Best Live Chat Software 2021

Take Our Quiz: What is the Best Live Chat Software For Me?

Take our quiz to see which live chat software is best for you. We've invested hundreds of hours into researching and testing the top live chat solutions on the market and have shared our insights below.

Finding the right live chat software for your business can be tricky. There are quite a few chat products on the market, with many companies offering live chat either as a standalone product or as an add-on feature in a suite of customer engagement tools. Each platform has strengths and weaknesses, and different tools will work best for companies of various sizes and industries. For example, if you’re a small startup, there’s likely no need to be paying upwards of $900 per month for a live chat solution.

We’ve created this quiz to make your live chat decision easier. Along with the quiz, there’s also general information about the live chat software market and links to our in-depth reviews of each product so you can learn more about each.

Take Our Quiz: Which Live Chat Software is Best for You?

This quiz will ask questions about your desired features and company size. Based on that, we’ll recommend the best solution for you. It will take less than 5 minutes.

Table of Contents

What is Live Chat Software?

Live chat software is technology that allows companies to engage with their website visitors via online messaging. It is often utilized as an alternative to phone and email support, providing superior convenience and speed. Many companies install live chat software on their websites to answer customer questions, resolve issues, and increase their website conversion rates.

How Much Does Live Chat Software Cost?

In general, live chat tools will range from free to upwards of $600 per month depending on the complexity of the software. The cost of live software depends on the features you need. There are many valuable free tools, so you may not need to pay anything at all to install live chat on your website.

Here are some general price ranges that you can expect to spend per user per month:

  • Entry-level plans: $0 to $19 per month per agent
  • Standard plans: $20 to $49 per month per agent
  • Business and Pro plans: $50 to $99 per month per agent
  • Enterprise plans: Contact the vendor for pricing

What Features Should I Look for in Live Chat Software?

The main features in live chat software are chat widgets & inboxes, chatbots, email marketing capabilities, ticketing, help desks, and integrations. Descriptions and differentiations are provided in the table below:

FeatureDescriptionWhat to Look For
Chat WidgetThe chat widget, which is available on all of your website pages, is how visitors will chat with your team. Usually, visitors can send files & images along with text.Certain platforms offer more customization, meaning you can change colors, add your company logo, choose the widget position, and remove branding.
ChatbotChatbots are software applications that can carry out conversations with website visitors while your company is not online.The best chatbots are easy to build in a workflow-style builder. Some bots also come with human-like details, like waiting a few seconds before replying to visitors.
Automated & Canned MessagesAutomated messages are pre-saved messages that team members can send with just a click, rather than taking the time to type out messages. This is an important time-saving feature that helps your team.Solutions that allow automated messages to be grouped into different categories (e.g. sales, return information, etc) are a bit more advanced and will help larger teams.
TicketingTicketing software allows you to track customer issues. This will be particularly advantageous for companies looking to shine in regards to customer support.If this is something you’re interested in, a reliable option is to look for companies that also offer ticketing tools, like Freshworks.
Email MarketingMany solutions combine live chat with email marketing, so you can collect customer email addresses.Look for platforms that offer advanced segmentation capabilities and have unlimited emails sent per month.

How to Choose the Best Live Chat Software For You

Before choosing a live chat software, you need to determine which features you want to be included. Are you looking for just basic chat functionality? Do you want a tool that combines live chat with email campaigns? Are you looking to provide off-hours support with AI chatbots?

You should also know the price range you’re wanting to stay within. Of course, more advanced platforms with unique features like chatbots and website pop-ups tend to be more expensive. Most live chat software tools operate on a pay-per-user model, so if you have a large team, some of the choices can get expensive quickly.

Most of these software tools offer a handful of plans which offer more features as they increase in price. Because features differ greatly from plan to plan, you need to decide on the best individual plan for you, rather than just choosing a company.

In the table below, we show the plans that are available in each price range, along with the features they typically include and a quick overview. The plans are priced per seat unless otherwise specified.

Price RangePlans AvailableWhat to Expect
$0 to $19 per month
  • Crisp Free Plan (1 seat)
  • Drift Free Plan
  • Freshchat Free & Blossom Plans
  • HelpCrunch Standard Plan
  • LiveChat Starter Plan
  • Olark (All Plans)
  • Smith.ai Free Plan
  • Tidio (All Aspects)
  • Tawk.to
  • Best for basic live chat capabilities
  • Not for chatbots or email marketing
  • Ideal for small businesses with basic requirements
$20 to $49 per month
  • Crisp Pro Plan (4 seats)
  • Freshchat Garden Plan
  • Gist All-In-One Pro Plan
  • Gist Marketing Premium Plan
  • Gist Support Pro Plan
  • Gist Marketing Pro Plan
  • HelpCrunch Premium Plan
  • Intercom Start Plan
  • LiveChat Starter Plan
  • Often includes more advanced capabilities
  • Some include multiple seats for a base price
  • Better for mid-sized companies
$50 to $99 per month
  • Crisp Unlimited Plan (Unlimited seats)
  • Freshchat Enterprise & Forest Plans
  • Intercom Grow Plan
  • LiveChat Business Plan
  • Very similar to the previous list
  • Ideal for mid-size or large companies
  • Often include open API and more integrations
Over $100 per month
  • Drift Premium Plan
  • Gist Support Premium Plan
  • Gist All-In-One Premium Plan
  • Intercom Accelerate & Scale Plans
  • LiveChat Enterprise Plan
  • Smith.ai Starter, Basic, & Pro Plans
  • Highest quality features
  • Best and most responsive customer support
  • Chatbots, email marketing, and chat combined

To determine which plan is best for you, we recommend taking the quiz. It’ll ask questions about preferred features and your company size, which will quickly narrow down the options.

Top Live Chat Software

The live chat market is fairly crowded, with many tools that vary widely in terms of pricing, features, and target customers. Below are quick descriptions of the top 10 tools we tested, along with links to our full reviews if you’d like to learn more.

Crisp

Crisp is a tool with all standard live chat features, along with unique features like co-browsing with website visitors. The free plan offered by Crisp isn’t particularly valuable, but at only $95 per month for unlimited users, it’s a great tool for most companies.

Crisp
Rating: 88
Starting Price: $25 per month

Crisp is a live chat and email marketing software with over 200,000 customers. Its notable features include chatbots, which are very intuitive to build, and unlimited seats in the most advanced plan. Crisp is a reliable software at a relatively low price, especially for for startups and small businesses.

Pros:
  • Prompt and reliable mobile application notifications
  • Chatbots are more intuitive to configure than competitors' bots
  • Good value for the price, particularly with the Unlimited plan
Cons:
  • MagicBrowse tool requires a strong Internet connection to function properly
  • Agent-specific reports must be custom-built with API
  • Email editor is slightly more complicated than in competitors' tools

Drift

Drift is a complex, premium software with over 50,000 customers. The free plan includes live chat, but the main function of Drift is to gather leads, close sales, and market to customers. This tool is going to be best for sales-focused, technology-forward companies that have a large budget for a live chat solution.

Drift
Rating: 90
Starting Price: $50 per agent per month

Drift is a powerful messaging and marketing software with over 50,000 customers. With features like live chat, chatbots, and messaging campaigns, it is a great solution for sales and marketing teams.

Pros:
  • Very powerful segmentation capabilities for marketing and sales teams
  • Segmentation enables rich targeting for one-off and drip marketing campaigns
  • Integrates with key sales and marketing solutions like Marketo and Salesforce
Cons:
  • Steep learning curve due to product's complexity
  • Chat inbox is not always accurate with information
  • Lack of pricing transparency

Freshchat

Freshchat is a chat product that’s ideal for those who already use other Freshworks products, which include helpdesk products, a CRM, and more. It’s a great choice for those who want basic chat and email marketing compatibilities; however, the chatbot is so expensive that you should look at other products first if that’s what you want.

Freshchat
Rating: 84
Starting Price: $19 per agent per month

Freshchat is a messaging software offered by Freshworks, a company with a wide variety of products. Its main features include live chat and email campaigns; Freshchat also includes advanced in-house reports. Overall, Freshchat is a solid yet slightly expensive live chat solution.

Pros:
  • Advanced in-house reporting metrics
  • Free plan comes with 100 seats - more than most competitors offer for free
  • Effective and user-friendly
Cons:
  • Chatbot is expensive and only included in most expensive plan
  • Lacks integrations found in similar tools
  • Comes at a higher cost than similar competitors

Gist

Gist is a great live chat software for companies of all sizes and functions. There are features like live chat, website pop-ups, chatbots, and email marketing. The pricing is very fair for the features that you get and it was easy to navigate, which isn’t the case with enterprise tools like Drift and Intercom.

Gist
Rating: 88
Starting Price: $29 per month

Gist is a customer messaging software with over 10,000 customers. Its notable features include event tracking and cross-channel campaigns. It is ideal for anyone looking for an affordable mid-tier customer messaging solution.

Pros:
  • Free plans are more robust than competitors' free plans
  • Advanced cross-channel messaging capabilities
  • Buildable forms and popups to capture and convert leads
Cons:
  • Chat history feature is not designed practically
  • Customer support wait times can be long
  • Limited integrations list

HelpCrunch

HelpCrunch was one of our highest-rated software products because it combines reliable live chat, email marketing, and chatbot features for a very reasonable price. It’s accessible to smaller companies due to the price, but is advanced enough for larger companies as well. If you’re looking to streamline customer support and marketing efforts, it’s a great choice.

HelpCrunch
Rating: 93
Starting Price: $15 per month

HelpCrunch is a modern and powerful customer communication platform. With features that help streamline customer support and marketing, it’s a solution that will benefit most teams, ecommerce organizations in particular.

Pros:
  • One of the most powerful and intuitive tools we tested
  • Includes website pop-ups, which few live chat solutions offer
  • Helpful and detailed metrics regarding campaigns and knowledge base
Cons:
  • The Chat + Email plan can get expensive if you have a large team
  • The chat widget was somewhat slow to load during our testing
  • Slightly limited integrations list and doesn't integrate with Zapier

Intercom

Intercom is similar to Drift because it’s also best for technology-forward companies and enterprise-level customers. There are advanced features like A/B testing, product tours, and cross-channel messaging. It was rated highest in our live chat category because, though it’s very expensive, it’s one of the best options out there for those who want live chat functionality to be combined with other advanced features.

Intercom
Rating: 93
Starting Price: $39 per month

Intercom is a customer messaging software with over 30,000 customers. It offers features like cross-channel messaging, A/B testing, and chatbots. Intercom is ideal for large and technology-forward companies looking to improve customer engagement.

Pros:
  • Powerful for cross-channel messaging and data tracking
  • Unique marketing features like product tours and A/B testing
  • Ability to create custom-built apps for Intercom Messenger using API
Cons:
  • Missing some basic live chat features like message sneak peek
  • One of the most expensive solutions on the market
  • Lacking in customer support availability

LiveChat

LiveChat is a powerful solution that’s likely best for larger teams due to the high price. There’s no free plan like many other tools have, but for those looking to combine live chat and chatbots, it’s a reliable option. Integrations, though extensive, can also get pricey. This tool can help your business with lead generation and customer support efforts.

LiveChat
Rating: 91
Starting Price: $19 per agent per month

LiveChat is a live chat and ticketing software with over 30,000 customers worldwide. LiveChat's main features include advanced reports, a ticketing system, and a broad integrations list. Overall, we found LiveChat to be one of the most feature-rich live chat solutions, but also one of the most expensive.

Pros:
  • One of the most powerful live chat tools on the market
  • More advanced reporting section than found in alternatives
  • Unique features like interactive reports and direct canned response creation
Cons:
  • Lacks built-in email marketing capabilities
  • Expensive compared with other platforms, especially for smaller teams
  • No free plan

Smith.ai

Smith.ai is a unique chat product because its main offering is chat agents for hire. If your business is in sectors like legal, dental, or medical, this is a great choice because the company monitors live chat and will also field calls for your office. There are also features like AI chatbots and lead capture forms that will allow you to capture client information easily. If you’re not in one of the sectors mentioned above, this isn’t a great choice, but if you have a boutique business similar to the ones above, it’s a great investment.

Smith.ai
Rating: 83
Starting Price: $140 per month

Smith.ai is a virtual receptionist and chat agent service that is used by companies across industries like finance, legal, and real estate. With features like a smart chatbot and customizable playbooks that gather visitor information, Smith.ai is ideal for small companies looking to outsource customer support services.

Pros:
  • Ideal for companies looking for external agents to handle customer support
  • Chatbots are "smart" and can be trained to learn correct answers over time
  • Smith.ai's customer service was exceptionally helpful and proactive
Cons:
  • We ran into a significant software issue while testing the product
  • Because there are call and chat limits, it can become costly if you have a high-traffic site
  • Outsourcing your live chat is convenient, but means you'll have less control over your customer experience

Tawk.to

With over three million customers, tawk.to is easily the most popular live chat tool on the market. It’s entirely free for basic live chat and ticketing functions. You can also hire chat agents to converse with customers on your company’s behalf. We recommend tawk.to for anyone looking for a free live chat software because, while it’s relatively basic, it’s the best free choice on the market today.

tawk.to
Rating: 90
Starting Price: Free

Tawk.to is a free live chat solution with over 3 million users. It focuses solely on live chat, with features like ticketing and screen sharing, and tawk.to also allows customers to directly hire virtual assistants and chat agents. Tawk.to is the best free live chat software and would benefit any company searching for a free option.

Pros:
  • Entirely free
  • More robust than competitors' free plans
  • Tawk.to customers can directly hire chat agents and virtual assistants
Cons:
  • Not quite as user-friendly as paid competitors
  • No chatbot or email marketing features
  • Must pay to remove "Powered by tawk.to" branding

Tidio

Tidio is a reliable, mid-tier solution with features like chatbots, email marketing, and analytics. It’s used on over 300,000 websites, making it one of the most popular live chat software tools. Though chat notifications are not always entirely reliable, we recommend Tidio for small to medium businesses that want chatbots and email marketing features for a relatively low monthly cost.

Tidio
Rating: 85
Starting Price: $18 per month

Tidio is a live chat and email marketing software that’s used by over 300,000 websites. It offers features like chatbots and email marketing templates. Given its ease of use, Tidio is ideal for those searching for a hassle-free live chat solution.

Pros:
  • Advanced and varied chatbot workflows that are still easy to build
  • Interface is user-friendly
  • Flexible pricing options give customers the chance to pay for only the features they want
Cons:
  • Chat notifications can be unreliable, so you may not always get notified when you have a message
  • Included reports are fairly basic
  • Somewhat limited integrations list, especially compared with competitors
Katelyn Anderson

Katelyn is a Junior Research Analyst at SoftwarePundit, where she conducts in-depth analyses of technology markets & products and writes software-related content. She graduated summa cum laude with degrees in English and Psychology. Her main areas of interest are content creation, user experience, and search engine optimization. You can connect with Katelyn on LinkedIn.

Katelyn is an expert in several software categories including:

  • Accounting software
  • Integration software
  • Live chat software
  • Vacation rental software
  • Video conferencing software

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