It is well known that for any business to thrive what matters most is their product and customer relationship. People tend to opt for the company with a better reputation. And how are reputations built? Well, Steve Jobs could answer that best. But in my understanding, its done by two main things - (1) a great product and (2) an equally great (if not better) support. Support is available in many forms - phones, help tickets, email and online live chat.
Here's a couple of reasons why online chat is great and why you should have one in your business:
- Online chat is relatively less expensive compared to toll free phone chat.
- If its not economic for your business to offer toll free phone chat, there's a good chance people would prefer a free method to reach you - that's via email and online chat.
- Live chat is more of a realtime solution. People love it. If someone has a problem/query, they can reach help within seconds.
- Having a live chat support in your website not only increases the average time of a visitor on your site trust, but it also helps build better relationships.
This article features some of the best premium and free WordPress Live Chat/Support plugins for you online business.
If a major part of your business is online chat support and your pockets run deep, look no further - LiveChat is the tool for you. It is a complete chat solution to say the least. LiveChat comes with 6 custom apps - for (1) Windows, (2) Mac OS X, (3) Android, (4) iPhone, (5) iPad, (6) Windows Phone 7 apart from the browser based HTML5 app. The pricing is based on the number of online agents starting at 36 USD per month for a single agent and then at 39 USD per month per agent with additional features. You could take a look at their plan comparison to decide what's best for you. Trusted by a lot of serious industry folks, LiveChat comes with a 30 day free trial so you could taste its awesomeness before paying for it.
AVChat Video Chat
AVChat is probably the first WordPress live chat plugin which supports video chatting! Not everyone is a fan, but this plugin is great for educational or one-to-one sessions. It comes with a buck load of awesome features, great flexibility (custom CSS), enhanced security and mind-boggling number of CMS/forum integration. Since its video chat, the pricing is bound to be higher than the rest. Packages start at 130 USD for 20 concurrent connections, 2 domains and one full year of support and updates. The free version is hosted on your site - which hikes up the resource usage (CPU and bandwith alike). Of course if you're on one of the hosting providers mentioned in our previous article, you can rest easy.
Barc is one of those tiny-but-powerful free tools which integrates social media (Facebook and Twitter) and simplicity to bring your visitors a great online chat experience. Users are able to log in using their Facebook or Twitter account in order to post/view comments in the chat box. Until recently, we had to copy-paste Barc's code to integrate it in our CMS. Thankfully they've introduced a new WordPress plugin which makes installing Barc on your WordPress site, a breeze. Barc is divided into four basic tabs explained below:
- Chat: A simple chat interface with unlimited users
- Forum: This allows users to create posts and polls for visitors to see and reply to
- Pages: Provides a bird's eye view to the current activity in your site - who's viewing what page, etc
- Private: Simple one-on-one chat between users
Chat by WPMU
Introducing the WordPress chat plugin by unofficial WordPress gurus - WPMUDev. To start off its extremely easy to use. Users can login with Facebook or Twitter, turn chat sounds on or of, enable or disable avatars/emoticons and a whole lot of other useful customization. Inserting the chat is in a page/post is implemented via shortcodes. This plugin is constantly updated and is compatible with the latest versions of WordPress, BuddyPress and Multisite and it is priced at a one-time fee of 19 USD! There's no user/agent limitation that we know of. If you're looking for a mid-range solution, this is the plugin for you.
Chatroll is a unique WordPress chat plugin that does not put any load on its host server thanks to their cloud based infrastructure. This proves pretty useful to people on shared hosting servers as it removes the extra pressure from your sever simultaneously providing the end-user with a faster, smoother chat experience. Chatroll is free upto 10 users and has a 14 day free trial on their paid plans which start at 19 USD per month for 100 users. Features at a glance:
- Interactive calls-to-action such as: lead capture, targeted advertising, e-commerce transactions, content downloads, audience polls and more.
- Social media integration: Facebook and Twitter.
- Realtime data analytics.
- Cross platform browser compatibility: Android, iPhone, iPad.
- Single Sign-On for faster communication and less hassle.
ClickDesk was voted to be one of the top 50 most useful plugins by WordPress, SalesForce and BigCommerce etc. With an impressive list of features, ClickDesk powers over 50,000 businesses worldwide. They also feature a free plan which crosses over 63,000+ downloads on WordPress.org. The paid plan starts from 9.99 USD/month with unlimited chat support and customization. Features at a glance:
- Live Chat: Receive online chats conveniently on your IM - Google Talk and Skype.
- Voice Chat: Your customers call you through integrated browser VoIP Phone.
- Email Help Desk: Agents can view, reply, transfer or favorite the tickets.
- Social Chat: Visitors can like or tweet about you from the chat window in your site.
Comm100 Live Chat
Another leading provider in the business, Comm100 Live Chat comes with the whole deal. Pricing is similar to LiveChat i.e. on a per agent basis. Plans at 21 USD per agent per month with a non-profit discount and a 14 day free trial. Com100 has big guns in their customer base - Intel, Aviva and Rogers to name a few.
Features at a glance:
- Chat UI customization with intelligent live chat invitation
- Live visitor monitor & tracking
- Comprehensive live chat reports
- Customer rating
- Variety of custom apps for handheld devices - iPad, iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry
- Live chat integration with ticket & help desk
- Ability to use it on more than one website
HelpOnClick is a feature rich, premium WordPress chat plugin with a beautiful user interface and powerful social media integration – one example being Facebook integration. HelpOnClick runs on its own servers so there’s not load on yours and supports UI customization – enabling you to tune the UI to your website’s colours. Plans start from 19 USD per month with one everything – single agent, user and department. However, if you’re planning to use it on multiple websites, this might be a good choice since its unlimited license is 49 USD per month, plus a free Desktop application.
Features are too many to list, but here are a few we like:
- Facebook integration: You can embed chat support in your Facebook page
- Ability to manage multiple websites
- Detailed real-time visitor statistics
- Highly customizable UI
- 14 day free trial.
P3chat is an innovative yet super easy way to add live chat widget to your WordPress powered website. Its supports Google Talk, Yahoo, ICQ, MSN and more. However it does not support VoIP and Skype. In-built ticket support isn't available but you have the option of integrating it with HappyFox. Plans start at 1.99 USD per month with a two week trial period. Features at a glance:
- Support for multiple chat protocols
- Supports over 20 languages
- Manage operator workload
- Chat history automatically saved
- Regular visitors are recognized and responded based on their past dialogues
Quick Chat is a great, free WordPress chat plugin which in simple terms gets the job done. It’s got an embeddable chat window via shortcodes. It also has a host of useful features such as IP based user banning, Gravatar and local avatar support, emoticons, message size limit, custom timeout, PHP caching and multilingual support.
WordPress Live Chat
WordPress Live Chat is the most downloaded WordPress live chat plugin at CodeCanyon. This plugin boasts of a fully customizable user interface, chat logs and the ability to create new operators/agents. Priced at a one time fee of 15 USD this is a great plugin for startups.
Zopim Live Chat
Zopim Live Chat is a highly acclaimed, WordPress live chat plugin. It provides a simple UI to the end user, great back-end customization for developers, and an equally great admin dashboard for the agents. It offers a free 14 day trial and has a free version with limited features - one agent, and a single concurrent chat. Plans start at 11.20 USD per month. Zopim also has a great support team waiting for you in case you run into an error, and a nifty iPhone app!
Features at a glance:
- Powerful visitor sorting: By country, referring URL and more
- Clean interface with fully customizable chat widget
- Supports major browsers and IM clients
- Transfer chats to other agents
- Supports more than 40 languanges
- Seamlessly integrateswith UserVoice, Salesforce, Highrise, Batchbook, Zendesk and more
- SSL secured chat option available
So we've seen quite a few live chat plugins which makes it somewhat difficult to decide. Well, if you're looking for a free solution, then I would recommend Urtak or Barc. They're pretty good and reliable. If you're looking for a one time fee, then your options include WordPress Live Chat and Chat by WMPU Dev. If I were to vote, I'd go for the latter.
Finally, if your business needs proper chat support then I would recommend investing a bit more and going for the highly acclaimed live chat services like LiveChat .