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Best Live Chat Software: Top 8 Picks for 2020

Sia Mohajer
Last updated: Aug 27, 2020

Live chat software is everywhere these days. In fact, it seems like you can’t click on any growing online business without being greeted by a chat window.

Although determining whether it’s an automated chatbot or a real person on the other end isn’t always easy, it’s clear that live chat services overall are here to stay.

There are good reasons for this. Live chat can increase customer engagement and visitor conversion, help your sales and customer service teams maintain flexibility, and offer valuable analytics information.

If you have an online business and haven’t yet jumped on the bandwagon, it’s time – trust us. We’ll break down the top live chat software picks below.

Best Live Chat Software


Finding the best live chat software suites takes some testing and research. For our part, we examined which software suites came with free trials or interesting tools, tested them out, then compared their pricing points.

Live Chat Support

From all this data, we determined the best free and premium live chat software out there, especially for smaller businesses. However, we also found plenty of good choices for enterprise-level businesses interested in a pricier but more feature-heavy service

#1 HubSpot Live Chat – Best Free Live Chat Software


Key Specifications:

  • Works with chatbots
  • Customizable interface and position
  • Route chats to shared screen
  • Store transcripts
  • HubSpot CRM integration
  • Independent conversation routing

Pros:

  • Totally free
  • Integrates with HubSpot CRM
  • Great for collaboration

Cons:

  • Not great for integration with other tools

HubSpot Vector Logo

HubSpot Live Chat Review

HubSpot Live Chat is a feature-rich and easy to use tool that is most notable for its integration with HubSpot CRM: an additional customer relationship management software suite. Both tools combined will let you create targeted marketing campaigns, chat with customers, and boost your conversion across the board.

At its core, HubSpot Live Chat is a customizable software tool. With HubSpot, you can route chat to your customer service team or any other team you desire: a perfect fit for smaller businesses with flexible employees who juggle different responsibilities. The tool allows you to manage all incoming chats in a shared inbox for collaboration and group ownership. 

Features and Quality

A handful of features await anyone who tries this software out. For instance, HubSpot can work alongside automated chatbots to handle larger customer ticket workloads.

You’ll also be able to create custom welcome messages for different targeted customers – say, customers who check out your site during the weekend instead of during the prime business hours of the regular workweek.

HubSpot Live chat Options

A live chat widget is included as well. This is customizable to match the aesthetic of your site and make the chat function seem like a dedicated, in-house piece of your business puzzle instead of something third-party. Even minor features, like the placement of the chat window on the page, are customizable to your liking.

Pricing and Value

Easily one of the best things about HubSpot is that it’s totally free. For this reason, it’s the best live chat software solution for smaller and growing businesses alike.

The fact that it integrates easily with HubSpot CRM – another free tool – makes it a no-brainer choice if you already use the latter’s customer relationship management suite. It’s easy to use, easy to customize, and comes with everything you need to scale up support as your business grows.

#2 LiveChat


Key Specifications:

  • Can add survey forms
  • Customers can send direct tickets
  • Integrates with other software
  • Free plug-in for WordPress
  • Variable pricing
  • Mobile apps for all devices

Pros:

  • Very fast loading times
  • Has a slick interface
  • Great for integration with third-party software

Cons:

  • Customization options are limited
  • Not great for multilingual websites

livechat logo

LiveChat Review

Here’s another industry leader; the company began in Poland and now boasts over 24,000 customers. It’s exceptional for its ability to work with WordPress sites. Given that most sites on the Internet are WordPress-based, this speaks well to its integration suitability.

It features a well-designed interface that can be used as easily on a desktop as it can with a tablet or another mobile device. Customer service reps or small business CEOs can, therefore, chat with customers while in transit to or from the office without having to log on to WordPress itself.

It’s also quite quick for live chat software, with a lightning-fast chat window loading time. Since customer engagement can drop off rapidly in this day and age, this is crucial for retaining customers at every level of the purchase funnel.

Features and Quality

As mentioned, LiveChat is perfect for integration with other types of CRM software and similar services. WordPress, Google Analytics, Zendesk, and more all work fabulously with this live chat software.

Additional features, like the ability to add survey forms for customers to fill out (either before or after live chat sessions), are crucial for improving your customer service team’s performance over the long-term.

Benefits on using Live chat

LiveChat also allows users to send support tickets straight from live chat instead of having to write a separate email. Again, anything that makes the experience better for your users is worthwhile in our books. It secures this as one of the best live chat apps on the market.

Pricing and Value

Pricing for LiveChat is pretty competitive and there are different tiers depending on your business’s size. Prices range from $16 all the way up to around $150 for starter businesses and enterprise-level live chat services, respectively.

The enterprise-level pricing is fairly affordable overall when you compare LiveChat to other software suites for businesses of this size. Your monthly bill is calculated on a per-agent basis.

#3 Intercom – Best Premium Live Chat for Small Businesses


Key Specifications:

  • Has “self-service” features
  • Additional add-ons available for purchase
  • Smart routing customer direction
  • Lead qualification
  • Customizable chat windows
  • Introduce projects in chat windows

Pros:

  • Ideal for generating sales
  • Good for third-party integration
  • Helps small teams keep customers

Cons:

  • Pricing could be a bit better

Intercom a New way to Communicate

Intercom Review

Intercom is ideal for businesses that want to supercharge their sales numbers. To this end, the software can route specific chat leads to different salespeople or even target different contacts based on browsing behavior.

Of course, this means that it integrates quite well with different third-party software like Zoom, Slack, HubSpot, and so on.

The software and its various features focus on creating relationships with future customers and keeping those customers engaged throughout the chat process.

It’s also fairly customizable and even includes some functions for self-service: a perfect fit for smaller businesses that might not have tons of manpower to man a live chat station all the time.

Features and Quality

Smart routing and lead qualification make Intercom a worthwhile choice for many. The smart routing feature is a type of light AI that routes different customers to different teams or salespeople. Lead qualification can help you know when a customer is worth spending your time on.

Intercom Integrations

The suite also allows you to introduce projects and trigger outbound emails based on visitor behavior. Chat windows can be customized to better suit individual visitors. Customers can access your site’s help center right in the chat window if a rep isn’t available at the moment. 

Pricing and Value

Intercom is priced fairly high compared to many other services. There are three tiers ranging from Essential ($87 per month) to Pro ($153 per month) to Premium, which comes with a custom enterprise-level price. You can also purchase additional add-ons, like customizable bots or product tours within chat windows, that range from $50-$200.

We’d recommend trying it out free for 14 days to get a feel for the tool before splurging. It is good for small businesses, by and large, but not necessarily priced well for those with really strict budgets.

All in all, it’s a perfect live chat option for smaller companies that need tools to help them build up from a smaller customer base.

#4 Olark


Key Specifications:

  • Visitor insights
  • Chat transcripts
  • Curated, automatic messages
  • Hide chat functions
  • Team monitoring
  • Message shortcuts

Pros:

  • Great for third-party integration
  • Focuses on sales and conversion
  • Seasonal themes available for customization

Cons:

  • No full-on chatbots
  • No native mobile apps

Olark Logo

Olark Review

Olark has been around since 2009 and has since acquired over 12,000 customers. The worldwide company offers a simple live chat solution that’s perfect for smaller businesses.

It also comes with built-in customer relationship management tools to make your sales and customer service teams have an easier job of keeping their first, all-too-important customers.

It’s excellent for integrating with their party software like Google Analytics, MailChimp, HelpScout, and much more. The live chat functions tend to favor marketing and sales instead of direct customer support, but this is arguably more important for smaller businesses trying to get a running start.

Features and Quality

Olark allows you to keep all your live chat transcripts on the platform. You can search for them for later reference and to obtain key customer insights: perfect for businesses trying to grow from smaller customer bases.

There’s an additional chat automation feature that will let you send a curated automatic message to any visitors that check out certain pages or products. You can also hide chat requests from certain geographies if you are concerned about spam. However, it doesn’t include full-on automated chatbots. 

Olark Features

Larger teams can benefit from chat distribution features and team monitoring. Additional shortcuts are available for fast but canned responses. In this way, it’s great for scaling businesses as well.

Pricing and Value

Olark offers variable pricing. A free plan gives you up to 20 chats per month, but you’re really better off using the 14-day free trial and moving on to one of their priced plans. These cost between $12 a month if billed bi-yearly or $17 a month if billed monthly. Note that these prices are per agent.

À la carte and extra features are available for an extra cost – examples include screen sharing, more in-depth the visitor insights and live chat translation for helping your customer service team with international visitors. All in all, the prices are pretty reasonable, particularly for growing businesses.

#5 Pure Chat


Key Specifications:

  • Unlimited chat and websites
  • Native iOS and Android apps
  • File transfers
  • Analytics tools
  • Chat transcripts
  • Chatbot

Pros:

  • Chat widget is customizable
  • Excellent for chat-focused businesses
  • Good for those with lots of sites to manage

Cons:

  • User interface is bland/clunky
  • Automatic triggers are too simple

PureChat Features

Pure Chat Review

This Arizona-based live chat service offers unlimited chats and unlimited operators even though they offer their features for free. The service comes with mobile apps for both major operating systems.

The free stuff doesn’t end there, either: a special chatbot that can help you capture leads and accept payments is included for all users.

The flipside all this free value is the lack of additional bells and whistles. It is fairly customizable and it can integrate with over 1000 other third-party apps really easily. Because of this, it’s a perfect live chat software choice for companies that only need live chat, not additional CRM or conversion features.

Features and Quality

Aribot.ai is the chatbot you get for free when you use this live chat software. It can help you book appointments and capture leads, so it’s perfect for finalizing customer transactions and helping smaller customer service teams.

If you spend a little money, you can get additional features like automatic chat alerts and real-time analytics for your visitors to help sharpen your marketing efforts’ success. Also note that Pure Chat branding is present on all the chat windows unless you pay for one of the priced tiers.

How to get started with PureChat

Additional features include file transfers, visitor tracking, alerts and actions for certain triggers (like someone checking out a particular product), and more.

Pricing and Value

The free version obviously doesn’t cost you anything. But Pro, which gets rid of the Pure Chat logo and adds many of the features described above, costs $79 per month. You have to be billed yearly as well, so it may be a little pricey for smaller businesses with tighter budgets.

But it’s a fantastic choice for those who run multiple websites and to deal with thousands of customers every day. The unlimited chat and website span of the service makes it worthwhile for that aspect alone.

#6 SnapEngage


Key Specifications:

  • Comes with dedicated chatbot
  • 20+ social media platform integration
  • Advanced security available
  • Specialists on hand for training
  • Co-browsing features
  • Discounts for annual payments

Pros:

  • Excellent chatbox features
  • Omnichannel interfacing
  • Chatbot is good

Cons:

  • A little too pricey for smaller businesses
  • No live view of visitors in chat console

Snap Engage Logo

SnapEngage Review

This is an ideal live chat solution for enterprise-level websites. It comes from a US-based company that now counts over 10,000 customers, and the service supports five languages in total (ranging from Spanish to French to German to Portuguese).

It’s pricier than average, but it can significantly improve your customers’ experiences by offering a wide variety of tools and excellent integration capabilities.

It’s also a worthwhile tool since it optimizes for mobile use automatically. Customer service teams can, therefore, interact with your customers even from mobile devices without losing any responsiveness or agility.

It’s an omnichannel tool – your team can connect with customers on a variety of chat platforms, including Facebook Messenger, SMS, WeChat, and more. Social media integration is included as well.

Features and Quality

Since it integrates with tons of CRM databases, it’s no surprise that SnapEngage comes with plenty of features. Custom workflow mapping is perfect for sales reps that might engage with customers on the go or at the office, helping your conversion rates across the board.

It also comes with special implementation specialists to help you get the chat service up and running rapidly, even if you have a larger than average business. They can help train your staff to optimize the software’s efficacy.

Snap Engage Options

Lastly, it comes with a dedicated chatbot that can answer common questions and direct visitors to the appropriate sales reps.

Pricing and Value

Pricing is segmented into three tiers, ranging from $16 per agent to $40 per agent. Payments are made monthly. This is affordable at first glance but you have to pick up a minimum of 3-5 agents to use the software. Still, given its focus on enterprise-level businesses, this is to be expected and is even acceptable. 

One last note: SnapEngage is HIPAA compliant. It’s great for larger medical businesses that often handle sensitive patient information.

#7 Drift


Key Specifications:

  • LeadBot chatbot
  • Real-time lead qualification
  • VIP customer targeting
  • Sales routing function
  • Conversion/visitor analytics
  • 24/7 sales booking

Pros:

  • Offers basic chat for free
  • Has an intelligent chatbot
  • Excellent for sales/engagement

Cons:

  • Too pricy for smaller businesses
  • Best features unlocked only with higher plans

Drift Logo

Drift Review

This conversational marketing platform combines live chat and automated chatbots to improve your site’s conversions consistently. Since it integrates with most popular email marketing and CRM services, it’s perfect if you already use third-party apps and software and don’t want to make another switch.

The software includes a dedicated chatbot, personalized messaging functions, VIP customer targeting, and much more.

This allows for much more directed marketing and conversion efforts: it combines well with dedicated sales teams who can make the most of its power and specificity.

Features and Quality

The LeadBot is a special bot that can help you qualify leads and convert visitors into customers more quickly. It can also help your sales team book meetings, answer questions, and much more, freeing up your sales staff for more technical aspects.

We really like that you can send personalized messages targeted to particular individuals or accounts, like repeat visitors. This personalizes the experience for your customers and can help your conversion rates. Sales reps can be notified that one of their accounts is ready and waiting for faster responses for your customers.

Drift Review

Additional features like sales routing, analytics reporting, and integrated knowledge base responses round out the fantastic features you can find here.

Pricing and Value

You can install one-to-one live chat for free on your website but all of the advanced features mentioned above are quite pricey and suitable for enterprise-level businesses.

Pricing begins at $50 per month for two agents but quickly ramps up to $500 per month if you want to enjoy the chatbot. Higher priced plans going up to $1500 per month unlock all of the features. 

Thus, this software is valuable but only suitable for larger businesses.

#8 ClickDesk


Key Specifications:

  • Customizable messages and visitor targeting
  • Chat transfers
  • Daily and weekly statistics information
  • Translation features
  • Unlimited website use
  • Pre-chat surveys

Pros:

  • Integrates well with social media
  • Video and audio chat work well
  • Great for sales staff

Cons:

  • No automatic chatbots included 
  • Some features excluded from free plan

Clickdesk Logo

ClickDesk Review

ClickDesk is somewhat unique in that it offers both video and voice chat in addition to regular text chat. Even better, visitors are able to initiate chats themselves using interactive maps that come with the software.

This is perfect for sales reps that can close deals with their personable skillsets, or even conduct demos and make exploratory calls with high-value clients.

Chat can be easily transferred from agent to agent, and the software comes with daily and weekly statistics to fine-tune your sales and customer service efforts. Other personalization and customization options are included. Plus, it can be integrated with popular social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

Features and Quality

There are tons of features to make this worth your while, including customizable greetings and chat services for unlimited websites. An in-built translation feature for over 90 languages makes this a perfect pick for international sites and businesses.

Clickdesk Review

The aforementioned sales tools described above are also excellent. You can complement these with pre-chat surveys. Sales reps can also jump in together through three-way conferences or simultaneous chats.

The daily and weekly statistics functions are excellent for gathering data and making your site as optimized as possible.

Pricing and Value

ClickDesk is also free for the first 10 agents. You just don’t get video chat unless you pay for one of the upgraded plans, though audio chat is still included.

The pay plans range from $14.99 per month all the way up to $39.99 per month for enterprise-level businesses. You can lower these prices if you sign up for a two-year commitment, though month-to-month pricing is also available.

Ultimately, the prices are fair and balanced considering the positive effects that video chat can have on your sales and conversion rates, especially for businesses that sell specialized products.

Buying Guide


When Does It Make Sense to Invest Into Live Chat Software?

Live chat software is great whenever your business acquires enough customers that you can’t keep up with requests via email alone. Live chat allows you to boost your sales funnel’s results and respond immediately to customers to answer questions or alleviate concerns.

It’s also an excellent choice if you have the beginnings of a customer service team (or a full-blown customer service team already).

Help your Business with Live Chat

Chatbot vs Live Chat

People are sensitive to chatbots and can take them to mean that a business doesn’t value their patronage. Live chat gives your customer service team an opportunity to respond to diverse complaints or issues. Furthermore, live chat lets your sales team convert visitors into customers through online sales techniques.

Benefits of Using the Best Live Chat Software

Personalization

Most live chat software lets you personalize the chat window/interface. This can make the chat box seem like an integrated part of your site instead of an intrusive third-party function. Furthermore, personalized messages can engage customers and show them how much you really appreciate them instead of giving them a canned message that they can see through too easily.

Scalability

Many of the best online chat apps are scalable. Different plans come with allowances for more live chat agents to operate the software at once, or extra tools and functions to help your sales team supercharger conversion efforts.

Multi-Tasking

Live chat software lets your customer service or sales teams multitask by funneling customers between each other, identifying pain points, investigating user analytics, and much more. The most advanced software includes sales tools to help agents identify the best way to reach a customer they’re talking to so they can secure a sale.

What You Need to Know About Live Chat Software


Live chat software is essentially a window that pops open to give website customers an opportunity to talk to a chatbot or live agent. On the back end of things, agents can see current website visitors and approach them for possible sales or increase visitor engagement.

Some of the best live chat software includes automated AI chatbots: simple algorithms that can offer pre-made messages to customers and answer simple questions by identifying keywords.

These are great for common customer inquiries or for directing customers to dedicated sales agents who can respond with human specificity and flexibility.

LiveChat Best way to Communicate

Furthermore, many of the best live chat apps come with ABM or accounts-based marketing tools. Basically, they include analytics functions that let you identify repeat visitors or certain key customers.

Then you can tailor your life chat response to their needs or preferences. This increases engagement for your most important users and retains the core customer base that so many businesses depend on.

CRM or customer relationship management tools are also staple features in many live chat software suites. These include appointment booking, chat logs and analytics, and other record-keeping functions that allow dedicated customer service or sales team members to manage and improve relationships with key customers.

If a suite doesn’t come with these features, it may be able to integrate with third-party software tools that offer these functions. All in all, live chat software is a crucial part of modern businesses and is quickly becoming an expected feature for sites looking to capture new markets.

FAQs


What Is the Best Live Chat Software for Websites?

The ideal live chat solution for a given website depends, of course, on that website. Some of the best live chat software comes with automated bots that can handle basic customer inquiries and take some of the grinding workload off of a smaller customer service team.

PureChat has an excellent chatbot that demonstrates this idea perfectly.

However, other enterprise-level businesses might be more interested in live chat solutions that include more CRM or sales funnel tools. Drift is a perfect example, as it includes a special lead generation bot and tons of other features to help salespeople lock down sales and treat their most valued customers with the personalization and individuality they would expect from a brick-and-mortar business.

PureChat excellent example of a chatbot

The bottom line: the best live chat solution for your website should work with your budget and include features that you’ll actually use. At the same time, make sure to consider scalability; get live chat software that can grow with your business if you’re just starting out.

Is Live Chat a Real Person?

Sometimes. As mentioned, live chat normally funnels customers to service agents that can handle their questions and direct them to salespeople if necessary. Some of the best live chat software comes with automated bots that can answer simple questions or do the rerouting in lieu of a human agent.

Live chat that uses as many real humans as possible is preferable since people are sensitive to robotic bots and may click away when they detect them.

What is Live Chat Customer Service?

Live chat customer service is digital customer service routed through a live chat window. Customers can type in inquiries or complaints directly into the window and get an immediate response from a live chat agent.

The agent has a plethora of tools at their fingertips to handle issues, direct customer complaints up the representative chain, or offer special deals to customers depending on the software’s functions.

Conclusion


In the end, the best live chat software, like HubSpot Live Chat and Intercom, show just how valuable these services can be to any growing business.

Customer engagement and conversion is always tricky, but live chat offers a plethora of tools that skilled salespeople and customer service reps can leverage to boost conversion across a site and boost a business’s profitability like few other digital tool suites.

Be sure to choose some great live chat software to grow your business – you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it!

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