Customer support reflects how much a business cares about its clients. The struggle to help customers is a sign of a sustainable business. Customer support strategies and technologies evolve, and entrepreneurs should adequately implement them to satisfy the clients.
Live chat software is one of the newest ways to connect with leads and customers. In addition to agents with a helpful, positive attitude, good live chat software is the perfect combo needed to delight people.
While the training of customer service agents is your responsibility and depends on your business philosophy, selecting a live chat platform is a different story. There are plenty of alternatives, reviews, and suggestions, so we couldn’t help but offer some recommendations. The following are the best free live chat software platforms, according to our evaluation.
SalesIQ is more than a top-class live chat platform – it’s an invaluable tool for acquiring new customers. The pricing plans are pretty affordable, and the free plan comes with remarkable features. It allows up to three agents and 100 chats per month. In addition, the agents may transfer files, use canned messages, and gain access to basic info about visitors.
The paid plans include more attractive features like chat routing, chat history, block IP, custom chatbots, and chat translation. Zoho SalesIQ integrates the marketing, sales, and customer support departments and ensures the best customer experience. Over and above that, it integrates with other Zoho apps (Assists, Campaign, and Desk) and other platforms like WordPress, Wix, MailChimp, and GetResponse. It means that you can use SalesIQ without giving up on your favourite tools.
HubSpot is a famous name in the online marketing industry, providing many free and paid marketing tools. Amongst the many free tools offered by HubSpot, its live chat platform might pique your interest. The live chat is part of the Hubspot CRM (Customer Relationship Management), so it fits perfectly if you are a Hubspot user. Still, you can implement it separately on your site.
Hubspot chat window is highly customisable, so it won’t be a problem to make it match your website design. A massive advantage of using the entire Hubspot free environment is that chats with the customers are automatically logged to their profiles. This feature streamlines the work of the chat agents because they have a complete report of the past issues for each customer.
The chatbot builder is intuitive, and adding a chatbot to your site resumes at pasting a code. Thankfully, you don’t need coding skills to make the bot communicate effectively with the customers. Another excellent feature of the Hubspot live chat system is the collaborative inbox – a place to store all the conversations of the bots and agents accessible to every member of the marketing and sales teams.
Even though it’s a free product, its features are premium. Consider upgrading to a paid plan if you want to remove the Hubspot branding from the chat windows and get extra functionality.
Chatra is one of these live chat software that comes with a free-forever plan. Besides, everyone can test the paid version for 10 days for free; no credit card required. You can put it to the test without opening the wallet, which is a good affair for tight budgets. The free version comes with limitations, but it includes the following:
- Online and offline chat widget
- Basic visitor info
- Unlimited simultaneous conversations
- Conversation history
- Read receipts
- WordPress, Shopify, and Bigcommerce integration
The premium plans come with all the free plan features and include an intelligent chatbot, saved replies, invisible mode, open email tracking, and Zapier integration.
No matter which plan is selected, chat agents can reply using Android or iOS devices, and customers get the replies in their inboxes if they leave the site. Overall, Chatra is a simple but high-performing live chat software that satisfies both the clients and the chat reps.
Don’t search for a free account on the pricing page because there is no one available. Altogether, you are required to sign up and start a two-week trial. Only after that period, you either upgrade to a paid plan or downgrade to a limited plan – one agent and 20 chats per month.
Olark makes a hit with its searchable live chat transcripts. It allows searching through conversations and offline emails to find the needed data. In this way, agents better and faster serve the customers. The improved accessibility is another feature that makes a splash – Olark is a solution even for persons with special needs. You can use only the keyboard or the screen-reader to chat, and the font size of the texts is simple to increase.
Tidio is a great live chat software that impresses with many integrations – Zappier, WordPress, Wix, Shopify, HubSpot, Google Analytics, MailChimp, and many more. Moreover, its free-forever plan is quite generous, and it works for a small website. Up to three operators, unlimited chats, visitors info, and third-party integrations are available with the free plan. Besides, it allows sending up to 500 emails/month to nurture the relationship with the customers, and the chatbot can interact with up to 100 unique visitors.
The Tidio chatbot uses natural language processing, and it successfully replaces the live chat agents. You don’t need coding skills to create and personalize the chatbot, so you have all the reasons to start using Tidio.
Drift isn’t just a live chat software – it’s a genuine revenue accelerator. Unfortunately, the free plan has some serious limitations, so most likely, you will have to purchase a superior plan. Nevertheless, the investment will pay off in a short period.
The personalized messages have always captivated the attention of the users. This is possible thanks to Drift technology based on the integration of marketing and sales departments. For instance, you are more tempted to interact with a live chat agent that gives you some book recommendations and a 10% discount after you have just purchased a book, isn’t it?
The chatbot conversations are personalized too. Drift processes all the data about the site visitors and provides the chatbot with everything needed to personalize its messages. You’d better go to the Drift website and ask for a demo to see in action this fantastic tool.
Respond distinguishes through its high number of integrations and channels to communicate with customers. This live chat platform lets you communicate with users via WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Viber, Twitter, WeChat, email, or SMS. The Respond storing system streamlines the work of the live chat agents. All the conversations of the customers are kept in a single place no matter the channel used. For instance, the agent has access to a client’s conversation via Viber from two weeks ago and to the conversation of the same client via WhatsApp from a day ago. It massively helps the agent to provide the proper guidance to the customers.
Thankfully, Respond comes with a forever-free plan that covers the needs of a basic website. The main limitation is that it works only for 100 contacts – people who contacted you through the Respond platform.
Free Chat Popup is a free live chat platform that is part of the free Popup Smart suite – a complex marketing product to collect email addresses. Free Chat Popup is the ideal solution for webmasters who need only a basic live chat. It doesn’t include fancy features, but it does what live chat software should do – facilitate communication with the clients.
People lacking coding skills should give it a try because Free Chat Popup makes implementing a live chat intuitive and enjoyable.
Talk is free of charge, even though it includes a plethora of premium features. The only minor downside is the Tawk branding in the live chat window. It’s discreet, however, so it won’t affect the dialogue with the customers, but you can pay to remove it.
There are no limits to the number of agents, integrations, or tickets. Besides, you benefit from the following:
- iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows apps;
- Message filtering;
- 1880 emoji to spice up conversations;
- Visitor information, ban/unban users, detailed reporting, and unlimited history;
- Secure file transfer and encryption.
It would be understandable to believe that there is something sneaky with Tawk. So many premium features for free can’t be real, can it? However, I have carefully read all the user reviews and opinions on sites like Capterra, and surprisingly, people are happy with it.
Live Agent chat software is part of an entire ecosystem based on customer support. It caters to medium- to enterprise-size solutions. This software works as a standalone product, but you can get the most out of it by integrating with the Live Agent ecosystem. Live Agent has a free plan that deserves your attention because it has a solid set of basic features. The limited chat history (it stores conversations for only seven days) and the lack of multiple communication channels are its main limitations.
The free plan of Jivochat allows up to five chat agents – the most significant number of all the live chat software platforms from this list. In addition, jivochat agents can easily handle multiple discussions from a single dashboard, use canned messages, and interact with co-workers.
The call-back option is a standout feature of Jivochat. People who want to speak on the phone with an agent may ask for a call-back. The Jivochat platform instantly notifies all agents when someone calls to reduce the waiting time. Everything is geared for user satisfaction!
Over to You
It’s demanding and subjective to select only a few live chat alternatives from such a large number of options. Therefore, the post focuses on free solutions; people on tight budgets are the main target of the article. Paid live chat software platforms have more features, extended functionality, and greater (or unlimited) agents. Still, our free suggestions work for the basic needs of a site.
Website Chatbots: The Good, the Bad, and Making It All Work for You
Chatbots are definitely having a moment.
Most of us have encountered one somewhere on the web. For many consumers, the first chatbot experience takes place on Facebook. Certainly, Messenger chatbot use is increasingly common on brand and company pages, and you could probably think of a few examples you’ve personally used right off the top of your head.
While chatbots are still often built on top of messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger, more and more business websites are experimenting with direct bot implementation these days, with varying degrees of success.
Are chatbots right for your small business site? First, let’s define what a chatbot is and how it works, then we’ll look at their use on websites in more detail. Finally, we’ll examine some steps you can take to maximise their benefits, for your brand, your site and most importantly for your users.
The Bot Invasion: How Chatbots Work
At its core, a chatbot is code—a piece of software that responds to specific text input with a preprogrammed response, creating a dialogue between your user and the site, through the bot’s interface as displayed on your site.
Chatbots are typically used to perform simple customer service functions, such as:
- Answering questions that may otherwise be covered in FAQ sections on brand websites
- Providing an automatic way for interested prospects to request further information about products, offers, and services and capture lead information
- Performing user feedback surveys and collating responses
- Handling basic customer service tasks
Essentially, bots are great for streamlining customer interactions and resolving straightforward problems. They’re not ideal for replacing human interaction altogether, but they are effective at sorting out simple requests and issues from the more complex ones, handling the former, and forwarding the latter to a human agent.
Adding a chatbot to your website doesn’t require hiring a developer to code one by hand for you. These days, chatbot solutions abound, such as Instabot or Intercom for WordPress sites. SaaS chatbot integrations help even small businesses with bootstrap budgets take advantage of this powerful technology.
Chatbots: The Good
Right off the bat, some of the benefits of a well-programmed chatbot are obvious. You can provide more customization and personalization in user interactions. Your chatbot can address returning users by name, for example, and remember their preferences or specific concerns.
Bots also save you and your company time and money by freeing up personnel for tasks that require human input. Letting your chatbot take some of the load off your customer service team by addressing basic questions and concerns, for example, means that your live agents have more time to devote to taking care of customers with more complicated problems. That leads to more satisfied customers in two ways:
- The customers with basic questions will get the answers they need nearly instantly; and
- The customers with bigger issues will get the personal touch they crave.
Another potential advantage is heightened privacy protection, especially for industries that regularly deal with sensitive personal information such as banking, health care, and insurance. Chatbots built on third-party platforms such as Messenger don’t belong to your brand and any information transmitted through those bots ultimately may be at risk. Integrating a chatbot on your own site keeps your sensitive user data in-house and confidential.
The Downsides of Chatbots
The biggest risk you run with adding a chatbot to your website is degrading your user’s experience on your site.
You may wonder how that can be. Surely chatbots can only help users, right?
Not necessarily. As with any piece of software, a chatbot is only as good as its coding. More specifically, it’s only as good as it is programmed to be. If a user asks a question the chatbot lacks the code to respond to in a helpful way, the user will only wind up frustrated.
That’s especially true when a chatbot is presented as if it were a human being. If your bot’s interface says something like “Hi, I’m Rosa, how can I help you today?” and is accompanied by an image of an actual person, some users may assume that a real person is on the other end instead of a piece of code and act accordingly. If “Rosa” keeps offering nonresponsive replies, the user’s frustration level will only increase.
Some chatbots may not be ready for primetime, so to speak. While many available solutions appear to be well-coded and highly responsive, others seem to have missed a few steps in development. If the bot you install on your site wasn’t properly tested with actual users, the result could be disastrous, especially when your users find the bot experience unpleasant or unhelpful.
Making Chatbots Work for You
If you’re considering adding a chatbot to your website, you can improve your chances of a smooth and successful rollout with a little preplanning and strategy work.
First, take a look at examples of innovative and useful chatbots on the web and study their use. How do these bots serve their audiences, respectively? What functions do they perform, and how does that performance trump what a human could do? Where are the opportunities for the website, the brand, and the user there?
Next, sketch out and then formalize parameters for your site’s new bot. Think about how things can go wrong and what you can offer right there on the page for your frustrated user as an alternative resource. Examples could include immediate links to fleshed-out “help” sections on your site and a call-now button to reach a live agent.
Commit ahead of time to using the chatbot to augment your human-driven customer service team, not replace it. While it’s perfectly acceptable to suggest users try your bot as a first line of inquiry, don’t ever make them feel that’s all you’re willing to give them. You’ll find your users abandoning your site—and your company—in a hurry.
Finally, make sure you have the resources to host a chatbot. Resources includes actual hardware and software necessary to make sure the bot runs as it should without slowing your site down, which can harm your SEO and overall user experience. It also includes company resources (time, budget, personnel) to keep the bot updated and properly programmed, as well as address problems and customer complaints in a timely fashion.
Chatbots may seem like cool new toys, but they should never be deployed without first engaging in serious analysis and consideration. However, with a little planning and a solid deployment plan, a bot might help everyone involved, including your users.