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Grow Your Business Technology

7 Live Chat Solutions for Small Businesses

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

Using live chat means integrating a new system into your workflow that could improve efficiency tremendously. In the past, sales leads or customer service queries were generated via forms – clients would fill out their information, submit it and wait for someone to contact them. Live chat revamps this entire process. Instead of your customers having to fill out boring forms, they can interact with a bot that records vital information in the same way. Questions get asked and data gets recorded so that leads are being generated 24/7. A lot of live chat software also provides other resources, like live support, integration with third-party apps and customer management.

Another great feature of these programs is the ability to monitor customer behavior on your website. By collecting and analyzing data on your customers, you can learn how to tailor your business to their needs. Some live chat solutions can be expensive, so it's important to do the right amount of research before jumping into an enterprise-level program. The live chat solutions in this roundup vary in price, but many of the services include free trials so you can determine whether they're right for your business. Here are eight live chat solutions for small businesses.  [Related: Best Practices for Responding to Live Chat]

LiveHelpNow offers a bunch of live chat solutions for small businesses. Small business owners can choose their plan and customize exactly what type of service they want. The solution offers chat support, an email ticketing system, an FAQ builder and call management capabilities. With the chat support, you can interact with customers and learn more about them through analytics and reporting software. It also supports SMS chat for customers who prefer to text rather than interact online.

The ticketing system offers customer management and integrates with chat. Various other features are included in the FAQ builder and call management software, like fully customizable FAQs and call logs. Prices vary based on what solutions you decide to include, but expect to pay $21 per user per month for each main bundle. LiveHelpNow does offer discounts when you sign up for multiple bundles.

Olark provides the ability to customize your chat window, analyze customer behavior and answers, engage in real-time chat, and manage team tools. One of its biggest advantages, however, is its integration with third-party platforms. If your business relies heavily on other programs – like Salesforce, HubSpot, Mailchimp, Shopify or WordPress – Olark integrates with them so that you can extend data and analytics across other platforms. This integration allows Olark to be a quick addition to an already functioning and efficient workflow. Olark plans start at $17 per user per month.

Intercom is chat software that offers support, sales and marketing solutions for small and midsize businesses. It packages its live chat solutions into three main categories: sales, customer engagement and customer support. SMBs can enroll in specific plans that, based on their combination, can be used for all three of these goals. With the Respond and Educate plans, for example, SMBs can manage customer support by interacting with customers and developing how-to or help articles to answer queries.

Ben Harper, founder of Clarity Stack, said that his business uses Intercom for collecting user information and interacting with customers. "It's just so far ahead of the crowd, and its operation function allows you to set auto-responses and message routing, enabling users to chat to us and get help without often needing an actual human to get involved," he said.

While Intercom provides an extensive service, it's on the pricier side for small businesses. It may be better for midsize businesses looking to manage customer support and sales. Plans for customer support are $102 per month, while the Live Chat for Sales package is $106 per month.

Pure Chat is a free live chat solution for small businesses that includes a wide variety of features, like unlimited chats, mobile response, platform integrations and canned responses. It provides sales and customer service teams the opportunity to engage with users, and SMB owners can customize the chat window specifically for their business and review complete transcripts. Pure Chat integrates with other platforms, like Google Analytics, so it can be added into a workflow easily. Users can also send canned responses and quickly add a canned response to the overall database mid-conversation. As a free service, Pure Chat provides small businesses with a lot of live chat resources.

WhosOn offers several live chat solutions, like analyzing and tracking customer behavior, that make it a great option for SMBs. In addition to a full-scale chat service, WhosOn provides chat surveys to gather important information about your customers. Using this data, you can learn more about your customers, what they need and how you can provide the right level of support. SMB owners can view customer history to prevent reintroductions.

WhosOn is a good tool for tracking a customer's website journey from start to finish. Agents can create triggers based on site activity and offer proactive service. If a customer is comparing two products, for example, a customer service rep can be readily available to answer any questions the customer may have. What separates WhosOn from other chat services is its ability to track the user through their site experience. WhosOn plans start at $33 per user per month.

SnapEngage is an intuitive chat solution software that, like Olark, integrates easily into common workflows. It comes with all the important features of a live chat solution – visitor information tracking, the option to create or host multiple widgets, and proactive chat tools. SnapEngage's ability to integrate with other software makes it a good option for SMBs. It can slip right into your current workflow, as it integrates with platforms like Basecamp, HubSpot, Jira, Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The integrations aspect is extensive, and for that reason, it's a bit more expensive than Olark. While Olark may be a good resource for very small businesses, SnapEngage is ideal for larger businesses looking to integrate their live chat solution with other platforms. SnapEngage plans start at $60 per month.

LiveChat's solution for small businesses offers a way for users to review your customer service so you can ensure you're meeting everyone's needs. It allows widget customization and can even color-code customers' circles to denote priority. In addition to standard live chat solution tech, LiveChat lets customers grade the overall service after the chat. They can also share their chats on social media so your company can receive positive exposure for good customer service. LiveChat integrates with other platforms like Dropbox, FreshBooks and GoDaddy. LiveChat plans start at $16 per user per month.

There are many live chat solutions out there for small businesses. After you analyze your business's needs, it's important to choose one with a distinct feature that you specifically need. Whether it's tracking customer service, integrating with other platforms or analyzing customer data, make sure you choose a live chat service that is affordable for your business and has features your sales and customer service teams will use.

Matt D'Angelo

Matt D'Angelo is a B2B Tech Staff Writer based in New York City. After graduating from James Madison University with a degree in Journalism, Matt gained experience as a copy editor and writer for newspapers and various online publications. Matt joined the Purch team in 2017 and covers technology for Business.com and Business News Daily. Follow him on Twitter or email him.