What is live chat? What are some of the top live chat tools?

Last updated on June 13th, 2023

Pardeep Kullar
Pardeep Kullar

This is the simple overview of live chat with a jargon free interpretation of
its advantages.


The short description

“It’s instant messenger for your website. The customer can send you a message
and go drink coffee. You can reply and then go drink coffee.

Just like normal text messages between friends, you can either instantly chat
or answer in your own time.”

The different types of live chat software systems vary greatly

Some live chat systems are simply ‘live chat’ but others can be like an
iceberg and below the surface is an entire customer relationship management
system to send automated messages and emails, supply educational articles,
allow team management of customers and overall provide a smooth process for a
customer through an entire service.

In fact, they intentionally still call themselves ‘live chat’ because it’s
easy to understand rather than ‘CRM Marketing Sales Interactive Live Chat
Support blaaa blaaa blaaa’ that would actually be a more accurate description.


Explaining the jargon that live chat software companies use to describe


Real time convenience to customers‘ means that phoning people sucks and
we’re used to sending text messages so live chat means more people will chat
with you.

Stand-out amidst competitors means that some people want to make money
without much effort and that’s just not how things work these days. People
want to know that you’re making the effort when they buy and because there is
more competition, you want to be there to answer that question.

From 150 to 5,000 marketing startups in 6 years. Customer service matters

**‘Develop deeper customer relationships‘ **means that if you’re nice to
me, I will remember you. I buy from people I like even if I have to pay a bit

Transcripts offer data to improve customer service means that I will
tell you that your product sucks and you will learn from this rather than
hiding behind your software and praying it all works out.

Increase conversions and average order value means that I will buy
from you because you answered my question. It turns out that quite a lot of
people have questions and want to trust you to buy from you. In fact it means
in some cases that 60% of sales can result from live chat, especially as
larger buyers really need know you’re responsive.

In short, if we give a damn, we will get better. Live chat is one great way to
give a damn by directly chatting to real people who use your site.

What are the top live chat tools?

There are older and newer live chat systems and they’ve all taken a slightly
different path. The common element is a front-end messaging box but the rest,
behind the scenes, can be completely different. Here is a brief list:

Intercom — Iceberg type software. Chat on the front,
fully automated messaging, email and educational system behind. Growing at a
billion dollar pace. What’s interesting is that their chat system is like a
simple security guard at the door who answers questions and then lets you in
through a door to a huge operation. It’s a full email marketing, sales lead
management, educational system but that’s harder to explain so they initially
just called it ‘live chat’. You can’t fully understand it until you use it so
see these case studies. Pricing is done according
to modules and the number of customers rather than per agent. See this as a
pricing use case

Livechatinc — Chat and ticketing system. They
focus on live chat rather than the CRM part so it’s not as big as Intercom but
they have quite a large database of customers. We’ve used Livechatinc in the
past and it does a good job. We’d have stuck with it but we tried Intercom and
it solved the automated email campaign problem for us and more, so we stuck
with it.

Zendesk chat — aka Zopim. So, Zendesk buys Zopim and
integrates it. Zendesk had a big giant ticketing system and is an entire
platform, their zendesk chat is merely one part of the beast. The interface is
not as cool as Intercom though we have heard that it will have some features
newer companies have not thought of and that plays out in the details. We’ve
played with it but cannot give you a good enough opinion to compare it because
we get a bit lost in the range of zendesk products and how they integrate.
Their pricing for chat functionality is a lot less than Intercom and Drift and
more than Olark.

Drift — The new cool kid on the block. They’ve got a
really loyal user base who love Drift, they’re growing quickly and they’ve got
advanced chat bots. The guys who built it, like David Cancel, are experienced
and often quoted entrepreneurs. They don’t have the whole sequential emailing
drip campaign thing that we needed but it can be done through integrations.
Their chat bot part is certainly interesting as it does encourage people to
leave more details without having to ask each one manually. Their pricing
depends on a combination of per seat and total contacts meaning they’re in the
Intercom pricing rage.

Olark – One of the early movers in the live chat world.
Very nice people, even their slogan is ‘make your business human’. They’ve
been around for a while and they don’t charge much compared to other
companies. It does the job if you’re looking for chat functionality at a good

Re:amaze — It’s not one of the big ones
though maybe that’s an advantage as it has 5 star ratings from its customers
with a specific focus on e-commerce and SaaS companies which you can see from
it’s list of integrations.

Want more statistical proof? See 101 reasons for embracing live chat.

This infographic is pretty damn

It includes stats like:

29% of consumers are more likely to purchase with the option of live chat
even if they don’t use it.

51% of customers are more likely to purchase.

48% of customers are more likely to return to the website.

51% of customers prefer it as it allows easy multitasking while waiting

How do I get started it? Is it complicated?

Most live chat systems are ‘copy and paste the javascript code on your site’
and you are ready to go. Yes, that’s true, that’s the basics and you can be
chatting to customers in around 5 minutes. Of course, some live chat systems
are a lot more than just chat and can be full on CRM systems in the
background. You can run deep integrations. See a good case study

Pardeep Kullar
Pardeep Kullar

Pardeep overlooks growth at Upscope and loves writing about SaaS companies, customer success and customer experience.