Customer engagement

Experience with in-page chat widgets to engage with visitors to your site?

Steve Newman CEO/Founder @ Scalyr

October 23rd, 2013

I'm looking for ways to better engage with people who visit our web site, to learn more about what they're looking for and how we might improve our product and/or presentation. Does anyone have experience embedding a chat widget onto their home page for this purpose? Other tips for getting information from people who drop onto your home page and then wander away?

(For context, our product is a backend service, and our target customer is an engineer or engineering manager responsible for operating a web site.)

Dave Angelow Board Member at HAND Austin

October 23rd, 2013

I've had decent experience with

Roger Smith

October 23rd, 2013

I have used Olark in the past and like it a lot. In fact I have incorporated a feature where if the app runs int some error it will popup a notification to the visitor and the operator so that the operator can let the visitor know that we are aware of the issue and will look to resolve it. That extra special touch! :)

Mike Moyer

October 23rd, 2013

I used on my web site about start-up equity splitting and it's great. I'm able to engage with readers all the time and answer questions. It's only active when I'm at my desk and takes a message when I'm not. You can see it at -Mike Moyer

Sandeep Arneja Co-founder & CTO at

October 23rd, 2013

Hi Steve, Improving product messaging, building features which customers want and listening to what customers have to say are all in my opinion a must.

Here are some of the tools out there to help you get started:

1. UserVoice - With this you can add a feedback button to your site which customers can click on to leave feedback.

2. Olark - With this you can add a chat widget to your page, so customer can leave feedback

3. Qualroo - With this you can a add a chat widget like olark but also automatically initiate conversations and conduct surveys.

4. FeatureKicker - With this you can collect customer insights by asking the right question at the right time. For example, ask a question when customer clicks on a button or when they have scrolled some page element in to the viewport, or when the have scrolled to the bottom or when they have been on page idle for X seconds etc. etc. The questions you ask are completely customizable and can range from simple yes/no to free-form text boxes.
FeatureKicker has a rules engine which will tracks your visitors so you are asking the right person, the right question. For example you probably don't want to ask a question like "how do i improve my sales chart" to a person who came to your site for the first time or if someone was prompted to give feedback, you don't want to ask them again for a specific period of time, etc. etc.

Full Disclosure: I am the CTO @ FeatureKicker so am a bit biased ;)


Austin Cornelio Co-Founder & Frontend Engineering Consultant

October 23rd, 2013

Hey Steve, We've had great success using Olark for engaging users both in app and on our marketing site. It also integrates with Adium and is key to they way we interact with new trial users who signup for our service. I would recommend checking these two products out. The really cool thing about using Olark with the Adium chat client is that you can track what the user is doing (to and extent) as you can see their history and pages they have visited in real time. I would also recommend installing a simple means for the user to provide feedback. In your app this is as simple as a large "feedback" button on every page where the user can easily input a few notes that get sent to your product team or whoever. This seems pretty obvious, but it's pretty astonishing how many products don't include a simple way to collect user input. Hope this helps. Here are some links to the products I mentioned. Austin


October 23rd, 2013

Funny you mention this. I just learned to use nodejs, feathers and the API to build something super simple last night at a developer meetup. I'd never worked with those technologies before and by the end of the meeting I was really surprised how simple it was. Granted it was not all the bells and whistles you usually see in a chat widget but in terms of basic functionality it did the job. If your web page has the ability to serve those technologies I'd say it's certainly worth looking into just from an ease of development standpoint.

Steve Newman CEO/Founder @ Scalyr

December 18th, 2013

A belated thanks to everyone who responded. An awful lot of people suggested Olark, so we gave it a try, and it does seem to be well done. We've found that the usage rate is very low (hardly anyone clicks on the chat button), but I have only good things to say about Olark as a service. We're going to experiment with different ways of presenting the chat option to users.

One minor issue: by default Olark creates quite a few sizable cookies, which has a negative impact on page load times -- every request will transmit those cookies, even requests having nothing whatsoever to do with Olark or the page on which it appears. See for one discussion. I asked Olark support about it, and they gave me this:

> You can kill a lot of those cookies by doing olark.configure("system.minimize_cookies", true);
> That'll make olark rely almost entirely on localstorage, which should work fine in IE8 and up. 


Sandeep Arneja Co-founder & CTO at

December 20th, 2013

Steve, can you contact me? I want to hear more details about your experience. Email -Sandeep Sent from my iPhone

Travis Workman Founder/President at Cognisoft

October 23rd, 2013

There are several different ones I have used over the years some cost money some are open source some are licensed with the source. One I have liked is one called CometChat they have a wide array of options and are not too expensive and they include not just an online chat but could do an interactive whiteboarding session with your end users along with video chat.  Give them a look. As a caveat I am not affiliated with them I have just used their product for many of my clients and they have been very happy with the product cometchat provides. If you want a demo we could arrange a time I could show you on one of my pet projects I have going where I have implemented that service. 

Steve Newman CEO/Founder @ Scalyr

October 23rd, 2013

How do you present this on your home page? Just a "chat with us" button, or something more prominent? I want to encourage people to chat, but don't want to come on too strong -- when a site pops out at me with a chat session that I didn't initiate, it feels creepy.

Also, what happens if a user clicks the chat button and you don't have anyone online to respond to chats?