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Live chat for web hosting

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Live chat and the web hosting industry

Many web hosts offer live chat support so that prospective clients can have questions answered right away. For some clients, the availability of live chat is a deciding factor on which web host they choose. Knowing the preferences of the target audience can help web hosts decide if live chat would be beneficial for their business.

Advantages of live chat for web hosts

In the web hosting industry, live chat is particularly useful for pre-sales questions.

  • Clients and prospective clients can speak directly and instantly to a company representative.
  • Some prospective clients use chat for pre-sales questions in part to check the quality of support. Decisions to use a particular company's services are often made during chat.
  • Some questions can be answered faster during a chat session than by taking the time to respond to helpdesk tickets. Many things needing clarification can be clarified by either party immediately.
  • Site visitors don't need to have an account with the software provider to be able to chat with company reps.

Disadvantages of live chat for web hosts

The disadvantages of live chat for web hosts are mainly with using it for support.

  • Many support problems require investigation, and the support rep usually tells the client to open a ticket when he realizes that the particular concern is one of them. The client may be frustrated at not having the problem resolved via chat, and both parties waste time by talking via chat and via the helpdesk.
  • Not having available staff or experiencing delays in staff availability during the published hours for live chat reflect badly on the company.
  • If the server that the live chat program is hosted on is down, clients will be unable to reach support via chat.
  • Staff can't prioritize tasks that come to them via chat the way they can on the helpdesk.

How to choose live chat software for web hosting

Live chat programs are available in free and commercial versions, each with a different combination of features. Try out demos for live chat software, consider your current and future needs, read reviews, and find out what works best for you.

These features in particular may be relevant for web hosts:

Usability

  • How easy is it to use? For example, some live chat programs require the operator to have a browser open for site visitors to be able to initiate chat sessions.
  • Is the software browser-based or do you need to install it on your computer? If it's the latter, what type of operating system does it require? Some live chat software works only on Windows computers. Browser-based software, on the other hand, can be accessed via any computer that's online.
  • Can the program email the chat transcript to site visitors after the chat session is finished? This final touch can help create a good impression of the company.
  • Does a window pop up for the operator when a chat session is initiated? Instant notification helps avoid delays in responses.
  • Can site visitors leave messages via chat when live chat is offline? Some clients may prefer to leave a message once they're at the site than go to the helpdesk if chat is offline. Depending on the live chat program, these messages may be forwarded to staff via email.

Flexibility with more than one operator

  • Can users set up different departments? If you use live chat for pre-sales and for support, you want site visitors to be able to talk directly to a staff member in the desired department.
  • Can more than one operator use the program? As the company grows, more chat operators may be needed.
  • Can operators transfer chats to other operators? A chat initiated for the support department, for example, might be about pre-sales or billing.

Appearance

  • Is the appearance graphically customizable? Some but not all live chat programs can be customized to match the site appearance and have space for a company logo.
  • Do you need to keep a "Powered by [software program]" link? Some web hosts may prefer a program where they don't need to link back to the software provider, while others may not be concerned about such a link.

See also

Web Hosting Wiki article text shared under a Creative Commons License.

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