I started my website teoalida.webs.com in 2009 to post my personal works online, but for long time I did not know who visit my website and what they think about my projects, because I could not interact with visitors unless they were emailing me. I put comment widgets at bottom of each page and got several comments per year but I still did not understand what kind of people are visiting me and what they are looking for, to make products that suits market needs and offer various services.
I was not aware that knew that this is possible to chat directly with visitors, until January 2012 when I discovered SnapEngage. Since May 2012 I moved to Zopim Chat and made first sale. In August 2012 I upgraded to paid plan of Zopim Chat. In April 2014 Zendesk bought Zopim and renamed as Zendesk Chat, but they barely updated chat with new features, so in April 2021 I moved to LiveChat.com.
Is this the first time you visit a website with live chat? Probably you are not browsing internet enough… there are over 200.000 websites using Zopim alone, possible over 1 million websites using various other chat services, most commonly the websites selling products or services.
How I discovered chat services
In January 2012 I visited a real estate agent website, which was using SnapEngage chat widget to catch customers. That was the first time I talked with a human directly on browser, and first time I believed that is a robot too. After few messages I realized that is a human. I made mistake to reply every time he was greeting me thinking that he is messaging me to continue conversation “please leave me alone, feel free to browse my website but don’t disturb me with messages” (actually greetings weren’t him but automatic, and replying made his computer or phone to ring unecessarily).
I signed up wih SnapEngage and installed chat widget on my website too, by this way understood how it automatically greet visitors after a predefined delay.
SnapEngage free plan was limited to 30 chats/month wouldn’t have been a problem for my website having only 100 visitors/day, if SnapEngage would had an option of minimizing chat window without disconnecting from chat. Some people were sending me a message and immediately closed chat, preventing me from answering. Sometimes they kept chat opened, I answered them, then they closed chat and started another chat once had more questions, so the quota of 30 chats/month was depleting in just 15-20 days. Luckily SnapEngage support was nice and reset my quota at half-month.
I would had to pay SnapEngage to have unlimited chats per month, but in 4 months of using SnapEnage I did not managed to convert any visitor to a customer.
Website traffic was rising so I started looking for alternatives, in March 2012 found zopim.com, which had a free plan limited at 2 simultaneous chats instead of 30 chats per month, but I didn’t figured out how to get widget code and only in May 2012 I contacted their support, installed widget and ended using SnapEngage. Shortly after this I made first sale (a car database) and first paying customer for AutoCAD design services. In 2013 I had ~5 paying customers each month.
In August 2012 Zopim announced a makeover of their service, limiting the free accounts to 1 chat at time and disabling the proactive greetings for free accounts, and special offer “50% lifetime discount if I upgrade today). I upgraded to a paid plan. In January 2013 I upgraded to a higher paid plan so I can set different greetings on various pages.
SnapEngage vs Zopim review
Zopim “close” button doesn’t disconnect from chat, it just minimize chat window, I can still send messages to visitors as long they have my website opened in browser, and they can re-open chat to read them.
Zopim also have a dashboard showing visitor list in realtime, I can also initiate conversations with visitors, but most time I don’t keep an eye on visitors so 90% of conversation are initiated by visitors, by opening chat themselves or by replying after it pop-up and automatically greet them. SnapEngage does not have such dashboard so I cannot contact visitors unless THEY start conversation.
Zopim greetings can be configured based on page URL, visitor country, number of visits, keywords he typed in Google, etc. SnapEngage had option to set different greetings according page URL only. Zopim have option to set an auto-respond if no human responded in certain time “The human is busy or out of office for some minutes, please leave your email address and I will contact you when I return” but from my personal experience, in 90% cases I couldn’t reach computer fast enough to answer them, they quit website without leaving any email.
Zopim allow me to ban spammers by cookie and/or IP address. SnapEngage had a /ban command that worked only when visitor was in chat, had a spammer annoying me with messages and closed chat faster than I could ban him, and the ban was just putting a cookie that made chat invisible, spammers could unban themselves by deleting cookies.
SnapEngage have two unique features over Zopim, but in my personal experience, both proved useless:
– Redirecting visitors to another page – a browser change without their intervention made people to quickly click back and leave website. Is better to give them a link to click it manually.
– Taking screenshot of visitor page – works only if visitors manually click ALLOW when the yellow bar appear, 90% do not click allow.
After Zendesk bought Zopim Chat, new higher-priced plans appeared (this did not affected me but only new sign ups) but features remained the same.
Problems with Zopim / Zendesk Chat
Zendesk Chat helped my business to grow, but this growth didn’t came without negative events:
Zendesk Chat require an agent to be online for the chat to pop-up, most people do not notice that there is a chat available if it does not pop-up, more people click Contact in the menu and copy-paste email address from here, than people sending offline messages via Zendesk Chat (I have “email me” buttons in banner and footer, but most people don’t notice it as well). And Zendesk Chat offline form require entering name/email thus discourage people from leaving anonymous feedback.
So, I am looking for a chat software that can pop-up 24/7 regardless I am online or not, having a bot that answer frequent questions and a button “talk to human” that if pressed allow visitors to write me and AFTER this indicate my status online/offline and ask for email address to get reply from me.
Most chat software maintain conversation at visitor side, and allow me to reply even if they closed website, they would see my reply in case they visit me again (even next day). Zendesk Chat lacks this feature, some visitors complained that chat emptied when they clicked a link or they closed tab accidentally.
Zendesk Chat made me to LOSE many customers, especially mobile users but sometimes also Windows users, asking a question and disconnecting after few seconds, faster that I could answer. According chat window some people returned navigating my website, but being impossible to keep an eye on their chat, unless they messaged me again I was not aware that they returned so I can answer their question. I do not know cause, may be poor mobile signal or their phone settings caused disconnection when navigating elsewhere, but I am afraid that these people left with a bad impression that I am banning / deleting their chat purposely, rejecting customers.
In 2012 had 100 visitors/day so in attempt to encourage people to reply greetings, I configured them “Hello, do you enjoy my website? Can I help you with anything?”
In 2020 had 2000 visitors/day so in attempt to reduce people replying greeting and calling me unnecessarily, I configured them “Hello visitor from @visitor_country_name, if you need any help, write here to talk with Teoalida” and I have been constantly disturbed by people who don’t understand meaning of word IF, imagine how many times I pulled phone out of pocket or ran from kitchen to computer just to see an idiot saying “no thanks” or “fuck off” or just praising my website without needing any help. I tried to explain to close chat without messaging me, and banned IPs of kids starting chats repeatedly with clear intention to annoy someone, but every day new people were doing the same. Example:
Chat started on Friday, March 19, 2021 1:17:58 PM
(1:17:58 PM) *** Visitor has joined the chat ***
(1:18:00 PM) Support: Hello visitor from Denmark, sorry for interrupting your browsing to inform you that site owner is online. If you need any help, write here to talk with Teoalida
(1:18:59 PM) Visitor: Thanks 🙂
(1:19:11 PM) *** Teoalida has joined the chat ***
(1:19:11 PM) Teoalida: for?
(1:19:23 PM) Visitor: I dont need help thank you 🙂
(1:19:40 PM) Teoalida: if you don’t need help, don’t call me unnecessarily
(1:19:55 PM) Visitor: i didnt’ 🙂
(1:22:13 PM) Teoalida: you did… simply getting chat popup doesn’t mean that I know that you’re here
(1:22:38 PM) Teoalida: https://youtu.be/dV84lZb-pxU?t=922 computer rings only when you send messages, watch at 15:25 what happens at me, next time close chat without writing anything unless you need MY help
(1:28:59 PM) *** Visitor has left ***
JivoChat & LiveChat review
Both LiveChat and Jivochat allow me to have a pre-chat form with name/email but also allow messaging anonymously without filling them (Zendesk Chat have option to activate pre-chat form, but it makes mandatory to enter name/email, and if greeting is triggered, the form no longer appear.
Both LiveChat and Jivochat allow me to reply even after visitor closed website and maintain conversation at visitors side.
JivoChat allow me to put in pop-up up to 3 buttons, for example “I need help”, “I have question” and “Just browsing” but guess what… there is NOT possible to configure action for these buttons, so even if someone click “just browsing” they were starting conversation, getting form to enter name/email while my computer was ringing unnecessarily, annoying me. I did a 24-hour test (16 hours online), 40 people started conversation of which 60% were clicking “just browsing”. JivoChat support told me that in order to have buttons with different actions I need to buy a third-party bot (extra $100/month).
On LiveChat I can set action for each button, for example I set “just browsing” button to close chatbox without ringing my computer, without needing a bot. But LiveChat developed own bot, ChatBot.com that I am planning to add in the future (will cost me $50/month) to answer FAQ 24/7.
Jivochat also lack option to end chat, visitors can close chat but every time I am typing a message, chat will pop-up again, potentially annoying visitor and make them to not visit my website anymore.
Both LiveChat and Jivochat lacks option to open chat window on full screen, good job Tawk and Zendesk Chat!
I will write more detailed review after testing them for longer time.
How I know who is who?
One returning visitor asked me this question.
If you are outside of Singapore, I can guess that you are, because when someone start a chat I can see his country.
As 2014, website traffic is about 800 daily visitors of which 500 are from Singapore, identifying if you are a new or returning visitor, may be possible by IP, operating system, pages visited, cookie, etc, but is a waste of time and effort to try this. So I treat every chat request anonymously as a new visitor, if you are a returning visitor I appreciate if you specify this.
A problematic situation is when I am contacted in a short time by multiple students from same school, multiple employees from same company, etc… these people don’t just share SAME IP range, but they are likely to visit SAME page of website and talk about SAME thing! I though that all chats were by a single person, so I continued the conversation started by someone, in other chat windows, until someone said “I have no idea what are you talking about“! and realized that there are multiple people.
Chatting with website visitors is often funny!
Most people ignore the chat at all, some understand how it works and we had serious chat, while others asked me “Is this automated?” or “Are you a fucking robot?” or just saying “no thanks”, “fuck off”, etc.
Many people ask questions about real estate, some wondered what kind of person I am to offer consultation full-time and FREE – I don’t chat full-time, I am working, playing games, etc, and meantime helping 5-10 people per day is not disturbing.
These 12-year old kids saw the published funny chats and one probably thought that (hard to explain) is someway my job / my needs to chat all time, that the website is made solo for chatting and publishing the chats, calling all his friends to chat with me for no reason, VERY ANNOYING! They told me to publish more chats, but actually I start regretting that I published these few “funny chats”.
This chat should be used for professional purposes, NOT be used because you are bored and want to chat with someone…
Disclaimer: I publish anonymously, only few of the chats leading to nothing, and worth for laugh.
The published chats are less than 1% of total number of chats had per year. Serious chats will be kept confidential.
Disclaimer added after someone accused me “when you publish any chat, people know you might publish their chat. Might make them uncomfortable contacting you”
Some people ignore the chat thinking that is a robot, publishing just few chats examples shows that the chat is real, thus they might contact me too.