When you’re running a business, you want your customers to be able to contact you by whatever means suits them. In 2021, the growing platform for fielding customer service and sales enquiries is live chat software.
When the latest generation has grown up with smartphones and having back-and-forth conversations across mediums like Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp, no wonder they love live chat.
In fact, it’s not just Gen Z that loves live chat. More than half of consumers prefer to chat with a business via live chat as opposed to picking up the phone.
Originally thought of as a customer service based platform, a new breed of B2B customer has turned live chat software on its head. Talk about digital transformation.
If you’re considering incorporating live chat software into your website, then we’ve got all you need to get started.
How Live Chat Works
In its simplest form, live chat is a pop-up box that sits on your website. Website users can interact with it, and you can assign a sales rep or customer service team member to manage and coordinate enquiries.
These days, installing live chat is fairly painless. You can integrate it easily via a few lines of code.
Here at Ruler, we use live chat ourselves! And we track sessions from live chat straight back into our marketing attribution tool so we can see exactly which channels and campaigns drive live chat conversations, and which of those conversations lead to sales.
Pros and Cons of Live Chat
As we mentioned before, live chat is certainly growing in popularity, particularly with the tech-savvy amongst us and those working in B2B.
If you’re considering integrating live chat software into your website, we’ve shared some pros and cons to help you make the final decision.
Real-time and instant feedback: The main reason live chat is so popular is due to its quick response time. Unlike form submissions where a team member could take a few days to respond, live chat is instantaneous.
Better customer experience: Even assigning just one customer service or sales rep to manage your live chat function means better customer experience than if they were managing inbound phone calls. Think about it, they can flit between messages, whereas on call, they’re unavailable until the call has ended.
Automated responses: do you find yourself fielding the same question every time you speak to a prospective customer? With some live chat software, you can preload common questions to save time answering common questions.
Mobile response: Not all live chat software is created equal and sadly, some don’t offer great experiences on mobile. However, many do! So just be sure to check how your chosen software works on mobile before you commit.
Not for everyone: Not every consumer prefers live chat. Some people just prefer talking to a real person over the phone. This is why live chat is always a great addition to your arsenal, and shouldn’t really be used instead of calls or emails.
Does require constant man hours: Unlike phone calls and inbound enquiries via email which can be picked up when they come in, live chat does need proper manning and attention. We advise setting live chat hours when you know there will be someone available to manage enquiries.
14 Best Live Chat Software for 2021
So, are you ready for the full list of best live chat software for 2021? Feel free to scroll through, or click the ones of interest to jump to the relevant place.
2. Pure Chat
4. Response IQ
9. Live Agent
12. Zendesk Chat
13. Zoho Desk
Olark is a great live chat software option which is pretty cheap, and has some great features. Along with customisation of your live chat form, they also offer automation where you can set up pre-loaded starter messages based on the user’s behaviour, location and even search history.
They offer a 14 day free trial which includes 20 chats per month; a great way to dip your toe!
Their reporting is robust in terms of generic information on chat volume, satisfaction ratings, and agent activity. However, if you want to attribute sales back to live chat sessions, then you’ll need to integrate with our platform, Ruler Analytics. We can track every touchpoint a user has with your site, so when they become a sale, you can understand their full customer journey!
Price: Free plan available, paid starts at $12 per month
Pure Chat is generally used by small to mid sized businesses and offers a 30 day free trial. It has a whole host of integrations so you can sync up your CRM, your email marketing platform and more. You can use your visitor analytics and contact history to have better conversations as you can easily pull up historic data.
However, this is the limit when it comes to reporting. For an understanding on which channels or campaigns drove your live chat sessions, you would need to integrate with a marketing attribution tool like Ruler Analytics. This will allow you to understand which live chats are providing quality leads, as Ruler will attribute any revenue generated from that user.
Price: From $39 per month but this plan includes the Pure Chat branding
Drift is used by a large variety of businesses, and has similar features to those mentioned earlier. With targeting options, you can ensure you deliver personalised content to your web users.
You can also use their routing service to make sure the right rep is routed into the conversation. However Drift also has a service called the Drift Playbook which offers extra features to support you when trying to convert live chat users into leads. And, if you’re not around, then you can make use of their chatbot to help you book meetings with users, when there are no available reps. Plus, they also have lead magnet functionality where you can create bespoke landing pages for your key content to help drive more leads.
Ruler Analytics also integrates with Drift meaning you can see which leads come from live chat, and which of those live chat sessions go on to convert into a sale.
Price: Free plan available, paid plans priced on request
Ok, so Response IQ is a little different in that they’re not a live chat software, but they do have a pop-up widget which encourages web users to request a callback in 27 seconds.
Taking just ten minutes to set up, Response IQ will show a pop-up box to users requesting they enter their phone number for a free callback. Now, we hear you, this isn’t live chat.
But, if you’re not sure about using live chat, or you want to get leads on the phone as you know this is where your team will sell, then this is a great alternative.
And, you guessed it, we can integrate with Response IQ meaning you can track those calls and understand which are leading to sales.
Price: Prices start from $65 per month
Back to live chat software now and this is another front runner in the game. LiveChat is a great option if you’re looking for a software to help you create qualified leads. Key features include chat transcripts and archives, reports as well as multilingual chat.
Each live chat begins with a custom, pre-chat survey asking customers for their email, order ID, and any other crucial information so reps have it from the get-go. One great feature we have to shout about is message sneak peek. This basically means your sales rep can see the message from the user as it’s being typed, rather than after it’s sent. This means they have more time to prepare a response or any relevant documents.
LiveChat integrates with many applications including Ruler Analytics. Although LiveChat does have a robust reporting dashboard, integrating with Ruler means you can understand beyond the volume and quality of your live chat. You can understand which channels are driving live chat sessions, and how many of those live chat sessions go on to become customers.
Price: Starter plans begin at $16 per month
Intercom is a conversational relationship platform that offers live chat as well as chatbots. Plus, you can get access to features like personalised content, product introduction, customer segmentation and you can even trigger outbound emails based on the webpage your user is on.
Where Intercom excels is with self-service. For example, if a customer is looking for support, they can click on the chat and search for articles in the “Help centre”. Not only does this improve user experience, but it means your reps spend less time answering customer service questions.
Intercom fully integrates with Ruler Analytics meaning you can understand the volume of chats you’re receiving, but also which channels are encouraging more live chats whether that’s organic traffic or social traffic. By using marketing attribution tools like Ruler, you’ll be able to spot trends in live chat sessions and their referrers based on how many sales they go on to make.
Price: Prices start at $39 per month
SnapEngage integrates with a number of CRM databases and chats can be managed from lots of different channels including Facebook Messenger.
Since the chat can integrate with your CRM, you can create a high-quality workflow including live chat thanks to SnapEngage’s custom workflow mapping. And as a bonus, it’s HIPAA compliant, so it’s secure for medical businesses who handle patient information.
If you’re a bit of a newbie to live chat, the SnapEngage could be a good bet for you as they offer implementation specialists who will help you through the setup process and offer training if you need it.
If you want even more insight into your live chat sessions, such as which channels are generating the most live chat sessions, or how live chat is feeding into customer journeys and resulting in sales, then you can also integrate it with marketing attribution tool, Ruler Analytics.
Price: Prices start from £13 per month
Chaport is another great live chat option if you want to build leads and reduce cart abandonment if you’re ecommerce.
Similar to other live chat software, you can send automated messages within live chat based on a user’s actions on your website. For example, if they’re on the checkout page, you can automate a message to help drive the sale through.
Chaport links with your CRM and many other apps including Facebook, Slack, Salesforce and Mailchimp. This software is great for larger companies, as it includes features like message forwarding. So, if a rep is speaking to a user, but they’re better speaking to someone else from another department, you can forward their message or start a group chat. And since you can collect user data and direct it to your CRM, it means you won’t miss out on a lead.
To get the most out of Chaport, integrate it with Ruler Analytics so you can understand how live chat impacts your full customer journey and which live chat sessions move onto become customers.
Price: Free plan available, paid plans start at $9.80 per month
LiveAgent is an all-in-one customer support software that includes live chat functionality. However, it’s much more than just live chat—you get a complete helpdesk solution with built-in ticketing as well.
LiveAgent offers seamless integrations with WordPress and other popular website builders. They also integrate with top email marketing services, CRMs, and other marketing platforms. Not to forget their integration with marketing attribution tool, Ruler Analytics. This connection will allow your marketing team to better understand which channels and campaigns are driving high-quality leads through live chat and use that data to make informed decisions on future campaigns.
Price: Free plan available, paid plans start at $29 per month
Sendinblue offers a powerful yet beginner friendly live chat software. Simply set up your chat box under your account and then add it to your website using a WordPress plugin. The chat integrates with Sendinblue marketing automation which enables you to capture more leads.
It comes with built-in email marketing integration, retargeting for Facebook ads, segmentation, and complete marketing automation. So if you’re looking for an all-in-one customer relationship management solution, this is a smart choice.
Price: Free plan available, paid plans start at $16.50 per month but include much more than just live chat functionality
Freshchat focuses on conversions and reaching a prospect with the right message at the right time. Similar to other software, it offers automated and triggered messages to encourage purchases, email campaigns to drive engagement after their web session and chatbots to generate leads while your staff are away.
Freshchat compiles a lot of data on users, including their full navigation history and behaviour on your site. This means your sales rep will be much more prepared when beginning a live chat conversation. Freshchat offers a great feature called priority inbox which means you can qualify inbound sessions based on their likelihood to convert.
And your marketing teams can track those live chat sessions and understand which channels and campaigns encourage those sessions by integrating Freshchat with Ruler Analytics.
Price: Free plan available, paid plans start at $11 per month
Zendesk Chat is a live chat software that integrates directly with Zendesk and other applications. You can integrate with any CMS meaning you can align your sales teams across different platforms.
And, with robust analytics, it means your sales team can identify issues and evaluate agent performance. If you integrate Ruler Analytics, you’ll also be able to identify which channels drove those live chat sessions that result in revenue, meaning your marketing team will be in a better position to drive more relevant traffic to the site.
With all the usual features like automated triggers, offline forms and chat routing, Zendesk Chat is a great option for live chat.
Price: Free plan available, paid plans start at £12 per month
Although Zoho Desk is mainly used for customer service as opposed to sales, it still has plenty of features that would benefit a sales team.
Zoho automates the slower parts of live chats, including gathering contact information and responding to common questions with canned responses. You can also incorporate feedback forms into your live chat sessions, meaning you can gather direct feedback from users. You can use this insight to improve your sales processes.
From a marketing perspective, you can integrate Zoho Desk with Ruler Analytics. This will highlight which channels and campaigns result in more live chat sessions, and which of those result in sales. From there, your marketing team can make more informed decisions when it comes to driving high-quality leads to your site.
Price: Free plan available, paid plans start at £10 per month
Acquire is last on the list, but that’s not reflective of its quality. In fact, it’s a highly intuitive and well-rounded live chat software.
Acquire is a great platform as you can use bots to onboard new customers. Meanwhile, live chat allows you to respond personally and profile management tools help you escalate urgent chats.
With Acquire, you can use automated messages to answer common questions. With smart suggestions, Acquire’s artificial intelligence will recognize specific words and auto-suggest responses. Even better, it does all this without involving your team, meaning they have more time to spend driving sales. One key additional feature of Acquire is the notes section. Sales teams can post notes and attach them to a particular customer to expedite resolution time.
And remember, you can integrate Ruler Analytics with Acquire. Your marketing team will be able to understand the impact of live chat and use real-time data to drive more traffic.
Price: On application
Editor’s Note: Are you interested in tracking your live chat sessions (along with your form submissions and phone calls)? Being able to attribute a sale back to the platform that influenced it is no mean feat, but we’ve made it possible right here at Ruler.
Book a demo with our team today to find out more.