TLDR: Live chat is not something your web developer builds for you. It’s a service you subscribe to from a third party that, in turn, gives you a small piece of code or a plugin that is easily installed on your site. Typically all settings like hours, away messages, and available features are set at the service provider’s site. There are a lot of options, features, and pricing levels to consider. You must also consider how adding this real-time communications channel to your site will affect your business or organization.
What Are Chat Services for Websites?
Chat services for websites are great tools that allow for easy (and instant) customer service and the ability to engage with site visitors in real-time.
They enable customers to get quick answers to their questions, discuss problems via text or voice chats, and inquire about products or services – all from the convenience of their computers, without the delay of email or the hassle of a phone call.
There are several different chat software companies that offer a variety of features and services.
Some focus on providing basic text-based chat features, while others offer audio or video chat, as well as automated triggers like messages when customers enter certain pages or sections of your website.
Chat is Not Just for E-commerce Sites
Though most of the articles you will read about using such tools will talk about commercial applications such as customer support on an e-commerce website or answering product questions on sales pages, there are many other uses.
Our clients, who tend not to be on the B-to-C side of things, have used chat services to provide critical real-time information to people seeking help from domestic violence; political and nonprofit clients have used it to answer donor questions, and others have included chat as one more tool for general communications.
At FatLab, we utilize a chat feature on our website to answer pre-sales questions.
Website Chat is Software and a Service, Not Something We Build
As web developers or the team in charge of maintaining your website, chat functionality is not something we would “build” for you.
Instead, this feature will be provided by a third party; it’s something you would subscribe to. Once you choose a service you would like to use, installation on your website is typically speedy and straightforward.
Whatever company you subscribe to that will be providing chat services for your website will provide you with a tiny piece of code, or some may have a plugin if you are using WordPress that can be quickly installed. It typically takes us 15 minutes or less to install chat on a website.
Normally there aren’t even any settings that are made from the website hosting the chat. All settings are made at the third-party’s website. Where you can set hours of operation, what features to allow, how you will be notified, away messages, and much more.
Considerations when adding Chat to your Website
Before selecting a chat software, it’s important to consider the following factors:
- Type of support you want to offer site visitors.
- Types of conversations you want visitors to have with your staff.
- Cost, most services require a monthly or annual subscription and vary based on features.
- Security measures – to ensure your customers’ data is kept safe at all times and any legal/regulations your organization is subject to are covered by the chat service provider.
- Integration capabilities – how easy it is to integrate with other systems or applications (such as your CRM).
Taking these factors into account will help you determine which chat software is right for your website and provides the best customer experience possible.
How To Decide which Chat Service is Right for You
The best way to decide which chat service is right for your website is to think about what kind of support you want to give or what type of conversations you plan to have.
Do you need a text-chat feature only, such as those provided by most online retail stores? Alternatively, do you need something more advanced – like video conferencing for sales calls? Many chat service providers also offer automated messages or “bots” that answer predetermined questions.
There are several different chat software companies that offer a variety of features and services. Here are some of the most popular ones on the market and the ones we see our clients use the most:
The HubSpot CRM provides an easy-to-include chat function for their clients. Depending on your plan with Hubspot, various features are available. This is what we use at FatLab.
This and Hubspot are the two we see our clients use the most. SnapEngage offers many plans and features.
Like SnapEngage, they offer several plans with various features and are very easy to set up within a website.
These by no means are the only ones out there, and it’s definitely worth doing some research to find the feature set and price point that makes the most sense for your organization.
The Benefits of Using Chat Software on Your Website
Chat software has become an increasingly popular way to communicate with customers, partners, and vendors on your website. Here are some of the benefits you can expect to gain from using chat software:
- Increased engagement: By integrating chat into your website, you can attract new visitors, engage existing customers, and retain those visitors longer. With built-in features like live chat buttons and automated message triggers, customers have a much better chance of having their questions answered quickly and effectively.
- Improved customer service: You can use chat software to provide personalized customer assistance in real time. This helps build trust between customers and your brand as you respond quickly to queries and complaints. Plus, it makes it easier for customers to get help when they need it most.
- More sales opportunities: Your team will be able to quickly identify opportunities for upselling or cross-selling products by providing detailed responses that address the needs of each customer conversationally.
Overall, adding chat software to your website is a great way to boost engagement with current customers and attract new ones in the process. It provides an effective tool for connecting with them faster than via email or phone calls, making it easier for both sides of the equation – customers and businesses – to achieve success.
The Challenge of Website Chat
- You have to make sure someone is available to answer incoming chats. Depending on your site’s traffic, subject matter, or the nature of your business, this could mean having to make sure multiple people are available to monitor chat requests.
- Many website chat services offer apps that allow site owners to answer chat requests while away from their desks. But a site owner must think about the potential volume and whether they will be able to give these chat requests the attention they deserve.
For FatLab, we have been using HubSpot’s integrated chat with our CRM for a little over a year. Chat requests are infrequent, and honestly, I don’t think they have ever led to a sale. Most questions asked are for information that is already published on our site. I also find it personally strange to be put into a sales cycle with someone who I know nothing about.
We have placed chat on our website as a sales tool, though active clients have used it to get our immediate attention even though we have other channels in place for current clients. This creates a disruptive client service scenario that falls outside our standard systems and processes.
Also, as a small company, without a dedicated staff to monitor the chat channel, it can be disruptive to have work interrupted and feel the pressure of the immediate attention chat requires.
Though the HubSpot app allows me to receive and answer chat requests while away from my desk, I have also found that when I am away from my desk, rarely am I in a place where having a sales conversation with someone I don’t know is feasible (driving) or appropriate (at another meeting or gathering).