Choosing and Using a Chat Tool: How to Find the Best Solution for Your Business
One downside of online shopping is that customer service isn’t as immediate or helpful as shoppers want it to be. The live chat tool is a solution to that problem, but with the proliferation of chat tools and their features, you might experience decision paralysis when trying to choose a chat tool for your website.
In this article, we’ll explain what chat tools are, how to use them, and how they can benefit your business. Then we’ll dive into the features of today’s best chat tool platforms, so you can determine which would be best for your customers.
Chat tools are interactive messaging features that allow businesses to offer real-time customer support. With chat tools, businesses can engage in one to one live chat to answer questions, ask for feedback, or help customers find products. You can also use chat tools to improve communication among internal teams.
Many website chat tools can be configured to appear based on user behavior — such as when a user is about to exit a shopping cart page but hasn’t completed their purchase. Chat tools may also give you a real-time view of how visitors are interacting with your site.
Chat tools give you an opportunity to solve a problem that might have otherwise stood in the way of a sale. You can answer questions about shipping, steer customers toward other products if the item they want is out of stock, or just make a personal connection that shows customers you care about their needs.
Basic, free website chat tools usually initiate a conversation with a "canned" response, like, "How can I help you today?" But unlike chatbots, live chat tools will transfer a conversation to a live agent, based on specific types of questions, words, or user actions. For example, if a website visitor responds to a canned question with, "I’d like to get a quote for service," the chat can be automatically routed to a sales agent, who will continue the conversation.
A live chat tool can serve as an extension of your customer service or sales teams. When all of your representatives are busy, a chatbot may be able to keep your website visitors engaged until someone is free to chat with them one to one.
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of using live chat tools:
Lack of support is one of several reasons why customers abandon online shopping carts. If customers experience a problem during the checkout process, they may decide not to complete their purchase, or they may have a question that needs an immediate response. With a live chat tool, you can catch customers before they exit your site and attempt to resolve their concern.
Sometimes, online shoppers just need a nudge to get to the conversion point. Using one to one live chat, an agent can explain the value of a product or service, suggest an alternative (if price is a concern), and even share additional product images in the chat window. For B2B companies, live chat tools can boost conversions by 20%.
When existing customers return to your site, that’s a good indicator that they’re satisfied with your products or services. These site visitors present prime opportunities to upsell or cross-sell — the probability of selling to them is roughly 60% to 70%, so why not try to land a bigger sale?
With a live chat tool, your agents can welcome a returning visitor and suggest new products based on their shopping history, or recommend a complementary product when they’re about to make a purchase.
The average email response time for a customer service inquiry is about 17 hours. That’s more than enough time for a customer or lead to look for a better experience elsewhere. A live chat tool greatly improves the customer experience, and when you can’t get back to someone right away, or when an inquiry arrives during non-working hours, a chatbot feature can acknowledge and engage the customer.
One study revealed that 79% of businesses using live chat tools saw an increase in revenue, sales, and customer loyalty. Customers appreciate being "heard" and understood, and one to one live chat is superior to chatbots in fostering the customer relationship.
Live chat helps your best sales and support representatives apply their skills in new ways. And with the data you collect from your live chats, you can continually improve your customers’ experience.
Keep in mind that the chat tool you choose should be able to grow along with your business. Features that may seem unnecessary at the moment could be exactly what you need, should your company expand its product or service offerings.
With the following chat tool features, you’ll be well prepared to engage your customers, get actionable data, and continuously improve your sales processes:
Omnichannel messaging software helps you maintain continuity in customer interactions. For example, if a customer sends you an email, then follows up with a WhatsApp message, you need to connect that information. An omnichannel chat tool such as JivoChat integrates your points of contact with customers, so that when a live agent begins a customer interaction, they have a record of all previous communication across all platforms.
The ability to create proactive triggers enhances the effectiveness of live chat tools. Just like an exit-intent pop-up, a trigger-based chat pane appears when an action occurs, such as viewing a particular product or navigating to a new page. Triggers can also be based on factors such as a visitor’s referring URL, past purchase data, or device type.
Don’t ask customers to repeat themselves. Integrate live chat and other omnichannel communications directly into the customer’s CRM record to ensure your agents don't ask for redundant information. You can even integrate customer ratings of their interactions with your team members and troubleshoot the reasons for negative ratings.
This feature enables you to reduce overhead costs, route chats to the best resources, and essentially provide 24/7 support. (Think of chatbots as the opening act for the real stars of the show: your sales or support representatives). Some businesses have found that chatbots have resulted in a significant uptick in sales — about 67%, on average. Chatbots can also free up more time for your sales team, by automating simple tasks.
For example, JivoChat chatbots can respond to requests about sizing, shipping, operating hours, and other details.
According to an Inside Intercom survey, 29% of businesses have lost customers due to a lack of multilingual support. With live chat tools that have language translation features, you don’t need a multilingual support team. An online chat tool can quickly translate conversations for each user, allowing for faster resolution of customer inquiries.
During a live chat, you might decide that another agent or department would be better able to assist the customer, or you may need to escalate a complaint to a manager. Chat tools with a transfer function allow you to reassign a chat with no disruption for the customer.
The transfer function should also allow a chatbot to initiate a conversation and transfer the chat to a live agent, based on rules you create.
From your control panel, you can see who’s visiting your website, their referring URL, and which pages they’re viewing — information that can help you personalize your communication.
For example, you could introduce yourself to a repeat visitor with a "Welcome back" message.
Real-time monitoring may also help you see how effective your off-page strategies are — if you see visitors arriving on your site via your Facebook ads, but not your Google Ads, you might need to adjust your ad strategy.
Mobile now accounts for nearly 60% of global web traffic. Having a mobile-optimized website is a necessity, and that means your live chat feature should also offer the best possible mobile user experience. Before you commit to purchasing a live chat tool, look for an opportunity to try it out yourself, so you can make sure it works well on mobile.
Just as an in-store sales representative can show customers where to find items, your agents can use co-browsing and live chat to help visitors locate information on your website. You can see where visitors are on a page, direct them to another link, or guide them through the checkout process.
If you plan to use your live chat tool for employee onboarding or training, co-browsing can help you demonstrate how to perform certain functions, or how to navigate software and applications.
Often, chat tool providers will require their branding on the free version, allowing widget customization options only for paid versions. If you want your chat tool to be on-brand, then upgrading to a paid version is worth the investment.
Chat window customization options may include size, colors, shape, and on-page placement. Many website chat tools also allow you to add agent profile photos, for a more personalized experience.
Website chat tools should have analytics capabilities that can help you learn more about your processes and your employees. For example, analytics can show you statistics like the average chat duration, average agent response time, purchases made, and more. Your chat tool should also allow for integration with Google Analytics.
Now that you’ve learned about what live chat tools are, how they work, and what they can do for your business, you might be closer to deciding which chat tool is best for your brand. We’ve made that easier for you, with our curated list of what we think are the nine best chat tools for businesses. Let’s take a look:
JivoChat is an omnichannel business messenger that includes live chat, chatbots, callback and text messaging functionality, along with in-depth analytics. It can easily integrate with WordPress, Drupal, and other content management systems.
A nice perk: Should you ever encounter a bug in JivoChat, you can earn a cash reward for reporting it!
WhatsApp, Apple Business Chat, Telegram and Facebook integration allows your team to engage in one to one live chat with customers on their preferred platform, and a callback feature gives customers the option to request an immediate phone call.
- Proactive chat pane triggers based on user behavior
- Chatbot-to-live chat transfers
- Agent-to-agent chat transfers
- Visitor location and click source analytics
- Real-time visitor monitoring
- CRM integration
- Google Analytics integration
- Chat statistics and reporting
- Unlimited chat history storage (professional version only)
- Compatible with any device or operating system
- Integrated translation for 90+ languages
- Commissions for referrals (through JivoChat’s affiliate program)
JivoChat offers a free basic version of its live chat software, as well as a 14-day free trial for its professional version. After the free trial, pricing for the professional version is $13 per agent, per month (billed annually).
Tawk.to offers a basic live chat tool, as well as hosted landing pages for businesses that don’t have a website. Its other product is Knowledge Base — a CMS that functions as a self-service help center for customers.
- Automated chat triggers
- Custom colors and branding (with paid version)
- Real-time website visitor tracking
- Group messaging
- Engagement tracking
- Screen sharing
This live chat tool is free, as long as users keep the "Powered by tawk.to" branding. The brand-free version is $19 per month.
LiveChat is a customer service platform with four service levels: Starter, Team, Business, and Enterprise. The Starter software is designed for small offices or home office users, and while its features are limited, it does allow users to generate tickets in a chat, assign them, and track their status.
For Enterprise users, LiveChat offers single sign-on controls, HIPAA compliance, and a dedicated account manager.
- 60-day or unlimited chat history
- Smart chat routing
- Manual chat routing
- Email transcripts
- Social media integration
- Ticket form
LiveChat offers a 14-day free trial. Per-agent, per-month pricing (billed annually) is $16 for the Starter version, $33 for the Team version, and $50 for the Business version. Enterprise version pricing is available by request.
Pure Chat is a live chat tool with two service levels: Growth and PRO. The Growth version is for a single website and includes up to four users; PRO allows an unlimited number of websites and includes up to 10 users.
Both service levels include customization options, unlimited chat history transcripts, and mobile apps for iOS and Android.
- CSV exports for reporting and contact-sharing
- Security permissions (admins, power users, and operators)
- SMS notifications (100 or 1,000, based on service level)
- File transfers
- Real-time analytics
- Native iOS and Android apps
- Email form when live agents unavailable
Pure Chat offers a free 30-day trial. Monthly pricing (billed annually) is $39 for Growth and $79 for PRO. The monthly cost for additional users is $13 for Growth and $8 for PRO.
Smartsupp is a customer messaging platform that integrates live chat, email, and Facebook Messenger available in free, standard, or pro versions. All service tiers allow for an unlimited number of websites.
Team members can respond to Facebook, email, or chat inquiries within the Smartsupp platform and see stats on site visitors, page views, and time on site.
- Unlimited chatbots (standard and pro versions only)
- One-year conversation history (standard and pro versions only)
- Custom chat box colors
- Security permissions (agents and admins)
- Apps for iOS and Android
Monthly pricing (billed annually) for the standard version is $10 for up to three agents, and $19 per agent for the pro version.
Olark is a live chat tool for sales and customer service teams. This company also markets its software as a tool college admissions recruiters can use to engage students visiting their website.
The self-service version has limited Olark support, but the pro version offers support such as live training, a dedicated account manager, and access to professional services.
- Custom chat pane shapes and colors
- Automated responses based on user behaviors
- Searchable chat transcripts
- Team management functions
- Live chat forms
Olark offers a free trial (of unknown duration — users must create an account to get details). The self-service plan offers a price break for two-year subscriptions: $12 per agent, per month (normally $15 per agent, per month if billed annually). Olark Pro pricing is available by request.
Drift is a revenue acceleration platform for B2B users available in free, premium, advanced, and enterprise versions. Drift includes a chatbot and a live chat tool. (The chatbot introduces live agents by name when it transfers a chat).
All versions offer integration with calendars, Slack, and Google Analytics, as well as basic reporting features.
- Email fallback
- Chat-to-call transfers (paid versions only)
- Custom branding (paid versions only)
- Unlimited contacts
- Mobile and desktop app
- Advanced lead routing (paid versions only)
Drift offers a free trial (of unknown duration — users must create an account to get details). Pricing is available on request.
Userlike is a live chat tool available in four versions: free, team, corporate, and business. Channel integration with Facebook Messenger and other platforms is included in the paid versions, with a 5-channel maximum.
All plans include support for images and video in multiple languages. File-sharing and conversation tagging are also included.
- Live translation (corporate and business versions only)
- One to 20 chat widgets, based on version level
- WhatsApp channel (paid versions only)
- Operator group choices for customers
- Chat forwarding
- Operator skills listed under agent profile
Userlike offers a 14-day free trial. Monthly pricing (converted from pounds) is approximately $124 for the team version, $399 for the business version, and $990 for the corporate version.
Freshchat — part of the Freshworks family of products — offers an online chat tool in five versions (including one free version), and an omnichannel messaging platform in two versions.
All online chat tool versions include integration with Freshdesk, a self-serve customer service tool. Freshchat’s omnichannel messaging tools include integration with all Freshworks products.
- Conversation labels
- User segmentation (paid versions only)
- Sales and marketing integration (paid versions only)
- User events and timelines (paid versions only)
- WordPress integration
- Co-browsing (paid versions only)
Freshchat offers a 21-day free trial. Per-agent, per-month pricing (billed annually) for Freshchat’s chat tool suite is between $15 and $69, and either $79 or $139 for the omnichannel messaging tool.
That’s it — you now have the knowledge to make an educated decision about your website chat tools! Which chat tool do you want to try? Have you decided if you’ll use it for customer service and for internal improvements? Are you going with a free tool or a paid version that gives you more features?
Get a free trial of JivoChat to start chatting with your customers today.
Sign up and try JivoChat for yourself!