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Essential Live Chat Tools

Author's avatar By Robert Allen 26 Apr, 2017
Essential Essential topic

Use these live chat tools to engage your users at the most critical stage of the buying process

As customer expectations rise and users demand instant responses to questions & complaints, live chat tools are growing rapidly both in usage and in capability. 60% of those in the 18-34 'millennial' age bracket reported in a study for Forrester research that they preferred to have their questions answered via live chat than via phone. 44% of that age group also reported that having the ability to ask questions via live chat was one of the most important features a site could offer.

With the growing importance of live chat to the customer experience and thus your bottom line, you need to review what technology is available to deliver a great live chat experience, at a cost that is right for your business. That's why we've reviewed a wide range of live chat tools to whittle them down to what we consider to be the five best solutions currently on the market. We've reviewed each to help you consider which will be best for your business. We don't have any kind of relationship with the companies any of these tools, so the answers are not biased by a partnership with a certain provider.


Key things to consider before purchasing and using these tools:

  • Who will take ownership; they may be classed as digital tools (or paid for by the digital tools budget) yet be implemented or used by other teams such as development, I.T or customer service. These tools need an owner to champion adoption.
  • A clear process is needed to ensure these tools don’t impact other areas of marketing. For example, IP geo-location and re-direction tools can have negative impacts upon optimal customer experience, SEO and PPC if incorrectly managed.
  • How will you operate the tools? In a small business you may not have a dedicated live chat team, so how will you divide the operation of the incoming live chat inquiries so customers are never left waiting a long time for a response. In a larger business, will the digital team take over the Livechat response or the customer support function, used to dealing with phone enquiries? Staff may require training in either of those instances.


Olark offers free trials and paid plans for more advanced features. It's easy to install and is well designed with good personalisation options. The gorgeous interface and superb addition of visitors being able to rate the chat means you can collect satisfaction data. Their pricing isn’t unreasonable either, however, if you want to remove branding it’s a little more costly.

Key features:

  • Analytics
  • Customisation
  • Chat rating system
  • Offline Messaging
  • Ecommerce Platform Integration is free live chat tool that lets you talk to visitors from a customizable page. Although less capable than other live chat tools, for a free tool it is highly effective. It's extremely easy to add to your site, and it allows the monitoring of visitors by country, ISP and IP address, so you know what region they are asking about. The ability to chat to concurrent visitors also helps to reduce pressure on support staff.

Key features:

  • Monitor Site visitors in real time
  • Answer chats from mobile
  • Engage with visitors via triggers
  • Customize site with widgets
  • Localize greetings
  • 1 minute set up time


Liveperson is a paid live chat tool with the ability to monitor and approach customers directly. It allows you to reach customers whilst they are making crucial buying decisions. It's a tool which is capable of increasing ROI and customer loyalty, and so is certainly something worth taking a look at. The integration with Facebook and Salesforce is a real benefit too, allowing you to successfully hone in on specific markets.

Key features:

  • Excellent analytic tools
  • Customer data is pulled through that you can use in PR campaigns
  • Real time reporting
  • Respond on mobile
  • Great support
  • Integration with Facebook and Salesforce


LiveChat is another paid option, with great support features. It would be an excellent option for a business that has to handle a lot of requests for support from it's customers. The key feature that sets them apart from their competition is the ticketing system. Offline messages go directly into this channel and can be handled more easily by your team with different statuses. It's reliable and has a simple interface which makes it easy to use and set up. The tool bills you per concurrent user meaning one seat can be used by multiple agents, which is particularly advantageous if your team works in shifts.

Key features:

  • Ticketing system lets support staff now how far along the funnel customer is
  • Show your company’s logo and a photo of the operator (optional)
  • Visitors can request a transcript immediately


TouchCommerce is an enterprise level tool, and unlike others, there is no free trial. TouchCommerce is the leading innovator in omni-channel engagement solutions, including mobile chat solutions. It provides real-time customer data to target and personalize online customer engagement. It's a very versatile tool, which you can engage with customers across multiple channels, from social media, to SMS to live on site.

Key features:

  • Live Agent Engagement
  • SMS support
  • Self Service Engagement
Author's avatar

By Robert Allen

I was the Editor of Smart Insights between 2015-2017. I managed the blog and you will find blog articles on a range of subjects- Marketing Technology trends and latest tech developments are a regular focus, as well as exploring key marketing concepts. You can get in touch with me on Twitter and connect with me on LinkedIn. The new Editor is Carolanne Mangles.

This blog post has been tagged with:

Livechat customer service

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