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CostHelper > Consumer Electronics  > Phones & Communication > Online Chat

Online Chat Cost

How Much Does Online Chat Cost?

low costIn-Network: Freeaverage costMulti-User Video Chat: $9-$30 Per Monthhigh costBusiness Communication: $99-$149 Per Month
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With online chat, computer users conduct two-way conversations in real time using text, often accompanied by audio and video if the service allows and participants have web camera enabled computers with microphones and speakers. Interactive online conversations can also occur between two or dozens of people from around the world who are connected to the same server in virtual chat "rooms." Businesses of all sizes can use teleconferencing, a form of online chat, as part of their customer service efforts.

Typical costs:

  • Online chat services designed for consumers are usually free if they connect with other people in their network. Gmail[1] offers a free service that allows account holders to send instant person-to-person text messages to their contacts. Through social networking giant Facebook[2] , consumers can hold free instant messaging sessions with others from their contact list. Free person-to-person chats through downloaded computer applications are available from several other companies, including Trillian[3] , Digsby[4] and MySpace and Yahoo! Messenger[5] . ooVoo[6] allows up to six users to communicate via text chat at the same time. eBuddy[7] says its technology enables customers with existing AOL, Google Talk, MSN, MySpace, Facebook, ICQ and Yahoo Messenger accounts to chat free without having to download or install applications on their computers.
  •[8] permits anyone to create a free video conference room that as many as 400 can join. Chat room creators often invite new participants through posts on Twitter and other social media sites.
  • Video chats are available to consumers with computers equipped with an internet connection, web camera and speakers. Skype[9] , which offers the service for free, is one of the largest providers. Skype also offers one-to-one video telephone calls to other Skype members.
  • Video chat is available to people with Gmail accounts who download a free plugin enabling telephone calling using Gmail. During 2011, Gmail Voice calls to mobile and landlines in the U.S. and Canada are free; calling rates to other countries range from 2 cents to $4.99 per minute.
  • Businesses can use online chat for employee communication or for customer service. Companies including LivePerson[10] enables corporate service agents to provide instant assistance via instant messaging text to customers visiting their websites to shop or get other information. The company charges $99 per month per agent for firms with websites that report fewer than 50,000 unique visitors each month and have 100 or fewer customer service agents. For larger companies supporting major call centers with heavy web traffic and many service agents, the cost rises to $149 per month per agent.
  • Skype's Premium service[11] , which costs $4.99 per day or $8.99 per month, enables three or more users to set up live telephone chats. While as many as 10 people can participate in a single video chat, the company says sound and visual quality are best with five or fewer people. In 2010, Inc. magazine[12] rated three low-cost video chat services including ooVoo. That firm charges $29.95 per month for a service enabling 6-way video calls, 10 chat rooms and 500 phone minutes. The company's $9.95 monthly service permits 5-way video calls and 200 phone minutes. Its free service permits 3-way video calls in one chat room and no accompanying phone minutes.
Related articles: Internet Phone Service, Online Dating, Video Conferencing, Conference Calls

What should be included:
  • Services should include contact information in case questions or problems arise. The level of customer service can depend on the price; at ooVoo[13] , users of the company's free video call service receive support via email, while companies paying for its most expensive plan geared to larger customers receive live help.
  • While some video services are free, premium video conferencing should be more versatile. For example, iVisit's free video conference service permits only two people to meet on their own. With the company's premium $45.95 annual premium service, up to eight people can meet and invite others to their meetings.
Additional costs:
  • LivePerson makes additional services available to its business customers for a fee, including matching visitors with a certain interest to specific customer service agents for $50 per month per customer service operator.
Shopping for online chat:
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