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Improving the Customer Experience with Live Chat

posted in E-commerce, User Experience by

Walmart has it’s greeters, Kinko’s has co-workers, Apple Stores have Specialists.You have …..a web page. It can’t say “hello”, tell the user that socks are on aisle 7, or provide instant customer support, or can it?

Closing the distance on the customer’s journey to a relationship building experience just might be live chat. Email and support ticketing systems are send and wait affairs. There’s simply no way to answer fast enough to keep the customer on your site. Phones are immediate but costly to staff and may not be a user’s first choice for a casual question. Live chat allows a user to get an immediate response with minimal effort. This provides your online shop with a real person on the front line.



Proactive or Reactive: Who should make the first move?

Determine how you want to engage the user and what your use case is; strictly a support option or a sales enabler?

Proactive is essentially inviting the chat without action by the user. This can be triggered at any part of the customer’s journey. The idea being to find a natural escalation point which should be based on analytics from the chat vendor you’ve chosen. If proactive is your ideal method this segmentation and analysis should be a major determining factor in selecting a chat provider. Proactive lends itself to upsell or cross-selling opportunities. This use case is often found on the index page of a site.

Reactive presents the option of a chat interaction, usually minimized in a corner of the screen, however, relies on the user to initiate the chat. This is clearly most useful if the end goal is providing another contact option for customer service scenarios. This flavor is most often found on your “contact us” page as a support option.

Luckily there’s an easy method for e-commerce stakeholders to get a feel for chat options and vendors. Visit some of your favorite e-commerce brand’s websites. Use their chat option to ask a question about their product or service. In many cases, the chat provider they are using will be branded on the chat window.

Here are the chat providers you’ll see most often:

olark – pricing: monthly $17 / $49 / $129 / $243 (*offers free trial)
notable users:,,


intercom –  pricing: monthly $49 / $57
notable users: Yahoo, Piktochart, Artsy


liveperson – pricing: monthly $34.99 / $64.99 (*offers free trial)
notable users: VirginAtlantic, Verizon,

Other options: monthly $20 / $30 / $80 monthly $14 / $20 / $44 (*offers free trial)

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12 Nov, 15

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There are 1 comment. on "Improving the Customer Experience with Live Chat"


  • ***Mary Thornton*** says: posted on 03 Mar, 2016

    Thanks for the article! We at decided to add a live chat feature to our website about half a year ago and tested a few apps before making our decision. We liked the design of Zopim and Chatra the most, and they made it to the final round 🙂 What we liked about Zopim is the visitor visualization that Chatra doesn’t have. But Chatra support rep recommended us to use the proactive chat invitations that make the window pop up automatically on certain pages. It seemed interesting and we spent about an hour thinking of the texts for different sections. And the actual setup took us only several minutes. We were getting the same amount of chats with those automatic invitations like we did when we started a conversation manually in Zopim, but we did not have to spend time looking on whom to chat with and could focus on other tasks. After doing a couple more tests, we chose Chatra and are still using it on our website. It works very smooth, moreover Chatra’s iPhone app is amazing and helps us to keep in touch with our customers even when we’re on the go.


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