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Chat Support for Church Websites

I know what you may be thinking. “Chat support for church websites? Why?” I asked the same question, but then many possible, legit answers began to surface.

Each of us have grown to love, appreciate, and downright expect great customer support. We expect quick responses to emails, on time deliveries, good attitudes, cheerful voices on the other end of the phone, no questions asked refunds, and on and on the expectation list goes. But what kind of customer support do we offer to our church website visitors?

Customer support isn’t just for businesses

I began to think about the many frustrations church website visitors may have. How close were they to becoming an actual church visitor the following Sunday rather than just an online visitor? Were there unanswered questions?

Now imagine a church website with live chat support. The following scenarios could actually happen (and may already be happening on your website, but with no quick solution).

  • Sally was able to get instant help with the live streaming issues she was having, rather than waiting hours (maybe days) to get an email response and causing her to miss the service.
  • Jake was able to purchase the book he wanted from the online bookstore thanks to the quick assistance from chat support who helped him with the credit card errors that kept popping up.
  • Michael was able to get his questions about the church’s doctrine answered which in return helped him in deciding to bring his family to the following service.
  • Katie was able to instantly speak with someone and get help with thoughts of suicide.

These are just a few scenarios that could happen, but as you can see, there are an endless number of situations chat support could help with on church websites.

Chat support doesn’t come easy

Proper chat support will require a bit of investment of time, energy and brains. The following are, in my opinion, necessities when it comes to offering proper chat support:

  • Manpower: There has to be someone who is available to chat with website visitors
  • Time: It is good to make chat support available as often as possible. There will obviously be times when you won’t have anyone to monitor the chat lines. Just make sure you post times and set expectations when visitors can expect live chat support. There is nothing worse than seeing a chat support option on a website, but no one is ever online.
  • Knowledge: It is good to have knowledgeable people monitor the chat lines. If your goal is to offer spiritual guidance to visitors, then have someone who is spiritually mature help with chat support. If your goal is to offer technical support, then have a techy available for your website visitors. You get the idea.

Chat support options

Here are a few chat support options currently available. Honestly, there are tons to choose from, but I wanted to narrow the list down to ones that I have personally used or have heard great things about.

  • Lucky Orange (plans range from Free – $100/mo)
    Lucky Orange is affordable, easy to use, and very powerful. Not only do they offer a solution for chat support, but polls, real-time analytics, and more. We use Lucky Orange for MinistryPixel.com chat support.
  • Olark (plans range from Free – $219/mo)
    Olark is one of the more popular chat support services. I have had the pleasure of using them before, and the experience was top notch. Olark integrates nicely with popular IM services such as GTalk, iChat, and more.
  • SnapEngage (plans range from Free – $349/mo)
    SnapEngage has a nice set of features including chatting from your preferred IM service, co-browsing, mobile chat, remote webpage snapshot, and more.

Maybe chat support isn’t for your church website, but if anything, I hope this article has caused you to think differently about your website visitors and how you are meeting their needs.

What are your thoughts? I would love to know. Please comment.

Josh BartolomucciToday’s post was written by Josh Bartolomucci. Josh owns and operates MinistryPixel.com, a design agency whose passion is to equip churches and ministries with excellence. He’s helped dozens of organizations get a professional online presence by building beautiful, fruitful websites. Josh and his wife Elizabeth reside in Shawnee, OK with their two children.
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  1. Colin Carmichael (Reply) on April 13th, 2012

    We’ve been using Zopim at presbyterian.ca for about a year with great success. For the most part, we help visitors find resources or information that are on the website, but perhaps hard to find.

  2. Josh Bartolomucci (Reply) on April 13th, 2012

    Hey Colin,
    That’s really awesome! Our very first chat support service we used was Zopim. Awesome company! How has the response been to chat support on the website? What hours is chat support available? Do many people take advantage of the service?

    Thanks,
    Josh

  3. Daniel Di Vito (Reply) on April 16th, 2012

    Nice article Josh, I thought I should add my personal experience with live chat. I run a content based online business, Live chat was a game changer, great as an interaction tool also as a lead generator. We did look at Olark, Zopim, SnapEngage and a few others but we went with ClickDesk. It offers superior functionality and great reliability.

  4. Josh Bartolomucci (Reply) on April 16th, 2012

    Daniel,
    Thanks for sharing your experience. ClickDesk looks pretty awesome! Pricing is very fair too! Do you wait on website visitors to chat, or do you initiate your chats with them?

    Thanks,
    Josh

    • Daniel Di Vito (Reply) on April 17th, 2012

      Both ways, I configure the wait time to somewhere between 2-3 minutes after which a proactive chat pops-up, if the visitor declines, then no more pop-ups.

  5. Brodie Krause (Reply) on April 18th, 2012

    LogMeIn has a, somewhat pricier, offering in BoldChat. I haven’t used it, but thought I’d throw it out there. They do have a free version.


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