An A-Z of live chat software essentials

Live chat software is flooding the market. There are hundreds of options to choose from, each claiming to be better than the last. But in most instances, talk is cheap.

So, how do you choose which live chat software is best for your business? We’ve compiled an A-Z list of essentials as a guide.

A – Agent to agent chat

Live chat software isn’t for customers alone. With the solution you choose, your agents should be able to message one another directly or in groups. That way, you’ll encourage team collaboration and create a seamless support option.

B – Button optimisation

Size matters. So does placement. And so does style. When it comes to your website chat buttons, you need to make sure you’re ticking the two ‘v’s: visibility and visual appeal.

C – Canned response

Any quality piece of live chat software will come complete with canned responses. A godsend for busy chat operators, this feature scans inbound messages for common phrases and then suggests suitable responses.

D – Dynamic invites

Dynamic chat invitations are the ecommerce equivalent of greeting customers with a smile and a wave. And best of all, they require no effort: they’re automatic. Invites will pop up with a custom message based on user activity – following the rules and triggers that you’ve set up.

E – Emojis

Chat apps are drifting away from the typed word and towards the emoji, and live chat software is no different. Use a solution with in-built emojis, so you can convey feeling quickly and conveniently.

F – File upload

The ability to send documents back and forth within chat sessions is essential. That way, you’re duplicating the functionality of email, whilst offering the inherent speed of live chat software. Plus, you’re preventing channel disruption by keeping interactions in one chat window.

G – GEOIP and prospect detection services

With tracking capabilities built in to your live chat software, you’ll be able to identify key customer insights such as location, name, entry source and user detail. With that information, you can give personalised service promptly.

H – Hours of availability

Your chat solution should dynamically adapt to your availability. So, that includes surfacing an offline button when all agents are busy or during closed periods, as well as standard ‘leave a message’ or call back options.

I – Integration

If your live chat software doesn’t integrate with your IT systems, you’re in trouble. Of most importance is a CRM integration. With that, you can log your chat interactions against customer records and pull relevant user data into the chat.

J – Job based permissions

Your chat agents don’t need to be able to access software settings and administration. Your tech support chat agents don’t need access to the canned responses designed for sales agents. Always set relevant permissions for each user based on their role.

K – Knowledge base syncing

Ideally, your live chat software and your knowledge base should go hand in hand. With a synced solution, you can send relevant support from chat sessions directly to your knowledge base – keeping expertise accessible.

L – Language translation

Language barriers will cost your business money. Multi-lingual live chat software breaks down those barriers by translating messages back and forth in real-time. Your customers can communicate with you quickly and comfortably, no matter what their language of choice.

M – Monitoring

Live chat is all about offering quick, quality customer service. To live up to that promise, you need to be able to monitor your chat sessions. So, choose a solution that enables management monitoring to conduct ongoing quality control.

N – Notifications and alerts

For speedier communication, chat users should receive audio alerts whenever a new message is sent, as well as visual cues in the taskbar. That way, both agent and customer are kept informed, and no message is missed.

O – Operator preview

Your operators can act sharper and smarter with chat preview features. With a solution that allows agents to see what the customer is typing before hitting ‘send’, accurate responses can be sent immediately, and any issues flagged before arising.

P – PCI / PII masking

Your live chat software must be PCI compliant. PCI masking is essential to secure interactions, allowing sensitive content to be shared during the chat session with full peace of mind for both parties.

Q – Queuing

Agents need a queuing system, to display pending chats and wait times. Customers need automated queue messages, to stay informed while waiting. Managers need customisable queue options, to set limits based on availability. Quite simply: queuing is a feature you can’t afford not to have.

R – Routing rules

Skills-based chat routing is a key benefit of live chat software. It prevents customers from being redirected, and prevents operators from dealing with random chats.  With routing rules in place, all chat sessions will automatically be issued to the relevant agent using smart keyword based logic.

S – Sentiment analysis

A differentiating feature, sentiment analysis calculates customer satisfaction. Line by line, algorithms will assess words, mood and tone within chat sessions. From there, you get live sentiment scores revealing how happy your chat users are, and you get them synced to your CRM.

T – Transcripts

Chat transcripts drive transparency, and eliminate transience. Many customers prefer to use email due to the accessible trail of information it offers. By saving and sharing live chat transcripts, you can duplicate the experience of email whilst still offering the immediacy of chat.

U – Usage reports

Your live chat software should shed light on missed chats, on customer utilisation, on peak periods, on operator efficiency, and on feature usage. Without those insights, you won’t be able to identify opportunity or analyse uptake.

V – Visitor tracking

A solution that tracks live visitor journeys enables you connect to users both specifically and strategically. Not only can you see exactly what your visitor is viewing on your site, you can reach out with a relevant chat message at the right time.

W – Whisper messages

Some chat users may be dissatisfied. Some may ask complex questions. In these instances, “whisper” messages become invaluable. This nifty feature allows supervisors to send private messages to operators within their difficult chat session window, to offer discreet support and guidance.

X – (e)Xit questions

How useful is your live chat software? How helpful are your agents? If you’re not asking exit questions, you won’t know. Use post-chat surveys to ascertain exactly how you’re doing, and to act on your findings.

Y – Your own branding

Both the chat button and the chat window need to be branded to match your company and its website. Plonking an off-brand chat option on your website creates an inconsistent user experience, and doesn’t instil trust.

Z – Zero security concerns

Security should be at the heart of any good live chat software solution. We’re talking about things like installable options, secure connections, encryption and infrastructure. If your chat data isn’t safe, nor is your business.

It should come as no surprise that our own WhosOn live chat software offers everything listed in this A-Z. Our advice: don’t be hoodwinked by cowboy providers. Choose the solution that’s been leading the way in live chat since 2003.