What is live chat software?

Live chat software is a powerful communication tool that bridges potential and customers to engage with businesses in real-time and get clarification before making a purchase.

Why do businesses add live chat software to their websites?

Live chat is the door on websites through which businesses connect with customers and vice versa. The purpose of live chat is to provide instant support, from answering queries to resolving technical issues.

Because live chat software provides instant support, it enhances the overall customer experience by providing more accessible and faster engagement to customers while they interact with your business. It also helps provide a uniform experience at all their touchpoints with your business. With live chat software, you can proactively reach and engage visitors.

Live chat ultimately gives you a competitive edge, helps you build trust, reduces support costs, results in satisfied customers, and increases overall conversions and revenue.

Depending on how businesses want to connect, the placement of the live chat tool varies. For casual visitors or perusing prospects, their initial point of contact with businesses would be the website. This is why businesses keep their live chat widget on their websites.

Customers can also access the live chat widget on the website. But, for convenience and an enriched single-dashboard experience, businesses usually have a live chat interface inside their product. So they can reach out without having to switch tabs.

Live chat widget on our SalesIQ website for visitors to get in touch with us:

Live chat software widget on our SalesIQ website for visitors to get in touch with us

Live chat widget inside our SalesIQ product for customers to reach out to us:

Live chat software widget inside our SalesIQ product for customers to reach out to us

Difference between live agents vs chatbots

Support capability

Live agents can understand complex queries and provide complete customized support. Also, they can handle a vast range of operations that don't come under their purview.

Al chatbots can understand simple queries and answer them based on the FAQs and articles available in the knowledge base.


Live agents can understand the urgency and emotions of the customers and provide empathetic support customers can relate to.

Even though chatbots can emulate human emotions and show empathy, they'll never be real.


A live agent can handle two or three queries at a time, and they come at a high-operational cost to businesses.

Meanwhile, a chatbot can handle any number of chats at the same time and doesn't have any business hours restrictions. At comparatively cheaper cost, they can be scaled across the organization.

Who uses live chat software?

Live chat software is an industry-agnostic, size-independent, platform-inclusive tool beneficial to the three major departments in any organization—marketing, sales, and customer support.

We say industry-agnostic as every business has to deal with customers, be it B2B, B2C, or even DTC. When customers come in to clarify queries or to get support, live chat plays a significant and critical role in giving them instant support.

So businesses from any industry use live chat software if they have their presence online with a website or an application.

Live chat is also critical for businesses of all sizes, from startups and SMBs to enterprises. Startups might just be satisfied with live chat's instant ability, but moving up the ladder for SMBs/Enterprises, live chat will help reduce the complexities in getting the right person to talk to the customers.

It's helpful for marketing, sales, and customer support as every department has to deal with the customers at some point. Live chat will help them provide a uniform experience throughout the customer journey at every touchpoint.

What are the common features of the best live chat software?

The best live chat software should help agents with the necessary options to provide better support. It should also have options for customers to ask for help. To provide the best engagement and experience to prospects and customers, these are the common features that the best live chat software needs to have:

Canned replies: While basic, these are essential in any live chat software. Most prospects/customers will be reaching out with common queries, and agents can instantly answer them by saving the most asked queries as canned replies. Agents can also save a ton of time by using canned replies as welcoming and ending messages.

Articles and FAQs: The live chat software should have the option to share the articles instantly and FAQs from your knowledge base with the prospects/customers.

Tags: Tags help agents and their supervisors to categorize the chats they're received, which would help them identify patterns, insights, and areas of concern.

Routing: Since there'll be multiple departments and regions, getting the right person to talk to the individual customers will be challenging. Routing makes the job easier as businesses can set up pre-defined criteria to route customers to the appropriate person.

Sharing attachments: When a customer comes to support for help, they need to have the option to share attachments in the form of screenshots or recordings so that the agent can understand the issue faster and provide instant support.

Screen sharing and remote assist: To take support to an ultimate comfort level, the live chat software should have the option to share the agent's screen to explain a process and take control of the customer's screen for remote assistance (of course, with their consent).

Audio calls and voice notes: Even live chat software should have provisions for customers to get in touch via audio or voice notes. We can't expect customers to be always available for a chat session, and having call options can give them the freedom to seek support in any form they wish.

Integrations: Since the customer journey will be maintained in CRM, the live chat software should have the option to integrate with CRM and see the customer journey with the help of widgets from the chat dashboard itself. Instead of jumping over to other tabs and applications, the integrations will save time and help agents provide better customer support.

Integration with IM channels:Though we've mentioned integrations, integration with IM channels must be discussed separately because of its potential and importance. Asking customers or prospects to contact businesses via one platform can't work anymore as they're scattered and are using various platforms, so integration with channels would help them reach out to the support from where they're at. It'd help the support agents to respond from the live chat interface instead of going to different platforms and providing a resolution.

Analytics and reports:At the end of the day, week, month, or quarter, to understand how the teams have performed, live chat software should also have analytics and report capabilities that would help teams identify the resolution metrics and where they can improve.

How does live chat software work?

Live chat software consists of two interfaces. One that the visitors use to interact with the businesses, the other that businesses use to interact with their communicators.

When communicating with our friends and family via instant messaging apps like Whatsapp or Telegram, the interface is identical at both ends. Since businesses need options and features to handle multiple queries and deliver quick, quality resolution, the interface at the business end would be packed with powerful options to address those needs.

User interface of the live chat software widget from operator perspective
User interface of the live chat software widget from visitor perspective

If you look at the above screenshots, the visitor interface (on the right) is minimal. Visitors can type a message or send a voice note if they want to talk to the live agent. Suppose they want to attach any document/ image for reference or clarification; they can do so with the attachment option.

On the other hand, if you look at the agent interface (on the left), it has many options:

  • Multiple visitors would contact the business. Depending on the size of their support team, the number of active chats an agent handles would be different. To keep track of all of them, they'll have an individual column of active, missed, and closed chats for easy access.
  • Agents would have access to all customers' past conversations with the business. To provide a personalized experience to their customers, agents can refer to the chat history, understand what the customer wanted from them, and offer them the best support experience.
  • It would be a cumbersome process for agents to frame every reply from scratch. With canned replies, they can store the FAQs and help guides, and access them all with one click to offer a quicker response.
  • While providing support, agents might need help to solve the query. In such cases, an agent can loop in their colleague or manager to resolve the issue. Agent's interface has options to add their team members.
  • If the agents want more clarity about the issue, they can connect with the customer over an audio call/video call to understand the query better. They also can share their screen or remotely access their visitor's device to Assist.

Agents have access to such several unique features. There're scores of others, and depending on the domain they're handling, customized options may also be available.

What are the benefits of using a live chat software?

Why do businesses need live chat software when emails and audio calls are available? You may hear live chat offers personalized communication that isn't possible on any other medium. That simply isn't true.

Personalized communication can be offered via any medium. Live chat software has other, more important features that make it essential for businesses, such as:

  • Unlike email and audio calls, visitors don't have to stop what they're doing when they're contacting businesses via a live chat software. They can reach out without disturbing their routine. The same can be said for email, but it is not instant.
  • Businesses can use live chat software to offer instant replies to all their visitor queries.
  • People aren't interested in sending out emails or calling the business for minor queries. Live chat software can help businesses offer short and crisp answers.
  • Introverts and non-native speakers might feel uncomfortable contacting support via phone. For them, live chat software is a boon.
  • Be it on the visitor or agent side; live chat software is now device-agnostic. You may already be used to contacting businesses over your phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop.
  • Live chat software has the best average first response rates compared to other mediums. While seeking resolutions, visitors prefer the faster mode of communication that live chat offers businesses.
  • Live chat software is easy to scale and much cheaper than other modes of communication, which makes it the best tool for businesses of every size.
  • From the visitors' perspective, staring at the empty text box may frustrate them when expecting a resolution. The typing indicators help them ensure a solution is just an enter/return away.
  • Likewise, read confirmations assure customers that the agent has read the query and resolution will be offered.

These features ensure you offer the best customer engagement and a wholesome customer experience to your customers.

Live chat software trends

Live chat isn't new software. It's been on the market for close to 40 years. But as the requirements and technology around it evolves, it's evolving to match the trends. Let's take a look at recent trends in this domain.


As businesses transitioned from selling products to experiences, customers expect personalized interactions at every touchpoint. So, live chat software has features that help agents offer a personalized experience to their customers.

Omnichannel and multichannel support

As discussed earlier in the common features of live chat software, IM channels have become a part of businesses nowadays. So live chat has also evolved to provide omnichannel and multichannel support to businesses to provide a single dashboard experience.

Multilingual support

With technological advancements breaking down our geographical barriers, businesses now deal with customers worldwide, and they can't expect everyone to interact in one language. So live chat software now offers live translation for personalized and flawless instant support.

Optimization for mobile and apps

No longer can businesses sustain themselves by supporting only desktops. The usage of mobile devices, even for business operations, has increased and is continually increasing at a greater rate. This goes for live chat software as well. It's now introduced mobile optimization options to converse with customers easily from their handheld devices.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Though a human agent handles a live chat, Artificial Intelligence has come to play its part here as well. The AI capabilities are embedded with live chat to help agents provide better customer support.

How to choose the best live chat software for your business?

Simple to use and easy onboarding: When businesses have to onboard a new tool for their operations, the software should have a minimal learning curve, as businesses can't afford to stop their operations to let their employees learn the platform. When you select the best live chat software for your business, ensure it's easy to understand and has a simple onboarding process.

Integration with CRM: Live chat isn't just a tool to interact with visitors, prospects, and customers—it also acts as a lead generation interface. When visitors contact businesses, live chat software capture their names and email addresses, which can be passed to the CRM software to build a list. So when choosing the best live chat software for your business, it should have the default option to integrate with the CRM you're using.

If you're interested in learning more about how to integrate live chat software with CRM, check out our SalesIQ - CRM integration. You can check out our CRM-live chat software domain insight for understanding the general aspects of the integration and what it can do for your business.

Integration with IM channels: In our communication era, people want to reach out to businesses from the application they're using. We can't expect them to contact businesses only on/from specific platforms. To achieve that, live chat software comes with multichannel support. Businesses can answer customer queries from a single dashboard instead of jumping around multiple applications to address them. A best live chat software should be able to integrate with the IM channels.

If you'd like to learn more about how live chat software handles multichannel support, check out our detailed blog on messaging channels in Zoho SalesIQ.

What should you choose? Live chat vs messaging.

We use live chat and messaging interchangeably. But there’s a distinct difference between them. Knowing that can help you choose the right tool for your support operations and provide best support experience for your customers.

So, what is the difference between live chat and messaging?

Your agents and the customer should be available simultaneously in a live chat. They shouldn't exit the portal because it will cancel the session and disconnect them.

Let's look at an example. Customers contact you from the live chat widget on your website/product. If your agents are online, they'll get a reply. But what if the customer has to close the session or leave before the agent can share a solution?

In such scenarios, what’s usually done?

Agents create that query into a ticket and mail the solution to the customer. But it's not a good experience because you're using two platforms to offer solutions and expecting your customers to be on those platforms.

In this era where every brand is fighting each other to offer the best customer experience, asking customers to remain in the session, sharing the solution over mail, and making them jump tabs is not a competitive practice.

What if this traditional method can be upgraded to offer continuous customer engagement and an engaging customer experience?

This is where messaging dominates over live chat.

Availability: When customers reach out via messaging or social platforms such as Whatsapp, Instagram, or Facebook, they don't have to remain online to get clarification for their queries. They can go offline or close the application. The agent can still share resolutions, and the customer will receive them when they come back online.

A lean support team: You don't have to have your agents stationed 24/7 to offer support because your reply will reach the customer whether they're online or not. For startups and SMBs, it’s a saving grace because they can only afford a small support team.

Conversation repository and across-device access: In messaging, the session doesn't end, and the conversations are stored as a repository for the customer, which they can revisit whenever needed. With live chat, ending the session deletes the conversation. For messaging conversations can be taken across devices.

Which one would you choose for your business? Live chat or a messaging platform?

Pick Zoho SalesIQ as it offers the best of both worlds. With SalesIQ, you get live chat capabilities as wells as instant messaging integrations

Zoho SalesIQ, the best live chat software for business

If you're awed by the capabilities and potential of live chat software by now and want to try it for your business, we'd like to introduce you to the best live chat software in the market today: Zoho SalesIQ. We'll list why it is the best live chat software for every department your business has.

From the outside, it might look like live chat software's application is limited only to customer success teams. However, it can be employed across the organization for marketing and sales along with customer support teams to interact with prospects and customers at various touchpoints.

Zoho SalesIQ, the best live chat software for marketing, sales, and customer support

  • Using our proactive triggers, marketers can set automated messages to initiate a conversation at the right time based on the pages visitors have checked out. This will instantly help create a personalised experience and help visitors get what they want.
  • By inviting visitors to chat, you can build your own email list and pass them through your sales funnel. By integrating SalesIQ with Zoho Campaigns, your sales team can group, schedule, and send emails as a follow-up to your visitors and convert them.
  • Arm your support agents to take care of your customers with minimal effort with our features like visitor-side chat history, canned replies, screen sharing, file sharing, and more.
  • With our chat routing, your support agents can instantly route your customers and visitors to the department they want to talk to.
  • Our translation puts your agents and your visitors at ease and lets them interact with the language of their choice.
  • Your support agents can solve queries initiated from other IM platforms such as Whatsapp, Telegram, Facebook, and Instagram from SalesIQ's dashboard.

How to include live chat on your website?

To add Zoho SalesIQ, the best live chat software, to your website, follow these simple steps:

  • Sign in to Zoho SalesIQ. If you don't have a SalesIQ account, sign up now.
  • When you log in for the first time, the portal opens with the code snippet page. Copy and paste the code before the closing body tag of your website's HTML source code.
  • If you've closed/moved to a different page and want to go back to get the code snippet, go to Settings > Brands > Your brand name > Installation > Website
  • If you need help adding the code snippet to your platform, check out our help guides for clarification.
  • Publish your website after adding the code.
  • You'll have the live chat widget installed on your website.

Would you like to try it out without any commitment? Zoho SalesIQ provides a forever free live chat software using which you can have up to 100 chat sessions per month, share files and voice notes through chat, set up departments, view chat history of up to 30 days, let customers send you offline messages, and even get daily live chat reports delivered right to your inbox!

If you'd like to learn more about what else SalesIQ is capable of, check out our pages Live chat for sales and live chat for customer support.

Schedule an exclusive demo now and check out what Zoho SalesIQ, the best live chat software, can do for your organization.

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Related resources

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