Live chat and chatbots are some of the convenient and flexible contact mediums that have revolutionized the world of digital customer service. The popularity of these technologies has only been on a rising trajectory.
This fact has led to an interesting debate: should businesses choose an automated chatbot or a human-powered live chat? Which one produces the best results? Should they use them separately or combine the two?
Fortunately, we have compiled a comprehensive live chat vs. chatbot guide, where we’ll cover the differences, benefits, and how they are used to help you make a conclusive decision. Continue reading for more.
Live chat vs. chatbot: what is live chat software?
The first on the live chat vs. chatbot debate is the live chat software.
Live chat software is a web-based communication channel that allows users to have real-time conversations with customers on their websites. There’s usually a real human being on the other end communicating with you and most probably other people simultaneously via a direct text-based message.
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The human touch of this system is especially important for more complex or intricate customer queries that need in-depth knowledge, understanding, and guidance. Also, human attendants are more likely to answer questions accurately, improving first-time resolution rates.
Implementing live chat software within your website is about anywhere on the site, including web-based and mobile applications. Live chat allows the business support system to assist more than one customer or prospect simultaneously, making it a more practical option than phone call communications.
Also, it has proven to be the website communication method with the highest number of customer satisfaction. It is a versatile solution that borrows its perception from white-glove service and experience but comes with limitations of limited staff capacity and business service hours, which can be detrimental to small businesses.
Benefits of live chats
Let’s have a look at the common benefits of live chat in the following section:
Live chats are designed to allow human-to-human conversations through the website so that your customers know they are dealing with another person on the other side of their discussions. This form of interaction is ideal for giving humanized digital experience and personalized services, contributing to improved customer satisfaction.
What’s more, the live chat solution is perfect for complex and tough customer queries that need prompt feedback with guided instructions for a better first-time resolution rating.
Easy to connect to audio and video options
Live chat has the ability to link customer conversations to other communication mediums, such as video chat, web browsing, or co-browsing sessions. This clicks well with the concept of providing seamless customer service.
This also means that people do not have to wait in the waiting hall for long if their need is something beyond what the software cannot handle. And they don’t have to repeat their concerns to various channels because their queries are addressed by one person throughout.
Live chats provide faster and more valuable feedback to customers, allowing them to proceed to their next stage on the sales funnel a lot faster. This is important because a fast business response time is vital for the overall positive customer service experience.
For improved speed when support assistants respond to queries, live chat can initiate time-saving capabilities like canned responses for increased delivery.
This, together with the benefits of human touch and automation, canned responses can increase the possibility of instant human capabilities.
Live chat vs. chatbots; understanding chatbots
Chatbots are automated solutions that are built to answer customer questions on a website. They are usually predefined questions and answers that are for common customer inquiries. Although most are based on decision trees, some apply AI to give feedback.
Chatbots can be placed anywhere on your website and can be as minimal or extravagant as you may like. Although they may present some frustrations to the users when resources and logic of implementation are not considered well, chatbots are worthy conversation channels when executed well.
So, how do chatbots weigh up in this live chat vs. chatbot battle? Check out the benefits of chatbots below.
Benefits of chatbots
The following are the benefits of the chatbot system you will get when you implement it in your website as a communication medium.
24/7 support availability
Since chatbots do not need a human assistant to operate, they can operate all day and all night. This means you can attend to customer queries outside regular working hours, including holidays, evenings, and weekends.
Customers prefer quick and instant replies, so a 24/7 functionality is an excellent way of providing real-time answers all day, seven days a week.
Remember that, however, chatbots can only answer simple and common FAQs, so if a client wants further assistance, you will be able to solve it within regular working hours.
Multitasking and immediate responses
Since chatbots understand simple and common queries, they are able to provide answers much faster than live chat solutions. Generally, they are faster than real people because they don’t need to think, type, or check spelling errors.
Also, chatbots can easily multitask effectively compared to humans. This means that they can detect common questions in seconds from different clients and send the same answer to them in batches without making errors.
Chatbot software is much cheaper than live chat systems in terms of running and management as they need fewer human resources. For instance, if you are running a popular live chat on your website, you will need to onboard more employees to handle the workload, while chatbots can do that alone.
The increase in customer attendants not only leads to giving more money in terms of salary, but it also leads to higher costs of maintaining the extra live chat software and devices.
Live chat vs. chatbot: which one will give you the best results?
Here is the epitome of the debate: is it well to have a chatbot or live chat software for your business? Let’s balance each other against the primary benefits a chat solution can give your business.
Improving customer satisfaction and trust
Chat solutions are usually implemented in a website to improve customer satisfaction with your business. Customers with problems can click on the chat platform to get the issue resolved without leaving the webpage they have found the information they need.
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If they are always getting this kind of service experience, they are likely to have high satisfaction with your brand and are likely to come back.
What is the difference?
As stated before, chatbots offer 24/7 customer support so your prospects know that their questions can be answered promptly at any time, therefore improving customer satisfaction. And being excellent multi-taskers, chatbots can handle several clients at the same time, removing the need for waiting in the holding areas.
On the contrary, the limited response level of chatbots can lead to frustration for customers with complaints beyond their scope. For example, chatbots usually need clarification with simple spelling errors, and if users misspell anything, they can give an unrelated reply which might frustrate customers.
On the other hand, the human touch of live chat solutions avoids problems of incorrect spelling and replies to more complex and serious queries. Human beings can easily guess and relate what the customer meant if they detect a wrong spelling and give correct feedback.
Human interactions are also easy to personalize, and personalization is a significant factor in providing better customer service.
Fast and real-time response to customer questions
Another major reason for having a chat solution on your website is the ability to provide speedy and real-time feedback to customer questions. A first-response turnaround time is a key ingredient of improved customer experience, leading to brand loyalty.
According to a recent study by Ifbyphone, 73% of your first customers are likely to refer a person to your business if were responsive to their queries.
Live chat vs. chatbots
As mentioned before, both chat solutions can deliver measurable and fast response times. Chatbots give instant responses regardless of the time or day it is so that users can get a 24/7, quick response. Also, high demands and peak periods do not affect them.
They can handle multiple chats simultaneously and still give a positive support experience. However, it is essential to realize that these can only be recognized for the questions chatbots are programmed to solve. If the queries are not FAQs, they are not of many applications.
Initial thoughts might be that live chats have slower response rates because it requires human engagement. However, with the help of canned responses, they can be just as fast as chatbots in answering simple questions, even though on a small scale.
If you are on a budget and you still want a speedy and real-time response, chatbots are your ideal choice. But, do proper due diligence before you right off the option of live chats.
Reducing the costs of contact centers
One of the simplest ways to reduce contact center costs is to minimize the dependence on phone lines and physical center attendance. Both live chat and chatbot help by providing an alternative method of contact that is cheaper to run and manage.
Chatbots and live chats
Although chatbot technology requires higher initial charges than its live chat counterpart, however, it can prove to be more cost- effective in the long run since they need greater manpower to operate.
Because they don’t require human input to work, you are required to hire more people and avoid the charges associated with extra employee training and development. Chatbots’ ability to multitask also reduces the costs of running them by eliminating duplication of tasks.
And although live chats might not be as cost-effective as chatbots, they can still save you money from other perspectives. For instance, their operators, though on a small scale, can multitask.
While chatbots are seen as favorite options to many businesses, live chat surpasses it when it comes to accuracy. To be able to provide accurate feedback, understanding the context of questions is of great importance.
Though they have fast answers to common questions with predictive patterns, chatbots lack the ability to think, understand, and adapt to complex queries where prospects need solutions they trust.
Even with Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning, it is still very difficult for bots to handle complex customer questions. On the contrary, live chat systems can create an emotional connection with users by identifying correct patterns and delivering other related advice to the questions.
If we reason from a customer psychology perspective, sometimes clients expect empathy from companies during problematic conditions. But bots do not have feelings and can’t sympathize. If you don’t have a live chat solution during such instances, customers can think you are impersonal and cold.
Key points to take home;
- If your brand prefers handling common, simple questions faster without a lot of human involvement, chatbots are the ideal method to provide first-class support.
- Live chat is the best solution you need if your business deals with complex issues. Live agents can conclusively discuss, comprehend, and resolve the issue.
- If you have both solutions within your website running at the same time can make your business support system operate efficiently.
Proactive outreach for increased leads and conversion
Chat methods are a better way to increase lead acquisition and conversions. Not only do they encourage prospects to interact with your company, but they also give your support attendants a better opportunity to convert your visitors into buying clients.
Chatbots vs. live chat
Chatbots are a very proactive method of outreach. You have probably seen it when navigating a website when a chat box pops up asking you if there is something they need to help you with. These solutions are designed to engage users after spending a certain amount of time within the site.
This type of approach encourages customers to interact with you, giving you enough opportunity for conversion.
However, be careful not to use it excessively. When a chatbot keeps popping up immediately after a customer opens a page and keeps on doing so, it can be annoying and drives them away.
On the other hand, live chats are more reactive than proactive. This means that the customer typically starts the conversation, which should not be the case. Live chat software can be created with triggers and nudges to encourage conversation the same way chatbots do.
How chatbots and live chats complement each other
A lot of good things can happen when these website chat solutions are used together, including the following;
- Offer 24/7 customer support; integrating chatbot with live chat will allow you to provide support beyond your normal business hours. For example, if any serious or complex problem arises, chatbots will gather the information and transfer the ticket to a live agent during the next business working hours.
- Engage proactively; having live chat and chatbot on your website allows you to send proactive and targeted messages and start conversations with your web visitors. Chatbots can then continue the conversation if the client interacts with the proactive message. The information gathered by bots can be forwarded to human agents to take it ahead.
- Receive instant responses: implementing chatbots can help reduce wait time and solve simple and common problems without difficulty. Live chat agents can then handle complex queries and work on reducing the resolution time.
- Engage through messaging channels; integrating your chat application with messaging channels such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or Apple Business Chat app will help you reach your clients via their preferred platforms. Chatbots can provide basic information such as tracking ID, order details, payment, and shipping information, whereas live chat can work on complex issues.
- Multilingual support; chatbots and live chat break all the language barriers and allow you to provide support in the language that is understood by people from different demographics. Having live translation tools will enable you to translate texts in real-time to English and more than 33 others.
Live chat and chatbot: which wins?
Live chat and chatbots are both important engagement mediums that can bring many benefits to your business and clients. They can improve digital customer experience, provide quick responses, increase lead acquisition and conversion, and reduce costs.
To offer the best customer experience, human-to-human integration with live chat is a factor that cannot be replaced. On the flip side, chatbots’ efficiency in terms of productivity and cost is also a tremendous advantage to businesses and should not be assumed.
This way, it is not a matter of if either or it is recommended to take a hybrid approach. This means we can have chatbots to deal with common FAQs, but setting a live chat software in place so bots can easily scale to a web chat if they cannot respond to questions. With this kind of hybrid system, you can get the benefits of both worlds.
You get the benefits from the advantages of both chat solutions and address the disadvantages, ensuring the best possible outcome for your customers and business at large.
Lastly, remember there is no one-size-fits-all method regarding the benefits of live chat software and chatbot solutions for your business. Identify your business needs and the resources you have before implementing one or both of them for your website chat application.
Both chat solutions can be excellent for quick lead generation and conversion if done correctly.
It is evident that both live chat and chatbot are great tools for your online business lead generation, sales, and customer support. They both have valuable merits, and using both of them is a clear direction to a more incredible chat solution and customer support.
However, to truly get the better of the two, you need to have the right platform that can facilitate their operation. The platform should be able to connect your business to the correct customers via the right channels and at the right time.