Reviews of The Best Live Chat Software

The Best Live Chat Software for Small Business

When running a business online, an instant replay (or lack of it) can be the difference between a sale and an abandoned cart. Studies show that up to 67% of online shoppers abandon carts, one of the reasons being that they did not receive an answer as quickly as they wanted in order to make an informed purchase. One of the solutions to this problem is live chat support software.

Live chat software allows businesses to have real-time conversations with clients. Additionally, through this software, a business can share and collect information. The business can initiate a conversation with every visitor and seek to offer answers to any queries raised.

Live chats can be handled by the customer service representative or AI bot or both depending on the setup and software features. The AI bots retrieve and share information based on the keywords in the queries. Some AI bots are so seamless that sometimes a client may not know that they are chatting with a bot.

When picking the best live chat software for your business, be sure to go with one that easily integrates with CRM databases. Additionally, pick the software that works for your purposes and industry. Here are some of the best live chat software tools of 2020.

1. LiveAgent

This customer service software gives you one dashboard from which you can manage queries from multiple channels. The software allows for email ticketing, social media integration, video and voice calls as well as live chat. In addition to ticket management, you also get license management and self-service portals.

LiveAgent - Best LiveChat Software - The Best Customer Support Tool for Small Business & Startups

This customer support service software was designed to suit the needs of small and mid-sized business. It easily integrates with website builders such as WordPress as well as other CRMs and email marketing platforms.

How Much Does LiveAgent Cost

LiveAgent has free and paid options. The free option may lack a few features, but could be good enough for beginners. The free option comes with an email address, a phone number and a chat button. It also keeps 7 days chat history.

The paid options come with free 14 day trial. Here are the paid options:

 The Ticket Plan costs $15 per month per agent with live chat and ticketing
 The Ticket And Chat plan cots $29 for each agent per month
 The All-Inclusive Plan goes for $39 per agent per month

If you are not sure of the best plan for your goals, you can request a demo. A customer success manager will help you make an informed decision.

How to Set up LiveAgent

Setting up LiveAgent is as simple or hard as your skills allow. For starters, the set up process will depend on the features you want to use. Note that the platform comes with tutorials on how to configure/connect each feature and get it working as it should.

Here is a basic LiveAgent setup.

 When you log into your LiveAgent account, you get an interface that has several options on the left hand column. These are Get Started, Dashboard, Chat, Tickets, Reports, Customer Portal, Configuration and Search
 The Get Started tab allows you to learn the basics then set up your profile. You get to create an account, get the logo, add users, email addresses and chat buttons as well as connect other features that you’ll need.
 The Dashboard shows you several split screens such as Departments, Online Agents, Learderboard, and own profile where you can plan how to run the platform
 The Ticketing tab saves queries, calls and chats as a ticket. This shows you all the tickets as well as assigned departments and status. You need to have set up the email and departments from the settings. Add agents and assign roles when creating departments
 The Chats tab shows you active chats and duration they have been online
 The Reports section shows you all the stats on the platform
 The Customer Portal section allows you to set up valuable information such as Q & A

This process differs from one business to another depending on the paid plan as well as the features you need to enable. If you need a slightly modified process, be sure to check out the tutorial videos or request a demo.

Who is LiveAgent For?

LiveAgent is designed to suit the needs of small and medium sized businesses. The platform is made to empower all teams to handle large query volumes efficiently. Additionally, it allows the team to seamlessly manage social media accounts.

Key Features

At a glance, these are the pros that you will get when you engage LiveAgent platform.

 Simplified client engagement through video and voice calls
 Unified storage of contacts, queries and corresponding responses and general information
 Management of multiple social media channels
 Simplified ticket management
 Live chat feature with proactive invitations, real time conversation and automatically saves chat history
 Comprehensive and insightful analytics and reports
 Customer support portal with knowledge base, forum and suggestions and feedback
 Gamified platform with levels and rewards as well as benchmarking and leaderboards
 The platform has adaptable widgets and is multilingual, supporting 39 translations
 The software works with all browsers and devices
 The platform is affordable, and can be paid on a one-time or monthly basis

Cons

 It currently doesn’t integrate with all social media platforms
 It doesn’t provide an error message if a ticket response failed to go out
 The users will need to thoroughly acquaint themselves with the system to take full advantage

2. Zendesk

Simply put, Zendesk is a platform that offers customer support. It allows businesses to connect with their customer through live chat, email, calls, social media and other channels. The platform gives one dashboard which you can keep track of all client communications as well as monitor the efficiency and effectiveness of the customer service agents.

zendesk -Best Live Chat Software for Small Business

The platform comes with a variety of CRM tools. It is easy to set up and use. Most of the features are pretty easy to master. Zendesk is perfect for growing enterprises, regardless of their size.

The platform is designed to effectively improve communications between a business and its clients, whether the customer service agents are 1 or 500. The platform helps to improve customer relations as well as increase productivity.

How Much Does Zendesk Cost

Zendesk has 3 broad pricing plans.

The support pricing plan is divided into 5 plans, each of which is charged monthly per agent

 Essential plan from $5
 Team plan from $19
 The Professional plan from $49
 Enterprise plan from $99
 Elite plan from $199

The Support Suite price plan is split into two plans. These plans have the basic features as support, guide, chat, messaging and talk. They are also charged per agent per month.

 Professional plan costs $89
 Enterprise costs $189

The third pricing option is the custom built pricing plan. This is the plan to choose if you want a personalized customer support platform. Simply contact their sales department and request a demo once you agree on the features you want.

How to Set Up Zendesk

Zendesk is easy to set up. It also takes a short time depending on the features and tools you want to set up. Here is a quick look into Zendesk for beginners.

 Create an account with Zendesk as per your paid plan or free trial and fill up your details following the prompts
 Once you log into Zendesk, you get an interface with two tabs at the top; Dashboard and Getting Started. The column on the left hand has shortcuts to other features. You will be prompted to configure Zendesk
 To configure Zendesk, you need to add widgets, chat, email, support agents, help center and a benchmark survey. Under this section you will find further settings that allow you to update profile, create memos etc.
 Configure Zopim, which is accessible once you configure the chats area. Once you have allowed this tool to manage Zendesk for you, you will be given a code which you will use to embed to your website
 On the Zendesk dashboard, configure the chat box. You’ll get a sample form as you add information to the pre-chat form. Configure the timings that you allow clients to send in live chats as well as all other settings that pertain to client communication on your platforms
 The bottom left corner has icons that lead you to reports, analytics and general settings. The interface gives you several options of the generated reports. You can print these reports when the need arises

You can always check out the help center tutorials for more information depending on the feature you want to incorporate into your plan.

Who is Zendesk For?

Zendesk is designed for small, medium and large businesses as well as freelance consultants.

Key Features

 Easy to set up and perfect for businesses with multi-agent teams
 Relatively affordable with monthly or annual billing options
 Multi-lingual and allows you to set different time zones
 Automated workflow and ticket management
 The platform supports multichannel – chats, emails, phone and social media
 Open API allows for seamless integrations with existing business functions and 3rd party apps.
 The platform has mobile support for android and iOS devices
 Branded customer interface that supports multiple branded linked accounts
 Knowledge base portal for customers as well as community forums (both private and public)
 Offers advanced analytics and robust reports as well as a CSV tickets export option

Cons

 Email communication can be tedious and confusing to the untrained
 The price is a tad high for small businesses and start-ups
 Issues with social media integration, especially Facebook

3. LiveChat

This is one of the best premium customer service software plugins today. It comes with a variety of tools that allow smooth communications with clients. This includes real time conversations, file sharing, automated messages and ticket management among others.

LiveChat is pretty easy to set up and use. It comes with team management options that allow work scheduling, agent groups and roles as well as chat supervision among other tasks. This allows efficiency in team organization.

Best LiveChat Software

In addition to being easy to use, LiveChat seamlessly integrates with more than 130 marketing and customer relation tools. Such tools include Drupal, WordPress and e-commerce platforms such as BigCommerce and Shopify.

How Much Does LiveChat Cost

While LiveChat is a premium software plugin, it offers a 30 day free trial. The free trial allows you to explore the features and functionalities after which you can choose to continue with a paid plan or not. You also get to try the team plan for 14 days before you make a purchase.

Here are the LiveChat price plans, all of which are billed annually per agent per month. You can opt to pay monthly at a slightly higher price.

 The Starter Plan costs $16 if billed annually and $19 if billed monthly
 The Team Plan costs $33 if billed annually and $39 if billed monthly
 The Business Plan costs $50 if billed annually and $59 if billed monthly
 The Enterprise Plan is customized and individually priced

You will have access to the support 24/7 regardless of whether you have a paid plan or a free trial.

How to Set Up LiveChat

 Creating an account on LiveChat is simple; fill up your email address, full name and password. If you are using a free trial such as Team, there are features that will come automatically with the plan
 Once you have the dashboard interface, send invites to team members via email. The emails include invite details such as instructions on how to join LiveChat as a client service agent
 Assign roles to the agents you invite. It should be clear to each agent what their roles are and which tickets they should handle. Edit each agent’s profile and assign the necessary limits as well as the number of chats the agent can handle at a time
 Configure the platform’s basic features and tools then do a test run. Check and ensure that all the necessary features are working as they should be, from agent status, response templates, tags and transfers. Check the ease and efficiency of chat supervision, archiving and ticketing management
 Configure your LiveChat account by customizing the chat widget. Additionally, set up the survey forms, URLs, automated messages as well as groups and support teams
 To add LiveChat widget to your website, you have to add the JavaScript code to the site’s source code. You may need to engage your developer to help you with that if you are not tech-savvy
 Test the chats and set up filters for spam and low quality chats. Set up responders for after hours. You can use AI bots to respond to queries or send automatic messages informing the client of your hours of operation
 Go through the analytics and make the necessary fine tunes. Look out for any areas that may have issues and make the necessary changes
 Once everything is set up, train all the team members to ensure that they are well acquitted with all the features. Create standard operating procedures for each team member

Once you are done with the free trial, you can decide to incorporate other features into your account.

Who is LiveChat For?

LiveChat caters to the needs of a range of businesses, from home offices to fortune 500 companies. The different pricing plans are designed to cater to the needs of these businesses by availing the features necessary for each growth stage.

Key Features

 It’s pretty easy to install and use
 The platform is intuitive and stores full chat histories for each visitor
 You can customize audience profiles
 The software easily integrates with other tools
 The platforms allows admins to have good control of their customer relations team as well as oversee their interactions with the clients
 The platform offers a ticketing system that allows the business to access customer queries that are placed while the team is offline
 Intuitive real time visibility that allows you to start conversations with visitors based on their actions on the website
 Multichannel and multi-lingual platform
 Ticketing management and chat monitoring
 Easy integration with CRM, marketing and ecommerce tools and platforms
 Variety of security settings and customization options

Cons

 The LiveChat smartphone app needs larger functionality
 The spam visitor banning feature only blocks the IP address as opposed to MAC address

4. Hubspot Live Chat

If you are currently using Hubspot CRM, this live chat tool is one of your best options. With this duo, you will know all the details about every visitor you chat with, especially if they are a regular to your site or business.

Hubspot Live Chat as a tool, efficiently routes inquiries to your team, with each issue managed in the appropriate department. This live chat tool comes with one inbox from where the team must take action. Additionally, it comes with automated chatbots that keep up customer service long after working hours.

HubSpot Free Chat - Best LiveChat Software - The Best Customer Support Tool for Small Business & Startups

The live chat widget is fully customizable. Additionally, it comes with a variety of sales and customer service features that boost business communication efficiency.

How Much Does Hubspot Live Chat Cost

Hubspot offers CRM and marketing tools free of charge. The CRM tools include live chat, calls, ticketing, email templates, tracking and notifications as well as documentation of tasks and activities. You also get Messenger, Hubspot Connect, Outlook and Gmail integration. This platform also offers a range of custom properties and reporting dashboard.

Be sure to check out and take advantage of Hubspot’s free marketing tools as well. There is a range of premium tools too that you can use to grow your business.

How to Set Up Hubspot Live Chat

Hubspot CRM tools are easy to use. Sign up following the prompts.

 To enable live chat and workflow, you need to configure your inbox settings. You can get this on the Conversations tab, select inbox, then settings then Channels
 Hover over the Live Chat tab to get the option to edit which gets you the tracking code
 This tracking code is what you need to embed on your website. Note that if your website is hosted on Hubspot, the code is auto embedded; you do not need to do anything
 Navigate to Chatflow under the Conversations tab and turn on the status on the registration page. Configure the URLs so as to ensure that they are designed to suit targeting rules
 Set availability for the team members. You can edit this from Inbox Settings under Conversations tab. The status can be online or away. When the status is away, you can configure the platform to send an away message or hide the chat launcher entirely
 Set your chat flow priorities and set tracking cookies. In order to keep track of all visitors to the website and their activities, you can use tracking code API.

Always save any changes you make to the tools and settings so as to authorize the system to effect the changes. Note that there are endless tutorials on Hubspot on how to activate each feature that you would like to use.

Who is Hubspot Live Chat For?

Hubspot Live Chat is perfect for small businesses and large corporations alike. The features you need from a CRM will have you opt for either the free or premium version. In addition to CRM and Live Chat tools, Hubspot offers a variety of marketing tools.

If you would like a customized marketing and customer service solution, you can always contact Hubspot to discuss your needs. They’ll be sure to guide you through the entire process.

Key Features

Hubspot Live Chat is simple, visual and easy to use

 All the tools that come with Hubspot Live Chat are free, and offer comprehensive insights
 Hubspot Live Chat can be used with a variety of CRMs, not just Hubspot
 This live chat tool offers real time, intuitive, unlimited conversation with everyone who visits the website
 The tool also comes with a chatbot builder that is ready to use. In addition to helping with answering queries, these bots also helps to qualify leads from the website visitors
 Hubspot Live Chat integrates with countless other tools. Additionally, you can install the Hubspot mobile app to keep the conversation going even while on the move
 In addition to customer service, this tool assists in recording visitor contacts and help build campaigns that are focused on lead generation and management

Cons

 You need to follow every conversation to the end, especially those handled by bots to ensure that each query is answered satisfactorily
 Customization options for the chat widget are limited

5. Olark

If you are looking for a simplistic design coupled with a sleek interface, Olark is the customer support live chat software for you. Apart from its advanced features, Olark allows vital integrations that boost a business’ efficiency in customer relations.

Olark -Best LiveChat Software - The Best Customer Support Tool for Small Business & Startups

Olark is also known for its excellent insights for data collection. The analytics show you the behavior of the people visiting your website or online store. You get to know the demographics of your site visitors as well as the time of day when traffic is heaviest. Such insights can help you in crafting offers and marketing messages.

How Much Does Olark Cost

Olark costs $19 per month per agent when billed monthly, $15 when billed annually and $12 when billed biennially. The platform comes with optional add-ons that are individually priced. These optional features are collectively referred to as PowerUps, which go for anything between $29 and $99 monthly.

You can try Olark for 14 days without charges, after which you can decide whether to make a purchase or not.

How to Set up Olark

Olark is easy to set up and use. Here is a brief guide on setting it up

 Start by creating a profile once you sign up. Customize your chat box and text. Set up email addresses for offline messages and test how it works
 To install Olark on to your site, go to Install page and follow the prompts. You will get a code snippet which you will use on your website’s source code.
 You can then add and customize as many features as you deem important. You can check out PowerUps for more options on additional features to incorporate in your customer support service.

Remember to refer to the manual provided by Olark in case of any issue. You can also make good use of the agent training guide provided.

Who is Olark For?

Olark is perfect for growing businesses regardless of the size of their customer support service team. The fact that is it relatively affordable makes it a good option for small businesses.

Key Features

Here are some of the top features offered by Olark

 It is relatively affordable for most small businesses
 Live chat tools allow file transfer and collect customer insights. Such insights include page tracking and visitor details such as location and name. you also get chat transfers and notifications
 Olark’s API allows chat box customization. Additionally, you get to use your custom logo and preferred themes as well as set language preferences. You can use Olark on unlimited domains and still track your visitors from one dashboard
 You can automate customer support service tasks with Olark. Such tasks include canned FAQs, chat routing, automatic greeting message as well as automated visitor targeting messages. Site visitors also get to fill up a contact form
 Team management feature allows the admin to monitor activities and agent performance on the platform. Customers can be requested to fill up pre-chat and service satisfaction surveys. The admin can also create groups such as departments for easy management as well as assign roles and limits to agents
 Olark easily integrates with some of the top marketing and e-commerce tools and platforms
 Some of the security features offered by Olark include data encryption, data redaction, banning troll IPs and GDPR consent for all visitors
 In addition to its own robust visitor analytics, you can also get in-depth info when you add Olark to Google analytics dashboard.

Cons

 You will need to integrate another tool for ticket management
 Sending attachment on live chat is a bit of a challenge

6. Drift

This is a conversational marketing tool that offers real time communication between a business and its clients. This means that it specializes in qualifying leads from website visitors list and consequently initiates conversations.

Drift is one of the customer support service platforms that use artificial intelligence and bots to help improve efficiency in business communication. The bots handle a good part of the real-time communication between the business and clients.

Drift - Best LiveChat Software - The Best Customer Support Tool for Small Business & Startups

Drift artificial intelligence and bots gathers information about website visitors that give insights as to their position in the sales funnel. These insights are vital in target marketing and come in the form of in-depth reporting.

How Much Does Drift Cost

Drift offers a free live chat option that you can take advantage of. However, if you would like more features and marketing tools, you may opt for one of the paid plans. Note that these plans are billed annually. Here are the live chat pricing plans.

 The Essential Plan costs $400 per month, with the chat seat at $40 and calendar only seats at $20 monthly. This plan comes with custom bots
 The Premium Plan costs $1500 per month with chat seats at $80 monthly. It comes with market automation integrations among other features
 The Custom Plan is priced according to your needs, and offers more features than the Premium plan. You will need to reach out to Drift to get a quote and a demo

Drift video gives businesses the option of passing information to clients through live or pre-recorded videos. You can get a free video chat plan. For more features, you can opt for one of these paid plans.

 The Pro Plan, which is a limited offer package, goes for $10 per month, billed annually. It allows secure private video conversations and file sharing with unlimited storage and custom branding
 The Teams Plan is designed for customer support teams that would like to include video sharing in their plans. This plan comes with video libraries, sales integrations, team analytics, and training options. Contact Drift for a quote of the customized Teams package.

If you want a personal assistant for your mails, then Drift email is worth looking into. Here are the pricing plans. All plans are billed annually.

 The Pro Plan starts at $1450 monthly for 20,000 email replies, 3 inboxes and 1 subdomain in addition to several other features
 The Enterprise Plan starts at $1700monthly for up to 30 in-boxes and 10 subdomains among other benefits

You can always chat with Drift for a customized quote if you feel like the plans in place do not quite suit your business needs.

How to Set up Drift

Drift is one of the easiest tools to set up. Additionally, there are tons of resources and tutorials on how to get each feature working towards growing your business. Here is a quick guide to getting started, especially when using the free version.

 Simply sign up with your email address. You will be taken to an interface that allows you to customize the Drift Live Chat widget. At the bottom right side, you will see real-time changes as you customize the widget
 Once you customize the widget following the prompts and you successfully install it, you get the prompt to choose the tools and platforms you’d like to integrate.
 These integrations will give you code snippets that you’ll use to embed the widget. Once you embed, Drift will help verify that it is indeed working as it should through the verify tab
 Once you are done, you will be taken to your dashboard. On the left side is a column that has shortcuts to dashboard, Conversation, Contacts, Campaigns, and Settings tabs.
 The top part of the dashboard has shortcuts to other functions such as profile customization and team invites
 You can follow the prompts to customize each part as preferred.

Who is Drift For?

Based on their pricing plans, Drift is made for businesses that are willing to invest in growth. The features cater to all businesses, from sole proprietorships to larger corporations with multiple agent customer support teams. The free version makes it appropriate for small businesses and start-ups.

Key Features

 Real time conversations with clients regardless of working hours, thanks to AI bots
 The bots send alerts when high-value visitors are on the website to give you an opportunity to engage them
 Chat bots and windows can be fully customized for targeting and branding
 The Playbook avails pre-designed templates for advanced functionality even when you have little technical knowledge on how to make professional graphics
 Drift offers meeting scheduling, task automation, content discovery and lead qualification
 Records of all conversations are saved
 Drift offers seamless integrations with top marketing tools and platforms
 The software makes it easy for businesses to chat, share attachments and manage agents working in the customer support service team
 Excellent data gathering and reporting

Cons

 The prices are high especially for small businesses that wish to upgrade to a paid plan
 They are constantly upgrading the UI, which is not always necessary or useful
 Products tests are included in stats, which results in the need to reset stats after each feature testing

Frequently Asked Questions

What is live chat software?

Live chat is a real time conversation between a business and its customers on a website through a chat widget. Live chat software refers to a program and accompanying tools that enable this communication. Apart from offering real time answers to customer queries, live chat programs help retain customers, drive sales and close deals.

Live chat software allows sharing of information between the business and the client. This information can be in various formats such as images, videos, audios and other file formats. The conversation can be carried on by customer support service agents or Ai bots or both.

How do live chat software and tools work?

Once a live chat program is installed onto the website, it appears as a chat pop-up whenever a visitor is on the website. Depending on the settings, the pop-up comes with an automated welcome message that prompts the visitor to ask for assistance if need be. Once the visitor reaches out, the customer support agent or AI bot is on standby to offer immediate and valuable answers to queries raised.

The software backend will give you information about the visitor such as their location, and possibly their name and contact information if they share it. This interaction is saved on the software for future interactions. Additionally, these interactions with visitors are vital for informative analytics and reporting.

What are the most important features of live chat software?

Most live chat software service providers have endeavored to provide the basics, even in their free plans. If you are not sure what to look for when picking a live chat tool, here is a brief list of essential features.

 Live chat software functionalities such as proactive chat, file sharing during live chat, chat monitoring, routing and rating
 Smart triggers, canned responses, notifications and offline forms
 Mobile optimization whereby the chat feature is functional regardless of the device from which the website is accessed
 Ease of integration with third party software and apps
 Ease of customization and branding
 Data gathering, visitor tracking, profile leads and analytics

Essentials for successful live chat customer support service implementation

Most live chat software options are pretty easy to set up and use. However, in order to successfully achieve your business goals, here are some live chat best practices.

 Pick the right software that has the features you need, with easy onboarding
 Test your software before use. This allows you to see your client’s interaction with your website and chat widget. Make adjustments where necessary
 Conduct staff training on the new software and how to optimally use each feature
 Train staff on how to maximize each conversation to provide value and make a sale
 Empower the customer support service team to carry out live conversation efficiently and effectively
 Limit the number of chats that a customer support agent can handle at a go so as to ensure prompt and personal solutions to client queries

Classifications of live chat software

There are several types of live chat platforms available today, offering a range of capabilities. The type you choose is dependent on your business goals. Here are some of the options available.

 Text only live chat support, which is most often free or affordable
 Live text, audio and video chat support for more personal engagements
 Live text, audio and video chat support with co-browsing

Depending on the service provider, the software will come with a host of additional tools to aid in sales and marketing in addition to customer support.

Conclusion

Live chat is one of the most effective tools that businesses can use to improve their customer service as well as boost their sales and marketing efforts. If you want to grow your business, it is essential that you provide answers to queries as soon as they are placed to avoid losing sales.

There are endless options when it comes to live chat software choices. Be sure to do your own research according to your business needs and pick what works for you.