While customer support is one of the most important aspects of running your ecommerce business, it is also one of the most expensive and hard to manage.
When you’re talking customer support, you probably picture people with headsets in a huge open space, taking phone calls and answering questions. Maybe you picture something a tad relaxed, somewhere along the lines of a Zappos call center. Either way call center involve human resources, technology to set up, management and others. If you think that gets expensive – you are right. Fortunately, there is a growing alternative to this.
Enter the Live Chat Software.
In a recent study by BoldChat customers worldwide responded to the question “Have You Ever Engaged in a Live Chat?”. Results showed that more than half the respondents did engage in live chat, with more 65% respondents in the US saying yes.
Although email is still the leading form of communication throughout the world (see left), live chat is catching up really fast , especially in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
One of the most prominent companies to use live chat is UK based Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. The company reports a 23% conversion rate for customers using its live chat feature. That is approximately 3.5 times higher than the conversion rate for users not engaging in live chat.
Virgin also reports that live chat also tends to increase average orders value, with customers spending 15% when chatting with an operator. Not only is live chat useful when trying to increase sales but it can also boost productivity, with one live chat operator doing the work of 15 email operators.
Who are the top live chat vendors?
If you’ve ever happened to look for live chat support software, you’ve probably stumbled across dozens to hundreds of different solutions. Some of them free, some open source, some paid. To help you get through the noise, I’ve put together a list of 7 of the most reliable live chat software solutions, from the easiest to implement to full-blown enterprise software suites.
The list is based on the clients size and profile, data regarding cost of implementation and solution reliability. Let’s start with number 7:
Zopim is probably the youngest company on this list and a very promising one, for that matter. Its live chat application is easy to setup, light and very customizable. It offers a wide array of options and reporting information and can be used to integrate fully with sales operator teams.
The company, based in Singapore, has recently been acquired by Zendesk, a leading customer service solutions provider.
Among its many features, Zopim lists:
- Visitor visualization
- Real time visitor info
- Email chat transcript
- Multi-device support
- Visitor webpath tracking
- Customizable greetings
- Developer ready API
Pricing ranges from free (demo account, one chat agent only) to $20 / agent (unlimited chats, departments, widget customization etc.)
6. Website Alive
Website Alive features live chat, mobile chat and click to call solutions to retailers. One additional service that stands out is the “Concierge” service that includes the live chat software but also dedicated operators by Website Alive, for retailers willing to outsource customer care.
The Live Chat app is feature packed and allows integration with the “click-to-call” option, allowing customers to ask for support on the phone. Retailers can customize their widget look and feel, aligning it with the store’s branding.
- Chat transcripts
- Visitor tracking
- Invitation Pop-ups
- Chat collaboration
- Communication records
- Call Routing
- Multiple chat lines
- Call transfers
Pricing starts with the basic pack of $29.95/month, with 2 operators included, and goes up to $97.95/mo for the full pack.
BoldChat, a product of Bold Software, features the usual live chat support systems as well as some other, more advanced tools. Among them – multiple customer support interactions, click-to-call services, co-browsing and SMS communication.
In 2012 the company was acquired by LogMeIn, a company focused on providing online support for computer, smartphone and tablet owners. Price tag: $16.5 million.
BoldChat invests heavily in research, some of its resources being available online. The company is focused on midsize to larger online retailers, making it one of the more reliable tools out there.
Among others, Boldchat lists some features targeted at larger online retailers, such as:
- Cross-domain implementations
- Passive browsing sharing
- SMS, Email and Twitter management
- iPhone app
- Mobile-aware windows
- Post-chat survey
- Salesforce integration
Pricing starts at $599 / year / agent.
4. Moxie Software Live Chat
Moxie Software is a provider of integrated customer support systems. It’s enterprise products are integrated and used by companies such as Dell, 3M, Epson, Crocs and others. Its Live Chat system allows text dialogues, co-browsing, reactive chat and proactive chat.
The company extended its products to handle social media requests, mobile browsing, click to call features and others. One very important aspect of Moxie Software is its Knowledge Base support center and self-service applications.
The live chat solution can be integrated with company CRM solutions such as Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce.com or Nuance.
Pricing varies by project
3. Right Now Technologies (Oracle RightNow)
In 2011 Oracle acquired Right Now Technologies, for $1.5 Billion. At the time Right Now Technologies was handling over customer relationship management systems, as well as call center software, for over 2000 SMB’s. After being acquired, the company was integrated to Oracle and rebranded as Oracle Rightnow Cloud Service.
The division handles live chat, among others for some well known multichannel and online retailers, such as Overstock.com, BeachBody.com and others.
Oracle Rightnow handles many critical aspects of customer service, among which larger companies can find:
- Live Chat
- Web Self Service
- Mobile Live Chat
- Email management
- Contact Center integration and software
Varies by project
LivePerson is one of the leading companies providing online customer care solutions. Its LiveEngage platform integrates live chat, social media, voice, content applications, mobile customer support, CRM software as well as advertising and marketing.
The company boasts more than 1.8 billion web visits observed each month. To handle this kind of traffic, the company also launched LP Insights, monitoring a complex set of customer analytics, such as behavior, sentiments and buying patterns.
Its live chat interactions allow contextual customization, so visitors can have meaningful interactions with operators.
The company handles communication needs for some of the largest online retailing brands, such as The Home Depot, IBM or Virgin.
- Conversion improvement
- Cross-channel communication
- Personalized experience
- Agent productivity tracking
- Automated customer offers
Pricing ranges from $500 / mo for small and mid-size companies to $5000 – $15000 / mo for enterprise users.
1. Oracle Live Help on Demand
Oracle made heavy investments in the ecommerce area. Before Oracle acquired no. 3 on our list, it had already bought ATG (Art Technology Group) for $1 billion in 2010. Recent moves show Oracle Live Help on Demand moves toward integration with Oracle Rightnow. Until that happens, Oracle’s Live Help technology still powers some really big retail brands such as Costco, The Home Depot and Procter & Gamble.
Oracle Live Help features live chat, voice and email integration, providing tools for multichannel integration.
The Live Help solution tracks customers, analyzing data left behind, thus improving chat support by personalizing the experience.
As you can see, whether it is the Live Help solution or the Rightnow environment, Oracle is leading the way in online retail live chat and customer support systems. The others, however, are moving fast, are flexible and companies such as Liveperson are soon to challenge the big red.