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The 5 best live chat apps for customer support in 2024

We tested dozens of solutions to find the live chat app that makes the most sense for your business.

By Harry Guinness · October 16, 2023
Hero image with the logos of the best live chat apps for customer support

Without customers, you don't have a business—so it makes a lot of sense to prioritize them and their needs. One of the easiest ways to instantly improve your customer service is by adding live chat to your website, so your customers can message you (or at least an agent) in real time to work through their problems.

Live chat is a great way to handle a lot of common customer service issues, and customers generally love it. Plus, it's relatively affordable, so whether you're a startup or an established business, it's easy to add  to your existing technology stack.

I've been reviewing apps like these for almost a decade, so I've got a pretty good sense of what makes an effective and easy to use live chat app. Previous app testers who've updated this list have also used live chat apps in a professional context. So in addition to evaluating and testing more than 30 different apps myself, I've relied on their extensive notes when considering some of the different options.

Based on my research and experiences with the tools, I've selected the five best live chat apps—from free to full-featured, with some special ones in between.

The best live chat software

  • LiveChat for overall functionality

  • tawk.to for a free, full-featured live chat app

  • Re:amaze for the best user experience

  • Zendesk Support for a full-featured service suite

  • LiveAgent for agent gamification

What makes the best live chat app?

How we evaluate and test apps

Our best apps roundups are written by humans who've spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. Unless explicitly stated, we spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it's intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We're never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For more details on our process, read the full rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog.

While there are lots of apps that allow you to message with your customers, for this article, I'm specifically focusing on customer service-focused live chat. There are other live chat apps designed for sales teams, chatbot builders to automate customer service, and full-service help desk apps that often integrate live chat. While there's obviously some overlap between the categories, this list prioritized apps that will give you the tools to help your existing customers.

The good news is that almost any app that bills itself as a live chat app works well. In my testing, I didn't find a single reasonable-looking app that didn't at least pull off the basics of allowing you to message your customers directly. Of course, the basics aren't enough. In addition to making it possible for you to chat with your customers, I was also looking for:

  • Affordability. Most of the apps on this list start at around $20/user/month and don't go higher than $100, except in the case of enterprise plans. Several even offer free plans that are sufficient for a lot of situations.

  • Ease of setup and use. Live chat is designed to be user-friendly even if tech isn't your thing. That said, some customer service chat software makes the user experience better than others. I made sure, during my testing, that each of these apps was easy enough to deploy and use without feeling like you were learning a new language.

  • Management features. Yes, live chat can improve your customer service, but it's still just a tool. I looked for apps that allow you to monitor, measure, and improve your team's chat performance. Some of the features that can help are staffing prediction, real-time activity reporting, chat monitoring, and automated chat routing. You'll find a combination of these and other management-related tools in the apps I selected.

  • Advanced support options. To help make your service staff more efficient, I looked for apps with advanced support features. For example, having a knowledge base a few clicks away can help agents help customers solve their problems quickly without having to engage a more experienced teammate. Even better is a publicly-shared knowledge base, where customers can help themselves from a search of articles. Other features include ticket management, multi-channel chatting (e.g., SMS, social, video), bots, chat transfer, and automated messages.

  • Integration capabilities. I made sure that all my selected live chat apps integrated natively or through Zapier with popular CRM, help desk, marketing, and eCommerce platforms.

Of course, it's also almost impossible to talk about something like live chat without considering AI. While many of the apps in this category are exploring different AI features, most of those are aimed at automating customer service using your existing chats or knowledge base as training data. It's a neat feature, but it works best for larger businesses that have to handle the same customer queries over and over again. At least for this list, I prioritized tools that allow for your customers to talk to a real human.

To test each app, I installed the chat widget on my personal website and tried it out. I made sure to test everything from basic setup to some of the more advanced options, like integrations and automated chat routing. After extensive testing and re-testing over the past few years, these are the five best live chat apps.

The best live chat apps for customer suppport at a glance

Best for

Standout feature



Overall functionality

Easy setup without losing the bells and whistles

From $24/month for 1 user


A free option

A la carte pricing if you do need extras

Free for unlimited users; paid add-ons available


User experience

Powerful automation options

From $29/month for 1 user

Zendesk Support

A full-featured service suite

Integration with other channels

From $25/user/month


Agent gamification

Actually helpful gamification features

From $9/user/month

Best customer support live chat app for overall functionality

LiveChat (Web, Windows, Mac, iOS, Android)

LiveChat, our pick for the best customer support live chat app for overall functionality

LiveChat pros:

  • A super solid, fully-featured live chat option

  • Very quick to set up and easy to use

LiveChat cons:

  • Can be expensive for multiple users

LiveChat has plenty of support-focused features that will satisfy the needs of most small teams. And, as your business grows, LiveChat has the functionality to support it, in the form of separate but integratable chatbot, help center, and knowledge base products.

LiveChat has a clean and modern chat console. The core functions—chats, traffic, tickets, reports, settings, and help, among others—are all there on the left side of the screen. Installing the chat widget on my website took seconds. Everything is pretty self-explanatory and easy to use, so you'd be hard-pressed to get stuck. But if you do, each plan comes with 24x7x365 phone, email, and chat support, plus an extensive knowledge base.

Once you're up and running, LiveChat has all the major features you need, plus many nice-to-haves. It includes chat transfer, message sneak peek (see what a visitor is typing as they type), and transcripts. Then there's Messaging Mode, which lets you and your customers communicate by chat and email even when one or the other isn't online. For example, a customer can send a chat even if it's after business hours, and it will be waiting for you in the chat queue. When you do respond, it will go to both the customer's chat widget and email.

For managers, intelligent chat routing distributes chats evenly to available agents, and the Supervision feature lets you train agents during live chats behind the scenes. Other features worth noting: Traffic shows a list of visitors on your site that you can proactively reach out to; the dashboard shows the most important real-time metrics for the day, such as ongoing chats, unassigned tickets, and logged-in agents; and Reporting lets you track things like greeting conversions, availability, ticket first-response time, and tracked sales from chats for eCommerce businesses. All-in-all, it's a pretty complete package that can meet almost any business's live chat needs.

You can connect LiveChat to thousands of other apps with LiveChat's Zapier integrations, which let you do things like automatically adding LiveChat contacts to HubSpot or tracking LiveChat conversations in Google Sheets.

Add HubSpot contacts from LiveChat chats

Add HubSpot contacts from LiveChat chats
  • LiveChat logo
  • HubSpot logo
LiveChat + HubSpot

Add rows in Google Sheets when LiveChat chats end

Add rows in Google Sheets when LiveChat chats end
  • LiveChat logo
  • Google Sheets logo
LiveChat + Google Sheets

LiveChat price: From $24/month for one user. LiveHelpNow, at $21/user/month, offers a similar set of advanced features, although the interface is a lot less user-friendly—especially for admins.

Best free live chat for websites

tawk.to (Web, Windows, Mac, iOS, Android)

Tawk.to, our pick for the best free live chat app for customer support

tawk.to pros:

  • Almost all features are completely free

  • A la carte pricing gives you control of any extra features you need

tawk.to cons:

  • Branding—which you have to pay to remove—is more intrusive than most

  • Fewer integrations than many of the other picks

Unlimited users. Automated triggers. Chat whisper. Knowledge base. These are some of the features in tawk.to's free live chat software. Yes, free forever unless you want to add features such as AI assist (from $29/month), video + voice + screen sharing ($29/month), hire a live agent to field your chats ($1/hour), or remove the branding ($19/month). Considering the features that come with the free version, tawk.to is a bargain—and likely to satisfy many small businesses.

tawk.to's chat widget is completely customizable, allowing you to set when and where it's visible on your site and how notifications are delivered, with options for sound notification, message preview, and estimated wait time. There's also a consent form option and a scheduler to enable and disable the chat widget online automatically.

Messages queue in the chat inbox from newest to oldest, showing both closed and open messages. Each message shows the visitor's IP address, location, email, operating system, and when/if they last visited. From here, the agent can attach files, tag the chat, email a transcript, and convert the chat to a ticket.

tawk.to also includes a knowledge base, which lets you create a subdomain (e.g., zapier.tawk.to.help) to share help articles with customers and for your agents to use internally. You can customize it with your logo, colors, social sharing, and other elements to match your branding. Then choose a layout, add categories, and start loading articles. Your customers will then be able to find answers to their questions using the search box. And if they don't find their answer, there's a ticket submit link that will drop into your messaging inbox. Here, you can assign it to a rep, add a priority, and respond with an email directly from the record.

And even though tawk.to is completely free, it does offer 24x7x365 support via chat—not too surprising from such a good live chat app.

Connect tawk.to to the other apps in your tech stack with tawk.to's Zapier integrations, which let you do things like send a message to Slack every time there's a new chat in tawk.to or send all new tawk.to tickets to a task management app.

Post messages in a Slack channel when new chats begin on tawk.to

Post messages in a Slack channel when new chats begin on tawk.to
  • tawk.to logo
  • Slack logo
tawk.to + Slack

Add new tawk.to tickets as cards in Trello

Add new tawk.to tickets as cards in Trello
  • tawk.to logo
  • Trello logo
tawk.to + Trello

tawk.to price: Free live chat for website for unlimited users; paid add-ons (e.g., AI assist, remove branding, video + voice + screen share, audio/video calling) available.

Best live chat support software for user experience

Re:amaze (Web, iOS, Android)

Re:amaze, our pick for the best live chat app for user experience

Re:amaze pros:

  • Another modern, easy to use app

  • Some powerful automation options

Re:amaze cons:

  • No integrated ticketing system

With its modern interface, ease of setup, and customer-focused features, Re:amaze (sometimes written Reamaze) makes handling support calls a bit more enjoyable and easier for both users and visitors. Honestly, it's hard to believe for a tool that's technically part of GoDaddy. With that said, it really is just a live chat app with an FAQ/knowledge base; if you're looking for a chat app with built-in ticketing, Re:amaze can't help. To log and manage tickets, you'll also need a help desk app and an automation tool like Zapier to connect everything.   

Despite having all the app's functions and settings available through the left-hand menu, Re:amaze never feels cluttered. It also helps that nearly every feature, like the departments, integrations, and automations, either has examples or is super self-explanatory.

Two of Re:amaze's best features are Cues and Workflows. Cues are pop-up notifications sent to visitors when they take a certain action (like visiting your home page for 30 seconds) or meet certain criteria (like being returning visitors). Really, you can configure them to appear almost any time you want with custom messages and suggested questions. 

Workflows are a way to automate how messages are handled, or to automatically do something in Re:amaze. For example, if a visitor leaves a satisfaction rating under 3, a note might be sent to your customer care agent to "please follow up and apologize." The message can be tagged (Unhappy Customer) and can be forwarded to a supervisor. It's all customizable. 

Re:amaze can also classify user questions with a feature called Intents. You might have a general support questions Intent that includes messages such as "I can't log in to my account" and "How do I change my password?" You would add these phrases into your Intent, and the app would begin "training" itself to spot them in chats. Then you can use them as a trigger in a Workflow that will perform a certain action if the requirements are met (e.g., "return" is mentioned, so the chat is routed to the returns department). 

Overall, Re:amaze is a pleasure to use because everything you need is right in the app—use cases, detailed instructions, and examples. And some of the features will undoubtedly make providing service a lot easier, which will filter back to the customer's experience too.

You can get even more from Re:amaze by connecting it with Zapier, to do things like create new Re:amaze conversations from messages in other chat apps or create tasks based on conversations in Re:amaze.

Create Reamaze conversations from Olark messages

Create Reamaze conversations from Olark messages
  • Olark logo
  • Reamaze logo
Olark + Reamaze

Create new Clientary tasks for new conversations on Reamaze

Create new Clientary tasks for new conversations on Reamaze
  • Reamaze logo
  • Clientary logo
Reamaze + Clientary

Re:amaze price: From $29/month for one user

Best live chat app with a full-featured service suite

Zendesk (Web, iOS, Android)

Zendesk, our pick for the best live chat app with a full-featured service suite

Zendesk pros:

  • A surprisingly affordable full-service ticket-based help desk solution

  • Chat integrates with almost every other channel you can want

Zendesk cons:

  • Complete overkill for many small businesses

Though 15+ years is a long time in this industry, it seems like Zendesk has been around much longer—it's a name that has become ubiquitous in the support space. And it's not hard to see why. The Zendesk service suite has everything you need to handle service duties, including chat, talk, social, and a help center—all packaged in a powerful platform that can take some getting used to. If you need an all-in-one ticketing solution, it's a great option—but for a lot of small businesses looking for live chat, it could be overkill.

New chat messages are treated the same as any other channel in Zendesk. Messages come in as open tickets and can be assigned according to your routing rules, triggers, and other features. With routing, you can set chat limits for certain agents and add skills for each agent, so they'll only receive chats they're qualified to handle, and they can always tag other agents or managers within the chat if they want to keep someone informed or need additional help with the ticket process.

Other channels include Twitter (X), Facebook Messenger, bots, text, a help center, and community forum. Zendesk makes setting up the help center and forum easy by providing an instantly accessible subdomain where you can begin building out your help FAQs, articles, and topics.

Unlike some of the options on this list, it's hard to summarize Zendesk succinctly. It really is a fully-featured service suite. Live chat can be a huge component of that, but if you don't need multiple agents across a few departments collaborating using a powerful ticketing system, then it's probably not the app for you.

You can connect Zendesk to thousands of apps with Zendesk's Zapier integrations to do things like automatically create tickets for new form entries, add new tickets to your project management tool, and more. Learn more about how to automate Zendesk, or start from one of these pre-made templates.

Create Zendesk tickets from new Typeform entries

Create Zendesk tickets from new Typeform entries
  • Typeform logo
  • Zendesk logo
Typeform + Zendesk

Add new Zendesk tickets to Asana as tasks

Add new Zendesk tickets to Asana as tasks
  • Zendesk logo
  • Asana logo
Zendesk + Asana

Zendesk price: From $25/user/month for the most basic support team plan, though the full Zendesk suite starts at $55/month.

Take a look at how Zendesk stacks up to similar apps in our showdowns: Zendesk vs. Freshdesk, Zendesk vs. Intercom, Zendesk vs. Jira, Zendesk vs. Salesforce, and Zendesk vs. Zoho Desk.

Best live chat app for agent gamification

LiveAgent (Web, iOS, Android)

LiveAgent, our pick for the best live chat app for agent gamification

LiveAgent pros:

  • Gamification is surprisingly robust and useful

  • An affordable full-service customer support suite

Live agent cons:

  • Interface uses a lot of unlabeled icons

While every app on this list tracks some kind of metrics, LiveAgent puts a great, gamified spin on it. If you want to improve customer support and make your reps' jobs more fun and competitive, it might be your answer. In addition to letting your agents monitor key support stats, they can earn badges and progress through different support levels.

You can customize each one based on conditions, such as chats per hour, answers per hour, missed chats, and several dozen others. Badges can also be awarded for things like the fastest chat response time, and each one is customizable. And of course, you can see everyone's performance on the dashboard.

On top of its gamification features (which I have to admit, I was initially skeptical of), LiveAgent offers a full customer support suite. Other standout features include a Twitter and Facebook integration for managing your company social channels, where agents can monitor mentions, respond to posts, and create support tickets right from the chat interface—though they are add-ons on lower price plans. There's also a self-service customer support portal for managing forum posts, articles, and customer feedback.

If I had a gripe with LiveAgent, it would be their use of icons rather than labels within the chat agent's window. For example, under Ticket, are seven icons. One is an envelope, which you might suspect would be email. But hover, and it says "related tickets." There are roughly 20 icons in the window to learn. With practice, they'll become automatic, but labels would be less ambiguous.

You can also automate LiveAgent with LiveAgent's Zapier integrations to do things like automatically send a Slack message whenever there's a new LiveAgent customer or add new chat contacts to your email marketing list.

Send new Slack message when a customer is created in LiveAgent

Send new Slack message when a customer is created in LiveAgent
  • LiveAgent logo
  • Slack logo
LiveAgent + Slack

Add new LiveAgent customers to a Mailchimp list

Add new LiveAgent customers to a Mailchimp list
  • LiveAgent logo
  • Mailchimp logo
LiveAgent + Mailchimp

LiveAgent price: From $9/user/month for Small business plan with 2 live chat buttons

Other options for adding live chat to the mix

While these five picks are some of the best live chat apps designed for customer service, there are plenty of other great options out there. The reality is that live chat is a pretty solved problem: unless you're looking for a very specific set of advanced features, almost any app that offers it will work well for most SMBs. Try a few out, and go with the one that best meets your needs and budget. 

Here are some other options to consider:

  • Your CRM. Most CRMs like HubSpot, Zoho Desk, Pipedrive, and almost every other major player includes live chat. It might be a bit barebones compared to a dedicated app, but it's definitely worth checking out. 

  • Chatbot builders. Many live chat apps include chatbots, and many chatbot apps, like Tidio, include live chat. If you want to bias your customer support toward increasingly intelligent AI chatbots, these apps are also worth including.

  • Dedicated help desk software. The overlap between customer support live chat apps and dedicated help desk software is huge (Zendesk, for example, appears on both of Zapier's lists). If you're concerned with how tickets are managed on the backend, these kinds of apps are worth checking out. 

  • Apps that integrate with Slack and Teams. If you just care about getting live chat messages into your collaboration tool, check out Chatlio or Social Intents. They're a bit too limited for this list, but they're pretty handy.

  • Any other app you use that offers live chat. Seriously, there were very few apps I tested that weren't usable. If you already pay for an app in your tech stack that offers live chat, give it a try. And if you already have a live chat app that works well for you, there probably isn't a compelling reason to switch to another tool.

Related reading:

  • The best screen sharing software

  • 5 ways automation can help your customer support team

  • How to build an effective customer support knowledge base

Originally published in July 2019 by Sean Kennedy with contributions from Matthew Guay and has since had contributions from Chris Hawkins. The most recent update, including app testing, was in October 2023.

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