NOTE: this review is way out of date, written back in February 2011. There are better products now available. I suggest you checkout Snap Engage
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Often the deciding factor between a client or customer choosing you or one of your competitors is the level of customer service you can provide. The world is contracting every day into even more of a global village thanks to technology, in particular the internet. While the global reach of the internet offers fantastic advantages in terms of a worldwide audience of potential customers, there is the drawback that your competition can access them as well.
One way you can maximise customer service on your business website is through the use of a website live chat tool. It allows visitors to your site to engage in live online discussions with a service representative, so they can get answers to their queries much faster than if they were to e-mail queries or call a help line. Customers are more likely to do business with you if they receive excellent customer service right from the start. If they are required to wait for a response to their query, by the time they get a response, they may have found somebody else to do business with. It’s very simple: poor customer service leads to lost income. Website chat tools also allow service representatives to serve many customers at the same time, making this timely service cost effective for your business.
I have sampled the software of several different website chat services (Zopim, Woopra, Livezilla, Provide Support, Boldchat, Blastchat, Chatango, 123 Live, Help Chat, Live Help Now, Valaro, and WhosOn), and below is my top five according to my personal experiences with them. They are not ranked in any particular order, as each one provides great benefits, but will be more or less useful to you depending on the type and size of your business. There are so many of these tools around today. Maybe oneday I’ll get round to reviewing some more of them. But for now, you can view the complete comparison table with all 10 tools here.
Website live chat tools are an extremely promising innovation for businesses seeking to drive internet-based sales and customer satisfaction. These tools add a personal touch to your interactions with both prospective and valued clients and/or customers. Both cost effective and extremely time-efficient, these tools appear to have a progressive and bright future ahead.
Zopim is probably the best out of all the services I’ve tried. It’s fast and very easy to set up. It offers the following features:
- Real-time monitoring that allows you to see viewer information such as the country they are operating from and what browser and computer operating system they are using.
- A convertible basic website statistics report, allowing you to view it on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
- Chat invitations in more than 30 languages.
- Custom texts.
- A multiple chat facility for each operator.
- Canned messages so your service representatives can reply even faster.
- Offline message facility.
- Routing chat messages to your IM.
- Customizable widget that “floats” in all pages.
- Plugins for WordPress, Shopify, Magento, Joomla and OsCommerce
This simple but reliable software ranges from a completely forever free version to $99 per month for 10 agents in multiple sites. One word of warning, if you need to use it with a Mac don’t choose Zopim – the operator’s dashboard is completely Flash based and in my tests it frequently lost connection to the server. On a PC, however, it’s very stable.
Feature highlights include:
- Real time viewer information such as active pages the viewer is browsing and recent search queries.
- Real time website reports on information such as the number of viewers, how they are interacting with your web pages and whether they are viewing, idle or writing.
- A customizable report.
Woopra has other features similar to Zopim but does not include a customizable widget, multiple chat facility, mobile routing of chat messages, offline messages or language translation. I also experienced difficulties during the set-up process. According to the Woopra community message posts, several Woopra members have been experiencing similar problems. The representatives claim they are currently working on the issues. Shame, because it looks pretty good.
Woopra offers the service for $179.95 per month per website which can be shared by 15 agents.
This software provides a fast chat service and features similar to Zopim and Woopra, except for the availability in other languages. Another difference is that instead of a “floating” chat widget, BoldChat’s widget passes by the pages you browse from time to time. It does have the following features:
- iPhone application.
- Agent notification for missed chat attempts.
- Chat transfer to other operators.
- Operator message board.
- Agent productivity reports and service level analysis.
- Co-browse which allows active page browsing with the viewer.
- Click to call where viewers can choose to receive a callback from the software and have the call connected to an agent.
- Salesforce© integration module which creates a file for pertinent information about the viewer during chat sessions. Information can include an email address, mobile and fax number, website address, company name and even annual revenue and address information.
BoldChat’s service is for $199 per month per operator in multiple websites.
This freeware offers a chat session between you and your website viewers, as well as a chat session amongst viewers in a chat room on your website. You can use the software in any language by changing your default language setting in your private chat. There are no website analytics for this software.
The chat room idea adds a nice social aspect to your website. This idea is great for a business or organization that is has decided to open itself up to this kind of transparency -the kind of transparency that people are starting to view as standard customer service on the Internet these days.
Live Help Now
This software is easy to set up in your website and has similar features to the other website chat tools. Some highlighted features include:
- Customization with all reports.
- A chat widget resembling a clickable “floating” tab.
- Chat transfer to other operators.
- Real time operator monitoring and coaching for operators.
- File transfer to your viewers.
- Visitor flagging for prospective and returning visitors.
- Dynamic billboards that let you advertise to your customers in the chat window, which allows up to 10 rotating advertising messages.
Live Help Now is available for $27 per month per operator in multiple websites.
WhosOn appears to be a combination of Zopim and BoldChat, with similar features, and as with the other two, support is always available. The widget is similar to Live Help Now. Other features include:
- Click to call or call back.
- Chat transfer.
- Extensive reporting. You may also order a report according to your specifications, for which there will be an additional fee.
- Salesforce© integration.
- The installed version tracks third party websites and allows users outside your organization to connect to your WhosOn Server.
WhosOn offers the hosted version service for $39 per month for multiple operators in multiple websites. An installable version for your own server is
available for $125 per month.