Best Live Chat Software Tools 2021: Top 10 Solutions Compared

Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Michael Scheiner
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In the brick and mortar world, when a customer walks into a store, they can expect someone to help them out and answer any questions right away. Otherwise, potential customers who are ignored will walk right out without buying anything.

Today, the best live chat software for your business’s website is crucial to maintaining that immediate connection to your visitors and potential customers.

The data are in: More and more people are shopping online. And if they have a question, or need general help, they want to use live chatting. No filling out forms, no writing to a customer service email address, and definitely no picking up the phone and waiting through interminable muzak.

People want to be able to type in their questions and get an instant answer. On top of that, mobile phones are becoming increasingly the main way for people to reach out to companies and brands. This means customers expect to be able to communicate using their favorite SMS and text messaging apps.

So, if your ecommerce store, startup, small business or mega enterprise is not yet leveraging the communicative power of live chat software, then it’s a good thing you’ve landed on this article.

 

 

Live chat software comparison chart (top 10 highest rated tools)

 

Product

Best for

Pricing starts at

Website

LiveChat

best live chat software overall

$16 per user/month billed annually

Visit

LiveAgent

best customer service chat software

$15 per user/month 

Visit

Zendesk

best online live chat software

$5 per user/month billed annually

Visit

Olark

top live chat platform for companies

$15 per user/month billed annually

Visit

Pure Chat

good live chat platform for small business

$39 per month billed annually

Visit

Drift

great live chat tool for sales

Contact vendor

Visit

Freshchat

best free helpdesk software

$15 per user/month billed annually

Visit

Userlike

top live chat platform for real-time support

Contact vendor

Visit

ChatBot

best tool for building chatbots

$50 per month

Visit

Chatport

great helpdesk tool for websites

$9.80 per user/month billed annually

Visit

 

What is live chat support software & what does it do? 

Good live chat solutions let companies field incoming messages from multiple sources. The main ones include SMS, social media, and most importantly, a live chat widget directly on a website. Sometimes they unify voice calls, emails and video calls too. 

Behind every live chat box is either a human or a chatbot. 

Bots

Bots are great because they can be automated. They can send instant welcome messages when someone lands on a site. They can give an immediate response whenever someone sends a message. Chatbots can also be programmed with canned responses for certain questions. Finally, workflows can be programmed into bots to help with basic triage.

Humans

Human reps benefit from working with bots and live chat software. When a message comes in, great live chat software will provide the agent with profile data on the visitor. This also includes their history of interactions and purchases with your company. Human reps can also collaborate together to help a user, or pass on a conversation with all relevant details to a more appropriate operator. 

Tickets

Live chat software often works alongside help desk software. This means that for any incoming customer support issue, there is a ticketing system in place. Reps or bots can create new tickets directly from conversations. They can store relevant documents and allow reps to add notes to tickets. 

 

What is online chat software good for?

Online live chat software has many clear advantages:

Sales

When visitors to your website arrive, sales reps can do proactive messaging with live chat software. This means sending visitors a message first, like a welcome message. Messages can be personalized based on user data. Some of the best live chat tools let sales reps do co-browsing with visitors too, just like when a salesperson helps you in a store.

People browsing without buying, and abandoned shopping carts, are always challenges to sales departments. Making sure visitors can get instant replies to questions is a key way of boosting sales.

Service

If it starts with sales, it ends with customer service. The idea here is that today’s brands don’t just want to sell people a good or service, they want to create lasting and loyal relationships with customers.

The best live chat tools make sure that customers are satisfied after the purchase. It streamlines solving common problems and can store reusable solutions for future use. Live chat software also spares users from having to re-explain their issues over and over, which is very annoying. 

Live chat solutions can be used to analyse the quality of support, or report on ticketing trends to help departments be more efficient.

 

What are the different types of live chat support software?

  • Sales live chat

  • Support live chat

  • Human agents

  • Chatbots

  • Website chat box widgets

  • Unified inboxes

  • VoIP and telephony

  • Video conferencing

  • Co-browsing

  • Ecommerce

  • Mobile live chat

 

What is the best live chat software? Here’s our top 10 list:

Enough of the small talk about live chat solutions as a category of apps. It’s time to delve into the list of the best live chat software on the market today. We compare features, strong points and prices. When possible, we mention free versions and free trials too.

 

LiveChat (best live chat software overall)

The LiveChat software launched their online help desk software back in 2002. Today it is one of the most popular live chat SaaS, boasting over 30,000 users in over 150 countries.

LiveChat unifies incoming chat messages from a large variety of other chat tools. These include Facebook Messenger, Apple Business Chat, email, WhatsApp and SMS. You can also sync it with CRM platforms like Salesforce or ecommerce tools like Shopify. LiveChat lets you add a chat widget to your website. It also works on multiple websites and lets you manage them in one dashboard. New incoming chats come with customer profile data. For customer service, there is a full ticketing system. You can set up canned responses and other automation workflows. Human support team reps can create customizable profiles. Finally, LiveChat does analytics and chat reporting.

LiveChat works as a web browser SaaS. It also offers desktop versions for Windows and macOS. Mobile apps for iPhone and Android are also available. 

Three pricing tiers are $16, $33 and $50 per user per month billed annually. Enterprise companies should request a custom quote. There is a LiveChat free trial.

LiveChat is best for:

  • Startups

  • SMBs

  • Enterprise

  • Customer engagement

 

LiveAgent (best customer service chat software)

This software company got off the ground in 2004. At first it focused on B2B apps. Eventually LiveAgent emerged as they shifted focus to live chat solutions and messaging software.

LiveChat is helpdesk software that brings together a lot of communication and messaging tools. Among these are email, phone calls, video chats, Facebook, Twitter, and even customizable contact forms. Incoming messaging comes with available CRM data on the user. There are many ways to automate LiveAgent. For example for ticket routing or canned responses. Human reps can see real-time typing to speed up giving answers. There is keyword monitoring. This can notify staff when important issues arise that need a human agent. LiveAgent uses AI to streamline customer support departments. It can organize shifts and monitor reps. LiveChat does ticketing as well. You also get knowledge base tools as well as email marketing. 

LiveAgent has native mobile versions for Android and iOS devices. 

There is a free plan of LiveAgent for 1 chat button, 1 email address and 1 phone number. Premium plans are $15, $29 and $39 per user per month. There is also a LiveAgent free trial.

LiveAgent is best for:

  • Entrepreneurs

  • Startups

  • Small business

  • Customer service

 

Zendesk Support (best online live chat software)

Originally from Denmark back in 2007, Zendesk is a massive customer service solution. Today they are HQ’d in San Francisco and have nearly 120,000 subscribers. 

Nowadays, Zendesk has modules for sales teams too. But it is customer support that is their main set of tools. You get full suites of tools for both live chatting and messaging. The omnichannel dashboard lets reps field messages from lots of sources. This is part of the ticketing system that combines email, chat, social media and voice. Zendesk uses AI chatbots to guide users with common questions. There is good workflow customization. Human support agents get help by seeing rich customer profile histories. Zendesk also makes it easy for reps to collaborate and share data. You get conversation tracking, real-time monitoring and chat analytics. There are also loads of add-ons, and an API to connect Zendesk to an ecommerce operation.

You can get a Zendesk mobile app from the Google Play store, and from the Apple App Store there are versions for iPhone and iPad.

Zendesk Support has many pricing options. They start as low as $5 per user per month billed annually and can go up to $199 per user per month billed annually. You can do a Zendesk free trial.

Zendesk Support is best for:

  • Startups

  • SMBs

  • Customer support

  • Ecommerce

https://crm.org/news/zendesk-rolls-out-three-big-updates

 

Olark (top live chat platform for companies)

Olark is a fun little firm whose staff work fully remotely. They’ve only been around since 2009. Their dedication to remote work means they understand the importance of communication.

Olark is live chat software with a strong focus on helping sales teams and boosting revenue. It has functionality for things like lead generation. The chat window is customizable to blend in with your websites. Chat boxes are also useful for collecting context data on your customers. You set up chat automation rules to do things like greet customers or route tickets to specific reps. It also does live chat transcripts to help train sales teams. This is a good tool for support or sales managers. It lets them monitor their team and streamline collaboration. Live chat reports can also be updated in real-time. Olark is flexible with integrations. It does Slack, MailChimp, Salesforce, WordPress, HubSpot, and more. 

Olark is an online SaaS. There are no mobile apps at the moment that are not still in beta, but check with Olark for more news.

Olark offers a 2-week free trial. The cost is $15 per user per month billed annually. There are additional add-ons called Power Ups, which cost more.

Olark is best for:

  • SMBs

  • Large business

  • Sales teams

  • Lead generation

 

Pure Chat (good live chat platform for small business)

Pure Chat comes out of Scottsdale, Arizona. They launched in 2012. The main focus of Pure Chat is to help entrepreneurs and small business owners. Today it’s owned by the virtual receptionist platform Ruby.

Like many of the best customer communication tools, Pure Chat gives you unlimited chats. There’s good customization on chat widgets for your site. Website visitors who reach out appear along with their profile data and chat histories. Canned responses ensure instant replies and speed up the process. You can set up chat alerts, including mobile push notifications. There is an email option for when live chat is unavailable. Other website visitor analytics include location and browsing. Analytics also does trend forecasting and can suggest new leads.

Pure Chat has iOS and Android mobile apps. The number of SMS notifications depends on the plan.

Pure Chat Growth costs $39 per month billed annually for 1 user, and an extra $13 per month per additional user. There’s also a pro plan which is $79 per month plus $8 for extra users billed annually.

Pure Chat is best for:

  • Startups

  • Small business

  • Medium business

  • Website chatbox

 

Drift (great live chat tool for sales)

Drift has been around since 2015, and today has many offices in hip US cities. The Drift focus is all about boosting conversion rates. They do this by putting the human agent upfront in sales and support interactions. 

Drift sets you up with strong live chat functionality. You can chat, call or Zoom instantly from within the dashboard. Qualified leads can get automatic priority and routed to the best sales reps. Saved replies can also be automated and reused in live chat windows. Drift lets you see all your website’s current visitors to let you be proactive and reach out first. There are also real-time personalization tools. This delivers instant and relevant messages based on website visitor data. Drift integrates well with email marketing automation platforms like Salesforce or Marketo. 

There are macOS and Windows versions of Drift for desktop. Mobile versions are at the App Store and Google Play.

There is a free version of Drift with live chat features, welcome messages, and even Slack integration. For prices, visit the Drift pricing page to contact their salespeople. 

Drift is best for:

  • Entrepreneurs

  • SMBs

  • Marketing teams

  • Sales teams

https://crm.org/news/drift-conversational-marketing

 

Freshchat (best free helpdesk software)

Freshchat is the helpdesk solution of Freshworks. Freshworks makes many great business apps. The company was founded on the desire to create better customer experiences. This happened after a founder busted his TV set and couldn’t get decent support.  

Freshchat aims to make it easy for reps to chat with users on any device without much fuss. It works via web, social media channels, and mobile messaging. You could put a live chat widget on your website. It also works with WhatsApp and Apple Business Chat. You could use this platform for proactive campaigns. This means messaging visitors first with targeted messages based on their profiles. Freshchat leverages AI. This can be used for smart chatbots. You can also set up rules based-workflows. Freshchat has loads of integrations. Examples are CRMs like Salesforce or ecommerce apps like Shopify and WooCommerce.

There are web, desktop and mobile versions of Freshchat. The iOS and Android versions have very clean interfaces.

There are 4 plans for Freshchat, beginning at $15 and going to $69 per agent per month billed annually. There’s also a free version for up to 100 agents with unlimited contacts.

Freshchat is best for:

  • Startups

  • SMBs

  • Chatbots

  • Customer support

 

Userlike (top live chat platform for real-time support)

Userlike hails from Germany. Even on their about page, they emphasize how seriously Germans take their engines. For that they’ve built live chat software to really drive your customer engagement.

Userlike lets you unify all chat conversations from sources like SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram or your own website chatbox. Userlike has a features suite geared toward improving customer satisfaction. It lets customers select the best rep for them instead of waiting. Loyalty tools automatically connect a customer with a rep they’ve had before. The platform also provides smart customer profiles to human agents. You get chat ratings and feedback tools. There are also surveys that can go out before and after chats. Userlike lets you do proactive messaging. Reps can also co-browse with users across many website pages, staying with them.

Userlike is a web-based live chat platform and mobile app.

There is a free version of Userlike. Paid plans are listed in Euros, but you can pay in USD. Plans begin at around $110 but check with them for exact USD prices. Userlike also has a free trial.

Userlike is best for:

  • Medium business

  • Large business

  • Enterprise

  • Customer satisfaction

 

ChatBot (best tool for building chatbots)

ChatBot is made by the same software developers that make LiveChat. Obviously, regarding the name, the focus here is less on the “live” and more on the automated “bot.” Still, it’s a worthy platform to mention here.

ChatBot is a very smart platform, but you don’t need to know a lot of smart coding to work it. It makes it easy to set up rules-based triggers to automate a lot of your customer experience. It is all done in a visual drag and drop dashboard. You can also collaborate with teammates in setting up new chat automations. Aside from setting up your own chatbot responses, there are many great templates. ChatBot has templates for marketing, sales and service. You can segment your users and import lists from CRMs or email marketing software. This helps deliver more personalized messaging. Finally, ChatBot does reports on chatbot performance with real-time updates.

This is an online chatbot builder. There are no mobile apps for ChatBot.

You can do a ChatBot free trial. The plans are $50, $149 and $499 per month. Enterprise-level companies can get a bespoke quote.

ChatBot is best for:

  • Small business

  • Large business

  • Chatbots

 

Chatport (great helpdesk tool for websites)

Back in 2014, a little company called Chatport got off the ground with an ambitious goal. Today, Chatport deserves a top ten spot for its simplicity and minimal elegance. The company is also 100% self-funded, so great user experience comes before satisfying impatient investors.

Chartport gives you multi-channel communication for chatting. No call center, though. The platform prevents operator collision, and lets agents add internal notes for better collaboration. There is group chatting or chat transferring between reps. Reps can see customers typing in real-time to speed things up. Successful replies can be saved and reused. You get detailed customer data. International users can see the widget automatically in their own language. There are offline messaging tools, notifications, and read receipts. With a pro plan you can have chats auto-sent as emails. There is also basic and in-depth reporting depending on your plan.

You can download Chatport apps for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS. There is also a web version.

There is a free version of Chatport which is good for 1 agent. The pro plan is only $9.80 per user per month billed annually. You can test out the pro plan with a 14-day free trial.

Chatport is best for:

  • Entrepreneurs

  • Startups

  • SMBs

  • Team collaboration

  • Website live chat

 

Summing up: What’s the best live chat support software? 

Surprise or no, LiveChat, LiveAgent and Zendesk Support all take top prizes in this competitive category. For bigger businesses or hungrier sales departments, check out Olark or Drift. And if it’s something free you want, Freshchat and Userlike are borth worthy names.

 

Conclusion

In summary, you need to give your customers the widest possible of avenues to get in touch with you. They will be using their mobiles more and more, which means incoming requests are coming in any time and from anywhere. Leaving anybody waiting too long, and you might lose a sale. Or worse, you can ruin a great loyal customer relationship.

Live chat software is no longer a luxury. It is what the modern consumer demands of their brands. We hope you’ve found the right live chat solution here. Now, enough reading: it’s time to get chatting. 

 

FAQs on customer support chat software

What is a live chat system?

A live chat system allows website visitors and customers to contact companies using chat messaging. It can be with a chat box on a website or using other text message apps, email, and even phone. With live chat software both human reps and chatbots help customers more efficiently. 

What is the purpose of live chat?

The purpose of live chat is to make sure that customers can get help anytime, anywhere and as quickly as possible. This is useful for both sales to help generate leads and get more conversions; as well as customer service departments to prevent churn and deepen customer loyalty.

Is live chat a real person?

Live chat software can be a tool used by real human agents as well as AI-powered chatbots. Often human reps and bots work together, with bots handling greetings, context gathering and issue routing; letting humans take over afterwards. This system frees up reps from tedious tasks to be more productive.

Do customers like live chat?

Modern customers expect a website or a company to have live chat more than any other form of communication. They find it more convenient and easier, and get solutions much faster with live chat software. Many customers today are discouraged from shopping online if there is no live chat widget.

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