Don’t you just love waiting in a call queue for 30 minutes to speak to a customer service agent? Of course you don’t, because everybody hates that.
Fortunately, it’s 2020, so you don’t have to. Thanks to modern technology, we now have an alternative – live chat.
Live chat software is the new standard when it comes to supporting your customers. They can significantly enhance the user experience, increase customer satisfaction, improve your conversion rates, and boost customer retention.
If you’re not using them on your website yet, you should be.
That being said, some live chat software tools are better than others, and the software you use can make the difference between a happy customer and a frustrated one.
That’s why in this post, we’re going to be sharing what we think are the very best live chat software available. Let’s get started.
What is live chat software exactly?
At their most basic, live chat software tools are simple chat windows that integrate with your website.
They pop up as your customers are exploring your website and allow them to interact with your customer service agents and sales staff via text. Your customers can type in questions in the live chat box and your team can reply from the backend immediately.
This is important, as studies show that consumers rate being able to have an ‘immediate’ response to their sales question as ‘very important’. Delivering immediate answers to these questions can significantly reduce cart abandonment and help you to close more sales.
You’ll also usually be able to see a list of users currently on your website and initiate a conversation with them by sending them a question or greeting.
The best live chat software will include chatbots, which utilize AI technology to save your sales and customer service agents’ time by answering your customer’s basic questions for you. They can act as your own virtual robot assistant and seamlessly forward customers that need to speak to a real person through to your support or sales teams.
Full-stack live chat software vs dedicated live chat software
There are dozens of live chat software tools on the market, and each of them offers a different feature set. We can broadly sub-categorize them into two groups: full-stack live chat software and dedicated live chat software.
Full-stack live chat tools are all-in-one support and sales software solutions. They help with many different aspects of your CRM, customer service, and sales operations and act like several marketing tools rolled into one.
Their broad feature sets mean they can be used for things like lead generation, analytics, customer support, marketing automation, onboarding, and user-engagement. This can help to simplify your marketing operations. Rather than connecting up a bunch of different marketing tools, you can control everything in one place.
For example, most full-stack live chat tools will already be integrated with email automation so you don’t have to connect it up with your email automation software separately using something like Zapier.
Dedicated live chat tools are much narrower software solutions that focus on one specific area. They usually offer deeper feature sets and are designed to provide only the specific tool that businesses are looking for.
If you’re happy with your existing marketing stack and you’re just looking for software to help you to deliver live chat support and nothing more than that, a dedicated tool might be the way to go. If you want something more comprehensive, a full-stack tool might be the better choice.
The 9 best live chat software tools for customer support
Alright, let’s dive into the list. Here are our top picks for the best live chat apps. We’ve ranked them with full-stack tools at the top and dedicated tools at the bottom to help you to sort through the options.
ActiveCampaign is our favorite full-stack live chat tool. It offers an all-in-one customer experience automation software package that includes live chat support, email marketing, sales automation, and other CRM tools.
It also ranked top of our list of the best email marketing services thanks to its industry-leading email marketing automation capabilities, rich feature-set, and affordable price.
Their live chat feature, dubbed ‘Conversations’, allows you to add a live Help Desk that automatically hooks up with your other automation sequences to your website in minutes. It’s the perfect tool for engaging with valuable leads and supporting your existing customers.
The chat widget gives your team the power to communicate with visitors to your site through the platform as well as on the go via the mobile app. Just download the ActiveCampaign app to iOS or Android and you can create great experiences both in and out of the office.
When your website users add their email address in the LiveChat box, it immediately creates a contact profile for that user so that you can collect leads and continue interacting with them off the website.
If your support staff weren’t able to immediately answer their questions via LiveChat, they can get back to them later via email from their contact profile. You can also utilize other automations from their contact profile like automatic follow-up emails.
Every interaction your sales team has with your customers is listed in one unified inbox. Email conversations are routed into this inbox alongside your LiveChat interactions so you can see the full context of what’s already been discussed.
You can also click on their profile to immediately access other relevant information, like the sites they’ve visited and the products they’ve purchased. This all helps your team to better anticipate your customer’s needs.
Customizable auto-reply sequencesCustom brandingTriggered automationsUnified inboxContact creationComplete contact infoReportingUser permissionsConversation management
ActiveCampaign Conversations – $9 per user/month (current discounted rate); $19 per user/month (usual rate)
Conversations are available as an add-on to all plan levels. Click here for full plan pricing options.
Gist is another full-stack, all-in-one live chat solution designed to help you to create great customer experiences. You can use Gist to create and customize sleek pop-up forms to collect leads, qualify leads with GistBot, schedule meetings, set up email marketing campaigns, and much more.
As it’s a full-stack tool, everything is unified in one place. Your team won’t have to switch between social, email marketing, and other marketing apps and can instead rally around a single app.
The Gist chatbot, GistBot, can be customized to align with your own branding. You can personalize the colors, style, and questions.
Once you’ve set it up, it’ll start capturing, qualifying, and routing leads from your website to your sales team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Even when you’re out of the office, GistBot will continue to work for you so that you don’t miss out on a single lead.
Another great thing about the GistBot is that it offers multi-language support. You can set up the chat messenger to speak in your customer’s language, and make it even more fun with GIFs, emojis, read receipts, and more.
I also like the knowledge base tool, which allows you to easily create and add FAQs and tutorial articles to help educate your customers about your products or services.
By setting up a knowledge base on your website, you’re giving your customers a way of supporting themselves. They can search through the knowledge base find answers to their questions without having to speak to your team, thus reducing your support burden.
Free Forever – $0/monthProfessional – $29/month
The free version comes with the live chat tool, team inbox, and unlimited conversation history. If you want to unlock additional features like the public knowledge base tool and lead qualification bot, you’ll need to upgrade to the pro version.
Next up, we have LiveChat, one of the most well-known live chat support software providers. They’re used by hundreds of companies including industry leaders like Sony, Ikea, Samsung, and Virgin.
LiveChat offers a unified inbox for all your customer communications across Messenger, Email, WhatsApp, SMS, Website, Apps, and everywhere else.
You can add the LiveChat widget to your website painlessly and start supporting your online visitors straight away. Two neat features I like about this chat widget in particular are the ‘incoming message sneak peek’ feature and the ability to send product recommendations to your customers through the chatbox.
The incoming message sneak peek shows you what your customers are typing before they even hit send so that your agents can be ready to respond straight away.
You can also show off your products in conversation and send beautiful product recommendations complete with buy buttons right there in the chatbox.
This enables a seamless shopping experience for your customer. They don’t have to browse through your entire product catalog to find what they’re looking for; they can just ask your sales team in the chatbox and you can send them the link.
The built-in chatbot AI automation can save your reps time by qualifying leads and routing customers to the right team based on their query. For example, if a customer asks about product pricing in the chatbox, it could route the message to your sales team, whereas if they had a technical query it could route it to your support team instead.
It easily integrates with Facebook Messenger as well as over 170 marketing tools so you should have no problems hooking it up to your CRM, analytics, and email marketing. You can also use LiveChat to conduct online surveys and make better business decisions.
Starter – $16/monthTeam – $33/monthBusiness – $50/monthEnterprise – Quote
Sendinblue is another great full-stack marketing solution that includes live chat as well as email marketing, SMS, CRM, automation, segmentation, landing page creation, analytics, and much more.
What I like most about Sendinblue’s live chat tool is how easy it is to set up. You can sign up and have it up and running on your website in minutes.
Start by setting up your chat environment and personalizing it to fit your brand by changing the colors to match your business and adding in your brand name and logo.
Next, just grab the code snippet and copy and paste it into the header on your website – and you’re done! That little bit of code is all you need to make the magic happen.
Once it’s installed, you can answer questions from your customers in real-time from the Sendinblue chat inbox.
The tool makes it easy to gather all the information you need to provide the best possible customer experience. You can see where they are on your website to offer a more personalized response and organize your workflow by assigning conversations to different teams/agents.
Free – $0Lite – $25Essential – $39Premium – $66Enterprise – Quote
Olark is an excellent dedicated live chat app that helps you to engage your customers, answer their questions, organize data, and gather feedback.
You can set up custom pre-chat forms to gather customer data before a chat even begins. When your customer opens up the live chat box, you can have the chatbox ask them to fill out a form with their name, email, product preference, type of problem, or anything else you think your support team might need to provide a better customer experience.
The drag-and-drop editor makes it easy to build your own custom forms.
Even when you’re offline, your chatbox will continue to gather data and leads for you. Your customers can leave a message and their contact details your sales team can follow up the next day via email.
If you don’t want to wait for the customer to come to you, you can engage them directly in real-time. You can see whose browsing your website and the pages they’re looking at, then reach out and start a conversation with them via the chatbox. This can help you to uncover more leads and close more sales.
Olark’s live chat automation can also save your team time and speed up your workflow. You can configure your own automation rules to greet customers, send ‘triggered messages’ to push offers or suggestions at the perfect moment, send custom messages based on visitor behavior, route chats through to specific teams, and more.
And where Olark really stands out is when it comes to data and analytics. You can access live chat reports in real-time, browse a complete transcript archive to uncover actionable insights, and easily update customer records while chatting.
Monthly plan – $19/month1 year – $15/month2 year – $12/month
JivoChat is another leading dedicated live chat software provider. As a dedicated tool, it offers a robust, deep feature set including a unified inbox, color-coded chats, message sneak-peeks, canned responses, hotkeys, multi-language translator support, rapid loading speeds, and more.
Jivochat also claims to be the most effective mobile chat widget on the market, and they’re probably right. It’s without a doubt one of the best live chat apps for mobile users. It works on all mobile browsers and has a native mobile menu engineered to fit iOS and Android devices. It’s also the top-rated mobile customer support app in the App store.
Another neat feature about JivoChat is ‘proactive invitations’, which allows your team to automatically send a friendly greeting message to your website visitors, just like you would in a physical store. These proactive greetings can be automated via ‘Smart Triggers’.
For example, if you’re running an eCommerce store and you notice a visitor has been on a particular page for a few minutes, you might automatically display a message asking them if they need any help.
And the best part? The basic version of JivoChat is completely free. However, if you want access to the more advanced features like proactive invitations and real-time website visitor monitoring, you’ll need to upgrade to the professional version.
Basic version – $0/month
Professional version – $13/month
Intercom claims to be the number one business messenger solution and is used by over 30,000 companies including big-names like Udemy, Shopify, and Sotheby’s. The chatbox messenger has been cleverly designed to look and feel like the messenger apps your customers are used to, like Facebook and WhatsApp.
You can set up interactive apps that allow your customers to do things like pay their invoices, see their order status, or find FAQ articles from right there inside the Messenger window. There are over 100 apps in the Intercom app store that you can integrate with the software and, if you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can build your own.
It’s a little pricier than some of the more affordable dedicated live chat tools but you get what you pay for. Intercom offers everything you’d expect from a live chat tool in this price range, including a unified inbox, rich insights customer data for insights and targeting, robust reporting and analytics, targeted messages, and more.
The Pro version also gives you access to advanced workflow customization with rules and automations and automated multi-touch campaigns, as well as various other advanced features.
Intercom Essential – from $87/moIntercom Pro – from $153/moIntercom Premium – Quote
Next up, we have Drift Live Chat, a tool that can help you to convert more website visitors, chat with your buyers when they’re ready to chat, and shorten your sales cycle.
Amongst the many standout features, some specific features worth mentioning include the flexible inboxes, Lead Routing, Saved Replies, Conversational Ratings, Live View, and Conversational Analysis.
Flexible inboxes mean you can create several different Drift inboxes for different types of conversations. For example, you can separate inboxes for different regions, sales teams, or types of customer queries (i.e. support or sales). This can help you to better manage your customer communications.
Saved Replies is a time-saving feature that lets you answer common questions in one click. If your team notice they’re answering the same question over and over again, they can save their response to Saved Replies so they don’t have to type it out from scratch every time.
Conversational Ratings lets you ask your customers for one-click ratings after each conversation to gather feedback, Live View lets you monitor website visitors to see what your customers are doing, and Conversational Analysis lets you gather insights that you can use to coach your sales team.
Free – $0/monthEssential – $400/month billed annuallyPremium – $1,500/month billed annuallyEnterprise – Quote
9. Pure Chat
Last but not least, we have Pure Chat, a tool that claims to be ‘the easiest & fastest way to add live chat to your website’.
The beauty of Pure Chat is in its simplicity. The developers managed to create a full software package that only includes the tools that you want, without diluting it with unnecessary features that you don’t need. It’s super-easy to get up and running with Pure Chat – just sign up, install the code on your website, and you’re ready to start chatting.
Some of the features you can expect include unlimited Chats, advanced customization, trigger-based actions, canned responses, native iOS & Android apps, and more. You’ll also get access to robust, real-time visitor analytics and contact history to give you deep insight into your customers and marketing effectiveness.
Pure Chat is a dedicated live chat tool that offers easy integration with the rest of your marketing stack.
Pure Chat Growth – $39/month (up to 4 users)Pure Chat Pro – $79/month (up to 10 users)
You can add additional users for an extra monthly fee. See here for full pricing information.
Those are our top picks for the best live chat software tools to support your customers.
Hopefully, you’ll find the right fit for your business somewhere on this list.
The important first step in your decision should be whether you want a full stack provider or a specialist live chat app to plug into your existing tech stack. Once you know that, you can find the software that has the exact features + price point that works for you.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means we may make a small commission if you make a purchase.