Most companies will need to have live chat software of some sort. Customers expect to communicate with you easily through your website, and live chat is a crucial part of this. The right chat software and best practices will let you turn conversations into conversions. But to get the most from your live chat support, you need to understand it and its importance, as well as how to choose your live chat solution. 

What is live chat?

Live chat, also called live chat support, is a method of communicating with customers on your website. It is a text-based method of talking to customers. You can type responses, share links, have customers fill out basic forms, and more.

With live chat software for websites, you can also get transcripts of your conversations. This can be useful for analysis and discovering ways to improve your support. 

Live chat software in recent years

Live chat for websites has been growing in popularity in recent years. Companies use the best live chat software to generate leads, and customers rely on it for support.

The following statistics give you a better idea of how companies and customers are using live chats now and in recent years.

  • 79% of businesses report that offering live chat increased customer loyalty, revenue, and sales.
  • 41% of customers prefer support over live chat. (32%, 23%, and 3% prefer over the phone, email, and social media support, respectively.)
  • 20% of people prefer live chat compared to any other type of support.
  • 51% of customers have a higher chance of staying with your company if you offer live chat support.
  • 69% of adults buy more from online retailers with consistent online and offline support.
  • 44% of shoppers say that one of the “most important” features of a retailer’s website is the ability to have a live person answer questions while they shop.
  • Live chat has 85% customer satisfaction ratings. This is only behind phone support, which has 91% customer satisfaction.
  • 95% of customers would rather get higher-quality support, even if it takes longer.

percentage of customers wanting quality support

  • 29% of customers get annoyed by the impersonal and scripted responses from chatbots. 

What to look for in a live chat solution 

The above statistics make it pretty clear that having website chat software is a must for companies. It will help you build customer loyalty, generate leads, and more. One of the first challenges to getting efficiency with live chat software is choosing the platform. There are numerous options available, so you will want to pay close attention to the available live chat features to find the best live chat software.

The following are the most important things to pay attention to when choosing a live chat solution. 

Chat history

Your chosen live chat software should keep records of your conversations. This is important for customer service as well as to protect your business. For example, with conversational records, you can quickly revisit the conversations to gain insights on what needs to change. Or you can protect yourself if a customer claims your support agent mislead them, as you will have the records showing otherwise. Ideally, look for unlimited chat history for your live chats. 

Visitor tracking

These live chat features will give you detailed information about your website visitors. You can get data such as how long the chats were and how long they waited.

Analysis of chats

The best live chat software will let you analyze your chats to glean additional information from them. This is simplest when you integrate Google Analytics. Other options are available, and some programs may even offer their own reports. For example, the best live chat software may give you daily reports regarding new leads.

Other communication methods

The best live chat software will do more than just help you with live chat or webchat. It will help with overall customer communication management. For example, Podium offers webchat and the ability to connect with customers over text, social media, and email. You can even manage all of the interactions in a single inbox. Having this feature in your live chat tools will let you handle all your customer interactions in one spot. 


Remember that many of your customers will likely reach your live chat software via their smartphone browser or mobile apps. As such, you want to ensure your solution is mobile-friendly. A few solutions will even let you transfer the conversation to text messages to make it even more mobile-friendly. Although rare, this is one of the live chat features worth looking for. 


The best live chat software will start your experience off on the right foot with a seamless onboarding process. This should include quick integration as well as ease of use. Ideally, training or support should also be available.

Customizations and branding

Strongly consider using live chat software that will let you customize it to fit your brand. That being said, you should also be able to simply stick to a template and set it up quickly if you don’t want that customization.

Proactive chat

When you visit websites with live chat software, you likely get little notifications or greetings from the chat window automatically. You can do this on your company’s website or use it as a way to boost engagement. But you need to make sure that your chosen live chat software offers this feature.


Another of the live chat features to look for is an auto-response of some sort. This will automatically respond to customers when your team isn’t there to answer. For example, they may capture leads or just tell visitors when your support team will be back online.

Canned answers

The best live chat software will let you input some canned or smart answers to common questions. This can be for things like business hours, locations, and other FAQs.

Chat ratings

Look for live chat software that lets customers give your company feedback about their customer service experience.

Employee management

Consider whether you want live chat software that has a tool to help you manage your customer support agents. For example, maybe it will track the number of conversations each employee takes or their response times. Or perhaps it will let you monitor your team as they provide support in the live chat. That could be essential in conducting quality control. 


You should always ensure that any software your company uses is secure, including your live chat software. This helps prevent data breaches that could compromise the information customers have shared in your chat.

man sitting on bench on mobile phone

Customer support

You want your chosen live chat software to offer good support. Simply put, you want to know that they will be available if you run into technical difficulties or have a question about how something works.

Other integrations

If you need your live chat software to integrate with other systems, like your CRM, knowledge base, or help desk, then make sure you choose one that can do so. These third-party integrations are standard. 

Don’t worry about chatbots

You may also wonder if you should look for a live chat platform that includes chatbots. It may seem tempting to use a chatbot, but most people want to talk to a real person. The canned response feature mentioned above should be enough in terms of automation. 

Affordable cost

There are free live chat software options, but these are not necessarily the best. If you choose free live chat widgets, you are unlikely to get most of the above features. You also won’t get other features like unlimited chats and may have security concerns. Essentially, you will get the most basic live chat possible instead of all the features you need. 

You will also need to pay attention to the fine print if you choose a platform that offers a free account. For example, is it really a free forever plan, or does it come with high fees in the future? Are there hidden fees that mean it is not entirely free? 

Because of this, it is usually best to pay for live chats. Of course, some of the top live chat solutions offer a free version, whether a free trial or chat widgets with more limited features. 

Live chat vs. webchat for your bottom line

Live chat and webchat are very similar, and many companies use the terms interchangeably. The most significant difference will be in your chosen solution’s features. One example of this comes from Podium. The Podium Webchat allows you to move a conversation to text, something you cannot do with most live chat software.

This ability to move the conversation to text is essential for several reasons. To start, customers tend to prefer texting. Additionally, it means that your customers aren’t tied to their computers while they wait for you to respond. This, in turn, means that your customers get a better journey. As a bonus, your live chat agents also have a better experience. 


The right live chat software will drive more money to your bottom line, and you will find it easier to generate leads. Your customers will have a better overall journey and an improved customer support experience, translating into more sales, customer loyalty, recommendations, and reviews. 

Isaiah Rendorio
Isaiah Rendorio Product Marketing Manager, Campaigns

Isaiah Rendorio is the Product Marketing Manager for Podium Campaigns—helping local businesses tap into the power of SMS marketing to strengthen customer relationships, increase customer lifetime value, and drive more revenue.

Adapt the way you do business. Press send.