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The Best Open Source and Free Live Chat Software

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[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.

free live chat software

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

Free Options

chat4.website

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.

Standout 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

Cons:

  • 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

Overview:

While chat4.website lacks the bells and whistles of other options on this list, it’s relatively easy to start using.

Pricing

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

Crisp dashboard (Source)

Capterra reviewers report that Crisp offers easy setup and top-notch customer service.

Standout features

  • 30 days of chat history
  • iOS and Android apps
  • Unlimited messages

Cons

  • Features such as ticketing, chat reports, triggers, and agent reports are only available at the paid level
  • No integrations at the free level

Overview

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.

Pricing

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.

Leave a review!

Drift

Drift screenshot

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.”

Standout Features:

  • 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

Cons:

  • No direct integration with Salesforce (other than through Zapier)

Overview:

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.

Pricing:

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.

Check out Drift’s pricing plans and a feature breakdown of what you get at each pricing tier.

Leave a review!

Netrox SC

Netrox SC dashboard (Source)

Netrox SC is a web-based live chat and support software product that offers help with installation and email support.

Standout Features:

  • 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

Cons:

  • The interface is a bit crowded and can feel clunky

Overview:

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.

Pricing

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.

Leave a review!

Tawk.to

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.

Standout Features

  • 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

Cons

  • Tawk does not collect customers’ email addresses for further follow-up unless you’re paying for their agents

Overview:

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.

Pricing

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

LiveZilla screenshot (Source)

LiveZilla is about more than live chat and offers plenty of features to justify giving its free version a try.

Standout Features:

  • Chat forwarding and email transcripts make communication far more efficient
  • A choice of multiple chat invitation styles.
  • Answer suggestions and a quick search window

Cons:

  • The software’s self-hosted nature means that installation, customization, hosting, and downloading software updates is on you

Overview:

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.

Pricing

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.

Leave a review!

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:  

Looking for Customer Service software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Customer Service software solutions.

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About the Author

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz helps B2B software companies with their sales and marketing at Capterra. Her writing has appeared in The Week, Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, VICE Motherboard, Reason magazine, Talking Points Memo and other publications. She has been quoted by the New York Times Magazine and has been a columnist at Bitcoin Magazine. Her media appearances include Fox News and Al Jazeera America. If you're a B2B software company looking for more exposure, email Cathy at cathy@capterra.com . To read more of her thoughts, follow her on Twitter.

Comments

[…] The Best Open Source and Free Live Chat Software – Capterra Blog […]

Great list! A couple of ones I hadn’t heard of before. One I definately recommend those looking for a self hosted open source version to check out, live helper chat. The documentation is a tad rough but the platform is great and packed full of features.

“Hey Cathy! Great Post!
I have been using https://www.live2support.com/ for my business and yes! it has helped me in making my customers happier than ever. With the realtime visitor monitoring, my operators instantly understand the reason behind a customer’s confusion or problem and the autoprompt assists in resolving those problems right there which has been fetching us more customers. Live Chat solutions are incredible!

Thanks for sharing. I have been using Zopim and now I move to tawk.to

Those are great tools but there are always limitation and that is not good for business.

I will try some that you have share to us.

Hi Cathy! Helpful post! There is some new live chat software with many features for free
https://www.netroxsc.com/system/free-live-chat-software/

Incredible customization widget.
https://www.netroxsc.com/system/features/customization/

Ok not one of them in the the list are ‘Free’.

Even the open source ones are not free in anyway. (no im not implying open source software needs to be free)
Where are the Free ones that were meant to be listed? you tagged ‘free live chat software’ as part of the blog yet there are none.

Great article don’t get me wrong.
It is informative but it doesn’t fully cover what is actually tagged for the blog post.

Thank you Cathy. I will try a few of them and pick my best. Great post.

Hey Cathy!
Thanks for an awesome collection of live chat software. From the above list, I tried FreshDesk and found it’s really an all-in-shop for customer satisfaction.

Hi Cathy,

Informative post.

Instead of an open source tool, I would prefer a cloud-based tool because it offers greater flexibility and can be accessed from anywhere, anytime. An online live chat tool is more efficient compared to its Opensource counterpart because the user (business owner) doesn’t have to worry about cost effectiveness, managing the solution, data theft, security concerns etc.

You can check out ProProfs Chat, a cloud-based live chat tool that allows businesses to communicate with their visitors.This free software help organizations to answer customer questions in real-time and offer quick help. All you need to do is just add ProProfs Chat to your site and monitor visitor activity in real-time, respond faster with canned responses, engage in proactive chat, track your support agent’s performance via post-chat feedback surveys, offer customer support, handle multiple visitor queries simultaneously and much more.

Hello Cathy!

Thanks you for your awesome collection but I know some more, you can test it maybe too:

https://www.jakweb.ch/live-chat-3 <- selfhosted

and a totally free Live Chat that u can download here: https://www.jakweb.ch/download/f/1/live-chat-light

greetings from germany and sorry for my terrible english. :/

Some of the great product, but you missed one of favourite – http://www.tagove.com

Nice tips! I adore modern technologies especially live chats. Try http://www.chat4.website me and my customers are happy to keep in touch all the time

I’d say the Jabber/XMPP group chat feature has seen a quite good adoption rate, often with openfire as the server which also provides LDAP integration. http://cont.lu/2y367co

Hi Cathy,

You made a mistake on the “Cons” for tawk.to.. We collect emails on tawk.to without paying them 1 cent, it is the only truly free app in this list.

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