Live Chat – Important Questions to Ask Your Service Provider


Michael Kimberly

Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: August 26, 2020

If you are looking for a live chat provider, you must already be aware of the increasing popularity of live chat software. Choosing a live chat provider that caters all your corporate needs and also meet the budget can be a time consuming and overwhelming task. It is a known for a fact that live chat allows customers to interact with you without any disruption or delays. Customers find it convenient hence they encounter a pleasant customer experience. Live chat providers, if used correctly, increase the conversion rates.

Providing visitors with an opportunity to get one on one with the representatives help them get their queries resolved in real time with increased conversions. According to the Market Tools, “nearly 85% of consumers who browse, research and buy products and services online want the choice of click-to-call or click-to-chat to get live sales or service assistance.”

Live chat allows businesses to assist online customers in real time. When customers run into a problem, the customer can immediately take advantage of the live chat feature, interact with customer support representative, and hopefully have their question answered or issue resolved quickly.

Therefore, choosing the right live chat software that would suit your company needs and would meet the budget can be a time-consuming job. No doubt, live chat has gained popularity over the past few years, yet the current usage is not that high. Often you will find completely different sets of features and diverse service models behind very similar marketing messages and service ads. According to the eDigital’s Customer Service Benchmark Survey, only 24 percent of consumers said they have used live chat software in the past year with 73% satisfaction rate, the highest among all the other customer service channels, drives extra attention to this tool.

So, the question is how do you find the right vendor quickly within your financial limits?

It is essential that you research a few important things before deciding to sign up for a trial package with a potential live chat provider.  If you are sure about what you are looking for, then ask these questions to the vendor upfront as it will save you a lot of time in testing different solutions just to find out later that they are not a good fit.

10 Must Ask Questions to Ask Live Chat Service Provider before Purchasing:

Question No.1:

“Is it a hosted SaaS (software as a service) solution or can I host it on my own server?”

Few live chat providers offer both these models, although most of them offer only one. You need to sensibly evaluate which one would work best for you and confine your research to the list of live chat providers who offer the model that you are looking for.

Both the models mentioned above have their own advantages and disadvantages. If it is a SaaS model, it would usually mean that payment is subscription based and there is no one-off price. It may appear to be more expensive at first glance, but if all costs involved with setup and maintenance are considered, it often turns out that buying a cloud service is much cheaper. SaaS companies serve many clients and their costs for server support and maintenance are divided among multiple service users.

Question No. 2:

“Do you provide staffing?”

Some live chat providers offer just the software, whereas other will offer a third party fully managed team of chat agents to manage website visitors. It depends on your requirement whether you’re looking for an in-house support or just want to rent a software suite, or are you looking to outsource the workforce too? The cost will be significantly different in each model.

Make sure to ask this question during the initial evaluation and screen out the companies that fall within your target category.

Question No. 3:

“How easy is it to install the software? What kind of integrations do you offer?”

The simplicity and ease of installation is an important factor because if a software does not have a user-friendly interface, setting everything up may take up a lot of your time and effort. In some cases, you will need to engage a webmaster to get everything running, which will add up to your bottom line.

If you are going for a hosted solution, ask what kind of supporting documentation they provide for you to be able to manage installation on your own. If you are evaluating a SaaS solution, ask what steps you will need to take to implement live chat on your website. If you are using a content management software, find out if a provider offers any plugins or extensions for your CMS.

Also read: How Live Chat can increase Conversion Rate for Business Needs?

Question No.4:

What kind of support do you provide to your clients?

Obviously, you don’t want to be left on your own with a new tool, particularly if it is not intuitive enough to get it running in a few minutes. Ask your potential live chat provider about what communication channels are available in case you have a query and what is their availability. Do they offer a 24/7 support in case you are based in a different time zone from them? Some live chat providers will cover their support to the level of implementing the solution into your environment with no additional charges.

Moreover, if a company does not offer 24/7 support, ask what kind of self-service options will be available to you. Is there a user manual, a forum, a helpdesk etc.?

Question No. 5:

What operating systems and mobile devices do you support?

If you use a Mac or Linux system, always make sure that your potential vendor does not limit your options only to a Windows client. Do you frequently need to travel and plan to monitor your chat support channel while on the go? In such circumstances, you will need to confirm if your mobile device is supported or if there is a browser-based access to the software.

Question No. 6:

What kind of customization possibilities are available to me?

In order to build a good brand image, it is important how your website and all other supporting tools come across in the eyes of your customers. So it is important that you ask this question. Some live chat providers offer very restricted customization options, some offer it ‘as is’. If you are looking to add your company logo, upload a custom theme for the chat messenger or translate the tool into a different language, you may be disappointed and will have to discard the live chat provider even if they meet all of the above requirements.

Question No. 7:

Can I use the software on more than one website?

If you are running several websites, it is likely that you would want to add chat support to all of them without any extra charges. Find out if it is possible with your provider. Some will require you to purchase an additional license (if it is a cloud-based service), some will have customization restrictions for placing live chat on different sites.

Question No. 8:

How secure is your software?

Regardless of the industry you are working in, having a secure live chat may be an imperative feature for you. This will be applicable in case you are searching for a service-based software. How do they ensure encryption of your chat records, what are being stored, where and how can you access them, are all important questions to ask, especially if you are providing financial or legal services to your clients. Furthermore, find out if there are any extra costs involved with having a secure channel.

Question No. 9:

What is your uptime record?

This question is applicable only if you are evaluating SaaS vendors. You certainly don’t want to provide a useless service to your clients. Ask a potential provider about the location of their servers and if they have a redundancy plan in place. Frequent unavailability or disconnects will disappoint your customers from using the platform and may lead to distrust of your company.

Question 10:

What are the payment/refund/cancellation terms?

If you are buying a product to be hosted on your own server, it is pretty simple. Typically there is a one-off fee that you will have to pay. When you are signing an agreement with a service provider, there are several things to watch out for. Straightforwardly ask what would be the consequences of your terminating a contract prematurely. Do they offer refunds, how are those calculated? What would happen if you decided to upgrade or downgrade your subscription? Finally, are there any discount offers for long-term plans? Make sure to negotiate the best deal for yourself.

Once you are satisfied with the answers to all the above-mentioned questions, it would indicate that you may now move on to the next stage of evaluation and sign up for trial. Therefore, the best way to evaluate a live chat service provider is to start a chat with them and witness the service yourself. This will not only give you a feel for the software, but also of the company, its culture, its values and the level of support they offer to their customers.

Related Article: Top 10 Live Chat Support Software of 2017

Michael Kimberly is a business developer at CUGIC Live Chat Software, holds a degree in Business Administration major in MIS. He blogs about online business trends, latest digital technologies and software updates.

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