live chat on your site yet, though, you should consider adding one.
Whether you will use a dedicated chat application or you will integrate an instant messenger depends on your needs. If you need multiple operators or some app-specific setting, if you want to have a separate console and if you are willing to pay for some advanced features, you can use a standalone application. If you want to be able to respond at any time, even from your phone, and you do not need features like chat transcripts or operator ratings, then you can go for integrating an instant messenger into your website. What matters is to be able to assist people in a timely manner that is convenient for both sides, so your choice should be based on that goal.