Best Live Chat Software 2021

Live Chat Comparison

With so many live chat software tools to choose from, it can be hard to find the best fit for your company. We spent over 100 hours researching the best platforms and have published our insights about live chat software in the resources listed below.

Finding a live chat software tool is relatively easy, given how many options there are on the market today. However, understanding the best platform for you, as well as comparing the best live chat software tools, can be a challenge. Most live chat platforms offer more than just live chat — they’ll also include features like chatbots, ticketing, email marketing, website pop-ups, and more.

We spent dozens of hours researching and hand-testing the leading live chat software tools, as well as interviewing current customers to hear about their experiences using the tools. The details of our research process can be found in our article covering the best live chat software.

Throughout this article, you’ll find in-depth analyses comparing live chat software platforms. These analyses include the top competitors for each platform, as well as direct one-to-one comparisons between tools.

Table of Contents

How To Compare Live Chat Software

The most important factor in finding the right live chat software for you is deciding on the features you want. Some solutions are built with live chat as the main, and only, feature. Other tools are built specifically for sales teams and will offer rich targeting features, while others will include chatbots, ticketing, email marketing, and more.

The following list shows a general overview of features generally found in live chat software:

  • Chat widget
  • Team inbox
  • Ticketing
  • Hosted knowledge base
  • Email marketing
  • Chatbots
  • Website pop-ups
  • A/B testing
  • Analytics
  • Mobile application

Because the included features are the most important factors in choosing a live chat software tool, we suggest comparing software based upon the specific features that you need. Here’s a table that you can use to narrow down the live chat options for your business.

Available FeaturesSoftware Vendors to Consider
Live Chat OnlyPure Chat, Tawk.to
Live Chat & EmailCrisp, Drift, Gist, Intercom, HelpCrunch, Freshchat, LiveChat, Tidio
Live Chat, Email & TicketingFreshchat
Tools With ChatbotsCrisp, Drift, Freshchat, Gist, Intercom, LiveChat, Olark, Tidio

In general, enterprise-appropriate platforms like Intercom or Drift are meant for large companies who handle large volumes of both support and sales requests. They’re the priciest options, but also come with the most features to handle website visitors.

Live Chat Comparison Overview

Our analyst rating consists of ratings regarding four main criteria: features, usability, pricing, and customer support. A SoftwarePundit Analyst rating over 85 is above average, and above 90 is excellent.

HelpCrunch
HelpCrunch
Rating 93
LiveChat
LiveChat
Rating 91
tawk.to
tawk.to
Rating 90
Drift
Drift
Rating 90
Crisp
Crisp
Rating 88
Gist
Gist
Rating 88
Tidio
Tidio
Rating 85
Freshchat
Freshchat
Rating 84
Zendesk Chat
Zendesk Chat
Rating 84

For more details concerning the review process, you can read about our review methodology.

The Most Popular Live Chat Solutions Vs. Competitors

Even if you have an idea of the platform you’d like to try, it’s helpful to know how each platform stacks up against its competitors. We’ve written analyses comparing popular live chat tools against their top competitors.

Intercom Competitors & Alternatives

Intercom is one of the most powerful messaging and marketing tools available. Along with offering standard features like live chat, chatbots, and email marketing, Intercom also has unique features like A/B testing and product tours. We recommend this premium tool for enterprise companies who need a very powerful tool. It will also benefit technology-forward startup companies, who can make use of Intercom’s discounted pricing for startups.

Read our Intercom Review.

HelpCrunch Competitors & Alternatives

HelpCrunch is one of the best tools on the market for those looking to combine live chat with email marketing and website pop-ups. While the widget took a few more seconds to load than other companies’ widgets, it’s still a reliable option. We broadly recommend HelpCrunch to any small business or medium-sized business. Larger companies should choose a tool like Intercom, which is better at handling a larger volume of customer requests.

Read our HelpCrunch Review.

LiveChat Competitors & Alternatives

LiveChat is one of the oldest live chat platforms on the market. Along with live chat, LiveChat offers features like ticketing, chatbots, and advanced reporting. While LiveChat is feature-rich and powerful, it is relatively pricey and lacks email marketing features. We recommend LiveChat to those looking to incorporate live chat on their website for support purposes.

Read our LiveChat Review.

Tawk.to Competitors & Alternatives

Tawk.to is a popular, entirely free live chat solution that also offers ticketing and a hosted knowledge base. Because you get reliable live chat for free, Tawk.to is an excellent option for anyone looking to quickly and painlessly implement live chat on a website. Tawk.to also allows customers to hire chat agents or personal assistants by the hour. However, the interface is a bit outdated, so if that would bother you, you should opt for a more modern tool.

Read our Tawk.to Review.

Comparing Popular Live Chat Solutions Against Each Other

Comparing one live chat tool directly with another is a great way to understand key differences between the two. We’ve written a few one-to-one comparisons between live chat software tools to describe how they’re similar, how they’re different, and who will likely prefer each option.

HelpCrunch vs. Intercom

HelpCrunch is a customer communication platform that combines email marketing and website pop-ups with live chat. It’s a solution that we broadly recommend to all businesses due to its reliability and ease of use. Intercom, on the other hand, is much more advanced and better for those who are technologically savvy. It’s also much more expensive, so it’s best for companies who have a larger budget to spend on a communication tool.

Freshchat vs. Intercom

Freshchat is a great option for those looking for live chat for customer support. The built-in ticketing capabilities make it easy to track customer concerns, and we found the live chat and outbound messages reliable. Intercom is a more robust option that’s better for those who want a tool that combines support with marketing features like Product Tours and chatbots.

Tawk.to vs. Tidio

Tawk.to and Tidio are both great options for small businesses. Tawk.to is preferable for those who just want live chat or would like to hire chat agents to communicate with customers on their company’s behalf. Tidio has a better list of features, with email marketing and easy-to-configure chatbots. Though Tidio is a bit unreliable when it comes to notifications, it’s likely going to serve you better if you need anything more than basic chat and ticketing.

Olark vs. Tawk.to

Olark is a basic tool that costs between $12 and $19 per agent per month for live chat. Tawk.to, on the other hand, offers the same product for free. We recommend Olark to those who have a team of around 5 individuals and who want more detailed chat transcripts. Tawk.to, on the other hand, will be preferable for most businesses because you’ll get a very similar product for free.

Bottom Line

When deciding between live chat tools, you should take into consideration the types of features that you’re looking for.

  • If you’re looking for chatbots, consider Gist, Tidio, Crisp, Intercom, LiveChat, or Drift.
  • If you want ticketing, check out LiveChat, Tawk.to, or Freshchat.
  • If you’re interested in email marketing, look into Crisp, LiveChat, HelpCrunch, or Tidio.
  • If you’d like to use website pop-ups, test out HelpCrunch or Gist.

The best choice for you will depend on the combination of features that will best support you and your customers. The comparison articles and in-depth reviews above were created to help you navigate the final step in the decision-making process. You can also take our live chat quiz to come to a quick decision about the tool you should test first.

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
  • Live chat software
  • Vacation rental software

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