July 1, 2019

The Top 3 Factors That Influence Live Chat Pricing

Live Chat is a fast-growing tool for small businesses who desire a better customer experience and streamlined flow for lead generation.

Rather than requiring a phone call or email-based process of filling out a form to eventually schedule an appointment, live chat allows a business to provide immediate answers for prospects.

If you’ve already done your homework and determined the value of adding web chat for your own business, the next step is weeding through a variety of options on what would work best for your small business. And a great place to start is cost. What does live chat cost to implement and what are the factors that influence that pricing?

This article will break down where the cost comes from in live chat and help you determine which components are most essential and where trade-offs can be made.

The following are the three major components influencing live chat pricing.

1. Staffing requirements

Having live-chat capability on your website is only a first step. You now have the ability to answer questions in real-time, providing a seamless experience for potential new clients. However, for the chat to be effective, someone has to be ready to answer questions.

If someone is ready to chat but doesn’t get a response, you’re now creating a worse experience. But it may not be cost-effective to have your in house team waiting on chat inquiries.

Chat services like Smith.ai can provide a combination of bots (more on this later) and humans who you can pay to handle responses.

This is obviously something you’ll consider in your live chat pricing. You may be able to get humans offshore for a lower cost, but you have to be aware of any language barriers and clarity in communication to maintain brand consistency. Typically you want to staff live chat with people in the same country as your business for the greatest cultural familiarity and conversational comfort and ease.

If you stay domestic, you may pay more, but most businesses find a significant return on investment here. Meaning, you may pay more upfront, but you will earn more clients and in turn, yield better results, reducing your overall cost. At Smith, we use a combination of AI technology and professional agents, designed to provide the best of both worlds and keep costs reasonable, between $6 to $10 per relevant chat.

2. Technology

In exploring live chat you’ll see a wide range of technology used. Some tools are basic functionality allowing humans to communicate. Others go much deeper into predictive AI, with built-in bots for answering questions.

Keep in mind how much functionality you want in your live chat when you are considering options. Some components you may desire are as follows, and may incur additonal costs which many businesses find pay off dividends in increasing web visitor satisfaction and conversion rates:

  • Mobile functionality: Is your chat mobile-friendly on all devices?
  • Branding and colors: Does your chat maintain your brand?
  • Real-time translation: Technology can provide seamless English/Spanish translation
  • Email summaries: Receive a summary of the chat conversation
  • Proactive chat: Your chat can pop up or be hidden in the corner of the browser
  • Chat bots: engage with prospects even after hours, or when no one is monitoring

3. Integrations

It’s important as you think about live chat to not isolate it on an island. Live chat should fit into your greater lead-generation and qualification processes to drive toward a sale or referral.

Therefore, a major component of your live chat tool is integration with the tech stack (your business software) that you are already using. Can you go directly from a chat to an appointment? Can you go directly to payment or invoice for a new-client consultation?

To create this seamless experience you’ll need to research and determine how well your tool works within your existing process.

A CRM integration is the most important because you’ll be able to see the history of the chat (e.g., the full chat transcript) and the contact (name, email, phone) already in your system. As you generate leads with chat, you shouldn’t have an extra step to add the lead in your CRM -- that can often lead to data entry errors, delays in follow up, and consume time better spent on other tasks that can't be automated.

Live chat pricing varies in structure

While these three factors are the main drivers for pricing in live chat, companies have a variety of methods for pricing. Live chat can be a monthly minimum subscription, pay per chat, or per lead. Before you make a decision, you'll want to have a plan in mind for how much you will use chat, because the structure of pricing will have an impact. For example, some live chat services charge by chat minutes. This could make it hard to predict as a chat session could be two minutes or 20, and that can result in widely varied pricing day to day, and month to month.

At Smith.ai, pricing is per-chat with a monthly minimum, so we can best project the staff required to promptly respond to chats on your website. See more details on our live chat pricing.

Final words

Live chat is a fast-growing option for modern businesses and can be a profitable investment for you. As you research pricing options, explore how Smith.ai's best-in-class agents and AI technology can drive the highest quality live chats for your business.

Get a free trial of Smith.ai Live Website Chat

It's time to try live chat on your website. Just one new client captured via chat can pay for a year (or more) of Smith.ai's live web chat service. We provide fully staffed live website chat with professional agents available 24 hours a day, Monday through Friday, and AI chatbots on weekends for 24/7 responsiveness. Outsourced live chat is best for small businesses like law firms, ecommerce businesses, IT consultants, financial planners, property managers, realtors, and marketing agencies (to name just a few!).

Our live agents are highly skilled and can answer common questions about your business, qualify new leads, schedule appointments, take payments, and more. You stay in the loop when chat transcripts are sent to you after each conversation and logged in your CRM. There's no setup fee, services are month-to-month with no annual contract, and plans start at just $100/month. Learn more and get started with a 10-chat / 30-day free trial!

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