Live support software

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"Live chat" redirects here. For the specific live support software product, see LiveChat.

Live support software (also called live chat and live help) is a popular term for online chat applications designed specifically to provide online assistance to users of a website. Such software is used to provide instant help to visitors on a website. Live chat is mainly used for text based communication, however software providers bundle services like voice, video, helpdesk, CRM systems along with text chat.


The system typically consists of 2 components:

  1. A text box on the website.
  2. An operator dashboard to allow the agent to respond to the chat.

The system is usually implemented by pasting a JavaScript code on the website of the user. The JavaScript code uses cookies to track user activity on the site.

There are two types of chats:

  1. Pro-active chat - In this case, the text box pop-ups on its own and shows a message to the visitor. This message is shown based on different criteria like the amount of time spent on the website, the pages visited, etc. The visitor can then choose to respond to the message displayed.
  2. Broadcast - This is a chat initiated by the visitor.

Among the applications available, JavaScript, Java, or Flash Player are used to run the application directly inside the browser.

These online applications differ from classic software mostly because Website visitors don't have to install anything on their PCs and they can communicate freely with website's online live chat agents. There are also live support software that goes beyond basic text chat, and offer such advanced communication capabilities as true VoIP (Voice over IP), application sharing, remote view, real-time website traffic monitoring, and remote form filling.

Typically live support applications will open a window that connects the user to an agent. Some software allow the users to be queued, so that one member of staff can deal with a customer and then automatically move on to the next customer. The customer's position in the queue is sometimes displayed.

Live support can also be in a form of voice communication via an automatic callback. The customer enters his phone number and the application initiates connection between the client and sales rep. These apps are mostly useful for companies that implement sales through the phone. 

Some live support applications are written in low-level languages (e.g., C++) and distributed as compiled software that must be installed on a server. Others are written in languages, such as PHP, and can be modified as desired. MySQL and Microsoft SQL Server are common database engines used.

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