Finding the best live chat software for your business is a crucial step in providing top-tier customer service. Options range from simple live chat apps to robust customer support platforms for complex sales processes.
According to many reports, conversational customer service is on the rise. Customer inquiries over live chat channels have jumped 36% in 2021. This jump represents the highest increase of any other communication channel.
What is live chat software?
Live chat software is a service that allows customers to communicate with companies in real-time. Live chat provides customers an easy way to access customer support and information. Live chat software enables support agents to interact with customers on a company’s website, mobile app, over social media channels, or via text message.
Why is live chat important?
Think of live chat as an instant messaging service. Live chat is convenient, immediate, and has grown into a popular offering that customers have come to desire and expect. In fact, 79% of customers say they prefer to chat with agents solely because of the immediacy it offers in comparison with other channels. On top of that, 63% of millennials prefer to have their basic customer support queries answered through a live chat widget versus traditional channels.
What are some of the benefits of live chat software?
Here are 3 main benefits of using live chat software:
- A cinch to install
Adding live chat functionality to a website or within an app is quick and easy to implement.
- Enables agents to serve multiple customers concurrently
This translates to faster service times and lower operating costs.
- Opens a personal and casual feel
Unlike the formality of phone calls (and without the hold times), live chat has a back and forth exchange more similar to what one might experience with friends or family.
How to evaluate live chat software tools?
Here are some of the key questions to keep in mind when evaluating live chat software tools:
- Does it work well with the people, processes, and tools that your agents already use?
- Does it include AI to automatically respond to common queries?
To help your team realize the full benefits of live chat software and make the most of these powerful tools, we break down the core highlights and features of the best.
The Best Live Chat Software in 2023
- HubSpot Live Chat
- Zendesk’s Sunshine Conversations
- Pure Chat
- Social Intents
- Podium Webchat
These robust tools are unlocked by an equally robust customer service chatbot, such as Netomi’s, which can streamline the entire customer journey and offer immediate responses to customer queries, with its native integration with leading agent desk platforms such as Zendesk.
1. Best live chat software for mid-sized to enterprise brands: Netomi
What makes Netomi a top live chat software in 2023?
Netomi’s AI platform helps companies automatically resolve customer service tickets via email, chat, messaging, and voice. Netomi holds the record for the highest automation rate, automatically resolving over 80% of routine queries.
Other key features
- Full customization, allowing agents to customize the chat experience such as embed customer forms to collect data, accept uploaded files, and send a copy of the chat transcript to a customers’ email
- Natural Language Understanding (NLU) for 100+ languages, to fully understand the customer’s intent, for human-like conversation with high precision
- Native integrations with agent desks such as Freshworks, Gladly and Salesforce, making it easy for agents to use the systems they already use
- An intuitive analytics dashboard that displays real-time performance data on key customer service metrics such as AI resolution rate and engagement metrics, also enabling teams to track how well the AI is performing
2. Best live chat software for teams already using HubSpot or another CRM: Hubspot Live Chat
What makes Hubspot one of the best live chat software solutions in 2023?
Businesses can harness HubSpot’s live chat tool to automatically connect chatters to the right people, route customer inquiries to services teams, and pass leads to the salesperson who owns that relationship. Affording teams complete context and a clear view of every interaction, all conversations are automatically saved and stored in both conversation inboxes and on the contact’s timeline.
Other key features
- Integration with HubSpot CRM offers full visibility into customer and prospect information, helping your teams provide better support and close more deals
- Real-time support enables agents to interact with customers or prospects in real-time to understand their direct pains and needs
- Targeted welcome messages that can be created for different web pages or audience segments, so you can connect with the site visitors who matter, and right when they’re most engaged
- Contact activity pages allow team members to view historical conversations and their outcomes all in one place, including page views, form submissions, and sales activity
3. Best live chat software for businesses of all sizes who want to deliver rich experiences over chat and across different channels: Zendesk’s Sunshine Conversations
What makes Sunshine Conversations one of the best live chat software solutions in 2023?
As Sunshine Conversations is natively integrated with Zendesk, every single conversation is automatically captured. The Sunshine Conversations Cloud is a software platform that enables businesses to communicate with their customers across popular messaging apps. With Sunshine, businesses can craft rich interactions from scratch, to drive revenue and captivate customers across their entire journey.
Other key features
- A conversation-focused and centralized agent workspace, allowing agents to see all interactions in one place, and maintain relevant and personal conversations on any channel
- Conversation extensions, which allow teams to create custom interactive experiences inside the chat window of any messaging channel. Customers can pick concert seats, or view their shopping cart from right inside the chat (see below use case of a hotel booking!)
- Integrations with Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, enabling agents to stay on top of conversations and customize conversations
- Integrations to link data to and from all systems, such as CRM, order management system, and inventory database, with platforms such as Netomi
- Live chat analytics to track agent metrics over time to see the impact of wait times and missed live chats, keep track of all past chat conversations, view actionable data on chat volume, visitor experience, and measure the positive impact of chat on your overall bottom line
Note: if you already use Zendesk for your help desk and chat, check out how Netomi can transform your CX with a best-in-class Zendesk chatbot.
4. Best live chat software for small businesses: ClickDesk
What makes ClickDesk one of the best live chat software solutions in 2023?
As the leading live chat app for more than 180,000 small businesses in 100+ countries, ClickDesk has been designed to be simple to use from any device, anywhere, anytime. An integrated helpdesk, live chat, and social media platform, ClickDesk touts itself as a “cross-platform software with a global outlook.”
Other key features
- Advanced reports, analytics and metrics, such as daily web chat stats, weekly chat stats, and ticket status offer actionable data, enabling teams to make better business decisions
- Proactive chat greetings, enabling agents to welcome visitors with custom messages based on user behavior, location, URL or the time spent on a page (such as : ‘I see the weather is splendid in London today, are you looking for a leather coat’)?
- Keystroke preview that offers insight into what visitors type before they send it, allowing agents to understand their visitors more completely, and anticipate their helpdesk questions
Learn more about how Netomi’s fully customizable chat widget can help your team offer 24/7 support over chat!
5. Best live chat software for companies looking for a full-service helpdesk tool, with 24/7 problem-solving: LiveAgent
What makes LiveAgent one of the best live chat software solutions in 2023?
A tremendous time saver, LiveAgent’s simple (copy & paste) integration connects support teams with their customers within seconds. When customers reach out through the chat application, agents receive a new ticket in the platform’s universal inbox, allowing for seamless communication and prompt replies. The platform routes new incoming chats to the right team members, and dynamically adapts online chat availability as agents log in and out during their shift.
Other key features
- Video live chat software, so issues can be effectively solved via screen sharing
- Proactive chat invitations that assist website visitors during different customer journey stages by inviting them to live chat with agents
- Real-time typing view, allowing agents to preview the text that a customer is typing at the moment, giving them the necessary time to analyze the situation and provide accurate answers, faster
- Chat embedded tracking allows companies to track events of live chat sessions in Google Analytics to evaluate the impact of live chat on conversions on their websites
6. Best live chat software for converting website visitors: LiveChat
What makes LiveChat one of the best live chat software solutions in 2023?
From email and website to WhatsApp and SMS – LiveChat enables customer support teams to be everywhere their customers are and connect across multiple channels. One of the software’s highlights is its integrations with popular tools such as MailChimp, WhatsApp Business and Google Analytics. With the Mailchimp integration, for instance, website visitors can opt-in to email marketing during their chat experience, with no additional forms needed.
Other key features
- Inactivity messages to stay in touch with customers when agents are too busy to reply instantly (e.g. “Please leave your email and I will respond to you later”)
- Chat tags that can be added to chats to give them context, also allowing teams to filter reports using tags to compare numbers between different types of cases
- Chat boosters to provide customers with instant answers, allowing teams to sync their chat widget with their Knowledge Base to offer self-service prior to chatting
- Chat ratings to gather feedback to gauge whether customers are happy with their live chat experience and improve customer service, such as post-chat ratings and customer satisfaction reports
7. Best live chat software for smaller businesses and websites that are new to using live chat: Olark
What makes Olark one of the best live chat software solutions in 2023?
Olark’s live chat software and customer data tools help businesses learn from every online interaction. With Olark, businesses can listen to their customers online, learn from live chat data, and, in turn, improve their sales support. Additionally, the platform offers ‘PowerUps’ — specialized live chat features for sales, growth, and customer service, such as live chat translation and visitor insights, that are available to add to any plan with a flexible monthly subscription.
8. Best live chat software for advanced sales and marketing teams: Pure Chat
What makes Pure Chat one of the best live chat software solutions in 2023?
Born with the simple premise to “help entrepreneurs and small teams have better conversations with leads and customers,” Pure Chat is ideal for teams looking to connect with their website visitors throughout the customer lifecycle by leveraging data and insights from chat conversations and user behaviors, to provide a personalized experience at each and every touchpoint.
Other key features
- A mobile-optimized chat widget for websites and a mobile app for both iOS and Android devices, so teams can efficiently manage live chat while on-the-go
- Direct integrations with popular software products such as Google Analytics, HubSpot, and Infusionsoft; teams can also use Zapier to integrate with over 1000+ other applications
- Historical chat transcripts, enabling agents to easily reference previous conversations
9. Best live chat software for teams already using Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Webex: Social Intents
What makes Social Intents one of the best live chat software solutions in 2023?
With Social Intents, agents can chat with their website visitors directly from Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Webex. The platform is ideal for companies that want to use their existing workflow without switching between different tools.
Other key features
- Canned responses, allowing for agents to reply to customers instantly, send default responses for common questions, and make the live chat process more efficient
- Proactive Invites to reach out to potential customers with automatic chat invites, with chat triggers based on URL, time, a visitor’s past interactions, and knowable visitor info (such as country and device)
- Customizable chat widgets to fit a company’s brand, complete with custom colors, logos, text, default responses, and tab styles
10. Best free live chat software: Respond.io
What makes Respond.io one of the best live chat software solutions in 2023?
Respond.io has a small footprint with a potentially big impact, with a “forever free” tier for small teams or individuals who want the benefits of a live chat but without the overhead. Respond.io can provide a better understanding of each customer profile with the inclusion of omnichannel chat history, contact import, and real-time analytics. While Respond.io is a solid choice for desktop communications, it doesn’t have a mobile component, limiting how customers can engage.
Other key features
- Free, but also offers a paid tier
- Includes a “supervisor dashboard” for managers
- A workflow system provides easy delegation
11. Best live chat for mobile users: Podium Webchat
What makes Podium Webchat one of the best live chat software solutions in 2023?
Where some other live chats might neglect mobile, Podium directly engages mobile customers. Users who interact with the Podium Webchat provides an SMS number, and continued assistance comes through text messages. This allows businesses to meet customers where they are–on their mobile phones–rather than in front of a computer.
Other key features
- Integration with Google Analytics
- Easy implementation with few steps
- Fully customizable with user’s brand
12. Best live chat for sales: Smartsupp
What makes Smartsupp one of the best live chat software solutions in 2023?
A live chat is great for customer service, but it can also be a great way to enable sales and conversions. By engaging with your prospects and customers in real-time, you create an opportunity to build relationships, answer questions, and close deals. Smartsupp purports to get the most out of live chat for a business by specifically focusing on conversions. Their platform also includes video recording of customer activity on the site, so employees can more effectively address customer intentions.
Other key features
- Free version with additional paid tiers
- Optional chatbot implementation
- Integrations with all major online shopping platforms
13. Best Live Chat For the Medical Field: SnapEngage
What makes SnapEngage one of the best live chat software solutions in 2023?
SnapEngage is a great choice for medical providers because their live chat is HIPAA compliant. If you don’t know what that means, it’s basically a set of regulations that protect patient privacy. Any businesses in the medical industry have to abide by these rules, and SnapEngage makes it easy to do so with their software. Not only is their chat software compliant, but they also offer a number of features specifically for the medical industry.
Other key features
- enables interactions with patients from point of access to diagnosis and beyond
- medically enabled but robust offerings that cover all industries
- detailed and helpful support documentation
Questions People Also Ask About Website Chat Software
What are the benefits of a live chat on a website?
Live chat offers multiple benefits that can significantly enhance the user experience on your website, customer satisfaction, and overall business performance. Here are a few key advantages:
Real-Time Assistance: Live chat provides immediate help to customers who have queries or issues while browsing your website. This can significantly improve customer satisfaction and reduce cart abandonment.
Boosts Sales: By addressing queries and concerns in real-time, live chat can aid in closing sales quickly. It can eliminate potential roadblocks in the buying process, thereby increasing conversion rates.
Cost-Effective: Compared to phone support, live chat is more cost-effective. It allows customer service representatives to handle multiple chats simultaneously, increasing efficiency and reducing the need for a large support team.
Builds Trust: Having a live chat option signals to your customers that help is just a click away. This can build trust and make customers feel more secure about doing business with you.
Collects Valuable Data: Live chat interactions provide valuable insights into customer needs and pain points. This data can be analyzed to improve your products, services, and overall customer experience.
Enhances Customer Experience: With live chat, customers don’t have to leave your website to get their questions answered. This seamless experience can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Remember, the success of live chat relies heavily on its implementation. It should be easy to find and use, and your team should be trained to respond quickly and effectively. When done right, live chat can be a powerful tool for your business.
What are the disadvantages of live chat?
While live chat provides numerous benefits, there are also potential disadvantages to consider:
Requires Manpower: Live chat needs to be staffed by trained representatives who can respond to customer queries in real-time. This requires an investment in personnel and training, which can be a significant cost, especially for smaller businesses.
Availability Expectations: Customers often expect immediate responses when using live chat. If your team is not available 24/7, this could lead to customer frustration and potentially damage the customer experience.
Potential for Miscommunication: Without visual cues and tone of voice, there’s a risk for misunderstanding or misinterpretation in text-based communication.
Can Be Overwhelming During High Traffic: If your website experiences high traffic, your support team might get overwhelmed by the number of live chat requests. This could lead to longer wait times and decreased customer satisfaction.
Privacy Concerns: Some customers may be hesitant to share personal information over live chat, creating a potential barrier to effective service.
Limited Depth of Support: Complex issues may be challenging to resolve over live chat and may require escalation to a phone call or email, which can disrupt the customer experience.
While these are potential disadvantages, they can often be mitigated with proper planning, training, and the use of technology such as chatbots to handle common queries. It’s essential to balance these potential challenges with the benefits that live chat can bring to your customer service operations.
What is the difference between live chat and web chat?
In the context of customer support and online communication, the terms “live chat” and “web chat” are often used interchangeably. However, there can be subtle differences based on the definitions used by different organizations or software providers.
Live Chat: The term “live chat” typically refers to a service that allows immediate, real-time communication between website visitors and representatives of the website. It’s called “live” because the response is immediate or near-immediate, similar to a face-to-face conversation.
Web Chat: “Web chat”, on the other hand, is a broader term that can include live chat but might also encompass other types of online communication tools that don’t necessarily provide real-time responses. This could include chatbots, asynchronous messaging, and other forms of automated customer service tools that operate on a website.
In practical use, these terms are often used to mean the same thing—a tool that allows for direct communication between a customer and a representative via a website. However, if a distinction is being made, it usually revolves around the immediacy of the response (live chat) versus a more general tool for online communication (web chat).
It’s always a good idea to clarify the terms when choosing a solution for your business, to ensure you understand what kind of service you are getting.
Instantaneous and frictionless, live chat enables customer support teams to connect with their customers on their preferred channels, offering assistance in the moment of need, in a conversational and user-friendly manner. As not all live chat software platforms are the same, it is important to select the one that can deliver the most impact to your support team and your customers.