There are many, many options for live chat widgets, and not every one is good for every company. If you have a small team or startup, then Acorn Chat might be a good option (read more about who Acorn Chat is best for here). But what about for large companies?
While the base features for a live chat widget might be the same between a large and small company, there are four unique differentiators that large companies have to look for when choosing any software package, and these are what the list below is judged on:
The biggest difference between small and large companies is obviously team size. Once a team gets larger than 10 or 15 people, it's vital that the customer service software they use has ways to divide up roles, rights, and work. For live chat software, that includes:
Getting more than 2 teams to agree on anything can be challenging as your company gets larger, so if you're going to buy customer service software for your organization, it's vital that it can be customized per team or per use case.
As soon as you've started handling customer chats though a live chat widget, you'll want that information to go to your CRM, customer support portal, automatically grab info from your knowledge base, have that information routed to your data warehouse.... that list never ends!
The best live chat software for large companies should be able to handle all of those common integration use cases out of the box plus should be easy to extend with an API if necessary to handle all the custom software you're already running in your organization.
The last thing you want as a large company is to buy a big software package, only to have the vendor go out of business or never return your phone calls. The best live chat software should have an answer for how to contact them, and should also have a long track record of customer success stories.
So - which providers are best? Based on the requirements above, we've put together the following list of companies that hit all of those demanding requirements:
The original live chat widget which is now so much more.
Intercom breaks their offerings into three categories: "Support", "Engage", and "Convert", and live chat is now just one part of this larger product offering that can manage your customer support, conversion, and success.
There's too many list, but the features include everything that you'd expect from a live chat widget provider and more:
They've been around for a long time and have support for almost any customer support use case you can think of. They also have great reviews
Intercom can get expensive. The biggest complaint I hear about Intercom is that you can start at $74/mo, but it easily goes past $1k/mo as your team size and use cases grow.
HubSpot is primarily a CRM that will track all of your customer's data and help you manage the entire customer relationship.
They do also include a pretty good live chat widget with that! It integrates well with their CRM backend, so if you want to use HubSpot for customer management, then make sure you check out their live chat widget as well.
They have many features and modules for customer service, tracking, and management. They also have a huge customer base of both small and large companies, so they definitely know what they're doing.
If you don't want to use their entire CRM platform, then it's not worth it to just use them for a live chat widget - you're better off choosing one of the more standalone live chat options.
Zendesk is a set of tools all designed to help manage customer service and sales. That includes a Ticketing system (with live chat), a help center, and chatbot abilities.
They have a history of providing great customer service software, and have an easy and transparent buying process.
Like HubSpot or Intercom, if you don't want to use their suite of customer service tools, then it's probably worth looking at one of the more standalone live chat widgets.
Freshdesk is part of Freshworks and like Zendesk is a complete customer service package. It does cost less than Zendesk, but also has additional packages that you may have to purchase to get the functionality you want.
With an easy buying process and ability to just buy the packages you want, Freshdesk might be a good choice for a company that is just starting to try out a customer service platform and wants to see if it fits their company culture.
It can be easy to figure out what you need since there are several options for packages - but at least the pricing is straightforward for each of them.
LiveChat is the only software on this list that is a standalone live chat widget product. It includes automation and team management and is affiliated with other products (ChatBot, HelpDesk, KnowledgeBase) that you can purchase to create a suite of customer service products.
Since LiveChat is focused on just live chat, it's more clear what you're getting (a for live chat widget) and how it can fit into your existing software packages.
If you're already using a customer service software package, then it may not integrate as well as the native solution, since it's a third party live chat solution.
If you're just looking for one single answer, then it's hard to argue with Intercom, the original chat widget. The only real downside is that it's expensive - but it will definitely handle any use case that your company can throw at it.
The last thing to consider is if you're just going to be using live chat on a small team - you don't want a customer service portal, you don't want a huge knowledge base, and you don't need team management - you just want a simple live chat widget on a few pages handled by a single team.
For super simple live chat for small teams - check out Acorn Chat! It doesn't have the corporate bells and whistles of Intercom, but you also don't have to configure 100 settings before using it, and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg. 😄