You’ve probably seen it, more and more often these days; a little button that pops up on the side of your screen while browsing a website, asking if you want to chat for live support. A box appearing in the corner, meant to mimic an incoming message from Facebook, with a canned greeting from someone who ostensibly works for the site you’re browsing. Some other notification, perhaps an exit script, asking if you have any questions and proposing the availability of live chat.
All of these are examples of scripts that connect a user to a real human being, one who is standing by ready to answer any questions – and follow up on leads – when presented with them. A cynical web user might wonder if such techniques ever work. They might suspect the sordid truth, that the “employee” on the other end is living in India and following a copy and pasted script. Is this true, or do the plugins connect to real employees, and do they really work?
Think about a website conversion as a matter of trust. A lot of what you’re doing in marketing is getting people to trust your site, when you’re not there to reassure them. You know why SEO is so important? It gets you into the top few spots on Google. That’s important because those spots get most of the traffic that goes through the search engine. Why do those spots receive so much traffic? Users trust that Google knows how trustworthy a site is. If it’s at the top, it’s gotta be on the level.
The same goes for site design. A professional design is a lot more trustworthy than something thrown together with tables in Netscape Composer. A blog is all about building a reputation as a knowledgeable entity, someone who knows their stuff and isn’t afraid to support their products. Testimonials and logos of prominent companies are both signs that your business can be trusted.
Go back to the start of this section, to the basic premise. All of this is to build trust because you can’t be there to assure users that you’re trustworthy. With a live chat script, you can. With a single click, live users can be transferred to a direct conversation with an employee of your company, ready and willing to answer any questions they may have. If they’re on the edge of converting, or they have a concern they can’t find addressed in your FAQ, you can answer it and get the sale on the spot.
With a live chat script, you can see your traffic in real time. Better, if one of your users clicks to initiate a chat, you can have an immediate conversation with them. This can give you direct feedback about your site. If users can’t find information and they’re really interested, they’ll chat to ask about it. If the information is on your site, you can point them to it, and make a note to make it more visible. If it isn’t, you can make a note to create the page.
According to Unbounce, specifically using their chat script, the mere presence of the script is reassuring and beneficial. Users are as much as three times more likely to return to your site if they used the chat to talk to one of your employees. Users with questions on the verge of checkout can ask them and have immediate feedback, which decreases abandoned shopping carts by 15%. Chat is also engaging, and engaged users spend more time on your site.
Olark, Unbounce’s live chat script, is one option you have for a chat plugin. I don’t know that I’d call it one of the top three to recommend, however, and for one reason. You’re limited in the CMS platforms you can use to get it to work. While it isn’t as limited as when it came out – strictly Unbounce only – it’s still not perfectly available. However, if you’re using SalesForce, WordPress or Magento, it’s available and free.
Which three live chat scripts do I recommend, then? Here are some I’ve found that do most anything you could want.
Live Chat Script – Appropriately and simply named, this chat script suffers from a somewhat poorly planned website. While they could optimize their landing page, their chat script is perfectly functional. It makes it particularly easy for one operator to manage several simultaneous conversations.
Pure Chat – A quick and easy to install chat used by over 150,000 businesses, this script host recently added the ability to create a personal chat for a personal profile page. Want to set up a direct line to a particular person in your business? Use the personal chat page. Pure Chat only has one drawback, and that’s the limitations on the free version. You can only have one widget active and you’re limited in both the number of monthly chats and the saved chat history. Still, the paid version is only $5 a month, which is incredibly trivial for the benefits a chat brings to the table.
LiveZilla – No relation to Mozilla, LiveZilla is one of the more substantial, robust and varied chat scripts. It works on mobile, it works with repeat customer chat histories, it’s quick and easy to install, and it even has a ticket system for advanced support. Again, the free version is a little limited, but it’s not that bad to buy a premium license.
PHP Live Chat – This particular chat script, obviously enough, runs on PHP and MySQL, which most sites will have on the back-end. If you’re running on WordPress, it works there as well. It’s clean, crisp and modern, it supports emoticons, it can be made full-screen, and more. You can set up prepared messages, or you can have a live person on the other end. Notably, it supports mobile as well. The chat operator is able to see the page the user is on, allowing for quick and easy support with a personal touch.
The only drawback to this particular chat script is the price. In other words, it isn’t free. That said, it’s still pretty cheap.
Video Chat – This one is particularly interesting in that it focuses on live video chat, like a Skype call or a Google Hangouts, but using its own API. If you have a charismatic salesperson at the helm, it can be amazing. Again, not free, but worth a look.
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