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Live chat is now the de facto standard for student support in higher education. It’s not only the most efficient support channel, but it’s also how students overwhelmingly want to connect with their schools.

Many vendors have entered the live chat market to meet this need in higher education. While this gives a lot of choice, it also makes it difficult to identify the best live chat software for your school. In this article we’ll look at 5 of the best live chat solutions for higher education institutions, digging into their pros and cons, and analyzing the below factors. We’ve listed the best live chat software for higher education in alphabetical order.

  • Key product features
  • Ease of use
  • Security
  • Customer support
  • Pricing

Top 10 Live Chat Software Review - Comm100
www.comm100.com
Headquartered
Vancouver, Canada
Founded
2009
Customers: UBC, Thompson Rivers University, McMaster University, The Open University
Best for
Medium to large institutions looking for a fully integrated, all-in-one live chat solution.

Key Product Features
  • Proactive chat invitations
  • Canned messages
  • Pre-/Post-chat survey
  • Co-browsing
  • Visitor segmentation and advanced routing
  • Audio and video chat
  • Website real-time visitor tracking
  • Detailed reporting (by agent, dept., campaign, visitor segment)
  • Multi-language auto-translation
  • Multiple and dynamic campaigns
  • Single sign-on
  • Knowledge base
  • AI Chatbot integration
  • Taskbot integration
  • Integrated platform with email, ticketing, social media & SMS.
Ease of Use

Comm100 has a strong focus on usability and has the highest Capterra ease of use score among the live chat solutions we’re looking at, at 4.7 out of 5. Positive Capterra reviews note the user-friendly interface. Implementation and agent onboarding are reported to usually take an hour or less. While the visitor chat window can be fully customized, the agent console has only one theme.

Security
  • Data level: TLS/SSL encryption; Data obfuscation, Comm100 is one of the only vendors that does not store any payment information.
  • Application level: Complex agent password policy enforcement; CAPTCHA verification.
  • Compliances: ISO 27001; PCI DSS; SOC 2 Type II; TRUSTe® Privacy Certified; HIPAA; GDPR; PIPEDA compliant.
Customer Support

Comm100 has the highest overall Capterra score for customer service among these solutions, at 4.6 out of 5. Comm100 offers 24/7 live chat support, as well as phone support, SMS and WhatsApp support during business hours. Users report quick response times, reliable support, and a willingness to work with customers to meet their needs. On-premise customers tend to have a longer wait for technical support.

Pricing

Comm100 offers a 15-day free trial, alongside three various pricing packages depending on team size and needs:

  • Team: $29/agent per month
  • Business: $49/agent per month
  • Enterprise: Quote-based pricing
Pros
  • Easy implementation (including on-premise deployment) and an intuitive user interface.
  • Highly secure platform with the most security and privacy compliances including SOC 2, ISO 27001, PCI DSS, HIPAA, and GDPR.
  • Robust integrations including Salesforce and Dynamics365, and detailed reporting.
Cons
  • Its offering is heavily weighted towards live chat compared to other channels.
  • Agent console has limited customization options.
  • Has limited phone system integration and does not integrate with IVR systems.
www.freshworks.com
Headquartered
San Mateo, United States
Founded
2011
Customers: University of Adelaide, Pearson, USC, Wake Forest University
Best for
Schools looking to improve educational support with live chat

Key Product Features
  • Messaging channels
  • Integrated chatbots
  • Web widget
  • Campaigns
  • Multilingual support with live translation
  • FAQs
  • Freshdesk Messaging SDK
  • Team inbox
  • Canned responses
  • Integrations
  • Visitor Intel
  • Assignment rules
  • Custom reports
Ease of Use

Freshdesk is the lowest rated among these live chat solutions for ease of use – at 4.1 out of 5 on Capterra – but receives high marks overall for usability. Positive user reviews typically focus on the integrations with other Freshworks products and brand familiarity. One of the noted criticisms from reviews is a lack of automation options.

Security
  • Data level: TLS/SSL encryption; IP restrictions
  • Application level: SHA 256 encoding; JWT authentication for APIs; Click-jacking prevention
  • Compliances: HIPAA; GDPR; ISO 27001; TRUSTe® Privacy Certified; Cyber Essentials Certified; AICPA
Customer Support

Among these live chat solutions, Freshdesk Messaging has the lowest Capterra customer service score, at 3.8 out of 5. Freshdesk offers live chat, email, and phone support. Its chat window states their team ‘Typically replies within few hours’. While some reviews are positive, others note a lack of product knowledge from sales associates.

Pricing

Freshdesk Messaging offers a 21-day trial and a free option with limited features for up to 100 agents. There are three pricing plans that include additional features and capabilities. Additional discounts are available when choosing annual billing.

  • Growth: $18/agent per month
  • Pro: $47/agent per month
  • Enterprise: $83/agent per month
Pros
  • Support for a wide variety of messaging channels, including social channels.
  • Strong integration with other Freshworks products - Freshdesk, Freshsales, and Freshmarketer.
  • Custom reports can be integrated with BI tools to derive business-centric metrics.
Cons
  • Limited options for automation that are not extendable.
  • Limited integrations with third party products outside of Freshworks.
  • Lower ease of use than competing solutions with frequent technical issues affecting message notifications.
www.livechat.com
Headquartered
Wrocław, Poland
Founded
2002
Customers: Deakin University, University of Toronto, University of Maryland, Berlitz
Best for
Small to medium schools wanting to build relationships and drive acquisition

Key Product Features
  • Proactive chat invitations
  • Canned messages
  • Pre-/Post-chat survey
  • Offline forms
  • Website visitor tracking
  • Routing rules
  • Basic reporting
  • Chatbots
  • Single sign-on
  • Agent grouping
  • Agent availability
  • Multiple campaigns
Ease of Use

LiveChat is tied among these solutions for ease of use on Capterra, at 4.7 out of 5. Positive reviews focus on simplicity of use and effectiveness. Criticisms include delays or lag during conversations that contribute to wait times in responding to customer questions.

Security
  • Data level: IP Restrictions; TLS/SSL Encryption; AES encryption
  • Application level: 2-step verification for agents; ability to set agent data restrictions
  • Compliances: PCI DSS; HIPAA; GDPR compliant; Privacy Shield Certified; CSA Star Certification
Customer Support

LiveChat has a strong customer support score among these solutions on Capterra, at 4.6 out of 5. 24/7 live chat support is offered, and they’re reported to be responsive. Positive reviews note that the support team is friendly and helpful. Criticisms note that while the platform has improved over time, customer support has become less helpful and personal.

Pricing

LiveChat offers a 14-day trial of the Team plan but does not offer a free option. Four pricing options are available, with the Enterprise plan being quote-based for Fortune 500 companies. Additional discounts are available when selecting annual billing.

  • Starter: $19/agent per month
  • Pro: $39/gent per month
  • Business: $59/agent per month
  • Enterprise: Quote-based pricing
Pros
  • Features a dedicated app marketplace with a wide variety of integration options. Custom integrations supported.
  • Easy to use and setup with an aesthetic interface.
  • Supports automation of reports through email for regular updates.
Cons
  • Technical “glitches” that create delays for agents during conversations from time to time.
  • Does not offer on-premise deployment which can be a no-go for institutions requiring certain levels of security.
  • Limited functionality, especially within the mobile app, including no co-browsing, agent wrap-ups, spellcheck, etc.
www.olark.com
Headquartered
Ann Arbor, United States
Founded
2009
Customers: University of Virginia, Syracuse University, Ithaca College, Harvard Business School
Best for
Support teams looking for a simpler live chat solution

Key Product Features
  • Proactive chat invitations
  • Co-browsing (add-on)
  • Auto-translation (add-on)
  • Basic reporting
  • Canned messages
  • Searchable chat transcripts
  • Customizable chat window
  • Agent availability
  • Group agents by team
  • Chat tagging
  • Automated reports sent by email
Ease of Use

Olark is tied for first among these solutions in usability, at 4.7 out of 5 on Capterra. Positive reviews focus on the fast-learning curve and clean user interface. Criticisms include a lack of deep integrations and features outside of basic chat.

Security
  • Data level: AES encryption
  • Application level: Ability to set agent data restrictions
  • Compliances: U.S.-EU Privacy Shield; Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield
Customer Support

Olark has a high overall customer service score, at 4.6 out of 5 in Capterra reviews. 24/7 live chat and email support is offered, but no phone support. Positive reviews note the distributed support team across the world, providing responsive support.

Pricing

Olark offers a single pricing plan with a 35% discount for a 2-year commitment. While no free plan is offered, a free trial is available.

  • Billed monthly: $29/agent per month
  • Billed bi-yearly: $18.85/agent per month
Pros
  • One of the simplest live chat platforms for setup and use.
  • Supports several major integrations including SugarCRM, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics.
  • Includes many customization options for both visitors and agents.
Cons
  • Limited features, including lack of spellcheck support and chat routing.
  • Limited reporting which is unable to segment data by specific time periods.
  • Does not include social integrations.
www.zendesk.com
Headquartered
San Francisco, United States
Founded
2007
Customers: Beloit College, University of Louisville, USC Annenberg
Best for
Teams looking for a robust help desk solution

Key Product Features
  • Proactive chat invitations
  • Pre-/Post-chat survey
  • Website visitor tracking
  • Canned messages
  • Routing rules
  • Detailed reporting
  • Offline forms
  • Customizable chat window and button
  • Chatbots
  • Agent availability
  • Timeline (Jump back to different points of conversation history)
  • Agent permissions
Ease of Use

Zendesk falls in the middle-ground of usability scores among these solutions at 4.3 out of 5 on Capterra. Positives reviews note easy deployment and usability. Criticisms from reviews mention awkwardness in the interface and difficulties capturing data.

Security
  • Data level: TLS/SSL encryption; IP restrictions
  • Application level: Advanced password policy; 2-factor authentication
  • Compliances: PCI DSS; ISO 27001:27018; SOC 2 Type II; Skyhigh Enterprise-Ready; Cloud Security Alliance (CSA); TRUSTe® Privacy; U.S.-EU Privacy Shield; U.S.-Swiss Safe Harbor; HIPAA; SAS-70 Type II compliant
Customer Support

Zendesk has the second lowest customer support score among these live chat solutions, at 4.2 out of 5 on Capterra. Zendesk offers live chat and email, but no phone support. Complaints note slow response times or difficulty escalating issues to the correct team.

Pricing

Zendesk offers a 14-day trial of the Team plan but does not offer a free option. Four pricing options are available, with the Enterprise plan being quote-based for Fortune 500 companies. Additional discounts are available when selecting annual billing.

  • Team: $19/agent per month
  • Professional: $35/agent per month
  • Enterprise: $70/agent per month
Pros
  • Includes a real-time dashboard for individual agent metrics.
  • Is easily integrated with Zendesk Support to offer omnichannel support.
  • Provides robust agent and visitor management capabilities.
Cons
  • Limited functionality, including lack of multiple campaign support and lack of ability to view shopping cart items.
  • Reportedly buggy, with occasional glitches.
  • Limited reporting capabilities require reports to be manually exported.

Want to learn more about Comm100?

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