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best chat software reviews

Choosing the Best Live Chat Software – Reviews

Currently I am in the process of vetting a chat solution for our organization. Our organizational need will be about 4 operators to include customer service and some escalations regarding sales and business accounts. So we will have 2-3 groups, a handful of operators and lots of interaction with site visitors that have reach some sort of end pass on the website. Options like being able to proactively initiate a chat with someone based on the time on the website or number of pages visited would be key to closing more sales. We also want a convenient and simple offline solution for visitors during offline hours. Screen sharing was also a request for future use I was asked to assess.

As for my personal experiences and preferences, an intuitive interface where the usability and learning curve are the priorities is essential to me. The ability to be able to expand to other departments without having to have long training sessions is just smart man hour planning.

(Updates moved to bottom of post)

I looked at all chat software solutions for customer’s service and eventually tested and gave trials to:

So who’s was the best website chat software and solution for usability, learning curve, most features, right pricing, interface key features.

#1 Websitealive  – Alivesales.com – clear winner.

Here are my notes from working with it:

  • 4 operator pricing for our website, about $160 per month.
  • Web Based.
  • Screen sharing is simple and fast.
  • Buttons are smartly located through minimal interface.
  • Super intuitive, you logout and it prompts for login in case you want to switch from service to admin in 2 clicks.
  • Has separate interface for admin to login, this is why interface looks much simpler for agents. Also keeps agents from changing any settings.
  • Chat sessions are logged, stored and retrievable
  • Has proactive chat features, send invite to chat.
  • Has page tagging feature, so you can set rules to pop up chat box on conditions and direct to departments. IE: When someone hits business page and 30 seconds pass, pops a window to BBP rep.
  • Canned responses are available (called Hotkeys in our system). We would build these out ourselves.
  • Capability to trigger popup buttons or chat windows based events such as page URL, idle time, return visitor, etc.
  • Allows for transfer of chat to other logged in operators, good for escalations.
  • Has Standard Auto-Greet that is given (optional)
  • Operators have a panel for messages received when offline.
  • Has nice looking buttons and floating “chat with us” tabs.
  • Complete messaging, background colors and images for seasonal or novelty chat windows. Set all language for open close and other. Require any fields you wish.
  • Set categories, so we could have Sales, Service, Business Clients Etc. Transfers and default operators can be set.
  • Has android and iPhone apps for operators to never miss a message.
  • Allows IP address blocking for malicious web visitors, but can I block whole C classes if they want to change IP’s
  • Complete transcript available in real time to admin account.
  • Reports are easy to read, have average call length, response times etc. With pro version only.
  • Very minimal, super easy to implement, we could be running in 5 minutes. Only preparation required is getting all the messaging as we like it. Settings are pretty standard and flexible.
  • The offline messaging solution is very slick. Send a web based link message they can respond to that is almost instant, almost as fast as chat.
  • Pre and Post Chat Surveys Option.
  • Free 30 day trial, 60 day guarantee
  • Default graphics are orange and a nice match for our site. Matches the funnel changes I have proposed.
  • 29.95/69.95/97.95 Monthly options. Pro level for 97.95 has the reporting suite, call times, response rates etc. All include 2 operators.
  • Click to call options are $30 for 200 minutes and $65 for 500 minutes, integrates in chat.

#2 Zopim.com Chat Software Review – Runner up

  • 4 operator pricing for our website, about $100 per month.
  • Web based.
  • No screen sharing options is the big strike against.
  • Ultra clean and top notch interface, best pop up box solution, most modern looking design.
  • Very easy to initiate conversation with person on the site, to chat outward.
  • Past chats tab to see prior conversations with this IP address is very smart and well placed.
  • Nice personalized avatar system for chat window.
  • Easy to add new agents, very well planned out interface.
  • Cool chat rescuer feature to auto respond if agent doesn’t answer fast enough.
  • Has invite and transfer, not just transfer. So escalations don’t mean dumping it on someone else.
  • Very clear time on site, past visits and past chat stats on interface.
  • Chat window reopens fast if they click around site while chatting.
  • Volume and sound effect settings for all alerts for agent.
  • Automatic weekly emailed agent reports to compare response and chat times.
  • Easy to create departments and assign current agents to it, in one click.
  • Displays visitor current chat customer so you can easily see what pages they viewed.
  • Cheapest price, $25 per agent, $20 per if you pay the full year.


Livechatinc.com also had potential:

  • Web based.
  • Has cool feature to add social buttons to your chat window.
  • Nice embedded chat window
  • Has rating system on chat window for agent performance.
  • Too funny, comes with stock faces from the came with frame family.
  • Has email forwarding from your customer service box by POP server. So emails can be answered from same interface.
  • Has goal options, add url and if its hit after chatting it gets logged as goal completion.
  • Very nice eye catchers. Images that your chat box can have to draw attention to them.
  • $39 for team per operator, $59 for Enterprise per operator.
  • No screen sharing.

 

 The rest I looked at and what disqualified them from contention.

Liveperson.com Chat Software Review

  • 4 operator pricing for our website, about $1325 per month based on their own provided engagement estimates.
  • Only one that works on a credit system. Every chat initiated is one credit. Normal pricing is $2-3 Dollars per chat session. Based on pay quarterly pricing it is as follows
  • 330 credits = $729/month
  • 100 credits = $272
  • 30 credits = $99

Rep tried to sell me on their 50% off promotion, which is only good for first full quarter. So prorate current and one full quarter. Additional chats will be billed at the same per chat rate.

Boldchat.com Chat Software Review

  • PC application, not web or cloud based.
  • Appearance is a bit dated, Visual basic standard ugly gray.
  • Learning curve is much higher
  • No mobile operator option

Whoson.com Chat Software Review

  • PC application, not web or cloud based.
  • Appearance is a bit dated, Visual basic standard ugly gray.
  • Very high learning curve, ticket system. Disconnected during test.
  • No graphics options out of the box, embed code is for text link only

UPDATE: After 2 more days of comparing final options for our company, some more came to light which may be deal-breakers. In the end we may go with ZopIm because of the simple feature of being able to disable all chat messages when offline. WebsiteAlive requires that you replace the JavaScript to accomplish this. Also ZopIm is the only solution of the ones I tested that allows triggers to be set based on region, city and state. ZopIm does not have as good of reporting features as Websitealive and lacks the amazingly simple screen-sharing of Websitealive, but for our needs we need a simple disable option in the admin section.

UPDATE #2 2/28/2014: I Received an email in my inbox thanking me for the kind words and with the instructions on how to disable the chat when offline in the settings. Perhaps a miscommunication with the chat rep I spoke with and myself. So that deal-breaker is erased. We have 2 great options here with the better reporting and smooth working screen share on WebsiteAlive, and Region/city triggering and built in translation on ZopIm. I have done my job of narrowing to two great, cheap and powerful options that are super easy to learn to use, the rest is up to the sales department manager to pick one. Thanks to Jarrell Liner at websitealive.com for taking the time to write me directly with instructions for the needed feature.

 

Hello Todd,

Good Afternoon! Thanks for your reply. If you would like to set the chat buttons to disappear when your agents are not logged in, please follow the steps below from within the Admin console:

  • Click on the Basics tab in the left hand column
  • In the dropdown menu that appears, click on the “Websites, Code & Customization” link
  • A preview of your chat window and chat buttons will be displayed. Click on the “Edit” link underneath the image for your chat button
  • The HTML code for your button will be displayed. Click on the “Settings” link located at the top right of the window
  • This brings up the configuration menu for the button. For the “Appearance” option, you can set the button to be hidden when your agents are offline.
  • Save Settings. You will not have to make any changes to the code on your website. The changes take place automatically.

I hope that this helps you out, Todd. If you have any questions, or would like to setup a live online demo of our services, feel free to contact me and I will be happy to assist you further. Have an awesome weekend,

 

 

About author

Todd Kron

of Sellaholics is a veteran of Analytics, PPC, Display, video, UX, conversion optimization, affiliate programs, web design and web programming since 2002. My background includes affiliate sales to 6 figures, director of a web design agency, and currently the digital manager for a leading energy company located in Huntersville, NC. From search to sale 1000 different ways is my background. Sellaholics is a Google Partner Agency.

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  • Zoey Richardson

    Great article! When talking about live chat, Inside always pop-up in my mind. I accidentally came across inside, and after looking through their site http://www.inside.tm/, it morphs a business website into a virtual storefront so business personnel can see and help their site visitors in real-time using chat.

  • Zane Pinnock

    Hi, Todd

    Nice post! But, one more recommendation is missing here that eAssistance Pro live chat. Suggest this in your preferable list where users can get wide range of live chat software.

    Thanks

  • Sophia P. Smith

    Good review, but if you are would like to update the list I would recommend to add Visitlead.com. I have been using it for some months now and my experience is very positive. What I like the most about it is that it is not only limited to chat, but it comes also with numerous features like co-browsing, tracking, widgets and visitor detailed information – https://visitlead.com/features – that have helped me to create successful long-term relations with customer and close sales that I thought I had lost already.

  • Sudarshan

    Todd, an interesting take indeed. I’ve personally used these, but have you looked at Zestim (http://zestim.com/) – satisfies all your criteria.

  • Amalia Azzam

    Hi! Great article!
    However I would like to add that some of great products have been already launched. check out one of my favourite for supporting customers in real time – http://www.chat4.website

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