There are plenty of live chat plugins available on WordPress from free to few dollars a month. From native plugins to external apps. In other words there is a plugin for everyone.
What you need to keep in mind when going through “best live chat plugin” lists is that the notion of “best” is really subjective. In other words, the best live chat for you might not be the best live chat for another company.
We won’t list plugins in this article. Being a live chat company, this wouldn’t be fair and we don’t want to cheat you into choosing our solution.
Instead we will tell you what to look for when selecting the best WordPress chat for your company. This is based on our experience with different kind of clients and what they got from using our different features.
Start By Defining Clear Goals For Your Live Chat Implementation
I can’t stress how important this step is for your business. You will see results after installing live chat but you won’t be able to tell if these meet your expectations unless you have expectations.
Start by answering this set of questions:
• What do you want to use live chat for? Customer service – Sales – Collecting Feedback…
• What kind of results do you expect after implementing live chat? Increase customer satisfaction – Increase support efficiency – Increase sales – Get useful feedback to improve your site…
• Will you have dedicated live chat employees or will current team members take chats?
• Do you want live chat to become your main channel or do you want people to still use your email form?
• Do your customers often have simple questions you could answer quickly?
• Do your competitors use live chat? How do they use it?
This is just a start but it will help you define a clear plan of action for your live chat implementation. Which will help you select the best solution to reach these goals!
The first question is the most important. You will use live chat a lot differently for support, sales or to gather feedback.
Note that using live chat for sales as a goal doesn’t mean you won’t use it for customer service at all. It just means you will design a strategy mostly aimed at getting you sales related chats.
Find Features That Will Help You Achieve These Goals
I won’t go to much into details about look and feel since that is really subjective. We find that the easiest way to make the right choice is to look at critical features first and other details next.
Essential live chat features for customer service:
If you are looking for a live chat plugin for customer service, you’ll want to look for few key features that will make your life easier.
• A good archive system that is not limited
With customer service, history is gold and shouldn’t be perishable. You might have a customer chat with you about an issue and come back 1-2 months later because the issue resurfaced. This happens. And when it does, you don’t want to ask the irate customer to repeat themselves…
• A department or team system if your customer service is segmented
I know that most of WordPress users are small teams like us and won’t use the department system much. However, this can be really useful if you deal with complex issues that you need to be solved by the right expert in your company.
• Integration with your ticketing system
This might not be essential but it will likely make you and your customers life a lot easier. I’ve seen a lot of people complain about offline messages (messages left when no operators are online to chat) never being answered. Make sure you send these to your help desk and you will never have this problem!
• Chat rating system to track satisfaction metrics
Customer service performance is hard to track. One of the most popular things to look at is “customer satisfaction”. Make sure your live chat plugin integrates a rating system to easily measure your customer happiness level.
Essential live chat features for sales:
While we have most customer service core features, we clearly made sales our main focus at CustomerIcare. Below are the features we found helped us the most in achieving our sales goals.
• Chat triggers or automated invitations
This feature will not only help you save time but it will increase your number of incoming chats a lot. Some use triggers for proactive customer service but we found that using them for sales works even better. Especially for small businesses.
• Goal tracking
If you want to use your chat plugin as a sales tool, you will need to track results. We built a simple goal tracking feature that lets you see how many users converted after chatting. We plan on improving this feature in the future to make it even more precise.
• Real time monitoring of your website
I hesitated to include this one in this list but we’ve received a lot of great feedback about it from WordPress users. Monitoring can be really useful for smaller websites. It lets you see who is browsing your website so you can offer your help before they leave.
• Data collection option or pre chat form
Using a pre chat form is up to you but it can be useful if you want to collect visitors’ data and follow up with them. We also have an option for you to download a CSV file with all the data with can be useful to have in your CRM system.
Look At WordPress Reviews And Author Activity For The Plugin
I honestly have no idea how WordPress ranks plugins in their data base. All I know is that plugins with few reviews and downloads often appear on top of search results for “live chat”.
I know that most of us already check the reviews before deciding on a solution but here are few things to know about WordPress internal plugin directory (the one you browse inside your admin panel):
• It doesn’t show how many reviews a plugin has directly inside the search results. So if a plugin have 5 full stars, it might come from 1 review that was posted from the authors themselves. You’ll need to click “Details” to see more and go to the WordPress plugin page to read the reviews (I know it’s not easy…)
• A lot of users will post a 1-star review if the plugin is not free. So, always read the good and bad reviews before you decide. This happened to us and “not free” doesn’t mean bad, while “1-star” does.
Reviews are a great way to check if the plugin is supported well and if the team offers great customer service.
Another thing I always check is how long ago the plugin was updated. You can see that by clicking “Details” and looking for “Last Updated” on the right. If the last update was more than 1 month ago, you’ll want to keep on looking.
Finally, look at support threads on the plugin page and check if the author answered them. If not, you will not get the fastest and best support as a plugin user.
Want to increase sales with live chat? Check out if CustomerIcare works for you!