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Instant messaging software

Instant messaging software helps provide fast resolutions for customers and employees. Discover popular options and start a free trial with the best solution today.

A guide to the 14 best instant messaging platforms of 2024

Zuletzt aktualisiert: January 9, 2024

ccording to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2023, 71 percent of customers demand natural, conversational experiences. Without instant messaging (IM) software, your business may be at a disadvantage and struggle to meet these needs.

To ensure you’re putting your employees and customers first, choose a reputable and secure solution that is easy to use, scalable, and rich with features. Empower your agents with instant messaging software so they can provide quick and effective conversational support. This will improve both the employee experience and customer experience (CX).

More in this guide:

What is instant messaging software?

Instant messaging software communicates and shares messages and files in real time. Also known as IM or live chat, people use this quick means of communication as an alternative to emails and phone calls.

An instant messaging platform has many uses, including:

Instant messaging software can vary in functionality. Some messaging apps may focus on internal team communication, whereas others are omnichannel messaging platforms, connecting internal and external channels in one app.

For customer support, companies generally integrate IM software with their website via a plugin. That way, site visitors can chat live with a customer service team member through a chat window.

Instant messaging platforms comparison chart

Find the best instant messaging software for your business. Our comparison chart breaks down options by starting price, free trial length, and key features.

SoftwareStarting priceFree trialFeatures
Zendesk$55 per agent/month (billed annually)14 days
  • Routing
  • Notifications
  • Automatic responses
  • Embedded messaging
  • Satisfaction surveys
Twilio MessagingXVaries per channelAvailable
  • Routing
  • Notifications
  • Automatic responses
  • Embedded messaging
Rocket.Chat$0 per month (self-managed)30 days
  • Routing
  • Notifications
  • Automatic responses
  • Embedded messaging
MirrorFly$399 per monthUnavailable
  • Notifications
  • Embedded messaging
Chanty$0 per month (up to 5 users)Unavailable
  • Notifications
Brosix$0 per month (up to 3 users)14 days
  • Notifications
  • Automatic responses
  • Embedded messaging
Troop Messenger$30 per year7 or 30 days
  • Notifications
  • Automatic responses
Flock$0 per month (up to 20 users)30 days
  • Notifications
Ryver$69 per month (up to 12 users, billed annually)14 days
  • Notifications
Microsoft Teams$4 per user/month (billed annually)30 days
  • Notifications
  • Automatic responses
  • Satisfaction surveys
Slack$0 per month (limited features)Available
  • Notifications
  • Automatic responses
WeChatFreeNot applicable
  • Notifications
  • Automatic responses
  • Embedded messaging
MessengerFreeNot applicable
  • Routing
  • Notifications
  • Automatic responses
  • Embedded messaging
  • Satisfaction surveys
WhatsApp BusinessFreeNot applicable
  • Routing
  • Notifications
  • Automatic responses
  • Embedded messaging
  • Satisfaction surveys

The 14 best instant messaging software

Check out some of the best instant messaging tools to see which one is the best fit for your business needs.

1. Zendesk

A support agent messages a customer using Zendesk, a popular instant messaging software and complete customer service solution.

Zendesk instant messaging software empowers businesses to provide seamless omnichannel support to employees and customers using business text messaging, voice, live chat software, Facebook chatbots, and more. Our IM software automatically routes chats to the best agent for the job and offers an auto-response feature agents can use to answer repetitive questions and save time. Additionally, Zendesk includes built-in satisfaction surveys to help surface insights you can use to improve your CX and employee experience (EX).

With our embedded messaging, your organization can help customers and employees right on your site, from answering questions to sending proactive messages that promote engagement. And while your agents may need to sleep, Zendesk never does—our AI-powered chatbot software enables your business to offer 24/7 support and answer customer questions using natural, human language.

Plus, our complete employee and customer service software works out of the box, meaning you don’t need an army of developers to get started. Additionally, Zendesk is built to grow with businesses of all sizes, ensuring you have a reliable CX partner.

Features:

  • Omnichannel routing
  • Agent workspace
  • Notifications
  • Automatic responses
  • Embedded messaging
  • Satisfaction surveys
  • AI-powered chatbots
  • Proactive messaging
  • Customizable live chat widget

Device support:

  • MacOS
  • Windows
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Unity

Pricing:

  • Suite Team: $55 per agent/month
  • Suite Growth: $89 per agent/month
  • Suite Professional: $115 per agent/month
  • Suite Enterprise: Talk to sales
  • Suite Enterprise Plus: Talk to sales

    *Plans are billed annually.

Free trial:

14 days

2. Twilio MessagingX

A collection of chat illustrations represents Twilio MessagingX, an example of an instant messaging platform.
Image credit

Twilio MessagingX is a business messaging platform for communicating with customers. It supports multiple communication channels, including chat, in-app messaging, SMS, WhatsApp, and Messenger.

With Twilio MessagingX, users can set up messaging solutions for customer interactions, such as appointment reminders, account notifications, or life cycle marketing. The platform also includes real-time analytics for monitoring message delivery and engagement.

Features:

  • Routing
  • Notifications
  • Automatic responses (with integrations)
  • Embedded messaging
  • File sharing
  • Read receipts

Device support:

  • MacOS
  • Windows
  • iOS
  • Android

Pricing:

Varies per channel

Free trial:

Available

3. Rocket.Chat

Two application windows showcase chat conversations using Rocket.chat, an example of instant messaging software.
Image credit

Rocket.Chat is a communications and messaging platform. The software enables users to communicate across various channels, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Skype, with a single app.

It also features an engagement dashboard to help businesses monitor how employees communicate with one another, providing insights such as the best time to send important messages. Rocket.Chat also includes chat routing and priority assignment for distributing customer chat conversations.

Features:

  • Routing
  • Notifications
  • Automatic responses
  • Embedded messaging
  • Audio and video calls
  • File sharing
  • Customizable interface

Device support:

  • MacOS
  • Windows
  • iOS
  • Android

Pricing:

  • Starter: $0 per month (self-managed)
  • Pro: $4 per user/month (self-managed)
  • Enterprise: Contact Rocket.Chat

Free trial:

30 days

4. MirrorFly

Two application windows showcase the chat features of MirrorFly, an example of an instant messaging platform.
Image credit

MirrorFly is an in-app chat, voice, and video call provider. With MirrorFly, developers can add communication capabilities to their app or website using flexible software development kits (SDKs)—software development tools used to create applications.

The communication provider supports unlimited chats and calls and can translate chat conversations in over 100 languages in real time. MirrorFly also features screen-, location-, and file-sharing capabilities.

Features:

  • Notifications
  • Embedded messaging
  • Group chat
  • Real-time language translation
  • Secure file transfer

Device support:

  • MacOS
  • Windows
  • iOS
  • Android

Pricing:

  • Essentials: Starts at $399 per month
  • Premium: $999 per month

    *Pricing is based on up to 5,000 monthly active users.

Free trial:

Unavailable

5. Chanty

A marketing team communicates with one another in a group conversation using Chanty, an example of instant messaging software.
Image credit

Chanty is collaboration and communication software for business teams. With Chanty, team members can have private and group conversations using chat, audio messages, or video and audio calls.

The software also has task management features, including a shared Kanban task board. Users can organize tasks by adding a due date, priority, assignee, and status. Chanty also includes tagging features, enabling users to ping specific colleagues when needed.

Features:

  • Notifications
  • Audio and video calls
  • Voice messages
  • Kanban board
  • Tagging

Device support:

  • MacOS
  • Windows
  • iOS
  • Android

Pricing:

  • Free: $0 per month (up to 5 users)
  • Business: $3 per user/month

    *Plans are billed annually.

Free trial:

Unavailable

6. Brosix

Two people chat using Brosix, an example of an instant messaging platform.
Image credit

Brosix is an instant messaging app for internal business communication. Brosix allows users to communicate with coworkers via text chat, chat rooms, or audio and video calls. The chat app also includes file- and screen-sharing capabilities.

Users who select its Premium plan will also receive live chat functionality. This allows users to communicate with visitors on a business’s website using a customizable live chat widget.

Features:

  • Notifications
  • Automatic responses
  • Embedded messaging
  • Chat rooms
  • Audio and video calls
  • File sharing

Device support:

  • MacOS
  • Windows
  • iOS
  • Android

Pricing:

  • Startup: $0 per month (up to 3 users)
  • Business: $4 per user/month
  • Premium: $6 per user/month

    *Plans are billed annually.

Free trial:

14 days

7. Troop Messenger

Two team members have a conversation using Troop Messenger, an example of instant messaging software.
Image credit

Troop Messenger is a team collaboration and instant messaging app for businesses. With Troop Messenger, team members can collaborate using one-on-one and group messaging. The instant messaging app also allows users to send recorded voice messages and attached files.

Users can also use Troop Messenger for confidential conversations using private chat windows. In a private chat window, all messages get automatically deleted after a set time.

Features:

  • Notifications
  • Automatic responses
  • Audio messaging
  • Group calling
  • Screen sharing
  • File sharing

Device support:

  • MacOS
  • Windows
  • iOS
  • Android

Pricing:

  • Premium: $30 per user/year
  • Enterprise: $60 per user/year
  • Superior: $108 per user/year

Free trial:

7 or 30 days

8. Flock

A team communicates in a group chat channel using Flock, an example of an instant messaging platform.
Image credit

Flock is a team communication app and online collaboration platform featuring private and group messaging. In addition to text-based communication, the app supports video and voice calling.

With Flock, users can share files and search through their message history using its integrated search feature. The team communication app also allows users to create and track shared to-do lists and send polls to team members.

Features:

  • Notifications
  • To-do lists
  • Voice and video calling
  • Polls
  • Public and private chat channels

Device support:

  • MacOS
  • Windows
  • iOS
  • Android

Pricing:

  • Free: $0 per month (up to 20 users)
  • Pro: $4.50 per user/month
  • Enterprise: Contact Flock

    *Plans are billed annually.

Free trial:

30 days

9. Ryver

A team member has a chat conversation using Ryver, an example of instant messaging software.
Image credit

Ryver is a team collaboration app with messaging functionality. With Ryver, users can create custom conversation channels for specific groups of team members and have private one-on-one conversations. Additionally, the team collaboration tool supports audio and video calling.

Ryver users can keep track of individual and group tasks using its task board. The app also supports various integrations, including sharing files directly from Google Drive or Dropbox.

Features:

  • Notifications
  • Audio and video calling
  • File sharing
  • Integrations
  • Task board

Device support:

  • MacOS
  • Windows
  • iOS
  • Android

Pricing:

  • Starter: $69 per month (up to 12 users)
  • Standard: $129 per month (up to 30 users)
  • Medium Pack: $4 per user/month (30+ users)
  • Enterprise: Contact Ryver

    *Starter and Standard plans are billed annually.

Free trial:

14 days

10. Microsoft Teams

A chat conversation occurs between two users on Microsoft Teams, an example of an instant messaging platform.
Image credit

Microsoft Teams is a business instant messaging software for team collaboration. With Microsoft Teams, team members can connect via instant messaging, video conferencing, and audio calls.

The communication platform also enables team members to record their calls and share files via chat. Additionally, users can share their screens during conference calls and host virtual events, such as webinars.

Features:

  • Notifications
  • Automatic responses
  • Satisfaction surveys
  • Video conferencing
  • Screen sharing
  • Webinars

Device support:

  • MacOS
  • Windows
  • iOS
  • Android

Pricing:

  • Microsoft Teams Essentials: $4 per user/month
  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic: $6 per user/month
  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard: $12.50 per user/month
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium: $22 per user/month

    *Plans are billed annually.

Free trial:

30 days

Learn about Microsoft Teams for Zendesk.

11. Slack

A group chat conversation is visible on a desktop window and smartphone using Slack, an example of instant messaging software.
Image credit

Slack is a cloud-based communication platform for business teams. Using the platform, team members can organize their communication using public and private channels. Users can also connect over audio and video calls with the Huddles feature, which has screen-sharing capabilities.

With Slack, users can schedule messages, share files, send custom emojis, and search through their conversations for specific messages. Slack also enables users to invite individuals from outside the company to collaborate and communicate in message threads.

Features:

  • Notifications
  • Automatic responses
  • Public and private chat channels
  • File sharing
  • Audio and video calls
  • Custom emojis

Device support:

  • MacOS
  • Windows
  • iOS
  • Android

Pricing:

  • Free: $0 per month (limited features)
  • Pro: $7.25 per user/month
  • Business+: $12.50 per user/month
  • Enterprise Grid: Contact Slack

    *Plans are billed annually.

Free trial:

Available

Learn about Slack for Zendesk.

12. WeChat

A smartphone is used to place a video call using WeChat, an example of an instant messaging platform.
Image credit

WeChat is a free messaging app for mobile, desktop, and web users. With WeChat, users can communicate using voice messages, stickers, and audio and video calls. The messaging app also includes built-in translation features for 20 languages and allows users to make payments within the mobile chat app using a digital wallet.

Additionally, WeChat supports business accounts, which enable organizations to engage customers through calls and chat messages. Businesses can also set automated welcome messages and responses for customer conversations.

Features:

  • Notifications
  • Automatic responses
  • Embedded messaging
  • Audio and video calls
  • Mobile payment support
  • Language translation

Device support:

  • MacOS
  • Windows
  • iOS
  • Android

Pricing:

Free

Free trial:

Not applicable

13. Messenger

A business answers a customer question using Messenger, an example of instant messaging software.
Image credit

Messenger is Meta’s proprietary IM app used for personal and business messaging. With Messenger, users can converse via chat, audio, and video. Businesses can use Messenger to connect with customers and provide customer support. Additionally, Messenger allows customers to reach out to businesses to ask questions, place reservations, and more.

The instant messaging app features automatic responses, satisfaction surveys, emoji reactions, and custom chat themes and colors. Users can also send payments via a debit card, PayPal account, or reloadable prepaid card.

Features:

  • Routing
  • Notifications
  • Automatic responses
  • Embedded messaging
  • Satisfaction surveys
  • Audio and video calls
  • Custom chat themes
  • Mobile payment

Device support:

  • MacOS
  • Windows
  • iOS
  • Android

Pricing:

Free

Free trial:

Not applicable

Learn about Messenger for Zendesk.

14. WhatsApp Business

A business communicates with a customer using WhatsApp Business, an example of an instant messaging platform.
Image credit

WhatsApp Business is a messaging platform available via an application programming interface (API) or business app. Take note: The business app is meant for smaller businesses, whereas the messaging API is designed for enterprises and larger companies. Both options enable businesses to communicate with customers using WhatsApp, a popular messaging service.

Organizations can configure automated welcome messages to greet new customers when they start a chat. Additionally, businesses can showcase their products and services to customers using a virtual storefront.

Features:

  • Routing
  • Notifications
  • Automatic responses
  • Embedded messaging
  • Satisfaction surveys
  • Virtual storefront
  • Custom conversation labels
  • File sharing

Device support:

  • MacOS
  • Windows
  • iOS
  • Android

Pricing:

  • Business App: Free
  • Business Platform: Contact WhatsApp Business

Free trial:

Unavailable

Learn about WhatsApp Business for Zendesk.

Benefits of instant messaging tools

Instant messaging software is a double whammy: It can help you collaborate with teammates and provide seamless customer support, improving the experience of your employees and customers. Here are four benefits instant messaging platforms can provide to businesses.

Four icons represent four benefits of instant messaging software.

Encourages employee collaboration

As the saying goes, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” With instant messaging software, team members can quickly collaborate by sharing texts, photos, videos, and other files. Take a messaging solution like Zendesk, for example. Employees can collaborate on support tickets using Side Conversations. This enables team members to help each other and provide customer and employee support, all using a single app.

For a real-world example, cybersecurity firm ZeroFox uses Side Conversations internally for Slack, email, and child tickets. According to Caitlin Wood, vice president of customer operations at ZeroFox, “Zendesk ultimately provides peace of mind. We can trust that the right people will be notified and the right actions will be taken based on our process because it’s built into the tool.”

Increases customer engagement

Instant messaging software can also increase customer engagement. Rather than waiting for customers to reach out to your business, you can leverage IM tools to provide proactive customer service, like greeting site visitors.

With a platform like Zendesk, you can engage customers with targeted messages based on past interactions. For example, your IM software can ask returning customers to fill out a satisfaction survey based on their last interaction with your business.

Provides fast resolutions

According to our Trends Report, 72 percent of customers want immediate service. Instant messaging platforms allow you to provide just that. Consider an IM solution like Zendesk where customers can quickly connect with agents on your site and experience a faster response time than they would with other support channels like email.

Additionally, our generative AI-powered chatbots deliver 24/7 support, helping customers even when your agents are offline. Take it from one of our customers, Photobucket, who experienced a 14 percent decrease in first reply time after implementing Zendesk.

Boosts agent productivity

The right messaging software can combine internal and external conversations, from live chat to messaging, into one cohesive thread. This omnichannel approach keeps agents from jumping between apps, saving time and improving agent productivity.

On top of that, messaging software like Zendesk empowers agents with automation and generative AI to quickly expand, summarize, and shift the tone of their messages. Zendesk also provides real-time reporting and analytics, providing businesses with valuable insights and customer information to boost productivity.

For instance, o9, a planning and decision-making solution, leveraged Zendesk reporting and analytics to track customer service metrics and refine its processes, which led to a 40 percent increase in agent productivity within 18 months. In line with this productivity, o9’s average first reply time decreased by 74 percent.

How to choose the right instant messaging software for your business

An illustration of a woman on the beach accompanies five things to consider when choosing instant messaging software.

To choose an instant messaging platform that covers your business needs, consider the following:

  • Ease of use: To ensure you can start helping customers and employees without skipping a beat, prioritize a user-friendly solution that works out of the box and integrates with the tech you already use.
  • Relevant features: Choose an all-in-one messaging app that offers features like omnichannel support and works with your existing channels, from Apple Business Chat to X (formerly known as Twitter) for Business.
  • Security: Since businesses can gain access to private customer information through IM, select software with advanced encryption that complies with privacy standards, like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
  • Reputation: When selecting IM software, choose a trusted solution in your industry, and prioritize software built with the customer and employee experience in mind.
  • Scalability: Before committing to an instant messaging platform, choose a tool built to grow alongside your business. That way, you won’t have to worry about finding a new solution in the future.

By keeping these considerations in mind, you can set your business up for success and improve the experiences of your customers and employees.

Frequently asked questions

Take your CX to the next level with instant messaging software

Choosing the right instant messaging software is key to offering a positive experience for customers and employees. If you don’t choose a scalable solution that’s rich with features and easy to use, your business could fall behind. From intelligent routing to automated responses, Zendesk offers end-to-end service software ready to grow with your business. Try Zendesk and enhance your customer and employee experience from day one.

See what instant messaging software can do for you