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Increase Sales with the Best Live Chat Tools out There [Top 10 List]
Finding the best live chat software in a crowded marketplace can be tricky. Fortunately, this just means there’s bound to be an option that fits perfectly with your business model.
If you owned a store, you could directly interact with the customers who come in each day. The same principle doesn’t traditionally work with websites. Sure, you can see the visitors who pop in, thanks to tools that gather data on where they’re coming from.
However, to convert those visitors into buyers, you need to be able to quickly answer questions. Simply being available can make the difference between getting a sale and losing a potential customer.
In fact, live chat has become so popular, 63 percent of customers say they are more likely to come back to a website that has it.
Top Features to Look for in Your Live Chat Software
1) Real-time communication
Of course, the most important feature in live chat software is that it offers real-time communication with your website visitors. This means it needs to appear as an invitation whenever someone navigates to your page.
2) Easy to minimize
It should be easy to minimize for the many customers who want to look without interacting, but it also needs to be warm and welcoming. The window must act as a sales clerk would in a retail store, greeting the customer and offering assistance.
3) End user ease of use
The software also needs to be easy to use on the employee end of things. This includes prompting your team members when a customer wants to chat. It can also help for agents to be able to reach out contextually.
4) Contextual support
If a customer appears to be struggling to apply a coupon, for instance, there are chat tools that let the representative see that. They can then throw up a window asking if that customer would like help with the coupon code.
5) 24/7 chat option
Perhaps most important, though, is that you’re able to launch the software only when you have someone on hand to help. You may alternatively want a tool that offers help when you don’t have a live person on hand. Chatbots will never be as personable as a human-based chat operator, but they can at least keep your chat working 24/7.
10 Best Live Chat Tools to Consider
Whatever your goals, here are a few top chat tools that can keep your team in touch with your customers. They’re divided into categories based on their strengths to help you narrow down your options.
- Best Overall
- 24/7 Availability
- Lead Generation
- Free Chat Tool
- For Inbound Teams
- Video and Audio Chat
- Easiest to Use
- Agent Analytics
- Limited Teams
- Help Desks
1) Best Overall: Nextiva
Nextiva’s live chat software, Nextiva Chat, rates as the best live chat software due to its focus on NextOS. This pulls data on customer interactions and puts that information to use.
This allows the technology powering Nextiva’s chat tool to interact intelligently with website visitors.
A winning feature is the built-in shortcuts, which let support operators choose frequently-sent responses to speed up the service they give to customers. Each chat can be easily converted to a case so that it’s logged in the system for later reference.
You can also set the hours team members will be available to chat.
Internally you’ll be able to see which team members are online, and support representatives can also chat with each other. This tool also makes it easy to send broadcast messages to the entire team.
Weaknesses: Currently, Nextiva Chat doesn’t include reporting on website visitors and agent performance, but both features are coming soon.
BBB Rating: A+
Target Customer: Sales and support teams
Price: $10-$35 per month, billed annually
2) Best for 24/7 Availability: Bold360
If automation is your plan, Bold360 should be at the top of your list.
Built by parent company LogMeIn, this app uses the latest artificial intelligence to provide realistic interactions with your customers. You can supplement your robo-support with live agents during the hours when you have someone available to help.
Bold360 is best for customer service teams, so it will help more with buyer retention than winning over new customers. It also attaches to your email and messaging solutions to guide your workers on making the most out of every sales conversation.
Self-service portals can be frustrating, but Bold360 empowers teams to offer useful answers to customers. Using analytics, Bold360 finds the best answers to customer questions.
You can then supplement your knowledge bases and customer service manuals to make sure every area is covered. Bold360 also uses intelligent routing, which means if a chatbot can’t help a customer, that person is routed to the appropriate representative.
Weaknesses: Bold360 focuses on powering customer interactions, which may make it ideal for customer service situations.
However, for businesses interested in learning more about their customers, it may be best to choose a platform that homes in on those areas.
BBB Rating: Bold360 is not rated, but parent company LogMeIn has an A+
Target Customer: Customer service teams
Price: Depends on deployment size.
3) Best for Lead Generation: Intercom
Intercom is plugged in to the lead generation needs of sales teams. This technology is used to enhance its live chat tool, engaging website visitors in a way that makes them want to take action.
Your sales team can chat with customers in real-time to answer their questions and encourage them to take a closer look.
Perhaps what makes Intercom most powerful for lead generation, though, is that each lead is qualified using Intercom’s technology. The bot can even schedule meetings and monitor all lead-capturing data. Integration with Salesforce means your information is always up-to-date across the board.
Once the software has qualified a lead, it’s sent to the perfect salesperson to close the deal. The corresponding app alerts team members that a new lead has come in so that they can act on it.
Weaknesses: Intercom Chat is built specifically for the needs of small businesses. As you grow, you’ll likely need to consider other solutions. It also can be difficult to tell which customer requests need immediate attention.
BBB Rating: No rating
Target Customer: Sales teams
Price: $49 per month for first year for early-stage companies
4) Best Free Chat Tool: PureChat
For a business starting out, “free” has a nice ring to it. PureChat can hook you up on that front, with a free version that includes unlimited live chat, unlimited users etc.
However, if you want visitor tracking and trigger-based alerts, you’ll need to upgrade to the pro version. The free version also includes PureChat’s branding and a limit on the number of contacts it will store.
PureChat features easy installation, providing a snippet of code that you simply add to your website. There’s also a plugin that can be used to install the gadget.
Once chat is installed, you can view transcripts of all interactions and set up canned responses. The free edition also includes an admin dashboard.
Weaknesses: Like most free solutions, you’ll be limited in what you can do in the free version. That makes it great if you just want to get a tool in place, but be sure you shop around before you settle on the paid version. You may find you get better features at the same price from a competitor.
BBB Rating: No rating
Target Customer: Small startups on a budget
Price: Free or $29-$239 per month for pro version
5) Best for Inbound Teams: SnapEngage
Some sales teams spend the week cold calling, reaching out to explain the benefits of their products.
Many others, though, get the bulk of their leads through incoming traffic, with sales teams working hard to act on those leads.
SnapEngage helps capture the information and deliver it where it needs to go.
In addition to capturing leads, SnapEngage’s chat functionality also includes a customer support feature. If you use software like Zendesk or Help Scout for your help desk, you’ll love the way SnapEngage connects with those.
You’ll have unlimited simultaneous interactions, which means your team members can pull up windows to chat with others in your organization while interacting with customers.
This is ideal for a help desk situation, where team members constantly need to ask questions in order to better help a customer reporting a problem.
Weaknesses: SnapEngage lacks the ability to learn information about the customers visiting your website. This means representatives won’t be able to launch a chat session based specifically on a customer’s interactions. This can be a significant downside for a tool that specializes in customer support.
BBB Rating: Not BBB accredited
Target Customer: Inbound sales and marketing teams
Price: Starts at $99 per month
6) Best for Video and Audio Chat: ClickDesk
ClickDesk acknowledges that there is more than one way to interact with customers. It offers a solution that gives customers options when it comes to contacting you.
In addition to a solution that it promises is “the easiest live chat app on the planet,” ClickDesk also includes video and audio chat.
Audio chat is launched through a feature called Browser Phone, which gives you local access business numbers in 40 different countries. There’s also integrations with Skype and Google Talk to meet customer preferences.
If you don’t want to keep a representative camera-ready at all times, never fear. Each representative can choose when to be available for video chat. The same goes for your telephony option.
The software is also easy to set up, with no installation required. It simply works in your web browser.
Weaknesses: Tracking and analytics is a problem, since ClickDesk only shows basic information on the customer. This information includes the customer’s location and browser type, but no more. This can be problematic if your support team wants to learn more about the customers.
BBB Rating: No rating
Target Customer: Teams that want audio and video options
Price: $14.99-$39.99 per month, free for up to 30 chats
7) Easiest to Use: Olark
If you’re just looking for a simple, straightforward solution, Olark is your best bet.
Not only will your employees have access to all the information they need, but every chat is captured in a transcript.
You can also filter your transcripts to find information related to a specific topic. Additionally, you can also search for instances where your competitor has been mentioned.
On the customer side, customers will see a chat widget that lets them easily launch a real-time chat when they’re ready. You can set up a schedule of when a representative will be available to chat. Once you’re back online, a representative can respond to that chat message and make sure the customer receives the necessary help.
Weaknesses: Olark’s simplicity means it’s also missing a few key features, such as an easy way to block or transfer a customer. You’ll also find fewer automation options with this solution.
BBB Rating: No rating
Target Customer: –
Price: $12-$17 per agent per month
8) Best for Agent Analytics: ZenDesk Chat
ZenDesk is a respected name in customer support software. Their chat feature interacts seamlessly with its other products.
Perhaps one of the best features is its in-depth agent analytics. Using built-in reports, you can monitor each agent’s productivity level, including how many chats each person is completing.
You can also use this tool to identify areas where you can better serve your customers.
This solution also provides the ability to launch chat in context. If a customer is going through checkout, you can reach out and offer assistance. If a customer initiates the chat, that customer will be invited to input basic contact information. You’ll also be able to ask customers to complete a survey about their chat experiences.
Weaknesses: One common complaint about ZenDesk is that the tool can go offline even when an agent isn’t idle.
BBB Rating: D-
Target Customer: Businesses with large agent teams
Price: $14-$59 per agent per month
9) Best for Limited Teams: WebsiteAlive
If you’re dreaming of the day when you’ll have a fully-staffed call center, WebsiteAlive has an option that might help. The solution comes with a separately-priced concierge service that lets you hire live agents.
Should you have someone handling this during business hours, you can choose to enact this option after hours.
In addition to its concierge feature, WebsiteAlive also offers award-winning live chat. Customers will see a form on your website that invites them to enter a name and email address to launch a chat. You can customize this form, but it can be a great way to capture information for your database.
You can also set up the chat window to launch based on triggers, such as by certain pages they’ve visited.
The customer can choose the department for the chat, saving the time your team normally would have spent forwarding customers to the appropriate representative.
Weaknesses: The screen can be a bit busy for users who prefer a more simplistic solution. The price is also more expensive than other options. This highlights the fact that this solution is designed for small, growing businesses.
BBB Rating: No rating
Target Customer: Website-based businesses
Price: $30 per month for first license, $20 per month for each additional license
10) Best for Help Desks: Kayako
Some businesses deal heavily in providing support for their customers. A software provider, for instance, will likely have a team of representatives available to walk customers through using their product.
Kayako provides help desk software, so it stands to reason that their chat platform would be perfect if you’re offering that type of customer support.
Customers can reach you via your website or through your own app, simply entering an issue they’re having to launch a chat. Even if you don’t have someone online at the time, customers can launch a request to chat. They’ll be given an estimate of the time they can expect help.
Another great feature of Kayako is that you can set rules to help your representatives offer personalized help. If the customer is in a specific location, you can direct it to send the chat to a team member who is located near that area.
This is also useful for upselling since you can direct the chat to send a message from a certain member of your sales team if a customer takes a specific action.
Weaknesses: Some features of Kayako can be complicated, such as setting up voice chat. You’ll likely need an outside vendor to set this up.
BBB Rating: No rating
Target Customer: Companies that provide technical support
Price: $15-$60 per agent per month
Drift makes it easier for people to buy from your business through real-time one-on-one conversations.
When you connect Drift’s conversational marketing platform to your website, you will generate more qualified leads using our bots, and book more meetings for your sales team.
Some of their top features include:
- Pop-up chat — Enables a popup chat window on company websites to encourage interaction between website visitors and designated company representatives.
- Notifications — Delivers notifications to both sides of the conversation.
- Targeted Emails — Sends automated emails to further engage clients and potential clients.
Target Customer: Sales teams
Price: $50 for two agents per month
Also published on Medium.