Commerce before the Internet was a whole lot simpler in many ways. You walked into a store, you talked to a human, and you were able to decide on the spot if you wanted to buy something or not.
In fact, it’s how the economy functioned for thousands of years. Then came the 1990s — and the widespread growth of the Internet changed everything.
Suddenly, rather than going down the street to the hardware store to buy a wrench, you could go to Amazon. And instead of searching the phone book for insurance brokers near you — rather you could google “car insurance” and find a low-rate online that same day.
It’s been great for the consumer except for one small thing. A lot of the knowledge and human Q&A that takes place in the real world was eliminated with the emergence of websites.
No longer could you quickly ask an expert, “is this the right wrench?” or “does this policy cover me if I had a wreck in the last year?”
That was until live chat software.
Live chat software remains one of the biggest developments for software in the last decade. And they came about rather casually. Slowly, but surely, you started seeing every website online with a little bubble in the corner indicating that you could reach out and ask a question in real-time.
If you own a website, you’re likely wondering “what’s the best live chat software for my website?” Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered.
In this guide, we’ll show you the 14 best options available — alongside the pros, cons, and pricing of each software tool.
The Best Live Chat Software Tools in 2019
- ZenDesk Chat
- Zoho Desk
Hubspot’s live chat is unique in the sense that 1) it’s free and 2) it’s still packed with all the features that marketers know, want, and expect in a live chat software solution.
We’re big fans of their live chat software because of the ability to easily integrate with the Hubspot CRM — the CRM we trust to manage our customer data. This direct integration proves powerful because each interaction you have with a prospect or customer can live in the CRM. There’s no need to set up complex integrations or wait for tools to sync to one another.
- Chat contact can be enriched through Hubspot’s CRM
- Can directly respond to chat through Slack via Hubspot’s integration
- Chatbot builder built-in
- Customizable to make chatbot stylistically match your brand
- Integrates seamlessly with Hubspot’s other services
- The free plan includes Hubspot branding; you’ve got to pay to remove this
- No CRM contacts on the base plan
- Priced by: Plan, Add-ons, Contacts, and Premium Services.
- Cost: $0/month for Free Plan; $50/month for Starter Plan; $800/month for Professional Plan; $3200/month for Enterprise Plan
Drift is the hottest name in live chat right now — they’ve built an incredible brand in just a few short years and now they’re are trusted by over 150,000 businesses including AdRoll, InVision, GrubHub, Marketo, and Segment.
And Drift’s live chat software isn’t just chat software — it’s conversational marketing — a new category in which consumers are able to interact in real-time with your brand. Rather than dealing with forms, leads, and follow-ups, your customers can directly chat as they would in the real world. It’s powerful for salespeople and it’s completely changed the workflows for many teams. It’s more akin to a sales tool than a support tool IMO.
While conversational marketing is a simplification of live chat, it’s an incredibly powerful rebrand. You can use bots, automation, and tons of other tools to wow visitors to your site.
- Messenger bots that allow you to reply 24/7/365 and funnel conversations to the right person — boosting your conversion rate on-site
- Schedule meetings with sales team directly within the chat window
- Run automated help centers through the live chat tool
- Sync email and live chat conversations to make visitors feel hyper-catered to
- Create live chat smart landing pages in minutes
- Premium and Enterprise plans can be quite expensive
- The fact that pricing increases by seats and contacts can make it price
- Priced by: Platform, Seats, Contacts, and Additional Contacts.
- Cost: $0/month for Free Plan; $50/month for Standard Plan; $400/month for Pro Plan; $1500/month for Premium Plan; Custom Quote for Enterprise.
Intercom is the OG when it comes to live chat software. Since 2011, they’ve spearheaded the movement to make simple live chat solutions that businesses of all types can use to acquire, engage, and support customers. You’ve likely seen their blue logo in the corner of many sites you’ve visited across the web, and there’s a reason so many companies from startups to Enterprise leaders trust Intercom.
- Run and rank you whole support or sales team through their team Inbox
- Target and message visitors with in-app messages, emails, help docs, and more
- Host help documents and directly share them via live chat
- Discount plan available for early-stage startups
- Chatbots and sales-assisted messaging is a new feature which can mean it may take a while to get full attention from their product team
- Pricing varies greatly depending on which features you want, and the many variables at play make it confusing when anticipating your price
- Priced by: Features, Plan, People, Seats
- Cost: Starts at $87/month for Acquire customers; $49/month for Engage customers; $87/month for Support customers; and $136/month for all of Intercom. Prices scale with plans, seats, and plan.
LiveChat (if you can’t already tell from their name) makes live chat software solutions to help generate leads from your customers and facilitate communication with your visitors while on-site. Over 26,000 brands including McDonalds, Ikea, and Paypal use this software to connect with their customers.
What makes it unique? You can use their software to capture leads, host surveys (like NPS), and provide multilingual chat (they work with customers in 150 countries)
- Has a desktop (Mac/PC) and mobile (iPhone, Android, iPad) application in addition to a web-based client
- Integrates with Facebook messenger to power live chat on your Facebook page
- Has an integration marketplace
- Translation is a thoughtful feature for an increasingly global business world
- Priced per seat so if you need many accounts that could be price prohibitive
- Limited visitor tracking on certain plans
- “Powered by live chat” quote visible on Starter plan
- Priced by: Plan, Seat, Website Visitor Tracking
- Cost: $16/seat/month for Starter plan; $33/seat/month for Team plan; $50/seat/month for Business plan; $149/seat/month for Enterprise plan. Pricing differs when billed annually.
Olark’s live chat tool claims “to connect you to the right customer, in the right place, at the right time.” And with a handful of powerful tools and integrations, this can play to be true. Over 12,000 customers in 178 countries use their software to send more than 1 million messages a day. Woah!
What makes it unique among the live chat solutions on this list? It’s highly customizable to your brand, it provides real-time reporting metrics, and you can create automations.
- No limits to the number of conversations you have per month
- Dozens of integrations — with tools such as Mailchimp, Salesforce, Zendesk, and Hubspot
- Simple pricing with fewer variables than other live chat software
- Several features are marketed as “add-ons” — or in layman’s talk: “more money”
- Limited features and chats counts on the free plan
- It lacks many of the automation and features of higher-tier paid plans
- Priced by: Plan, Agents, Add-ons
- Pricing: $0 for Free plan (20 chats per month); $17/agent/month for Premium plan
Have you ever just given up when surfing a site, and gone “I wish I could just talk to a live person!” With LivePerson, you can.
Over 18,000 large brands such as Vodafone, RBS, and IBM trust LivePerson’s enterprise-grade software to power live chat on and off-site. The software allows you to converse with customers across platforms from the website to SMS to Facebook Messenger to WhatsApp and beyond. They provide solutions for many industries and have one of the slickest multichannel integrations available.
- Includes AI-powered chatbots
- Contains a call-to-message feature for visitors to quickly convert to a text-based conversation
- The LiveEngage platform gives one system to manage all communication
- With no up-front pricing on their site, LivePerson is one of the highest priced options on this list
- Contains many features that aren’t directly live chat, and you’ll pay for them
- Probably not a good fit for non-Enterprise businesses
- Custom quotes
SnapEngage is yet another enterprise-focused live chat solution. It provides two solid use cases: amplify your sales & retain more customers.
One of their biggest differentiators is the robust design studio that allows your brand to change color palettes, white-label the product, and add custom backgrounds. Another is that they directly integrate with 14 tools such as Desk.com, Hubspot, and Salesforce.
- Can fully customize the design for your site
- HIPPA compliant (makes it a great choice for a healthcare use case)
- SSO, Audit logs, and other enterprise-grade features available
- Mobile-optimized chat window adjust for user’s device
- Less sales-oriented features than other live chat services
- Minimum users per plan can make the pricing scale quickly for larger teams
- Priced by: Plan, users
- Cost: $16/user/month for Essentials; $26/user/month for Professional; $40/user/month for Enterprise
8. ZenDesk Chat
If you’re already using Zendesk for your customer service and live chat support software, then Zendesk Chat is a natural choice to use as your live chat tool. Same platform = fewer headaches.
With Zendesk, you can set targeted and behavior based triggers to send messages to customers. You can also use chat ratings to gather feedback about your performance in chat and constantly improve your communications with all your website visitors.
- Includes pre-chat forms and offline forms to gather information before firing a chat window
- Can be used to target website visitors that are visiting
- Web SDK
- Integrates with many different CMS platforms (WordPress, Drupal, WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, etc)
- Chatbots are only available via API
- The free plan only includes 1 concurrent chat
- Priced on a per agent per month basis
- Priced by: Plan, Agents
- Cost: $0/agent/month for Lite plan; $14/agent/month for Team plan; $29/agent/month for Professional plan; $59/agent/month for Enterprise plan
PureChat claims to be the “easiest and fastest way to add live chat to your website.” While that’s a bold claim, it seems to be pretty true. Their freemium product installs easily and has the unique advantage of having a pretty good free account (not limited by messages).
- The free offering has unlimited live chat with 3 users
- Fully customizable software
- Native iOS & Android apps
- Also, offer ArtiBot.io — a free automated messages chat bot tool
- Charges by plan and users rather than messages sent. Makes free offering an interesting opportunity.
- Branding can’t be removed on the free plan; plus other limited feature sets
- The platform lacks many of the features of higher priced plans on this list
- Priced by: Plan, Users
- Cost: $0/month for Free plan; $39/month for Growth plan; $79/month for the Pro plan
As you can see on their site, Bold360’s offering is all about their AI-powered differentiation. Talk about buzzwords in a sentence. Bold360 create software to help you experiment and “unlock a whole new level of efficiency” from live chat.
Their offering follows a trend we’re seeing more and more often in marketing, of software providers creating products that make customers happier while building process efficiencies for businesses at the same time. Smart move.
And their offering seems to be working for their Enterprise clients — Intuit was able to reduce call volume by 45%, North Face increased their NPS by 21%, and Vodafone had a 25% reduction in Contact Us escalations.
- Omnichannel live chat platform for chat agents to respond from one workspace
- Conversational chatbots powered by NLP
- Offer intelligent routing and analytics for large team management
- The feature set designed for companies with large support teams — likely making the software great for a small bucket of businesses
- All plans priced by custom quote
- Custom Quote
Their software offer is unique in the sense that it’s one of the few options we’ve seen with built-in live voice and video chat. Video in all parts of the marketing funnel is becoming more popular, and this application of video chat in live chat is pretty unique.
- Integrates with social media platforms to encourage visitors to engage with your brand
- Comes with help desk features built specifically for online businesses
- Can send personalized greetings based on location, URL, or time on page
- Offers unique live video chat feature
- More limited feature set than other tools on this list
- The free plan limits you to 30 chats
- Priced by: Plan, agent
- Cost: $0/month for Free plan; $14.99/month for Lite plan; $24.99/month for Pro plan; $39.99/month for Enterprise plan
12. Zoho Desk
Zoho Desk is one of several software offerings from the giant Zoho Corporation (you might know them from their CRM, Creator, or Assist products). The software is technically a help desk solution to help support teams better focus on the customer, but one of their features is a live chat widget for help centers.
On your help center pages, you can embed a live chat unit to talk with customers that are potentially stuck. Them, you’re able to turn those chat conversations directly into Zoho tickets.
- Directly integrates with Zoho (huge benefit if you’re already using that platform)
- Automate messages and set assignment rules for your team
- Designed specifically for help center use case
- Pricing is for ZohoDesk — so you could be paying for features you don’t necessarily need
- Pay by agent pricing model can scale the cost quite a bit
- Priced by: Agent, Plan
- Cost: $0/agent/month for Free plan; $12/agent/month for Professional plan; $25/agent/month for Enterprise plan
Freshchat is one of the several product offerings from Freshworks. With their software, you can utilize live chat for every part of the customer journey: from lead generation to customer engagement to customer support.
- Easily integrates with other tools in the Freshworks suite — such as Freshdesk and Freshsales
- Customizable for 33+ languages
- Enrich via Clearbit integration
- Remotely guide your users and intelligently route your conversations
- Monthly unique visitor count limits on each plan
- Assignment rules, Clearbit integration, CoBrowsing, IntelliAssign, and APIs only available on higher tier plans
- Priced by: Plan
- Cost: $0/month for Free plan; $15/month for Blossom plan; $24/month for Garden plan; $39/month for Estate plan; $79/month for Forest plan
Userlike is trusted by a handful of large global brands such as Nivea, BMW, and Trivago. And their live chat software can help with five unique benefits: customer satisfaction, loyalty, feedback, sales, and efficiency.
Some unique features include the ability to enrich based on an email address and set up intelligent chat routing based on rules you create.
- Unlimited chats available on the free version
- Route your messages to agents by operator skills
- Automatically enriches customer profiles
- Website chat with multiple customers at the same time
- Great for EU companies as their team is based in Germany
- Full customization, white labeling, and skill-based routing only available on higher tier plans
- Priced by: operators, chat widgets
- Pricing: 0€/month for Free plan; 29€/month for Team plan; €99/month for Corporate plan; 299€/month for Business plan; custom quote for Enterprise plan
So, what’s the best live chat software?
It all depends on your unique business needs, your wants, and your team!
- Do you want a free live chat software?
- Is a certain feature going to make or break your decision?
Each of these software products listed above is powerful and includes a ton of useful feature — choose a tool, and get moving on executing your goals!
Once you’ve decided on software, it’s important to:
- Train your team on the new software
- Write templatized replies to common questions
- Work to create process efficiencies to reduce customer wait time