Online customer service is a must in today’s competitive ebusiness climate, and customer service is at its best when it happens in real time and is captured to your database. Live help customer service — whether it comes in the form of chat, instant messaging or voice — is a great customer-retention tool that keeps service center costs in check. Live help solutions improve customer service for businesses of all sizes, whether you run a simple website or a large call center. An abundance of live help customer service software options are available — from simple add-ons to full-featured CRM and call center solutions — so small and large businesses can find an appropriate solution.When shopping for live help customer service solutions, consider the following:1. Live help customer service stand-alone applications.2. Live chat support software in call center solutions.3. Using a knowledge base to support online customer service. Live chat customer service stand-alone solutions Thanks to the popularity of instant messaging, today's customers are generally comfortable with live chat customer service. Many live chat support software products are designed as easy add-ons to existing websites. They range from simple pop-up chat windows to products with basic help desk features. At the very least, find live chat support software that manages trouble tickets and - even better - that captures customer information. Live help customer service in call center solutions A full-featured call center solution integrates phones, email and chat with CTI, skill-based routing, IVR, monitoring and reporting, knowledge base, predictive dialer and much more. Enterprise-level online customer service software is designed to integrate with CRM and ERP solutions to become part of an enterprise's complete technology profile. Using a knowledge base to support online customer service Call center agents rely on reference material to respond to customer inquiries. Aggregating your product support information in a knowledge base that is integrated with live help customer service solutions allows your agents to respond quickly and knowledgably in live help situations, helping them open and close trouble tickets in a single encounter. help desk software directory at Business.com lists knowledge management vendors that have help desk solutions. Consider a hosted call center solution in which the live help customer service software resides on the vendor's server. Choose live help solutions that support multiple channels of communication, including chat, voice and email. Choose online customer service solutions with reports and analytics to monitor and improve the effectiveness of your call center. All forms of online customer service should be supported with a knowledge base for effective response to customer inquires. Live chat support software allows call center agents to handle multiple customers simultaneously.