WordPress Live Chat Plugins: Benefits, Best Practices & Top Plugins
Customer support can be painful.
Customers will reach you whatever way they can. They’ll find a way that they hope will get them the fastest response, such as:
- sending an email
- calling your contact center
- or worse complaining on Facebook, Twitter, etc?
But what if you could:
- ease your email inbox crowding
- prevent strain on your contact center phone lines
- route social media complaints
…and still, give customers prompt and effective service?
That’s where live chat support comes in.
And if you run a WordPress website, adding chat support is easy. In this article, we’ll look at:
- Why use a chat plugin?
- Types of chat plugins
- Benefits of chat support
- Best practices for implementing chat support
- Top WordPress live chat plugins
Let’s get started.
Why use a chat plugin on your WordPress website for support?
According to a recent study by Drift —
Thirty-three percent of American adult consumers have used online chat to interact with a business in the past 12 months.
Businesses to prefer interacting with customers via online chat for the following reasons:
- Improved customer satisfaction and loyalty
- Less expensive and more efficient means of handling customer complaints/issues
- Increase in sales transactions
- Direct interaction with the customer
- Serves as a customer engagement tool
Chatbots Vs Live chat
There are three ways you can add online chat to your website.
Basic chatbots work on pre-configured rules. Depending on a visitor’s answers, the chatbot guides them to appropriate actions on the website.
Examples of basic chatbots include services such as ChatFuel.
AI Chatbots use machine learning to understand a visitor’s messages and respond. Machine learning requires specialized hardware and software.
That’s why most AI chatbots like the IBM Watson Chatbot are very expensive.
The most common type of chat that you’ll see is what’s called the “Live Chat Support”. Unlike bots, a real person chats with your website visitors.
According to a LiveChat benchmark study —
A typical business handled 978 chats every month on average.
Benefits of Live Chat on your WordPress website
Millions of businesses use WordPress as a Content Management System for their website. Not surprisingly, a live chat plugin will help these businesses provide better service.
Let’s look at the advantages of using Live Chat for your WordPress website.
1. It’s easy and seamless.
Dedicated plugins make adding the live-chat functionality to your WordPress site. Also, these plugins have options to make the live chat plugin look exactly like your website.
2. It’s versatile.
Most plugins allow targeting specific pages to display the chat feature. You can also choose how to post-process chat sessions. So whatever industry you’re in, you’ll find a chat plugin to meet your needs.
3. It’s measurable.
Most plugins track chat data and reporting. This information is critical to measuring the effectiveness of your support. And improving customer engagement over time.
4. It’s secure.
With growing privacy and security concerns, most plugins provide end-to-end encryption for chats. This way your sales transactions and security information is secure.
5. It offers you a competitive advantage.
Not every business/website offers a live chat feature. If you do, you’re one step ahead of the competition. Also pairing live chat with SEO and PPC campaigns can help improve conversions.
6. It’s mobile.
According to Google, over 50% of traffic now comes from mobile devices. Most live chat WordPress plugins are mobile responsive and work across devices.
5 best practices for implementing live chat on your WordPress website
Before we decide what live chat plugin to use, let’s look at some best practices.
1. Pick the best chatbox position
How and when your chatbox widget appears depends on its purpose. Is it for support? Are you using it for lead generation? Or for sales?
For support, you may want it to pop up when a user requests help.
For lead generation, you can use it on your blog articles. And make it appear when visitors spend a certain time on the article.
For sales, you want it to appear on your site’s storefront.
2. Plan a chat response strategy
Sales or support, chances are your customers will ask you the same questions again. Record these frequently asked questions and create canned chat responses. It pays in the long run.
To find such questions:
- Look at your past support tickets.
- Talk to your customer-facing teams – sales, support & social media.
- Look at past customer feedback.
You may need to collaborate with other teams in your business to find answers to these questions.
3. Test before launching
There’s nothing worse than launching a feature and not have it working.
Your visitors will expect an instant response from live chat. That’s why it’s critical to test all possible scenarios including:
- Heavy chat support request loads.
- Online and offline chat response processes.
- Welcome messages.
- Thank you and goodbye messages.
- SPAM requests.
One or more of these scenarios could go wrong. That’s why it’s important to test your live chat feature first. It’s a good idea to involve internal stakeholders and beta customers.
4. Commit to continuous improvement.
Setting up a live chat plugin isn’t the end of the road.
Most live chat plugins come with in-built analytics and reports. Use these to continuously improve your response rates. You also need to improve your response processes and update the canned responses.
5. Pick the right Plugin.
Not all WordPress plugins are created equal.
Some have more features, some less. Some come with support, some don’t. How do you make the right choice when it comes to which specific plugin to use.
Here’re some ways you can choose a plugin best suited to your needs.
- Try the free version before you buy it.
- If a free version is not available, take advantage of a free trial.
- Some plugins also offer an X-day money-back guarantee. Use it to test the plugin.
- Try out an internal project before rolling it out publicly.
Top WordPress Live Chat Plugins
Now that you know how to get started implementing chat support on your WordPress website, let’s look at some plugins to help you.
Zendesk Chat is a popular plugin with 70,000 downloads.
It comes with a free as well as a paid plan. The free plan allows one agent with an unlimited number of chats. Paid plans start at $14 a month.
- Both free and paid versions support:
- Advanced analytics
- Proactive chat triggers
- Mobile optimized design
Tidio Live Chat
Tidio Live Chat is a “plug-and-play” plugin. All you need to do is install the plugin and you’re ready to go.
It comes with a 7-day free trial after which you can downgrade to a forever free plan. The free plan supports up to 3 users. Paid plans start at $15 a month.
Tidio Chat goes one better than Zendesk Chat by providing support for chatbots.
The LiveChat plugin is easy to install and use. It’s a solid plugin with over 20,000 downloads.
The chatbox is always available at the bottom of the page. Customers can also give feedback and rate their experience.
This plugin offers benefits for both the user (customer) and the agent (business).
The chatbox is always visible at the bottom of the page. Visitors can also give feedback and rate their experience. The paid plans start at $16 a month.
The plugin also comes with an unlimited version – Live Chat Unlimited. This option allows you to manage chats right from your WordPress dashboard. And there’s no monthly fee to worry about. Just a flat fee of $75 upfront.
Pure Chat is another solid WordPress plugin with 10,000 downloads. It comes with extensive analytics and proactive chat triggers. The chat boxes are customizable and come with out of the box eye-catching designs.
Additionally, you can schedule when the live chat function is online/offline. (You have the option of it converting into an opt-in form for a MailChimp email list of your choice when it’s offline.)
You get up to 15 chats/month with the free plan. For unlimited chats and access for four users, paid plans start at $39/month.
Offering live chat support on your website may seem like yet another chore. But with more people responding to conversational marketing, it’s no longer an option.
AI and Rule engines can help reduce the load on live chat support. But ultimately, it’s the human-to-human interaction that matters.
Dedicated WordPress plugins have made it super-easy to install and use live chat. And businesses should take advantage.
After all, conversational customer service is the future.
How are you using live chat on your website? Let us know in the comments below.
About the author: Since 2003, Chris Makara has developed a broad digital marketing background with a focus on SEO, Social Media, Automation and Analytics. He is the founder of Bulkly, a social media automation tool for individuals and small businesses. Feel free to find him on LinkedIn or Twitter.