Live Chat Software Review: Top 8 Questions to Ask

July 4th, 2015 | Kevin Gao | Live Chat | Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes
live chat review questions

So, you’ve decided to add live chat software to your website. Congratulations! You are on your way to enriching your customers’ experience.

The next step is live chat software review: evaluating the solutions available and deciding which one is the best fit for your business.

But, with so many live chat options, how do you know which one to choose?

Don’t sign up for a service until you’ve asked potential vendors the top 8 questions during your live chat software review.

Do You Have These Features?

This may be the first question to ask when reviewing live chat software solutions. Software is driven primarily by features. Look both internally and externally to compile a list of features that will meet your business needs.

Since it is possible that one particular vendor cannot meet all your feature requirements, you should put the features into different categories – like must-have, should-have and nice-to-have. If a potential live chat solution does not have the features in the must-have list, it is time to move on to the next vendor.

You can find a list of questions covering live chat features, pricing, security and more in our RFP template. This saves you from crafting all the questions from scratch.

live chat buyer's guide

[Free Download] How to Choose the Best Live Chat Software: A Buyer’s Guide

Once you’ve decided to provide live chat support on your website, the next step is live chat software review. Our buyer’s guide can be a great tool to save evaluation costs and help you make well informed decision on which live chat solution is the best one for your business.

Download Now

How Much Does the Live Chat Software Cost?

Make sure you know exactly what is included in the price and if there are any extra charges when you review a live chat software solution.

A pricing structure may include:

  • Recurring charges: These are the ongoing fees that you pay. These may be charged by user or by chat number, monthly or annually.
  • Additional charges: for things like technical support, software upgrades, backups and maintenance.
  • Termination policy: if you terminate the contract early, will you receive a refund or have to pay a penalty? Make sure that the termination policy is spelled out in detail.
  • Discount policy: There may be discounts for things like multiple sites, non-profit status, schools, etc. Be sure to ask what discounts may be available to you.

If you don’t understand a vendor’s pricing, you may be surprised down the road.

How Customizable Is the Live Chat Interface?

Customization is important to companies that want the live chat software to reinforce their brand. Live chat is, after all, another venue your company uses to interact with the customer directly. You want live chat to look and feel like a professional and natural part of your organization’s online identity.

So, during your live chat software review, remember to ask if you can fully customize the chat button and the chat window as you wish. That includes the color, size, text, shape, position, and so on. You should be able to change everything related to the visual aspects of live chat.

Can I Integrate the Live Chat Solution with My Existing Systems?

If you are using a CRM or ticketing system, the live chat solution you are considering should integrate fully with your existing systems. The integration will promote data sharing and improve your team efficiency.

Live chat software usually integrates with systems like:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRMs)
  • Helpdesks
  • Ticket systems
  • Call center systems
  • Google Analytics
  • Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+

In addition, live chat providers may offer APIs to communicate with a wider variety of systems.

Make sure that the live chat solution you choose integrates fully with the systems you need and use.

What Reports Do You Provide?

There are generally 2 kinds of reports. The first offers detailed and aggregate information about your chat operators: what is the chat volume? how quickly do they answer chat requests? how long does it take to resolve questions? and so on. These reports help you to optimize the performance of your chat operators.

The second kind of report pertains to customers. Robust live chat software should make use of customer information you already have, and add to it, as chats become part of customers’ histories. These insights can help you be more responsive to your customers.

Ask what reports are available, what indicators are used, and how they are calculated. Make sure you understand the reports and the numbers you receive, so that you can get the best return on your investment.

What Are Your Live Chat Reliability / Uptime Statistics?

Part of what makes live chat better than other kinds of customer support is that it offers customers an instant connection with your company. So, ask about your live chat vendor’s uptime record.

If a customer tries to chat, and your live chat is temporarily unavailable, you not only lose the customer, but frustrate him/her as well. Once this happens, that visitor is unlikely to return.

The live chat industry standard for availability is no less than 99.9%.

Live chat uptime is a measure of system availability, and any potential provider should be happy to share their uptime stats with you.

You can calculate the system availability based on the uptime record. The following table shows you how a seemingly small difference in uptime can make a big difference to your users and customers.

Availability Total Annual Downtime
99% 15 hours, 36 minutes
99.9% 8 hours, 45 minutes, 36 seconds
99.99% 52 minutes, 33 seconds
99.999% 5 minutes, 15 seconds

Be sure to ask your potential provider if their downtime includes scheduled maintenance time. If not, you can expect longer downtimes than those listed in the table above.

What Security Measures Does Your Live Chat Offer?

In these days of data breaches and cyber hacks, robust security for your live chat solution is essential.

So, ask what security measures are in place and how your data will be protected.

Specifically, ask any potential vendor about:

  1. How the vendor prevents unauthorized access to your data
  2. What firewall is in place to protect from data attacks
  3. The vendor’s data backup plan and disaster recovery mechanism
  4. The vendor’s privacy policy

What Level of Support Do You Provide?

Live chat is a customer-facing application, and when there are issues, you need fast, effective support.

Industry-standard support usually includes:

  • 24/7 live chat support
  • Phone and email support
  • Self-service options like knowledge-base articles, videos and user manuals

Make sure you get a copy of the vendor’s SLA (Service Level Agreement) and consider it an important factor in your live chat software review.

If you are a large organization, ask if the vendor provides dedicated account managers or tailored training services.

The above are the top 8 questions to ask to your potential vendors during live chat software review. Good luck!

If you can’t get satisfactory answers to these 8 questions from a potential live chat vendor, in a timely manner, you should expect trouble with them down the road. After all, your customers are your most important asset. Therefore, you need to have complete faith in any communication tool you’re going to use, to build satisfying, long-term relationships with customers who provide you referrals and help build your business.

live chat buyer's guide

[Free Download] How to Choose the Best Live Chat Software: A Buyer’s Guide

Once you’ve decided to provide live chat support on your website, the next step is live chat software review. Our buyer’s guide can be a great tool to save evaluation costs and help you make well informed decision on which live chat solution is the best one for your business.

Download Now


Kevin Gao is the founder and CEO of Comm100. With over 10 years' hands-on experience as an entrepreneur, he's always ambitious to revolutionize the way of online customer service and communication. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.

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