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Starting with Live Chat: Strategy and Planning

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Chapter 1

What Is Live Chat

When some people hear the words “live chat”, they may think of the message windows used on social networking websites like Facebook, Google+ or Yahoo. However, those types of communication platforms are actually called “Instant Messengers” and are not live chat at all.

So, if that’s not live chat, then what is?

Live Chat Basics

Live chat is a messaging application that resides on a webserver and that can be used by visitors of a particular website to contact employees/agents of the site for assistance and support. The interface of a live chat application is similar to an instant messenger window, and both types of applications can be used to chat.

Live Chat History

Not a lot of information is available as to who actually created the very first live chat platform. However, the general consensus is that several companies began developing live chat applications after Jeremie Miller released the open-messaging technology Jabber in 1999. Jabber, now known as XMPP, is a set of protocols that allow messages to be transmitted over the Web. Many chat clients, of both the live chat and instant messenger varieties, are based off of this protocol.

Live chat has been known by many names over the years. For instance, many people still refer to live chat software as “live help,” “live support,” “web help” or other similar terms. To this day, many people still Google “live chat” to find instant messenger-type applications such as Skype or Yahoo Messenger.

Live Chat versus Instant Messengers

The primary difference between live chat and instant messenger software is the audience you can reach. Live chat lets visitors contact support staff on a specific website, and IM (Instant Messenger) applications let you chat or communicate with other members of a social networking site. Many live chat and instant messenger applications share some similar features, such as messaging and file transfers. However, live chat applications are meant primarily for providing support to anonymous or semi-anonymous website visitors (like helping with problems, providing product information, etc.) On the other hand, people usually use instant messenger applications to chat with others in a contact or friends list (or at the least members on the same social network).

Live Chat Advantages

If you have a website and want your visitors to be able to contact and communicate with you instantly and in real time, then live chat is the only way to go. A live chat button sits prominently on your website where a visitor can click and get instant access to you (or one of your agents.) When a visitor clicks a button to send a message, you receive it instantly and are able to respond and possibly turn that visitor in to a client or provide valuable support. Advanced live chat systems notify you of a visitor’s arrival on your website – even if they don’t click your live chat button. These live chat platforms even let you message visitors automatically without any agent intervention at all.

Requirements for Live Chat

With live chat, your visitors or customers do not need to download or install anything. To reach your company using live chat, visitors need only to have a Web browser available to them on a mobile phone, tablet, or computer.

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