Olark Review

Olark is a basic but well-designed live chat application. Better paid and free options are available.

Last updated: January 2020

Olark was first released in 2009, which is a long time ago in internet years. What Olark does, it does well but it's fair to say and it has been overtaken by more nimble competitors. It appears that the market has taken note and moved on (number of websites in top 1M that use Olark):

Screenshot 2020-01-27 at 11.10.05

You can get something as well designed and with more features for free (and without the restrictions that Olark has in its free plan). If you're happy to pay for your live chat software, I recommend looking at Crisp instead.

User Experience

Olark's chat widget eschews some of the more flashy features associated with chat. For example, it's text only (no emojis in sight) and there are no avatars for agents.

The same simple, no-nonsense approach is applied to the chat user experience for your agents. It's focussed on having effective conversations with your website visitors.

Pricing

Olark's pricing is straightforward. You pay based on how many seats (or 'agents') you have.

You can pay monthly and there are reductions if you sign up for longer contracts (a year, or two years).

All of the features which come with the paid plans can be tried for 2 weeks.

Olark offers a free plan with 1 seat which is suitable for very low-traffic websites as it is capped at 20 chats per month.

You can downgrade to the free plan at the end of the 2 week trial.

The free plan does however include the offline messaging feature which turns the chatbox into an offline email form when you are away or offline.

Features

Style Chat Widget

Olark has lots of chatbox styling options including primary and secondary color, button styles and size and position.

Remove Branding Upgrade

The Powered by Olark link can be removed from the chatbox for $59 per month.

Office Hours
Teams Upgrade

The Groups feature lets you create groups for different teams such as sales or support. In combination with the Targeted Chat feature, you can route incoming chats to specific groups based on rules. Show Screenshot

Routing Upgrade

Chats can be automatically assigned (routed to) a specific group based on a targeted chat rule. It is also possible to configure a round robin routing mechanism so that each chat goes to only one available agent at a time on a rotating and availability basis. Show Screenshot

Saved Replies Upgrade

Shortcuts allow you to create time-saving commands that expand to pre-defined greetings, messages or links. Agents can create their own shortcuts. Account admins can create Team Shortcuts which are shared by all agents on the account. Show Screenshot

Block Users

Visitors can be blocked from initiating chats using the !block command. You can also write targeted chat rules to hide the chat box from a specific IP, although this requires a paid plan. Show Screenshot

Hide Chat Widget Upgrade

The chatbox can be hidden using Targeted Chat Rules. Show Screenshot

Trigger Chats

Targeted Chats let you create rules to automate decisions about chats. For example, you may want to send a message to visitors based on a marketing campaign, or initiate a chat after a visitor has stayed on a certain web page for an amount of time. Free accounts can only create one rule. Show Screenshot

Tagging
Reports Upgrade

Olark offers various reports. Agent Activity reports let you review agent metrics such as response time, or agent timelines. Chat Rating reports give you insights into how satisfied your customers are with their chats. Show Screenshot

Chatbot
Email Inbox
Custom Email Address
Track User Data Upgrade

Visitor Profiles let agents store helpful information about visitors, which is then accessible to all agents in future chats. The default fields name, email and phone are available in the free plan. Paid plans can add up to 100 custom fields as well as visitor notes for each visitor.

Campaigns
GDPR-compliant

Has tools in place to address deletion and correction requests. Self-certified under the EU-US Privacy Shield and the Swiss-US Privacy Shield. Data Processing Agreements in place.

Internationalization

You can choose from one of 11 languages in the settings area. You can add add strings for further languages. Unfortunately, this is only possible by adding javascript API commands into the Olark embed code. Show Screenshot

Offers App
Knowledge Base
API

Olark provides a JavaScript API for customizing the chat widget.

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Matt

Review by Matt

Matt is a product manager with extensive experience in building and supporting software-as-a-service products. This includes implementing live chat for customer support and customer success teams.

Our work is supported by affiliate links.


Review Updates

  • Jan 11, 2019 Review published
  • Jan 26, 2020 Review updated