In our busy everyday life, we find ourselves running from one point of interest to the next one, usually until the evening when we can finally unwind. A hectic schedule such as this has made speed a priority – how fast can we complete one task before we tackle the next one, and the next one after that, and so forth.
These habits of ours can be seen, among other things, in our communication – from social media and business/professional communication to (in most cases) even our private lives – everything is concise and to the point. Long emails are a thing of the distant past. When’s the last time you used your phone for a non-emergency call that’s not your parents and/or 70-year-old grandmother; we even order our food through apps now.
With everything laid out like that, it’s only natural to transfer over all these habits and tendencies to the web. There isn’t much difference between our real life and online persona, especially regarding communication – we’re sharing our content (no matter what that may entail), looking for momentary feedback and quick responses, and that’s just for reactions to something we’ve shared for ourselves; imagine how much more scrutiny we have for services we’re using and products we buy. Of course, you can’t interact with the services and products, but you most certainly can with the sites that provide them.
Get ready to chat
You’ve probably already seen the growing number of sites that have replaced the traditional contact methods such as forms and emails with direct chats. Users tend to be much more relaxed using something they already see on a daily basis, and the information you get is almost instant. It is, therefore, crucial to find an app that implements this feature on your site. One we’ve found that does the job at a very high level is 3CX Live Chat.
It’s an all-in-one solution that provides you with much more than simply adding a chat button to your pages, and we’ll go through everything, from the installation process to the advanced features you’ll get to set up afterward. Note that we’ll be focusing on the plugin for the WordPress version of the app, but it’s also available for Drupal, Joomla, Wix, and Weebly.
Free calls and video
There are two main things that instantly set 3CX Live Chat apart from similar services on the market, the first one being added call and video features. For the most part, you’ll probably be using the chat for direct communication with visitors on your site simply because it’s the most practical. However, if for any reason you need to change it up, that chat becomes a call or a video call instantly, elevating how your site is perceived by everyone.
The best thing isn’t even those extra features, but the fact that you can get the service for free for a year. No hidden message caps or limited service; all features, regardless of the way it’s hosted, which we’ll go into shortly, can be yours right now for no fee whatsoever.
If you were ever considering adding a chat function (or, in this case, also a call and video call function), this would be the perfect time to set it up and reap the benefits.
There’s a couple of ways you can get started with the service – opt for the hosted version, where you don’t have to install or maintain anything, leaving the work to 3CX, or you can download and install it locally or to your cloud.
Right off the bat, the hosted option seems like a good way to go, especially if you’re new to the whole website management game and are looking to outsource as many technical tasks as you can.
There’s a couple of conditions for using the hosting service, but nothing out of the ordinary. We can single out having to use a register-based SIP trunk and your IP phones being run behind 3CX SBC. In turn, you’re provided with a complete system, OS and network management, automatic upgrades and updates, daily backups, and 24/7 system monitoring.
Before getting to the work, you’ll need to create an account if you already don’t have one. Then, it’s a simple matter of following the step-by-step instruction through the installation wizard. After the installation is done, to fully take advantage of all features, you can install the mobile app that ensures a remote way to respond in chats, anytime, anywhere. Furthermore, you’ll be able to integrate your Messenger/Facebook app and SMS messaging into 3CX to create the ultimate messaging tool.
So now that you’ve done everything you needed to do on the site of the app, it’s time to head back to your WordPress backend and set up the plugin. It goes from basic things that have to be covered for the plugin to work to more advanced options, which you can leave at their default values or change them (the plugin will function either way).
Naturally, the chatbox needs to be enabled for everything to work. However, it’s useful to have an on/off switch if you’re ever in a position where you need to simply turn the feature off. For example, if you’re making serious tests or are temporarily closing down the chat. All other settings remain, so if you ever need to bring the chat back, it’s just a click away.
Other things covered in the general settings revolve around your users – if an email and/or name is required to use the chat, or if signed up, users will be automatically recognized when using the chat. Other simple but useful options include enabling the chat on mobile devices, playing sounds, and deleting the database in case of an uninstallation.
Going down further, we get to the “filter” section, more precisely deciding where you want the chat window to be included or excluded. You can make the distinction between your home page, individual pages, and post types. Some sites like to keep the chat option solely on the contact and/or help pages, so having the option to mix and match so easily helps a great deal.
Additionally, if you have Google Analytics enabled, there’s a special feature that lets you integrate data from the plugin and let it be analyzed to give you even more insight into the behavior of your visitors and your backend staff.
Make it look good
Content is important, of course, but that first impression is key to getting a visitor to the “real stuff”. So, just like everything else that’s featured on your site, you need to incorporate the chat window to fit both thematically and contextually. To do this right, two sections are used – chatbox and styling.
The chatbox settings are focused mainly on what’s displayed and where the chat window is positioned, along with the language that’ll be featured.
Aside from that, you’ll get to set your icons, logos, and pictures. The chat icon has some widely recognized icons, so changing those too much should be avoided. On the other hand, uploading your logo to the window is a perfect way to additionally raise your brand awareness; plus, adding a customer service agent picture makes the whole experience more personal from the visitor’s point of view.
You can also choose if a greeting will welcome visitors and choose on which platform the greeting will be present. Finally, there’s an option for some social media plugs you should definitely take advantage of, considering how they’re such a big part of any marketing strategy nowadays.
The styling options are all about looks. You’ll get to change the color theme – it’s smart to choose one that fits in well with the overall design of your pages but at the same time differs slightly, making it somewhat emphasized. Along with the theme, you’ll get to choose various titles, labels, automatic messages, and animations. All of these are little things that, when added up, project a feel of an approachable and professional site and, subsequently, potential services or products the site provides.
If you don’t offer around-the-clock, 24/7 support, it’s important to notify your visitors of their inputs through automatic offline messages. This can vary from being info about your working hours to confirmations that their message has been received or an error in their input (bad email address, for example).
Putting up automated messages is important because it doesn’t leave your visitors wondering if anything they’ve relayed even reached someone on the other side (think of automated emails when you’re out of the office with relevant information and instructions). The great thing is that you can set everything up and just turn it on or off with a single click.
Speaking of working hours, there’s a specific section dedicated to configuring yours. The way you set up your data here will then be pulled to all other features of the plugin. Just remember to update your times if they’re ever changed.
If you don’t touch any other feature 3CX Live Chat has to offer, both you and your visitors will have the full experience that’s originally intended. However, there are other things you can look into to expand the overall functionality even further. For example – the chat server, which can be standalone or run through 3CX (if you chose the former, you need to set it up separately, but the latter can be configured right within the plugin).
You’ll get to set up the privacy settings like data retention or creating a custom notice, which is much more important with the advent of GDPR. Furthermore, for the more experienced, there is the Gutenberg block and embedded code section where you can check out the underlying code and even add to it if you think there’s something that can be improved.
By using 3CX Live Chat, you also get access to the admin console. Here you’ll find your analytical data, ways of configuring users and rules, call logs, etc. The limited user interface of the WordPress dashboard has prompted the devs to create their own. If you’ve ever used services like Google Analytics, you’ll be familiar with the layout since the concept is similar.
Keep in mind that to master all of the numerous features, you will need to pass a learning curve; you won’t be able to just pick it up and go full-speed right away. Once you do get a handle on things, a plethora of opportunities opens up for you. The very first thing that will require addressing is the users and their access level along with their basic information, phones, extensions, etc.
Tying right into the individual agents are the ring groups you’ll get to set up. Ring groups function as group extensions where all phones will ring until a connection goes through.
Reports include a call log where you can scan every single call in further detail. You can go through the default security setting and change them up, even blacklist numbers and IPs if you find that some are especially problematic.
Scheduling and reviewing backups is also something that’s done through the console as opposed to the plugin. Generally, the more you get into everything, the more you’ll find out there’s plenty of things to do, so give yourself time and go at it step by step.
Both from a newcomer’s perspective and that of an experienced user, the 3CX Live Chat service and plugin represents a robust tool that will cover everything you would ever need in a chat-providing app, including call and video call features, which is rare.
Additionally, just to reiterate once again, the whole service is absolutely free for a whole year. Taking everything into account, you owe it to yourself and your visitors to, at least, give it a try.