- Live chat is a popular feature for engaging with customers as they shop on your website.
- With live chat, staff members can provide real-time assistance to customers to answer questions, provide recommendations and close sales.
- Live chat has a number of benefits, including reducing cart abandonment.
- This article is for business owners or sales managers interested in exploring live chat as a sales or customer service method.
Live chat apps are an increasingly popular addition to many business websites. They can be a great way to actively engage customers and connect them to sales agents while they are focused on your product or service. There are a variety of live chat apps on the market with a wide range of features, from basic chatting capabilities to AI-powered personal product recommendations. Here is what you need to know to find the best live chat app for your business.
What is a live chat app?
A live chat app is an application that allows customer service or sales staff to chat with customers in real time. They are typically deployed on the websites of businesses that sell their products or services via e-commerce. Live chat apps allow agents to assist customers through instant messaging for a fast and effective support experience.
Benefits of live chat apps
Better customer experience
Live chat allows you to deliver better customer service. Customers don’t want to be stuck on hold or waiting around for an email response just to get a question answered. Live chat provides more immediate support to customers so they get the response needed and then make their purchase.
Higher conversions and lower cart abandonment
Live chat is a great way to increase conversions on your website. Customers are typically more likely to make a purchase when they are helped by someone. Think of it like going into a retail store and receiving assistance from a sales associate. You can browse around on your own, but you may not find the exact product you want. Sometimes you need someone familiar with the store and products to help you make that connection. This personalized support helps you move through the buying process in one visit.
A live chat agent does this for your website. If customers are able to find everything they need and have all of their questions answered promptly, they’re less likely to abandon their cart.
Did you know?: According to a HubSpot survey, 82% of customers expect an immediate response to their sales questions, and 90% value immediate responses when they have a support question. Live chat is a great way to meet these customer demands.
Meeting customer communication preferences
A lot of people simply don’t like talking on the phone. Many businesses provide a support number or an online form for customers to request a call from a sales agent, but this isn’t comfortable or practical for everyone. The alternative of email communication is also slow and frustrating if the customer’s question or concern requires a lot of back-and-forth. Live chat is an efficient, call-free option for the socially anxious buyer and the office worker trying to subtly shop online at their computer.
Better allocation of staff resources
Small businesses often don’t have the funds to retain large sales and customer support teams. Live chat is typically faster and less fatiguing than phone support, and some agents can even multitask while providing chat support. As such, you can use live chat to extend your resources and increase your daily customer or sales interactions without overwhelming your team.
What should you look for in a live chat app?
Live chat tools can allow you to do more than just chat. Here are some of the advanced features to look for when shopping for a live chat app.
- Integrations: If you have existing tools that you want to integrate with your live chat software, it’s important to take a look at the integrations that are available with the live chat software that you are considering. Live chat apps can often integrate with employee productivity tools, communication tools like Slack, the top customer relationship management (CRM) systems and e-commerce tools.
- Multichannel support: Live chat is typically associated with chat widgets on websites, but many live chat apps provide chat support for social media platforms, texting and more.
- Reporting and analytics: A live chat app can be a great source of customer data. Not all live chat services offer reporting tools, but many do provide analytics and reporting on website traffic, consumer behavior, chat interactions and agent performance.
- Management tools: Some live chat apps also have management tools to help customer service managers or sales managers oversee their employees’ activity through assignment tracking, scheduling tools and activity reporting.
- AI and automation: Some live chat apps take things a bit further by offering AI-driven features and workflow automations to answer common questions, direct customer traffic and provide product recommendations.
Best live chat apps
LiveChat is a live chat app that provides basic chat features as well as more advanced automation capabilities. Agents can provide support through a chat widget on your website, Facebook Messenger, SMS, Twitter, LinkedIn and more through a shared chat inbox within the LiveChat app. It has customer engagement tools such as targeted messaging, automated responses to common questions, and eye-catching special offer animations.
LiveChat offers four plans.
- Starter: For $16 per month when billed annually or a $19 monthly subscription, you can enjoy basic chat features and access a 60-day chat history.
- Team: For $33 per month when billed annually or a $39 monthly subscription, you can retain an unlimited chat history, more branding and widget customization options, and access to basic reporting.
- Business: For $50 per month when billed annually or a $59 monthly subscription, you can enjoy all of the benefits of the lower tiers while accessing advanced reporting, agent staffing tools, better customer traffic tracking and text messaging support tools.
- Enterprise: Pricing for this package varies based on the size and special needs of each enterprise business. It is designed for Fortune 500 companies with a large number of users and advanced customization needs.
Tidio offers live chat and chatbot services. Live chat allows employees to connect with customers in real time through chat. The chatbot allows business owners to provide an automated chat experience to greet customers, provide special offers, reach out to customers who appear undecided and provide product recommendations. When used together, these tools can be particularly effective.
Tidio offers a free plan and two paid plans (billed annually).
- Free: Small businesses can benefit from the free plan. However, most companies will outgrow this tier, as it limits subscribers to three operators and 100 unique customers that may be engaged through chat.
- Chatbots: For $49 per month, you can access unlimited active chatbots and reach an unlimited number of unique visitors. This plan is still limited to three operators.
- Communicator: For $19 per month per operator, you can access all of the free features and some additional communication tools, such as live typing, notes, viewed pages tracking, and a live visitors list.
FYI: According to Tidio, by using its abandoned cart saver feature and offering a discount, you can prevent 60% of your customers from abandoning their carts.
HubSpot Live Chat
HubSpot is largely known for its popular CRM (which you can learn more about in our HubSpot CRM review). HubSpot Live Chat service is a free tool that integrates with its CRM. Subscribers can create custom chat widgets to add to their websites. HubSpot also offers chatbot features to automate basic conversations and tasks. The nice thing about HubSpot Live Chat integrating with its CRM is that customer information is saved and stored in a profile for each customer so that you can see past chat conversations with returning visitors.
There are no subscription tiers or costs associated with HubSpot Live Chat, though there are several paid tiers for its customer service CRM. Keep in mind that you don’t need a paid CRM plan to use HubSpot’s live chat tool.
- Starter: Beginning at $45 per month (billed annually), this plan removes HubSpot branding from the live chat, includes access for two users and storage for up to 15 million contacts, and offers additional features such as multiple currencies and conversation routing.
- Professional: Beginning at $450 per month (billed annually), this gives you everything in the Starter plan, plus five users, sales analytics and automation, custom reporting, and forecasting.
- Enterprise: For a starting price of $1,200 per month (billed annually), you get everything in the Professional plan, plus 10 users, additional customization capabilities, advanced permissions and conversation intelligence.
LiveAgent is a help desk and live chat application. It offers live chat capabilities along with advanced features such as chat routing, proactive chat invitations and visitor tracking. It also has a multilingual chat widget, which is a nice feature for businesses that sell across a variety of regions.
LiveAgent offers four plan options.
- Free: The limited free plan offers one chat button at the URL of your choice, basic reporting and a basic customer portal with forum capabilities.
- Ticket: For $15 per agent per month, this plan includes unlimited ticket history and email addresses, advanced reporting, and other services.
- Ticket+Chat: For $29 per agent per month, this plan provides unlimited chat buttons, real-time visitor monitoring and access to ticket management tools.
- All-Inclusive: This plan may be more than you need if you’re mainly looking for live chat support. For $49 per agent per month, you can access chat tools, ticket management tools, video calling and virtual call center features.
Tawk.to does not have any plans. Its service is completely free for most features, though a few things are add-ons, such as video, voice, and screen sharing ($29 per month) and removing the branding ($19 per month).
This app is a great option for new or smaller businesses that don’t have the budget for a paid live chat solution. Its features are not quite as robust as the paid options on the list, but you can still reap the main benefits of a live chat app with this free option.