Olark Review - Pros and Cons of this Live Chat Solution
Without a doubt, Olark is one of the most popular live chat tools out there.
What's great is that they sport a couple of advanced features such as live chat automation (targeted chat as they call it) and cobrowsing.
They also have a selection of holiday themes, which is a pretty nice touch (e.g. a Halloween pumpkin or a Santa Claus hat). With their "attention grabbers," that can be put on top of a regular chat box, you'll make sure that no visitor passes by not noticing the live chat.
Pricing is simple: they feature a free plan, which only allows up to 20 individual conversations, and one premium plan. You can choose to pay monthly ($17), yearly ($15) or bi-yearly ($12).
And here is what you get:
Our Olark rating in detail
|Ease of use||Olark's usability is fine, it's very easy to understand.|
|Setup||Integrate the code snippet provided to your website and you are ready to go.|
|Appearance customization||Various templates and color options available. Custom CSS edits available as well, which is a paid feature though.|
|-Chat client (that customers use)||The client is pretty basic. Nice touch: it will show the chat agent's image if you activate this option.|
|-Chat agent console / use of instant messengers (IM)||Use a third party instant messenger (e.g. Pidgin, GTalk, iChat) or the (basic) web-based chat console. There is a range of commands for special actions like blocking or transferring customers. Enter !help while chatting to see all your options.|
|-Proactive chats and Triggers||Either automatically with a greeting message or manually via the chat console. Unfortunately, the web client only displays up to five visitors on your website. You can also hide Olark altogether and only initiate chats yourself.|
|-Offline mode||Also collects feedback when you are away.|
|-Shortcuts / canned messages||Set up shortcuts through their new editor. While chatting, you simply hit the semicolon key and all the available shortcuts will pop up.|
|-Create chat protocols||Yes||Transcripts can be created and emailed to a pre-defined address.|
|Tracking & live analytics||The IM (Pidgin in our case) shows a lot of info once you hover over the visitor. Analytics on the web-based console is a bit tidier but, as mentioned before, only shows up to five visitors at the same time.|
|Internationalization||The primary language is English but you can customize most of the backend texts. Via their API you can make it multilingual but that requires programming skills.|
|Integrations||Yes||Integrates with Assistly, Highrise, Salesforce, Webhooks, and Zendesk. Can send transcripts automatically to your CRM.|
|-Working in a team||Yes||Chats can be transferred from one agent to another and you can set up groups.|
|-Mobile support||Yes||Runs on mobile instant messaging clients as well (e.g. IMO.im). There are third-party smartphone apps as well. The Hummingbird feature optimizes the chat window for website visitors on mobile devices.|
|-Cobrowsing||Yes||Available in the paid plan: you can highlight areas on your visitor's screen or take control of their mouse.|
|-SSL encryption||Yes||Included in all plans.|
|-Ban users||Yes||... but you can only block someone for the current session. With their rules feature, you can hide the chat bar for certain countries (e.g. those you don't ship to anyway).|
|-Log creation||Yes||Creates transcripts for each conversation.|
|Support||Live chat, email and help section||Overall, very good support.|
|Very strong on chat automation and cobrowsing; overall a solid solution. It's fun to use it.|
© ChatToolTester Matrix
Olark's browser-based console looks smart and is promising. But there is still some room for improvement. Instead of providing buttons for quick access to key features, a lot of commands have to be keyed in, for example !block for blacklisting a user or !transfer to pass a visitor on to another agent.
Generally, we very much like the look and feel of Olark's user interface and the chat client. What's also great is that visitors can rate their chat experience, allowing you to collect satisfaction data. Their pricing is very affordable and they offer excellent chat window templates. Also, if you are looking for a live chat software featuring cobrowsing, Olark is your top choice.
Just give it a shot and see if Olark is right for your company. Chances are pretty good that it actually is.
18 Aug 2016 - Video review and new screenshots added.
21 July 2016 - Pricing has changed, now there are only two tiers.
19 July 2016 - Improved mobile support
21 Aug 2015 - Update in language support.
06 Aug 2015 - New feature for canned messages added.
07 Jan 2015 - Chat ratings feature added.
19 May 2014 - Added information on co-browsing, more details on the web client and mobile apps.
27 May 2013 - Review of the web-based chat console added.
29 Aug 2012 - Initial tests
Last updated: 18 Aug 2016 | Robert Brandl
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