Live chat software is a service that enables immediate customer support. It operates as an instant messenger that online consumers can use to communicate with companies in real time by clicking on a live chat button or a chat widget that is usually placed at the lower right corner of the website. Businesses utilize the tool to support existing customers, interact with potential clients and initiate conversations with first-time website visitors by proactively inviting them to chat.
With the rise of the internet, businesses have gone through a number of significant changes to catch up with the technology and growing consumer demands. As customer service had to evolve accordingly, live chat emerged as a new support channel letting consumers reach companies directly and avoid the inconvenience of the phone (waiting on hold, interrupted calls etc.). Some of the first chat software providers came about in the early 2000’s.
The early chat providers simply offered a basic one to one live chat platform. The concept however was slow to gain attention among companies as it was commonly considered unnecessary and not worth the investment. Most of consumers were still more accustomed to picking up the phone to get their questions answered and issues resolved. Modern chat software systems have become more sophisticated and include much more advanced functionality.
Over the recent years the popularity of live chat support software got a rapid increase and became no longer an option as more and more consumers prefer to purchase products and services online and demand support on the go. The global live chat software market was valued at $590 million in 2016, and is projected to reach at $997 million by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 7.5% from 2017 to 2023, according to a report published by Allied Market Research.
The major industries using live chat software today are retail and e-Commerce, travel and hospitality, IT and consulting, telecommunication and pharmaceutical, with the first three sectors seen as the top three users of the chat solutions. Retail and e-commerce are the fastest growing segments for live chat software.
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Some of the basic features most of live chat software providers offer include:
With the numerous live chat providers available on the market, it might be challenging to select one. Below are the most critical factors to consider when choosing a chat provider:
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