[UPDATE: This post was updated 10/12/2017 to remove Proonto, PHP Live and IM Supporting because they are no longer free and add chat4.website, Netrox, Tawk, and Crisp. FreshDesk was also removed, as its live chat feature is only included at a paid level.]
Your customers need help with your website. They don’t know how to fix their problems and they’re growing frustrated. Your goal is simple: get in touch with them before they bail and cease being “customers” altogether.
If you don’t have the time or inclination for call center software, live chat is the only way to go. But where should you start? And, aren’t live chat platforms expensive?
Never fear, we’re here to assuage your worries and walk you through a few options! We’ve selected seven free and open source live chat software solutions (presented in alphabetical order) based on the following criteria:
- Free version is not time-limited (no free trials)
- Product developers are still providing support and updates
- Happy users and good reviews
Screenshot of chat4.website dashboard
Still in beta, chat4.website is a cloud-based live chat software that’s free for one agent with limited features.
- Installation is relatively simple; paste the widget code to your site, send the code to the developer or use Google tag manager to install
- Simple, uncluttered user interface
- No credit card required to get started
- Not very feature-rich compared to other free options (no profiles or ticketing functionality)
- Features like chat reports, triggers, and agent reports are only available at the paid level
While chat4.website lacks the bells and whistles of other options on this list, it’s relatively easy to start using.
Chat4website is free for one user with a 30-day chat history but most of the features are only available at the paid level. The highest pricing tier is $48.75 per seat, per month and gets you unlimited chat history, unlimited chat reports, triggers, and widget unbranding.
Crisp dashboard (Source)
Capterra reviewers report that Crisp offers easy setup and top-notch customer service.
- 30 days of chat history
- iOS and Android apps
- Unlimited messages
- Features such as ticketing, chat reports, triggers, and agent reports are only available at the paid level
- No integrations at the free level
If two seats, support, ease of use, and a longer chat history are more valuable to your business than reporting and integrations, Crisp is a great choice.
Most software only works free for one agent. With Crisp you get two seats. Upgrading to the first paid tier is $25 per team per month, and offers four seats and unlimited chat history, among other features.
Drift is a messaging app focused on helping companies grow. Geared toward marketing and customer success teams instead of support, Drift was created by two former HubSpot product leaders to, according to its website, “help businesses have one to one conversations at scale.”
- Slack integration
- iOS and Android apps allow you to respond to live chats on the go
- If a visitor leaves the chat before you’re done typing, Drift will email them unread messages after 15 minutes of inactivity
- No direct integration with Salesforce (other than through Zapier)
Drift offers a profile functionality, allowing you to link your profile in your email signature.
Email signature with a link to a Drift profile (via Drift)
From the profile, prospects can create a Google Calendar invite for a meeting with just one click.
Drift’s basic version is free to use for one user. The majority of Drift’s touted features—including third-party prospect data, WordPress, HubSpot, Zapier, and Segment integrations, and automatic routing—are only available with paid plans.
Netrox SC dashboard (Source)
Netrox SC is a web-based live chat and support software product that offers help with installation and email support.
- All customizable chat widgets are available at the free level
- iOS, Android, and Windows phone apps for live chatting on the go
- Tracks agent activity, KPIs such as visitor wait time and agent response time, and visitor satisfaction statistics
- The interface is a bit crowded and can feel clunky
Of the options on this list, Netrox SC has the most features available at the free level. It’s a great option if you’re willing to take the time to learn how to use it.
Netrox SC’s free level offers one seat. Upgrading to the next pricing tier is $9 per month, per agent, and unlocks live chat support, a white-label chat widget, a three-year chat history, and more.
Tawk chat screenshot (Source)
Many businesses find themselves with a shifting degree of need for support personnel pending on product release schedules and seasonality. The historic problem is always what to do with your extra capacity (paid staffers) in low-demand times. Tawk is free live chat software for unlimited seats/agents that allows you to upgrade for access to their agents as you need them.
- iOS, Android, Windows and Mac OSX apps
- 24/7/365 real-time live chat and email support
- Set triggers for when the chat window automatically pops up
- Tawk does not collect customers’ email addresses for further follow-up unless you’re paying for their agents
Tawk is a great solution if you need free software that can be used by more than one agent at once, and foresee needing additional help on a flexible basis.
Tawk’s business model differs slightly from other live chat software offerings. The tool is completely free for unlimited seats/agents. The company generates revenue from selling its services. If you need someone to man the chats, it’s $1/hour.
Open Source Option
LiveZilla screenshot (Source)
LiveZilla is about more than live chat and offers plenty of features to justify giving its free version a try.
- Chat forwarding and email transcripts make communication far more efficient
- A choice of multiple chat invitation styles.
- Answer suggestions and a quick search window
- The software’s self-hosted nature means that installation, customization, hosting, and downloading software updates is on you
LiveZilla is a great stepping stone for businesses that want to incorporate live chat on their website without spending a dime. But if If you have a sophisticated website or a ready support staff, you might want to opt for a comprehensive customer support and live chat suite.
LiveZilla’s pricing structure is pretty straightforward, with ascending one-time payments based on how many agents will use it. The first tier is 149.90€, for which you get two operators and one extra feature: LiveZilla GeoTracking.
Choosing the Right Live Chat Software For You
Which live chat software solution is best for your business? As you’ve gleaned from our list, there is no one-size-fits all option.
Be sure to carefully evaluate your needs before starting on your software journey. Do you need sales and support functionality? Are you looking to manage lots of products and customers? Perhaps you need something that you can set up ASAP.
Take advantage of products with free trials, and check out Capterra’s other live chat resources:
- The Psychology of a Good Live Chat Conversation
- 3 Live Chat Mistakes You’re Probably Making
- The Top 4 Reasons Your Customers Want Live Chat
- Live Chat Comparison: 5 Excellent Options Face Off
Looking for Customer Service software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Customer Service software solutions.