The 9 Best Live Chat Apps For Customer Support

The 9 Best Live Chat Apps For Customer Support – A customer-centric strategy touches all parts of your business, but you can improve your customer service almost instantly—and at very little cost—with live chat. Live chat is the preferred customer channel for handling service issues, and it produces one of the highest satisfaction rates of any channel. It’s also a relatively affordable app to add to your existing technology stack.

But because there are so many choices for live chat apps, it’s hard to know where to start. To help you navigate, we’ve done some of the heavy lifting. We researched and evaluated over 30 live chat apps for customer support, and we thoroughly tested the most promising. From there, we selected the nine best live chat apps—from free to full-featured, with some special ones in between.

The 9 Best Live Chat Apps For Customer Support

  • LiveChat for overall ease of use and functionality

  • tawk.to for a free, full-featured live chat app

  • Smartsupp for understanding how visitors are engaging with your website

  • LiveHelpNow for tracking customer satisfaction

  • Olark for a la carte pricing options

  • Zendesk Support for a full-featured service suite

  • HubSpot for free live chat integrated with a free CRM

  • Chatlio for Slack power users

  • LiveAgent for agent gamification

What makes a great live chat customer support app?

How we evaluate and test apps

All of our best apps roundups are written by humans who’ve spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. We spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it’s intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We’re never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For more details on our process, read the full rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog.

For consistency, we evaluated each platform using the same five criteria:

  • Affordability. Most of the apps on this list start at around $15/user/month and don’t go higher than $100 except in the case of enterprise plans. Some are even free.

  • Ease of setup and use. Live chat is designed to be user-friendly even if tech isn’t your thing. That said, some vendors make the user experience more enjoyable than others. We made sure, through our testing, that each of these apps was easy enough to deploy and use without feeling like you were learning a new language.

  • Management features. Yes, live chat can improve your customer service, but it’s still just a tool. To find success, you’ll need to monitor, measure, and improve your team’s chat performance. Some of the features that can help are staffing prediction, real-time activity reporting, chat monitoring, and automated chat routing. You’ll find a combination of these and other management-related tools in the apps we selected.

  • Advanced support options. To help make your service staff more efficient, we looked for apps with advanced support features. For example, having a knowledge base a few clicks away can help agents help customers solve their problems quickly without having to engage a more experienced teammate. Even better is a publicly-shared knowledge base, where customers can help themselves from a search of articles. Other features include ticket management, multi-channel chatting (e.g., SMS, social, video), bots, chat transfer, and automated messages.

  • Integration capabilities. We made sure that our selected live chat apps integrated natively or through Zapier with popular CRM, helpdesk, marketing, and eCommerce platforms.

 

Best customer support live chat app for overall ease of use and functionality

LiveChat (Web, Windows, Mac, iOS, Android)

Screenshot of LiveChat

LiveChat is an app with plenty of support-focused features wrapped in an attractive UI that makes it a pleasure to use. For teams that need more than just chat and ticketing, the company also offers separate but integratable chatbot, help center, and knowledge base products.

The first thing you’ll notice is the clean and modern feel of the chat console. The core functions—chats, traffic, tickets, reports, settings, and help, among others—are labeled icons listed vertically on the left side of the screen. To begin, I installed the chat widget on my site using LiveChat’s WordPress plugin. It took just a few minutes. From there, clicking on the settings icon brings up everything you need to customize the widget and set up the other features.

Each setting includes a brief explanation of its purpose with intuitive, visual instructions for setup and activation. You’d be hard-pressed to get stuck setting up your chat, but if you do, each plan comes with 24x7x365 phone, email, and chat support, plus an extensive knowledge base. The times I’ve had to use their chat support, they were quick to respond and answer my questions.

Once you’re up and running, you’ll have all the major features you need: chat transfer, message sneak peek (see what a visitor is typing as they type), transcripts, and Messaging Mode. This feature lets you and your customers communicate by chat and email even when one or the other is not online. For example, a customer can send a chat even if it’s after business hours, and it will be waiting for you in the chat queue. When you do respond, it will go to both the customer’s chat widget and email.

For managers, intelligent chat routing distributes chats evenly to available agents, and the Supervision feature lets you train agents during live chats behind the scenes. To start Supervision, click on the agent conversation you want to interact with, select Supervise chat, then type a message. The agent you’re chatting with will see your message in their chat, but it won’t be visible to the customer.

One of the main menu items is Traffic, which shows a list of all visitors on your site. From here, you can proactively start a chat either with a pre-made greeting or by clicking on the pencil icon and typing a custom note. This list shows which customers are chatting, waiting for a reply, supervised, or just browsing. Click on any name or IP address in the queue and you’ll see detailed info such as location, visited pages, and the cumulative number of visits and chats.

The dashboard shows the most important real-time metrics for the day, such as ongoing chats, unassigned tickets, and logged-in agents. Clicking each will take you to the current, detailed view for each category. Reporting lets you track things such as greeting conversions, availability, ticket first-response time, and tracked sales from chats for eCommerce businesses.

You can connect LiveChat to thousands of other apps with LiveChat’s Zapier integrations, which lets you do things like automatically adding LiveChat contacts to HubSpot or tracking LiveChat conversations in Google Sheets.

 

Best free, full-featured live chat app for customer support

tawk.to (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android)

Screenshot of tawk.to

Unlimited users. Automated triggers. Chat whisper. Knowledge base. These are some of the features in tawk.to’s free live chat app. Yes, free forever unless you want to add features such as video screen sharing ($29/month), hire a live agent to field your chats ($1/hour), or remove the branding ($19/month). Considering the features that come with the free version, tawk.to is a bargain—and likely to satisfy many small businesses.

Tawk.to’s chat widget is completely customizable, allowing you to set when and where it’s visible on your site and how notifications are delivered, with options for sound notification, message preview, and estimated wait time. There’s also a consent form option and a scheduler to enable and disable the chat widget online automatically.

Messages queue in the chat inbox from newest to oldest, showing both closed and open messages. Each message shows the visitor’s IP address, location, email, operating system, and when/if they last visited. From here, the agent can attach files, tag the chat, email a transcript, and convert the chat to a ticket.

One newer feature is the knowledge base, which lets you create a subdomain (e.g., zapier.tawk.to.help) to share help articles with customers and to use internally for agents. Customize it with your logo, colors, social sharing, and other elements to match your branding. Then choose a layout, add categories, and start loading articles. Your customers will then be able to find answers to their questions using the search box. And if they don’t find their answer, there’s a ticket submit link that will drop into your messaging inbox. Here you can assign it to a rep, add a priority, and respond with an email directly from the record.

Connect tawk.to the other apps in your tech stack with tawk.to’s Zapier integrations, which let you do things like send a message to Slack every time there’s a new chat in tawk.to or send all new tawk.to tickets to a task management app.

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