8 Best Live Chat Software for Sales & Customer Service

Check out our independently reviewed list of the best live chat software options, including the best use-cases for each provider.

Online chat is a great way to connect with modern consumers as well as generate inbound leads. Not only does it use a platform that is already familiar to most, but it lets you interact with potential leads or customers whether they’re at home or on the go. To help you choose the best option for your needs, we ranked the eight best live chat software and identified a primary use case for each.

Here are the top eight live chat software for customer service and lead generation:

  • HubSpot Service Hub(Overall winner) Best free live chat option (free starting price)
  • Zoho Desk: Best live chat with a help desk (free starting price)
  • ChatBot: Best option for AI-driven chat ($50 starting price)
  • Chatra: Best option for analyzing online traffic (free starting price)
  • LiveChat: Best for integrating third-party services ($16 starting price)
  • ClickDesk: Best browser-based live chat option (free starting price).
  • Intercom: Best live chat software for scalability (free starting price).
  • Podium: Best for text, voice, and video chat (free starting price).

How We Evaluated the Best Live Chat Software

Live chat can be used for lead generation or customer service. For our tests, we put a great deal of emphasis into three distinct features: price, ease-of-use and expert score. Additionally, we included three more metrics: live chat capabilities, core features and customization. Check out how we approached our specific analysis below.

Evaluation Criteria

We took each of the most important aspects of live chat and broke it down into six evaluation criteria, giving each option a score to determine the winner in each criteria as well as the overall best live chat solution for you.

Pricing:
25%
Core Features:
20%
Ease-of-Use:
20%
Expert Score:
15%
Advanced Features:
10%
Customization:
10%

Note: All per-user prices are with a one-year commitment unless noted.

Overall, we found Hubspot Service Hub to not only be the best overall live chat option, but also the best free sales software option for those on a budget or looking to try before they buy. Check out our analysis for each of our top options below, including the use cases for each.

HubSpot Service Hub: Best Free Option

Hubspot service hub offers a robust free option with the ability to upgrade to premium tiers later.

Price Range: Free to $1,200 per month

Overall Rating star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Pricing star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Core Features star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Live Chat Capabilities star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Customization star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Ease of Use star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Expert Score star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full

Pros:

  • Robust integration with marketing and CMS hubs
  • Build an entire customer support funnel

Cons:

  • Service hub still a new HubSpot offering
  • Limited support ticketing system

Most software solutions provide a limited free trial, but Hubspot boasts tools that are free for your entire lifetime. Not only does this include their live chat service, but it also encompasses a host of other features. VoIP, email scheduling, shared inboxes, document management, reporting and analytics are all available in their free suite of tools. If you need even more functionality, you can opt for one of their three subscription plans.

HubSpot Service Hub Cost

  • Free edition available
  • Starter: $50 per month, billed annually
  • Professional: $400 per month, billed annually
  • Enterprise: $1,200 per month, billed annually

HubSpot Service Hub Notable Features

  • Free Tools: While there are paid versions that offer even more functionality, many users will meet all of their company’s needs with HubSpot Service Hub’s free tools.
  • VoIP: Voice over IP, or VoIP, is included amongst HubSpot Service Hub’s free tools, so you’ll be able to chat with customers via live text or audio.
  • Premade Templates: HubSpot’s paid services offer numerous templates, including email designs, customer satisfaction surveys and canned snippets, to help you get started right away.
  • Customer Insight: Gain even more insight into your customer’s habits, likes and dislikes through detailed analytics and comprehensive reporting.

Hubspot Service Hub Interface example

Visit Hubspot

Zoho Desk: Best Live Chat & Help Desk

Zoho desk offers live chat functionality along with an entire help desk platform to support it.

Price Range: Free to $35 per agent, per month

Overall Rating star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Pricing star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Core Features star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Live Chat Capabilities star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customization star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Ease of Use star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Expert Score star-fullstar-full star-fullstar-full

Pros:

  • Free software with per-agent upgrades
  • Solid CRM integrations for sales

Cons:

  • Customization options can be lacking
  • Can struggle with email integrations

Zoho Desk is more than your typical live chat platform. Instead, it’s a complete help desk solution with live chat functionality that’s meant to work with a team of customer service representatives. Classified as “agents,” these individuals are given all the tools needed to answer customer inquiries, respond in a timely manner and escalate issues as needed.

Zoho Desk Cost

  • Free: Includes 3 agents
  • Standard: $12 per agent / per month, billed annually
  • Professional: $20 per agent / per month, billed annually
  • Enterprise: $35 per agent / per month, billed annually
  • Additional Agents: $5 per month

Zoho Desk Notable Features

  • Team-Based Environment: Zoho Desk places a lot of emphasis on teams. Easily delegate tasks, track day-to-day activities and communicate with groups or individuals.
  • Intuitive UI: The user interface features a simple design, ultimately letting users navigate quickly and easily.
  • Workflow Automation: Establish various rules to automate various tasks, such as alerts, escalations and other actions that can streamline your online help desk.
  • Multi-Platform: Customers can connect with you from their smartphones, laptops or desktop computers.

Visit Zoho Desk

ChatBot: Best For AI-Driven Live Chat

Live chat software offering powerful, AI-driven custom chat solution for automation.

Price Range: $50 – $499 per month

Overall Rating star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Pricing star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Core Features star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Live Chat Capabilities star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customization star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Ease of Use star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Expert Score star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full

Pros:

  • Handy preset chatbot templates
  • Can create unlimited chatbots

Cons:

  • Priced according to number of chats
  • AI has trouble with advanced questions

As the name implies, ChatBot provides a comprehensive, AI-driven platform for automating your customer service needs. It uses a drag-and-drop editor that lets you easily develop conversational pathways, complete with advanced options like appointment scheduling and reservations. While it doesn’t provide a native live chat feature, ChatBot can be integrated with third-party apps — like LiveChat — to handle all of your online chat needs.

ChatBot Cost

  • Starter: $50 per month
  • Team: $149 per month
  • Business: $499 per month
  • Enterprise: Contact service provider for quote

ChatBot Notable Features

  • Fully Automated Communications: If you want to take a hands-off approach to lead generation or customer service, ChatBot is one of the best solutions available.
  • Visual ChatBot Builder: The drag-and-drop interface of the ChatBot Builder makes it easy to program and customize your own chatbot — all without touching any code.
  • Integrated With Social Media: ChatBot is easily integrated with the most popular social media channels, including Facebook, WordPress, LiveChat, Slack and others.
  • Multi-Language Support: Communicate with customers in a variety of languages, including English, Czech, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish and many more.

chatbot interface example

Visit Chatbot

Chatra: Best for Analyzing Online Traffic

Offers live chat functionality as well as robust analytics on website visitors and their interactions.

Price Range: Free to $23 per agent, per month

Overall Rating star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Pricing star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Core Features star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Live Chat Capabilities star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customization star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Ease of Use star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Expert Score star-fullstar-full star-fullstar-full

Pros:

  • Offers AI-driven customizable chatbots
  • Compatible across operating platforms

Cons:

  • Reporting only available for paid tiers
  • Some users report chat slowness

It’s difficult to understand your online traffic without properly analyzing your day-to-day visitors, but how else can you predict their behaviors and automate your responses? Chatra makes it easy to analyze your online traffic with comprehensive analytics that aren’t available with other solutions. Basic visitor info is available with their free plan, but their paid options give you IP address, real-time activity tracking, shopping cart contents and more.

Chatra Cost

  • Free edition available
  • Essential: $15 per agent / per month, billed annually
  • Pro: $23 per agent / per month, billed annually

Chatra Notable Features

  • Integrated Visitor Intelligence: Chatra’s free version lets you view basic information on your visitors, but advanced analytics — including a real-time visitor list — are available with their paid solutions.
  • Unlimited Conversations: You aren’t limited to simply viewing your online traffic. Every version of Chatra supports an unlimited number of conversations, so you’ll never have to worry about missing out on a lead or a customer support request.
  • Web chat, email and social media integration: Use the centralized interface to connect with customers on their preferred channel.
  • Support for Google Analytics: Gain even more insight into your online visitors by connecting Chatra with your Google Analytics account.

 

Chatra interface example

Visit Chatra

LiveChat: Best for Third-Party Integrations

Offers integrations with the largest number of third-party platforms on our list.

Price Range: $16 – $50 per agent, per month

Overall Rating star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Pricing star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Core Features star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Live Chat Capabilities star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customization star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Ease of Use star-fullstar-full star-fullstar-full Expert Score star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full

Pros:

  • Flexible monthly or annual pricing
  • Automatic customer segmentation & analysis

Cons:

  • Mobile functionality can be limited
  • Some users report slow load times

Some of the best live chat solutions include some complementary tools or features, but most companies end up looking to third-party apps and add-ons to fill the gaps. With the LiveChat Marketplace, which includes 200+ different apps, you’ll find all of your favorite utilities in one place. If you already have a host of reliable third-party addons, or if you’re already familiar with marketplaces like the Google Store or Apple’s App Store, LiveChat is right for you.

LiveChat Cost

  • Starter: $16 per agent / per month, billed annually
  • Team: $33 per agent / per month, billed annually
  • Business: $50 per agent / per month, billed annually
  • Enterprise: Contact service provider for quote

LiveChat Notable Features

  • Multi-Platform Integration: Connect with customers across a myriad of different devices and platforms, including SMS, Facebook Messenger, WordPress, Shopify, Google Analytics, Salesforce, Mailchimp, Dropbox, email or via your lead generation website.
  • AI and Human Interaction: Utilize next-gen AI and chatbots to greet customers and generate leads while letting your team of professionals handle the brunt of the work.
  • Chat Analytics: Analyze your past chats and see exactly how your responses help to boost revenue. You can also use this feature to identify common issues with your product or service.
  • Lead Qualification: Automatically qualify leads via customizable forms and queries.

live chat interface example

Visit Livechat

ClickDesk: Best Browser-Based Option

Inexpensive option focused exclusively on desktop web browser solutions.

Price Range: Free to $39.99 per month

Overall Rating star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Pricing star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Core Features star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Live Chat Capabilities star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Customization star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Ease of Use star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Expert Score star-fullstar-full star-fullstar-full

Pros:

  • Offers a free version & affordable tiers
  • Robust mobile smartphone accessibility

Cons:

  • Reporting only available in paid versions
  • Doesn’t offer support for iOS

Those who want a no-frills solution that accommodates text, video and voice chat, ClickDesk is the clear winner. It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing option by any means, and it’s missing functionality in some critical areas — like the lack of iOS support — but it’s a highly affordable option that does exactly what it claims. ClickDesk also functions exclusively in your web browser, the only one on our list, meaning you won’t have to download any software.

ClickDesk Cost

  • Free edition available
  • Light: $14.99 per month
  • Pro: $24.99 per month
  • Enterprise: $39.99 per month

ClickDesk Notable Features

  • Browser-Based Functionality: Because ClickDesk is a browser-based program, there’s no need to install complicated software.
  • Cater to Your Customers’ Preferred Platform: It doesn’t matter if they prefer voice only, video or web-based chat — you’ll have them covered with ClickDesk.
  • Social Media Integration: Quickly and easily integrate with the most popular social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter, to answer inquiries in a centralized location.
  • Unlimited Chats: Although some solutions charge according to the number of agents logging into the system or the overall number of chats, ClickDesk offers unlimited chats beginning with their lowest-priced tier.

ClickDesk interface example

Visit Clickdesk

Intercom: Best for Live Chat Scalability

Offers a solid free option with the ability to scale up as you grow.

Price Range: Free to $999 per month

Overall Rating star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Pricing star-full star-fullstar-fullstar-full Core Features star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Live Chat Capabilities star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Customization star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Ease of Use star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Expert Score star-fullstar-full star-fullstar-full

Pros:

  • Robust third-party integrations
  • Ability to a/b test with control groups

Cons:

  • Pricing tiers can be expensive
  • Lacks some customization options

Whereas other solutions provide random services and features that may or may not be useful, Intercom’s tiers are specifically curated to meet your needs as a small, medium and large company. Starting with a simple live chat platform and working up to banners, chatbots, automation and even service-level agreement rules, Intercom is capable of matching your growth — regardless of how explosive it is.

Intercom Cost

  • Free edition available
  • Start: $59 per month
  • Grow: $119 per month
  • Accelerate: $499 per month, billed annually
  • Scale: $999 per month, billed annually
  • Add-On Services: $199 – $499 per month, billed annually

Intercom Notable Features

  • Live Chat and Outbound Communications: While the live chat feature lets you interact with customers in real time, Intercom’s outbound messaging lets you send targeted communications to leads and customers alike.
  • Customer Engagement: As your business grows, you can engage leads and customers with more than just live chat. Use targeted emails, automation, and AI bots to harvest new leads or maintain contact with customers well after the sale has been made.
  • Track Conversations: Save replies and rate individual conversations to optimize your messaging campaigns now and in the future. Use your early messages to refine your approach as your business grows.
  • More Users as You Grow: Because you’ll be onboarding more representatives as your business grows, you’ll be able to scale-up your service plan to meet your needs. Start with 1 dedicated login and expand to as many as 10 over the course of time.

Intercom interface example

Visit Intercom

Podium: Best for Text, Voice & Video Chat

Seamlessly move between text, voice, and video chat functionality with this live chat software.

Price Range: Free to $399 per month

Overall Rating star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Pricing star-fullstar-fullstar-full star-full Core Features star-full star-fullstar-fullstar-full Live Chat Capabilities star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Customization star-full star-fullstar-fullstar-full Ease of Use star-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-fullstar-full Expert Score star-fullstar-full star-fullstar-full

Pros:

  • Use text, voice, or video chat
  • New free version available

Cons:

  • Pricing tiers can be unclear
  • Annual subscription is required

Whereas most live chat solutions focus on text-based communications, Podium takes this a step further than most by offering options for voice or face-to-face video chat. In fact, it’s the only option on our list that lets you switch between all three formats. Whether you need to switch to a more convenient platform for a customer or if you need to provide detailed instructions through voice or video, Podium has you covered.

Podium Cost

  • Free edition available
  • Starts at $399 per month, billed annually

Podium Notable Features

  • Extended Chat Functionality: Podium offers a highly interactive web chat feature as well as video chat, voice chat and team chat.
  • Customized for Small Businesses or Large Enterprises: Different solutions are available to meet your needs, whether you’re a small business with one location or a large enterprise with multiple facilities.
  • Industry-Specific Solutions: With solutions custom-tailored to match a variety of different industries, including automotive, retail, healthcare, entertainment, financial services and more, you can take advantage of live chat software that already aligns with your company’s needs.
  • Accept Online Payments: An integrated online payment platform lets you accept payments for services or products in a simple and secure manner.

Podium interface example

Visit Podium

Bottom Line: Best Live Chat Software

Modern consumers want instant gratification. If their messages are left unanswered for too long, most will quickly find another company to meet their needs. The best live chat software makes it easy to connect with customers as well as serve as a lead generation software tool, while some of the more advanced options let you use AI-powered chatbots to provide round-the-clock service.

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