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Best live chat software of 2020: ticketing systems and helpdesk solutions

Best live chat software
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The best live chat software, ticketing systems, and helpdesk solutions, will provide a simple and easy way for business and enterprise to manage their customer and staff support requests.

Helpdesk software has become an important part of modern business platforms, not least for integrating with CRM solutions to ensure good productivity and efficiency within a business. This is especially as the larger the business and the larger the customer/client base, the more important it is to manage them effectively.

Automation remains the key for business efficiency, especially for dealing with high volume communications, and live chat and helpdesk solutions aim to help manage the workload. Working with other product platforms, this means that ticketing software isn't simply a way to receive and response to messages from customers, but can become part of a larger integrated management approach that connects support with sales to better track marketing effectiveness.

However, finding the right live chat and ticketing software for you can become a challenge when there are now so many different options available. Ultimately, your own business will have its own criteria, but no doubt issues such as features, volume handling, integration options, and-of course-cost will likely feature in there.

We'll feature some of the major software solutions of note, along with their features, pricing, and any other concerns to consider.

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1. LiveChat

The best live chat platform

Easy routing

LiveChat offers a complete customer service platform to help support customers as well as sales teams. As well as being able to add chat widgets to your website, you can also manage multiple communications channels from a single dashboard, which can include email, chat, SMS, apps, as well as the website itself.

Additionally, LiveChat also offers integrations for a range of other common software platforms, such as Salesforce, Facebook Messenger, Shopify, Hubspot, Pipedrive, and WhatsApp.

LiveChat also makes it easier to manage messages, offering sneak peeks, customer details, and agent groups. It also allows you to share announcements, introduce new products, and invite visitors to chat. Personalized greetings are available according to range of criteria, such as time on site, location, and previously visited pages.


(Image credit: RingCentral)

2. RingCentral Contact Center

The best cloud contact center

Comprehensive features
Easy to use
Omnichannel routing
Many integration options
Full telecoms solution

The RingCentral Contact Center includes all the main features you’d expect, from call handling to omnichannel routing, CRM integrations, to analytics for agent performance management.

One area where RingCentral stands out, though, is a collaborative approach that runs through the service, and intends to not only allow agents to have quick access to the information they need, but that this can also be updated on the fly according to changing conditions. 

Another strong point is the wide range of integrations RingCentral is able to handle, such as from SalesForce, Zendesk, Oracle, ServiceNow, and Microsoft Dynamics, so that communications can better work with sales, CRM, and other essential backend software.


(Image credit: SolarWinds )

3. SolarWinds Service Desk

The best IT service management solution

Lots of customer resources
Cross-department access
Easy to set up and navigate
Cloud-based system

Used by over 300,000 organizations across the world, SolarWinds Service Desk is a full-range IT service management (ITSM) solution for medium to large businesses. It is entirely cloud-based and boasts powerful features like smart ticketing, asset management, and workflow automation. 

Like Freshservice, SolarWinds is built upon a ticketing system that allows employees to submit support requests to the IT department. It also comes with an asset management functionality that helps you keep track of all your hardware and software throughout their life cycles. 

Apart from incident reporting and asset management, SolarWinds Service Desk comes with highly detailed analytics to help you measure your organization’s performance. The benchmarks dashboard is easy to use, with separate indicators for things like customer satisfaction, average response time, and so on.


(Image credit: Freshdesk)

4. Freshdesk

Helpdesk software to flexibly manage support tickets

Integrates multiple channels
Team huddle for complicated cases
Free tier

Freshdesk is helpdesk software that has a number of features to foster efficiency of workflow based around the tickets created. These include a team inbox to manage incoming tickets from several channels to one location, the ability to designate and create custom ticket statuses that work for your organization, canned responses to common trouble issues, and a team huddle to bring in expertise on more complicated challenges. This software can also integrate information from multiple channels including email, phone, social media and chat.  

There are trials for each of the tiers, and the lowest tier, Sprout, is available for free. The next rung up is Blossom, which goes for $15 per agent per month billed annually, and adds satisfaction surveys, time tracking and an advanced social channel. 


(Image credit: LiveAgent)

5. LiveAgent

Best live helpdesk support

Highly user-friendly
Excellent integrations
Expensive for small businesses

LiveAgent uses a merged narrative model where all communications with the customer are presented to the agent as a unified conversation, irrespective of the channels used.

This blended call center solution has sophisticated rule-based escalation, live chat, scripting, call logging and recording. And, it includes analytical analysis to gauge service standards and avoid customer satisfaction issues.

Integrations are also available, such as for Zapier, tracking with Google Analytics, email marketing with MailChimp, eCommerce with numerous packages, CRM, CMS, and social media via Facebook and Twitter.

They also enjoy how scaleable LiveAgent is, progressing from a small number of agents to a massive support centre on the same platform. Huawei uses this product to give you an impression of how large an operation it can handle.


(Image credit: Salesforce)

6. Salesforce Service Cloud

Another good use for a CRM

Customer account management
Web-based and mobile apps
Part of the Salesforce Customer 360 ecosystem
Might overwhelm anyone who hasn’t used the CRM

Salesforce is best known for its CRM solution, and it is an obvious progression to use the same core technology to deliver a customer services platform.

The Salesforce Service Cloud operates with similar objectives, namely customer relationship building, but driven via a ticket-based support model.

What marks this solution out is that it is designed for four entirely different support scenarios, covering those that are often used in different business sectors.

Foremost is the standard customer service profile, where customers support help using whatever channel they like (phone, email, chat, social media). Alongside that is a self-service solution, for those that like to find their own answers.

If the business involves field operations, Salesforce Service Cloud can manage that too.

And finally, if the customer services requirement is an internal one, employee service is also something that Salesforce offers.

In each of these situations, AI-powered contextual recommendations can be planned, reducing the overhead for support staff and providing Agents with the most relevant and timely information to resolve the issue.

For companies that already use the CRM product, Salesforce Service Cloud has the potential to seamlessly integrate with existing sales data for the best ongoing relationship management. 

The cost of Salesforce Service Cloud starts at $25 per user per month (billed annually).


(Image credit: TeamSupport)

7. TeamSupport

Optimised for B2B

Rich content emails
Easy to get started
Integrates with Salesforce
Database searches can be slow

Not every customer services solution involves dealing with the public, and TeamSupport was built with B2B customers in mind.

As you might expect, it’s a ticketing system build around a customer database, but it provides a highly customisable environment that’s ideal for businesses that need to communicate smoothly.

All the usual things are included; SLAs, task controls, reporting, metrics, and full omnichannel start points.

Providing a service for another business needs to be monitored and adapted, based on the types of service that have been requested and the resource available. And, TeamSupport has the reporting tools to provide the insight needed to make those changes smoothly and maintain the quality of the service.

Customers are provided with an easy to understand self-service portal that quickly tells them the status of a service request, and when it is likely to be resolved.

While most customers for this product are very happy with it, some have complained that the limited functionality in the mobile app needs to be expanded. And, a few others would like quicker ticketing search solution.

TeamSupport offers two plans; Enterprise and Support Desk. Neither are cheap, but you can pay monthly or annually.



(Image credit: Kayako)

8. Kayako

A customer-focused helpdesk tool

Conversation centric
Easy to use
600+ integrations with Zapier
Enterprise features are expensive
No ITIL compliant

Like so many service systems, Kayako is a web-based helpdesk platform that you can access using a browser from almost any computing platform.

Alongside the web interface, Kayako also has mobile platform apps that allow the same customer supporting activity to take place on a phone or tablet when away from the office.

This multi-pronged approach is designed to make the customer the priority, not the support staff. Its objective is to provide a highly personalised and tailored solution where the customer doesn’t feel like they are a ticket number.

One interesting different with Kayako is that it supports both customer services agents and collaborators, who may be experts in a specific area or can research answers for a busy agent.

The system support SLA (Service Level Agreement) rules that can be applied on a per customer or group basis and tracks the quality of service with a satisfaction survey at the end of the support cycle. 

Kayako is a slick and elegant solution that is designed to grow from a basic ticket tracking system into something more sophisticated with time. However, it has got more expensive in the past few years.

Its feature set is very similar to Freshdesk, a cheaper option that includes more functionality for the money.


Other helpdesk software to consider

Zendesk Support is a software package that provides organization to put a variety of customer support interactions in one accessible database. It has the features for an efficient workflow, including web widgets, the ability to search a customer’s history, and predefined ticket responses. Another standout feature is integrated surveys for customer satisfaction ratings, combined with analytics and performance dashboards to track ongoing performance.

Zoho Desk is the cloud-based, helpdesk software offering that focuses on being context aware. It includes features such as prioritization of higher importance or overdue tickets, dashboards to track quality metrics, and the support to create a Knowledge Base for simpler issues that can be self-serviced. Zoho Desk can be used by agents with mobile apps for iOS and Android.

SupportCenter Plus from ManageEngine is a cloud-based helpdesk and customer support ticketing system, which means it's easy to access and use from a mobile device as well as from a desktop, both Windows and Linux. The software allows you to manage support tickets, customer accounts, and contact information. The built-in email management system allows you to fully track emails and support progress, and you can also manage different service contracts and support plans for billing purposes.

NinjaRMM is a cloud-based helpdesk solution that allows you to monitor everything in real-time. The GUI is simple and easy to use, which can make the learning curve in setting up, using, and customizing short and sweet. The developers are also proactively adding additional features, not least to increase the number of available integrations and improving the available toolkit.

Agiloft is another helpdesk option that aims to streamline operations and efficiency, and make actionable insights more easily available. It's a very scalable solution but also offers some very good pricing options. Agiloft have been a market leader since the 1990's, and the latest offering is slick and easy to both understand and use.

Bitrix24 is a powerful platform that includes a contact center as well as features for staff communications, project manamgent, and CRM. The contact center aspect allows for a wide range of communications channels to be covered, not least live chat, social media messages, as well as SMS, email, and even phone calls. There's a free tier for up to 12 users. After that, their standard plan costs $99 a month.

Web Help Desk from Solar Winds is more of a traditional helpdesk software package that allows for automated ticketing. This makes is easy to ensure SLAs are met, as well as staff workflows are operating correcting according to company KPIs. There's also the ability to integrate with Active Directory, LDAP, and Microsoft SCCM. A 14-day free trial is available, after which the fees are charged per tech.