Choosing a Live Chat WordPress Plugin

Choose Live Chat WordPress PluginAs I dig deeper into improving systems here at LoraleeHutton.com I’ve realized adding a live chat WordPress plugin could solve a problem or two (possibly a dozen). After an initial test earlier this week, I’m actually laughing at myself for not trying this sooner. It fits so well with my brand, by allowing me to answer questions on the fly & help people not “feel stuck”. But that’s an aside.

Since starting this experiment I’ve been able to connect live with 9 visitors per day.  To answer questions or things they’re stuck on & really, I’ve been able to fix things on my website I didn’t realize were broken, or hard to understand. It’s been super useful. So, I’m taking it a step farther and finding a way to integrate the basic chat with customer service, knowledge base, and possibly a community forum.

 

As always, there’s a myriad of options, ranging from completely free to thousands of dollars.  My goal is to find on that meets this criteria.

  • includes chat, social media connections and a knowledge base (or self serve help desk)
  • allows for integration with WordPress, Mailchimp and possibly a CRM solution
  • price point should under $100/month for 2-3 people on my team.
  • (bonus)look nice, be easy for my customers and visitors to use.

I’m not terribly worried about their branding showing, as long as it’s not really rude and in your face. And I’m open to a combination of free and paid plans, although it would be dreamy to have an all in one solution.

I wrote this blog post to help me make a decision & keep all of the information (about said decision) in one place!  Here’s what I found…

Uservoice.com

Features I really liked:

  • sends plain text emails, instead of a ticketed email (you know, those numbered ones no one really likes)
  • pulls in client history and social media information so you can easily see who you’re talking too
  • provides instant answers while they’re creating their email request
  • canned responses, to make things a little easier as time goes on
  • build up a knowledge base over time, quite easily. I loved this feature
  • Integrates with Snapengage (listed below)

Why I didn’t chose it:

It didn’t integrate with any of the chat plugins that were in my price range (chat features started at $70/mo/user)

Price: Free forever plan for 1 agent and 1 forum, $20/agent for standard and up to $95/agent for Pro

Find out more about Uservoice 

LiveChat Inc.com

(This is the one I used in my initial 5 day test)

Features I really liked:

  • easy to install & get started
  • concurrent chats
  • Chats can be easily turned into tickets (although the ticketing system can’t be turned into a knowledge base)
  • pricing is based on seats, not users. So, I could have as many support members as I needed, but still only pay for the ones that are working at that moment (potentially 1 seat, with 2 or 3 agents sharing the workload throughout the day)
  • heard new customers coming in (with a chime, like a doorbell in a physical store) which made it a really great way to interact with new visitors
  • easy to add new greetings based on customer activity.
  • visitors didn’t need to enter name and email address when they arrived (although, this made it harder for me to know who I was talking too. Most times I just saw “client’ in the inbox and helped them anyway.example Livechat

(live chat example from last night)

Why I didn’t chose it:

Although it was great to be up and running in a few minutes, I felt like I was flying blind most of the time. The chat pictured above was with a current member of my program, who was already logged into my website. Yet, I have no idea who she/he was. It should be really easy to get this information, but when I talked to a support agent they gave me links to documentation with some script to add to my website. I didn’t know where to add it, and honestly didn’t take the time to figure it out or hire someone. I suppose I should have opened another chat and asked them if they would add something to their help file that would tell me how on to add the script, or where (a quick screenshot probably would have been enough for me).

They also told me in a chat that they don’t have integration with knowledge base or helpdesks. I’m not sure that’s true, as they have several integrations listed on their website. But, with their pricepoint starting at $39/user and going up quickly I decided to keep looking for other alternative that have a knowledge base built in.

Price: Free forever plan for 1 agent and 1 forum, $20/agent for standard and up to $95/agent for Pro

Find out more about LiveChat

vCita

They have an awesome system that includes chat, scheduling, invoicing and payments (like a customer portal).

Features I really liked:

  • personalized self service customer portal
  • easily share files with customers in their online portal
  • immediately recognizes returning customers, and pulls up their history (so they can see it themselves, and I can, on the backend)
  • sends me an email or text message when a client has sent a question or booked an appointment, while I’m not at the computer.

Why I didn’t chose it:

I would only really use the chat feature because I don’t take client appointments (currently) and payments are made through my shopping cart woocommerce, so it doesn’t make sense for me.

Price: Free plan include social, email, forms, calendar & click to call. Paid plans start at $9.95 per month

Find out more about vCita Features

SnapEngage

Primarily a chat system, but it also has a knowledge base

Features I really liked:

  • co-browsing
  • shortcut messages
  • knowledge base (not sure if it’s built in, or integrated with other systems – see this note from their website:   “Search your knowledgebase right from the web client chat dashboard. Currently compatible with WordPress, Zendesk, Mindtouch, UserVoice, and more to come.”
  • chat isn’t a popup so it’s not blocked by pop up blockers
  • works across all websites, so if I wanted this one my other sites, I could. For the same price.

note: an Agent is attached to an email address, so it could add up pretty quickly, unless I we all signed in as help @ loraleehutton.com or something similar. except that their first package comes with 4 agents.

Will it work for me?

  • not sure if knowledge base is built in
  • could consider this one, after testing others.

Price: Plans start at $70/mo for 4 agents (making it less expensive than than several others that charge $25/agent)

Find out more about Snapengage

Zendesk_logo_RGB

Zendesk.com

Features I really liked:

  • the inbox pulls in feeds from Facebook, Twitter , phone, email and chat, creating a unified inbox
  • Includes 1 Facebook Page in the starter account, and twitter.
  • custom rules, triggers and automations in the $25/user/mo and higher packages
  • Help Center you can build a knowledge base, community, and customer portal that fits in 
  • integrates with over 100 aps, including mailchimp
  • add screencasts to helpdesk tickets with $49/user and up plans
  • community discussion in $25/user and up plans
  • internal knowledge base, for $49/user and up plans
  • sends plain text emails, instead of a ticketed email (you know, those numbered ones no one really likes)

Integrations:

  • integrates with third party software called Zopim that has a “free for 1 agent” package or $11.20/agent/mo (only 1 concurrent chat but no other obvious limitations) (even has a referral program with 100% commission on first month and 10% ongoing)
  • Integrates with Olark (although Zendesk only mentions Zopim on their website)
  • It looks like people looking to chat will need to enter name and email address. I find this sometimes inhibits people from asking questions.
  • Zopim can be integrated with Zendesk even those who are Lite user

This could work for me:

I would probably use the $25/user/mo plan with the free or $11.20 plan with Zopim ($36.20/mo/user) which is within my budget, but I think I would quickly wish I had the internal knowledge base, which would double the cost immediately.

Price: Starter plan is $2/mo/agent (up to 3 agents), small teams are $25/mo/agent

Find out more about Zendesk Features/Pricing

Freshdesk.com

Looks really nice on their website, but the backend is pretty clunky. It took quite a while for me to figure out how to make things work. In fact, I found out after logging in that I had previously set up an account with them (over a year ago) and when I logged into that old one, realized I didn’t get very far either. It needs a mini-course to get thing off the ground, and I didn’t find it.

Features I really liked:

  • the inbox pulls in feeds from Facebook, Twitter , phone, email (and chat? – not really sure, couldn’t find this one) and chat, creating a unified inbox
  • chat system is called “FreshChat” (available on $25/mo/agent plans and higher)
  • gamification (to motivate support staff – me included. earn badges for providing great service and reaching milestones)
  • easy to theme your support/knowledge base to match your brand
  • Blossom and higher packages include a community forum, which might fit nicely with the membership portal ($16/mo/agent)
  • Social media integration isn’t included in the free plan
  • Knowledge base?
  • email style?
  • integrates with mailchimp?

Will it work for me?

This system could work for me, with the $25/user/mo option, including chat, social media inbox, community forum and knowledge base.

Price: Sprout plan is free forever (up to 3 agents, then $15/agent after),$16-70/agent on other packages

Find out more about Freshdesk features

Olark and Zendesk

Features I really liked:

  • Targeted chat lets you set rules to interact only with visitors who go to a specific page or behave in certain ways, so you can talk to the most important customers.
  • Co-Browsing is probably my favorite feature. Allowing visitors to share their browser with me, or even allow me to take over their browser and help them with something on the spot, without installing any fussy software. (bronze and higher plans starting at $17/mo)
  • Hide when offline ($17/mo plan and higher)
  • You don’t need to log into their platform to chat, you can use gchat, or any other IM feature.
  • Olark can match your design perfectly with customization features. Choose from different themes.
  • Along with an integration with Google Analytics, you can learn about customer and operator behavior and how to improve your business overall.
  • Never miss a customer. Turn your chatbox into a contact form when you aren’t around. Or simply hide it when you’re away.
  • (based on chat with olark) integration should work with the starter package of Zendesk, meaning that I could use the $12/year package on zendesk, and $17/mo at olark
  • http://olark.com/help/zendesk

Help Files (from chat with Sunir at Olark)

My question: Can Olark pick up logged in user names from wordpress, so they don’t need to type in email addy, etc?

Answer: If you can wrangle wordpress templates to emit name and email somewhere, then yes, it is easy. We have a straightforward javascript api: https://www.olark.com/documentation.   You can see the calls to update email: https://www.olark.com/documentation/javascript/api.visitor.updateEmailAddress, and update name here: https://www.olark.com/documentation/javascript/api.visitor.updateFullName

Will it work for me?

This system could work for me, with the $15/user/mo plus $2/mo with Zendesk

Price: Free forever plan for 1 agent with up to 20 chats per month (not enough for me). Packages starting at $17/mo/user  (although when I fill out the 14 day trial it says I’ll be charged $180 upfront for the year, which works out to $12/mo, no option for monthly)

Find out more about Olark Features

My Next Step

I’ll be starting with the Olark/Zendesk combination first, partially because I’m already 4 days into a trial that I haven’t used, and because I want to see how  well their Co-Browsing works, during the Beta program I’m running.   If it’s not the “over the moon exciting” solution I was looking for, then I’ll dust off my FreshDesk account.

 

Today I’ll be turning off Livechat and switching to one of the two semi finalists.  I’ll post a follow up after I’ve taken the last two options for a test drive. Add my website to your favorite reader or hop onto my email list to hear the rest of the story.

 

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