To provide a fair comparison, we evaluated the basic package from each customer chat service software. These packages include basic live chat services that are best for small and medium businesses. We did not review the larger plans that work better for larger, enterprise-level companies. We reviewed the live chat software independent of influence from any of the companies on our lineup, and we did not provide them any advance notice of our testing prior to publication.
The tools that you have access to as an agent or account administrator make a big difference in how you interact with your customers, influence your ability to reach out to them and control how you can use the data collected by the software.
In our evaluation, we looked for a solid, customizable platform. Custom features that we looked for included customizable chat windows and buttons, which allow you to choose the look and feel of the chat window that appears on your website, and offline messaging, which allows customers to fill out a form and submit an email when your operators are not online. And, with the rising popularity of tablets and smart phones, we also noted whether or not the live chat is mobile-enabled.
While these features are valuable, they are not unique and can be found in the majority of live chat software as industry standards. One stand-out feature we found in the administrator toolset is IP address blocking. This feature allows you to block IP addresses from chat when someone is trolling your site and using chat to harass your agents. Though Kayako falls near the middle of the lineup, it provides this useful feature.
Another great feature is agent monitoring, which allows you to see how your agents are handling conversations without peering over their shoulders. This information is valuable for training and creating precise strategies.
Another important consideration when looking for live chat support is what services are available to the customer. When you chat with customers, you need to be able to do more than just instant message back and forth. Many chat service providers allow you to share documents with customers. The best software offers co-web browsing, a feature that allows an operator to take a customer directly to a web page rather than sending a link.
Another unique tool available from the best live chat services provides translation services so that your communications are not limited by language barriers. Only about half the software on the lineup offer translation options, including Comm100.
With the right tools, you can see the websites your customers come from. Many customer relationship management (CRM) applications can take the data you gather from your live chat and use it to synchronize sales and marketing with customer service. You can see the browsers they use, their geographical locations, their past purchases and chat histories, and much more. This data is invaluable to your marketing department and helps you build a more targeted business.
Integrations help you get the most out of your chat service by making it fit with the rest of your workflow. All of the software we reviewed integrate with Google Analytics. Google Analytics takes your live chat data and helps you use it for your marketing and keyword tracking campaigns. Another popular integration for helpdesk includes Salesforce, this integration allows you to track leads and integrate chat data with your sales data.
About half of the live chat software on our lineup integrate with Salesforce for a small fee, but the best software we reviewed, including Casengo, provide this service for no extra charge.
Help & Support
The last area we carefully evaluated in our research was help and support options available to you with each software. While you are providing help and support for your customer base, it is important that you have the support you need to ensure the software is working how you need it to. Each software on our lineup offers live chat and phone support, but the best companies provide this support 24/7, so you know you can reach something whenever there are issues.