Live chat is always part of a larger ecosystem–usually sales or customer service.
Despite the simplicity, tossing a widget on your website and hoping for the best won’t do you any favors. It’s critical to think about the problems you’re trying to solve.
There are standalone chat widgets that integrate with the tools you already have–there are also robust help desk, CRM, email marketing, and contact center solutions with live chat features that can replace your existing tech if you’re ready for a bigger change.
The Top Live Chat Software: Our Top Picks
- Crazy Egg favorite: Nextiva
- Strong overall: Gorgias, Olark, LiveChat, & Social Intents
- Simple alternatives: Tidio & Chaport
- CRM software: Salesforce & HubSpot
- Helpdesk: LiveAgent
- Email marketing: Brevo
Our Live Chat Solutions Review Process
We spent nearly a month researching 29 different live chat solutions. We looked at common use cases and hundreds of real-life user reviews, plus used our own proprietary review process to narrow it down to the top 11.
First and foremost, we looked at ease of implementation. We also heavily weighted the customer and agent experiences, automations, and price.
Since live chat is so deeply embedded in critical business functions, it was important for us to identify and separate standalone live chat solutions from holistic communications systems as well.
Nextiva: The Crazy Egg Favorite
Regardless of your business type or industry, you can use Nextiva’s live chat widget as a means of communicating with prospects and customers on your website in real-time.
Nextiva’s live chat feature is versatile enough to answer one-off questions, move buyers through the sales cycle, send post-chat satisfaction surveys, and much more.
But here’s where Nextiva really stands out from the crowd. While most live chat tools on the market are hyper-focused on external support, Nextiva offers equally powerful features to improve your own team’s communication.
With Nextiva, you’re knocking out multiple needs with one solution.
You get a robust live chat widget for customer-facing communication on your website, but you also gain an internal chat for employees, faxing, video conferencing, phone, and more. All of which work seamlessly together.
While live chat works well for simple inquiries, it doesn’t always work for high volumes of complex questions or long sales cycles.
Because of that, Nextiva makes it easy to set up a virtual call center to complete the customer experience.
Even small businesses can use Nextiva to tackle support from multiple angles. You can easily deploy the live chat widget on your website and then use Nextiva’s business phone system or call center software to offer multiple lines of communication to customers and prospects. If live chat alone won’t get the job done, users can always pick up the phone to reach someone on your team.
Check out our full Nextiva review to learn more about its wide range of features.
Gorgias: Build Live Chat and Automated Chatbots in One
If you’re looking for an all-in-one solution for live chat and chatbots, Gorgias has you covered.
Gorgias lets you build chatbots that can handle up to three quick reply options. If the chatbot can’t answer the question or provide the requested information, the user is automatically connected to a rep to handle the inquiry.
Plus, if you unlock automations (as an add-on to any Gorgias plan), you can set rules for your live chat widget.
That allows you to get even more granular with routing conversations, like making sure initial prospect inquiries go to one sales rep while qualified leads go to another.
It’s easy to set those up with Gorgias’ visual logic editor, which is simple enough for new users to pick up quickly while also allowing for broad customization.
You can set rules with trigger words or phrases, automated intros, and chatbot sequences that precede having a live rep step in. Or, use chatbots to deliver information to visitors and customers without any need for your team to get involved—like for shipment and fulfillment updates.
That level of convenience extends beyond live chat and chatbots.
Since Gorgias syncs with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you don’t need to play a game of telephone with your social media coordinator to field and answer questions or comments.
That allows your team to respond on the fly to new social sentiments right within the Gorgias platform.
Plus, no one will be in the dark about who they’re interacting with—Gorgias will pull social media users’ entire message histories into any conversation, and you can even connect those details to others gained via email, chat, and even your ecommerce platform.
Olark: Strong Automation and Data Analysis
Olark is a modern and relatively simple live chat solution, which makes it a popular choice for smaller businesses and websites that are new to live chat.
But don’t let its simplicity and ease of use fool you. Olark is still extremely powerful—particularly for building automations and analyzing interaction data.
One area where Olark really shines is in searchable transcript technology. This best-in-class feature makes keeping tabs on customer issues simple and enhances the ability to address common problems other customers might face in the future.
In just a few clicks, you can literally create a database of frequently solved issues so you can lower the number of requests you get for those issues to free up your agents’ time for loftier inquiries.
By easily being able to search through chats and find issues customers have mentioned before, every agent can have a solution at the ready without a customer having to relive the problem they already talked about.
Searchable transcripts also help you build iterative new best practices. An agent simply reopens a previous chat, finds the problem plaguing the customer, and manages the solution on the spot.
It takes just a few minutes to create your live chat widget and publish it on your website.
From there, you’ll automatically start collecting data and analytics you can use to improve the customer experience.
LiveChat: Excellent Chat Routing Capabilities
LiveChat is an all-in-one customer service platform, and true to its name, specializes in live chat.
It works by combining questions and chats from any platform you integrate it with into a single inbox, so your customer support team can answer them quickly and efficiently.
LiveChat comes with powerful AI tools that let you automatically route inquiries to the right team, segment visitors, and generate leads.
In addition to AI automation, this state-of-the-art software comes with features like product cards, custom forms, and advanced sales analytics. All of these are available to use during chat sessions, and sales can even be made directly from the chat widget itself.
This level of automation leads to more conversions and enables businesses to focus on building long-term relationships with their customers.
Every plan also includes a built-in ticketing system, daily summaries, automated greetings, top-notch security, and 24/7/365 customer support.
Social Intents: Top-Tier Slack and MS Teams Integrations
With Social Intents, you can seamlessly integrate live chat with your Slack or Microsoft Teams channels.
This ensures your reps never miss an opportunity to encourage a sale or help a customer with an open issue.
Your team can chat with customers and website visitors directly within those two pieces of software. So they won’t have to bounce back and forth between multiple platforms, making their lives easier without sacrificing a speedy response time.
It’s super easy to set up, too. After you’ve signed up, just connect Social Intents to Slack or MS Teams (one click), embed the code for its live chat widget onto your website or landing page, and you’re all set.
Seriously—just two steps, and your team will have unparalleled response times.
You can set custom rules for live chat availability, timers that trigger notifications to website visitors, canned and automated responses, and detailed reporting. Plus, with the ability to conduct chats in Slack and Teams, your reps can easily respond to inquiries on the fly from their mobile devices.
If you’re using Slack or Microsoft Teams already and need live chat software, Social Intents is a no-brainer.
Not every business needs the most powerful or most advanced live chat solution on the planet.
If you’re on a tighter budget or have a lower volume of inbound inquiries, Tidio and Chaport should be on your radar.
Both of these tools are solid options. They’re easy to use and more affordable than some of the other solutions on our list. The tradeoff is that you’re missing out on some of the features and customization options offered with more powerful solutions.
Tidio has a free forever chatbot plan that can reach 100 visitors per month.
From there, you can scale up based on how many visitors you want to reach, and you’ll pay based on that number. But these chatbots include Tidio’s branding, and you’ll need to pay extra to remove it.
Check out our Tidio review if you want to know more about what it can and can’t do.
Chaport also has a free forever plan that you can start with until you’re ready to upgrade. It supports unlimited chats but doesn’t have any chatbot capabilities at this tier.
However, Chaport doesn’t have AI features at all and Tidio charges a fortune to unlock its AI capabilities at a volume that’s reasonable for most businesses.
Overall, we think it’s fine to use either of these if you’re going to stick with the lower-tier plans and basic features. But if you have the budget for the more expensive tiers, you’re better off going with a more robust software.
Live Chat as Part of CRM Software: HubSpot and Salesforce
Getting live chat under the same roof as your CRM simplifies everything across the board.
Reps can quickly see relevant information about prospects or customers, manage chats, and document interactions all in one place.
Both have integrated live chat and are scalable beyond belief.
HubSpot is a bit more user-friendly and budget-friendly compared to Salesforce. You can get free live chat software and a free CRM from HubSpot, which includes a live chat widget for your website, targeted welcome messages, customer routing rules, and built-in meeting scheduling.
Salesforce’s CRM is more advanced–and you’ll pay for it.
Even if you have a small sales team, leveraging live chat as part of your CRM strategy makes a lot of sense.
The initial setup and implementation won’t quite be the same as just adding a live chat widget to your website. But it’s totally worth the extra effort if you can create a CRM system that supports live chat for sales or customer service under one roof.
Help Desk Software With Live Chat Capabilities: LiveAgent
If most of your live chats aren’t being resolved on the spot and require some type of escalation, bug fix, or additional assistance, then you should consider using a tool that provides live chat with a dedicated help desk tool to improve customer retention.
LiveAgent is a full-service helpdesk tool with built-in ticketing, inquiry management, a lightning-fast chat widget, and a live chat support system integrated into one platform.
Its live chat functionality even includes basic video chat so customers or leads with advanced issues can share their screens, chat face-to-face, and get personalized help in a way that makes the most sense for the situation.
If the problem isn’t solved during the initial chat, LiveAgent makes it easy to convert live chats into support tickets.
This is also helpful for instances when someone tries to reach out via live chat but your agents are away. Rather than ignoring those requests or having to manually find them later, they can just be converted into tickets where everything else is organized—so your team never misses or overlooks anything.
We have a complete review of the best helpdesk software if you’re interested in alternatives to LiveAgent.
Live Chat for Marketing Purposes: Brevo
Live chat is an excellent way to quickly collect emails for building your email list.
When you have a live chat widget on your website that primes visitors and prequalifies leads, it can help improve segmenting and targeting future messaging. Whether you’re an ecommerce shop, a blogger, small business, or something else entirely, email marketing paired with live chat is a dynamic duo.
With Brevo, you can use its live chat widget to greet and interact with website visitors before capturing their contact info.
It’s a great way to add already-warmed subscribers to your email list.
From there, you can whip up effective email campaigns with an intuitive drag-and-drop email builder, segment your list, set up automations, and more.
Brevo ranks high on our list of the best email marketing services, and it’s a bonus that you can get live chat features from the same provider. Check out our full Brevo review to learn more about the platform’s powerful marketing capabilities.
What Matters When Reviewing Live Chat Software
We looked at more than 10 individual factors when building this guide. Below, you’ll find a summary of the most important criteria we focused on.
Chatbot vs. Live Chat
When you begin your search for live chat software, it’s necessary to understand the differences between leveraging a chatbot or live chat functionality.
Chatbots automate your communication once they’re set up and customized to your brand. They provide 24/7 access to support, even if live agents are unavailable. Chatbots can be used proactively to send alerts, promotions, deals, or other incentives to users while they’re browsing—prompting them to take an action or reach out for additional support. They’re also great for quick answers, like streamlining returns or tracking orders.
Unlike chatbots, live chat requires a real person to be available for responses. This is necessary for more in-depth sales or support inquiries that require some back-and-forth communication.
Many businesses can benefit by blending chatbots and live chat. You can have chatbots handle most of the work and then route users to a real person if necessary.
Searchable transcripts ensure every detail of a customer interaction is stored in your live chat system. So agents can search for those details and quickly retrieve them with just a few clicks.
Your agents will better understand the big problems your customers are facing and swiftly address them without a customer having to repeat themselves again and again. Plus, you can gather valuable data from interactions and search for previous chats to establish a baseline from a prior conversation.
If this is important to you, look for tools that offer unlimited message storage or ones that keep a long archive of conversations.
You should also be able to search based on certain words or phrases.
Automated Conversation Routing
Built-in automation tools allow you to seamlessly route customers to the right team and separate the visitors to your website based on team members’ specialties.
This helps generate leads and puts the right client in touch with the right agent.
Custom branding for your chatbot and live chat software is very popular, and many businesses love this feature.
However, there’s a difference between live customization and custom branding.
Branding incorporates your business website colors and logo in the chat box for your website, while advanced live widget customization can offer several other features, but does not include adding images for your logo or custom color schemes to match your website design.
Some live chat platforms make this easy for businesses who only care about setting up simple-to-use live chats, while others are a bit more robust.
Easy Review Requests
Online reviews are extremely critical to the success of your business.
Live chat makes getting that elusive, high-quality customer review much easier while your incredible service is fresh in their mind. The right chat tool will allow you to create your own script and easily send links to paying customers over chat or text to quickly get the review you want.
You can even use pre-made templates to simplify the process even more.
If you are a business owner who is having trouble getting solid reviews that enhance your credibility, live chat software will change the review request process for you virtually overnight.
Live chat is about improving sales and creating a more efficient support team to help your customers. The right integrations make this a walk in the park, while a lack thereof limits your business growth.
The best live chat platforms integrate with many of the popular CRMs, keeping your customer data synced at all times. It helps your team easily manage contacts and create CRM records through the integration, which cuts out unnecessary steps in your workflow—saving time and boosting revenue.
It’s best to make sure your live chat tool offers all the integrations you need in order to make your life easier. In some cases, you can even get live chat and a CRM from the same provider.