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Grow Your Business Technology

6 Live Chat Solutions for Small Businesses

6 Live Chat Solutions for Small Businesses
Credit: ArchMan/Shutterstock

Want happier customers? Using live chat software can keep customers satisfied, while helping you grow your business online.

Live chats provide fast, on-demand customer support right on your website, giving you an opportunity to immediately address customer concerns, answer questions and even close sales before customers click away. In addition to speeding up customer support, live chat systems let you monitor visitor behavior to provide personalized service, convert browsers into paying customers and improve your website to increase sales.

Many live chat solutions, however, aren’t made for small business. They primarily target large enterprises, making them too complex and unaffordable for startups and entrepreneurs. Instead, here are five live chat solutions that offer big business features on a small business budget. [See Related Story: Best Business Phone Systems]

Live chat is all about making support more convenient for customers. If you're looking for a flexible solution, check out LivePerson. The company's LiveEngage live chat software lets customers contact you on both your website and their mobile phones using an app (iOS and Android) or via mobile Web. The product is also scalable, so you can choose different plans and services as your business's needs grow. Features include the ability to resume conversations — for instance, if their Internet connection drops and the chat ends — and view real-time progress to see if issues have been resolved. Customers can also leave feedback, rate the representative they chatted with and score their satisfaction at the end of each chat session. LiveEngage plans start at $49 per month.

Most live chat providers require a monthly subscription, but if you'd like to give live chats a test drive, free is always a good place to start. My LiveChat offers a free live chat that doesn't compromise on key features. In addition to real-time visitor monitoring to help personalize chat sessions, My LiveChat also makes live chats more efficient by letting agents hold multiple chat sessions at a time, send pre-written responses to frequently asked questions, keep chat histories and send email transcripts. My LiveChat is also customizable to fit your brand, allowing you to upload your logo to appear on instant messages and customize greetings and other automated messages.

Having full control of live chats is key to delivering quality customer support. Olark's Targeted Chat feature lets chat representatives both control how many chats are received and select which customers to chat with, for instance, to prioritize cart abandonment prevention or to boost sales. The software also provides key information reps need, such as which page a customer is viewing, their browsing history on the website and how long they have been on the website. With this information, chat representatives are fully equipped to provide excellent service and close sales. Olark starts at $15 a month.

Live chat doesn't have to be limited to instant messages. ClickDesk offers an enterprise level live chat system at a small business-friendly price. Make customers happier by letting them choose how they want to receive support, whether it's through the traditional live chat pop-up on your website, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) voice chats or video calls (none of which require any additional installations on the customer's part). Agents can also choose to answer customers using ClickDesk's live chat portal or using Google Hangouts. ClickDesk starts at $12.99 per month. A free version is also available, but is limited to one agent and voice chats.

In addition to providing immediate customer support, live chat software can also help you grow your business using customer data. The WhosOn live chat system lets you easily monitor individual visitor behavior on your website, so you can track their "journey" as they browse. For instance, agents can pinpoint those who are simply looking at different products and may need help deciding, as well as those who are already in the checkout process, but may be hesitating or having trouble with the purchase. Doing so can help target customers to close sales — the company claims to reduce cart abandonment by 10 percent — reduce bounce rates and give you an idea of how to improve your website. Contact WhosOn for a custom pricing quote. A free trial is also available.

Need a live chat system that works with your workflow? SnapEngage integrates with your workflow, streamlining customer service with other parts of your operations. From productivity to social, SnapEngage connects to more than 20 business apps. These include customer relationship management (CRM) software Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics and Highrise; helpdesk systems Zendesk, Desk.com and UserVoice; and collaboration and project management apps Basecamp, Join.me and Jira. Businesses can also chat with customers directly from their Facebook page. SnapEngage starts at $60 per month.

Editor's Note: Looking for CRM software for your business? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

 

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Sara Angeles
Sara Angeles

Sara is a tech writer with a background in business and marketing. After graduating from UC Irvine, she worked as a copywriter and blogger for nonprofit organizations, tech labs and lifestyle companies. She started freelancing in 2009 and joined Business News Daily in 2013. Follow Sara Angeles on Twitter @sara_angeles.