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Best live chat software of 2021

An image of a man in a suit choosing between different communications options.
(Image credit: Image Credit: Pixabay)

The best live chat software makes it simple and easy to manage, organize, and reply to customer sales and support requests.

This is increasingly important as customer services have become an essential online platform, both for support as well as for sales. 

Nowadays, customers expect rapid responses when they contact a company’s support team, especially during the pandemic as internet usage has accelerated. And if businesses leave customers waiting, they may lose them to competitors and damage their brand reputation in the process. 

Traditionally, responding to large volumes of customer service requests right around the clock hasn’t been the easiest task. But with a live chat solution, companies can speak to their customers in real-time. This software also enables them to automate responses to the most common questions and requests from customers. 

Setting up a live chat function may sound like a complicated, time-consuming, and expensive process. However, these days it’s actually easier and quicker than you might think. 

Here then are then are the best live chat software solutions currently available.

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(Image credit: LiveChat)

1. LiveChat

The best live chat software overall

Reasons to buy
+Easy to use+Contextual tags+Communicate with colleagues as well+Lots of integrations

Thanks to its ease of use and a great range of features, LiveChat is our choice for the best live chat software around.

With it, you can create a chat box to communicate with customers on your website. It’s possible to send files, links, calendars, and canned responses that answer common questions through this chat box. Another handy feature is the ability to send a live chat to another customer support representative, which is important for businesses with many different teams. 

In terms of other live chat functions, you can see what customers are typing before they even send their message, assign contextual tags to each chat, or access previous chats using an archive. It’s also possible to receive chat notifications, ask customers to rate chats and complete short surveys, ask new visitors if they’d like to chat, tell customers about new announcements and products, and much more. 

What’s more, LiveChat lets you organize all your communications (including emails, chats, SMS, apps, etc) in a user-friendly dashboard. It also sports integrations for more than 170 software platforms, including Facebook, Messenger, WordPress, Salesforce, Shopify, Dropbox, and many others. 


(Image credit: LiveAgent)

2. LiveAgent

The best live chat and help desk software

Reasons to buy
+Easy to use dashboard+Strong social media integrations+Comprehensive ticketing+Internal messaging

If you’re looking for a solution that combines a strong live chat and help desk system, look no further than LiveAgent.

This software allows you to add live chat boxes and email ticketing to your business website or app. Using the live chat function, you can create canned responses to answer frequently asked questions automatically, assign different support agents to chats, send surveys to collect customer feedback, set up multiple chat boxes or emails (depending on the plan you choose), and more. 

LiveAgent provides integrations with major messaging platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. However, when we reviewed this platform, we realized that there isn’t a chat-to-SMS feature like many other providers offer, which is a minor criticism.

The platform also offers a comprehensive ticketing system that allows you to auto-route tickets, assign tickets to different agents and teams, transfer tickets, and lots more. 

The back-end platform is straightforward to use and provides a range of tools to boost productivity across customer support teams. For example, there’s an internal messaging and tickets system. LiveAgent also warns when customer support agents are responding to the same request. 


(Image credit: HubSpot)

3. HubSpot Live Chat

The best free live chat software

Reasons to buy
+Free software+Easy-to-use chatbot builder+Slack integration 
Reasons to avoid
-Limited tools on free plan

HubSpot offers a completely free option for any business that doesn’t have the budget for a comprehensive live chat solution.

Using HubSpot Live Chat, you can initiate live chats with customers and other website visitors. If you begin chatting with someone and feel like their request would better suit a different team, you can easily pass them on to the right person.

When setting up the live chat widget, you can personalize it with your business branding and write canned welcome messages that target different audiences. Every time you engage in a live chat, the conversation will be stored in a centralized inbox for future reference.

Of course, not every business has the time and resources to respond to every customer chat. But you can easily create chatbots to answer commonly asked questions, set up customer meetings, and more. It’s actually pretty simple to create these, thanks to the integrated chatbot builder. 

HubSpot Live Chat also offers a useful Slack integration, allowing you to receive live chat notifications and message customers directly from this platform. You also have the option of conducting live chats through the HubSpot mobile app. 

While the software is somewhat limited as a free service, Hubspot offer paid-for content and marketing plans that could help you extend your live chat functionality into a single integrated and comprehensive CRM software platform.


(Image credit: ZenDesk)

4. Zendesk

The popular live chat software platform

Reasons to buy
+Easily add live chats to your website or app+JavaScript API+CMS integrations

Zendesk  enables you to speak to your customers in real-time, initiate targeted and customer behavior-driven chats, send files via chats, ask customers to rate chats, as well as to log and analyze all the live chats that happen across your business.

What’s also great about Zendesk is that it boasts a powerful chatbot function. Whether you want to respond to customers out of working hours or reduce your overall workload, you can create chatbots that will automatically answer frequently asked customer questions.

To make sure your live chat widget suits your business and website’s branding, you can include a business logo and customize its overall appearance. Zendesk also offers a JavaScript API so that you can make your live chats even smarter. There are many integrations with popular platforms provided, too, such as WordPress, Squarespace, Joomla, Drupal, Prestashop, Wix, and Shopify. 

When it comes to customer service software, Zendesk is one of the largest and best known providers, and the software giant offers a comprehensive live chat solution.


(Image credit: Olark)

5. Olark

The best live chat for small business

Reasons to buy
+Great for small firms+Lots of integrations +Useful options for humanizing live chats

Olark is straightforward to set up and operate, so it’s a great option for small businesses that have never used one of these services before. 

One of the best things about Olark is that it’s highly customizable, allowing you to change the colors, position and shape of chat boxes. To humanize your live chats, you can add welcome text and a customer support agent photo.

The platform also offers some helpful automation features. You can automatically engage with people, create canned responses, direct chats to different departments, and more. Olark also provides live reports and analytics on metrics like the number of chats in your business, customer satisfaction, your support agents’ activities, and other info besides.

Like many other live chat solutions, Olark sports integrations with CRM software like HubSpot and Salesforce, automation tools like ActiveCampaign and Zapier, email services like MailChimp, reporting platforms like Google Analytics, ecommerce platforms like Shopify and Magento, as well as content management systems like WordPress and Drupal.


(Image credit: ClickDesk)

6. ClickDesk

The best live chat with video and voice calling

Reasons to buy
+Video and voice calls+Text-based live chat option+Powerful translation 

Most providers in this list focus on text-based live messaging, but ClickDesk goes even further by letting businesses video or voice call with their customers.

ClickDesk allows businesses to quickly and easily set up a browser-based voice and video chat facility on their website. The best thing is that you don’t need to download any software to conduct video or voice calls with customers. 

While ClickDesk focuses on video and voice calling, it does provide a text-based live chat too. You can send custom greetings; ask customers to provide their name, email, and message before starting a live chat; as well as speak to customers via smartphones, tablets, and computers.

This solution is also perfect for businesses with customers worldwide because it allows you to translate messages into over 90 different languages. It also sports plugins for platforms like WordPress, Joomla, Shopify, Magento, Wix, BigCommerce, Weebly, Google Apps, and more, which are free. Premium account holders can use integrations with Salesforce, MailChimp, Facebook, JavaScript, Xero, Google Analytics, and many other services. 


(Image credit: Social Intents)

7. Social Intents

Live chat via Slack or Microsoft Teams

Reasons to buy
+Integration with Slack and Teams+Easy to use internet dashboard+Unlimited agents

Should you use Slack or Microsoft Teams in your business, Social Intents will allow you to chat to customers in real-time directly from these platforms.

As well as being able to respond to live chat messages via Slack or Teams, you can also benefit from a user-friendly internet dashboard with Social Intents. Chats are mobile-friendly, too. 

Social Intents offers all the features you’d expect to see on a premium live chat solution, including the ability to customize your chats, draft canned messages, direct messages to appropriate departments, get customer feedback, and use automated chatbots.

Compared to some providers that limit the number of employees who can speak to customers via their live chat software, Social Intents provides unlimited agents across all its different plans. So, it’s a great live chat tool for teams of all sizes. 


What’s the difference between live chat and help desk software?

If you’ve been looking at different types of customer support software, you’ve probably come across both help desk and live chat solutions. While both of these make it easier for businesses to respond to customer support requests, they’re slightly different. 

Using a live chat solution, you can add a real-time messaging capability to your website. Live chat software lets human employees speak directly to customers, but it also allows businesses to create chatbots that automatically answer common customer questions and requests. 

On the other hand, help desk software is used by businesses for managing and responding to customer service tickets. With one of these solutions, firms can create an online help desk where customers can raise support tickets. This software will also provide a back-end dashboard that will enable agents to view and answer these tickets.