Chatbots vs Live Chat: Which Should Your Business Use?

live chats

What are you using to communicate with your customers? Answering customer questions immediately is one of the best things you can do for them – and these days they expect it. We’re going to break down two options: Chatbots vs Live Chat and determine which is winning the customer service game.

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Sarah: Hello. Here we are, the ladies in black.

Glyna: You got the memo.

Sarah: I know. We don’t plan it, and yet we dress alike more often than not. We have a really interesting topic and the more that I started getting into it, I liked it, because everything comes down to customer service, right? How do we feel about slow customer service? I mean, that’s pretty obvious, yeah.

Glyna: Yeah.

Sarah: We want answers. We want them now. We don’t want to wait, and we’ve been a little spoiled in that.

Glyna: That’s true.

Sarah: But I’ll tell you, you may not have heard of chatbots or live chat, but it’s everywhere, and I guarantee that you’re using them. I mean, we’re all using them, whether we know the name of it or not. So, today we’re going to compare the two of them because they’re both a great tool for your business, and we’re going to compare the two and then figure out which would give you the best result based on your type of business. Let’s get going.

Glyna: Alrighty. Well, welcome to Marketing Mix, everybody! Every week we mix it up and talk about different aspects of digital marketing. You never know, we may do some Q&A, talk about some trends, compare some things. We just have fun mixing it up, as “Marketing Mix” says. Let’s go ahead and start with our broadcast, and then we’ll get started.

Sarah: You got it. All right, every week we go live on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, and you can catch the replay on Instagram and LinkedIn and subscribe to our podcast Marketing and a Mic. It’s something great to listen to while you’re driving in the car or sitting in your office. As always, subscribe to our YouTube channel “Fusion One Marketing.” It is a great little resource, a free resource for all things in digital marketing to help your business. Let me tell you, humans, we are impatient people, aren’t we?

Glyna: These days we are! Mainly, I mean, people get so used to, “I want it now.”

Sarah: If you think about it when you’re on a website, and you have a question, or you need an answer, you want it now. What’s the first thing we do? We look up the contact or think who can I talk to? Is there somebody available that can answer it and get my answer quick? You just want somebody to talk to you right away. We kind of expect it, don’t we?

Glyna: Yeah, and 24/7.

Sarah: That’s right.

Glyna: It’s like, I don’t care if it’s Sunday evening; I need some answers, you know? That’s the only time I have to look this up. Customers want to chat. They want to have that available. I’m sure, as you said, everybody’s used it at one time or another. They want answers as quickly as possible. Most people have different kinds of work schedules. The only time they may have available to check something out might be the weekend or an evening. So, they want things to be available 24/7. If you’re not providing this for customers, guess where they’re going to go, they’re going to go someplace where they can find the answers, and a lot of times, that’s your competitor. So, that’s not a good option. You want to definitely be able to provide continuous communication. That’s more important now than ever.

Sarah: Oh, that’s so true.

Glyna: As you said, enter: chatbots and live chat.

Sarah: Yeah. So, let me show you a little picture of this in case you are questioning it. So, when you go on, and you see that little robotic-looking guy, that’s what we mean by a chatbot. If you go to the right where it says, “Hi, I’m Jacob; I’m here to help you.” That’s a live chat, and you are talking to a live human. I feel like there are really three important reasons why we should care about this, right?

Glyna: Yeah, exactly. When I’m on a website, it’s like, oh good! They have this option. So, this is why you should care about having that option. It’s just a better way to provide customer service. You can bring in leads. People don’t even think about that, but you’re cultivating leads while you’re not even working your chatbot or your live chats doing it. It can be very efficient in getting you new prospects.

Sarah: Yes, and that number two point is very important, and we’re going to talk about that a little bit later because people may not, they think of it as customer support, which it is, but there’s also ways that it can generate leads and give out a couple of examples. First of all, what is a chatbot? Okay, it’s a computer-generated response system. It kind of stimulates conversations based on what the human inputs. It’s a neat thing because it’ll automate conversations. For example, you can use the chatbot to give them menu options, like what you need? And then, based on that answer, okay, here’s a follow-up. The cool thing about chatbots to me is that it’s always available to answer your questions, even in the night. It’s available, and you can set it up based on your business and the standard questions that you anticipate that your customers are going to be asking. That explains chatbots, and then we’ve got the live chats.

Glyna: All right, so what is live chat? Let’s talk about that for a second. It’s an online application for customer service. It’s something that you can plug into your website and other places too, but for our purposes, it’s usually dealing with a website, and it’s available to provide support to your customers. That’s really its main purpose, but the cool thing about it is, it’s real-time communication. There’s a live person behind that chat, and I think that always makes me feel a little bit more comfortable, like, “good, I get to talk to a real person.” It can provide more convenient communications than if you had to go back and forth, email and phone and all that of all hours of the day. You can also see who’s been on your website or where they’ve gone, or what the conversation was, so again, it feeds back information to you as well. It’s actually live, a real person, and I prefer that, but everybody has their own opinion.

Sarah: Right? Yeah. It’s so true, though. I mean, I’m always thinking I use so many different platforms, and when I’m having an issue or whatever it is, I’m just going right to it. I expect somebody to answer it. So, when we compare the two, this is kind of where it gets into helping your business. We found five key distinctions or features about them that I think when we lay it out, it’ll help you determine which would make sense for your business because frankly, your website, Facebook Messenger, can really benefit from this, for sure. Obviously, the end goal for all of us is good customer service and bring in potential leads. The first point we want to make is the element of human touch. One of the biggest benefits of a chatbot is that it operates without human touch. But the good thing about it is, it can carry on a conversation for several hours without any help from a human. So, it could go on and on and on and on. So the time that you as a human would spend answering basic questions, you can now have that taken care of by a chatbot, and you can really strategically design it so that the person on the other end just feels like they are talking to a human because it’s got that response system where it knows exactly what you’re needing. Now some of them can kind of mimic human answers to a degree. Again, that human involvement is there a little bit, or enough kind of depending upon your business and what you need.

Glyna: Yeah, exactly. Human involvement, even though we’re online and we’ve come to this world of everything is “internet,” everything’s online, people still want that human involvement to a certain extent. Chatbots can’t replace the human touch. I mean, it’s just not quite the same. Customers may really prefer to deal with an actual person. A chatbot may turn some people off, where live chat gives people a little bit more comfort for the human touch. Also, consumers worry that chatbots might make a mistake answering their questions. I never even thought about that before. It’s kind of like, “how much can I trust this because it’s computer-generated.” On the other hand, chatbots are really quick and can give definite answers to pretty simple questions, so they do definitely have a purpose. You could do this, start with the chatbot, and then, if it got to a point where they were asking additional questions, switch to live chat.

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely.

Glyna: That might be cool. So, the whole takeaway of this for human touch is: if the customers need a more detailed explanation or complex inquiries, live chats are going to be better. You have to think about your business, how intricate is it, and how detailed is it? If the majority of your inquiries just have standard responses, then a chatbot would just do fine.

Sarah: Right? Yeah, that leads to the second point, which is the response time. We all know you don’t want to make your customers wait, and, frankly, they don’t want to wait.

Glyna: They do not.

Sarah: Yeah, that’s a big problem when it comes to customer service. We want somebody to answer our questions right away. I’ll tell you we’ve all been there, sitting there on hold, on the phone, and we’re just waiting and waiting and waiting to talk to somebody. That’s where live chat helps humongously. If that’s a word, humongously.

Glyna: It is now.

Sarah: Humongously!

Glyna: You type that out.

Sarah: I make up words as I go here. So, the live chat could drastically reduce that wait time because you notice when you’re on there, and you see the little “…” they hook you up to a live agent right away, and believe it or not, 79% of customers say they prefer a live chat because they get their questions answered immediately. When you think about your business, and you think about how often people are coming in and calling and how much time that takes away from you doing what you need to do, that’s great with the live chat.

Glyna: Yeah, exactly.

Glyna: I’ll tell you when I’m on a website, or I’ve called a customer service number, and I’m waiting and waiting and waiting, and you’re 20 minutes out, I’m combing that website. Where’s the chat? Where’s the chat? Please tell me you have a chat. This is something that you really need to think about for your website. Live chats are awesome.

Sarah: You made me think about, we know those ones when they’re like your average, wait time is 30 to 40 minutes, I’m like what?!

Glyna: Yeah, and there’s some comfort in looking at that chat. It’s kind of like your text on your phone, and you see the ellipsis, and you’re like, somebody’s going to talk to me!

Sarah: They’re coming. They’re coming!

Glyna: A chatbot. Again, chatbots have their place, and they can provide instant responses. So, it’s a little comforting to go, yes, I’m going to get some kind of answer, and they can generate those answers quickly, within seconds, and it gets that conversation going right away. Again, so you’re not having somebody on hold for 27 minutes, or an hour and a half, or whatever, have them on your website. So, what’s the takeaway here on response time? If your business needs to respond to customers in a short timeframe, a chatbot might be the ideal fit. If your customers aren’t all that time-sensitive and prefer to talk to a real human or there’s a lot of intricate workings in your business, then live chat may be the best. That’s the takeaway on that.

Sarah: Okay. Let’s talk about number three: Availability. A chatbot can stay online with you as long as you need. 24/7, 365 days a year. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world or what time zone you’re in. You can have a conversation with a chatbot. The truth is that we’re humans, and we can’t be available 24/7. If you’re going to lose customers because you can’t be available 24/7, or you’ve got customers that you need to respond to quickly, like say you’re in an industry that’s more emergency-related, and you need to make quick responses, a chatbot is extremely efficient in getting the conversation started, and the needs met immediately.

Glyna: Yeah. Availability is huge. I mean, if you’re going to use humans, let’s talk about live chat, though. If you’re going to use humans, they probably can’t be available 24/7. Are you going to pay somebody to be available 24/7/365? I don’t think so. If you’re going to use employees to handle the live chats, you’re going to probably have a lot higher cost to have that available 24/7. That’s definitely something to think about. The takeaway on this is, if your customers depend on a quick response time, no matter what time zone or time of day, you’re going to need chatbots at some point or another.

Sarah: Yeah, absolutely. So, onto number four: Conversion. When you think about chatbots and live chat, maybe in your mind you’re not thinking sales, but you really should be thinking sales because ultimately, when you take care of your customers, you want it to convert, and you want them to really feel supported. Live chat is an incredible tool for marketing because your potential customers get an opportunity to chat with somebody at the exact moment that they’re thinking about purchasing something. That’s huge, and it adds more speed and convenience to that prospecting lead process because by the time it takes to have that conversation, to convince a prospect to purchase something, you can be available when they’re online or thinking about it on your website and handle their questions immediately. So, I think it’s pretty huge, and we have three examples of exactly how you can set this up for your business so that it can drive conversions.

Glyna: Exactly. It’s a cool tool to use on your website, but let’s talk about generating business. So here are some examples. The first one I have is: use it for upselling products and services. You can market new features and functionalities based on what people answer in the chat. Let me give you an example. You can send messages based on specific products the visitor is viewing, so based on their answers; you can try to upsell them to either a more expensive product or something else that fits their needs or add-on products. You have that all available, and it’s a perfect opportunity to upsell, which those are hard to come by sometimes.

Sarah: Well, think about that. That’s everywhere. That’s product placement. You know, here are some things that you might be interested in, or it’ll pop up and say, I noticed that you were viewing this, you might also be interested in this. Then all of a sudden, your eyes are wandering. You’re thinking about this additional product that would pair nicely, and boom, there you go. Here’s something else I thought was really cool that live chat can do. I didn’t fully understand this until I started looking into this: sharing resources. So, why would that matter? You can do pop-up messages that would be triggered when that prospect lands on your website. The pop-up message can be personalized, make it kind of attention-grabbing. It’s very proactive and kind of anticipating the customer’s need. Let me give you an example; let’s say you’re online and you’re reading a blog on a website. You can set up a rules-based chat message so that it’ll pop up and invite them to go check out another piece of content. It all goes down to that nurture path of “they’re reading this, then they’re reading this, they’re staying on your website,” which is good, then that all starts to build that trust and make the customer think, “Oh, wow. They really know stuff!” It just helps build that brand loyalty.

Glyna: That’s really cool, and on top of that, depending on what the person is looking at, you’re talking about brand loyalty. They may be looking at something that they already have, or they could be messing around on the pricing page or jumping around on the website, and your website can say, “Hey, is there anything I can help you with?” So, you get to them right at the moment when they’re thinking about what they need, which is really cool. If you could catch them at that moment and start that conversation, you can proactively ask them questions about what they’re looking at. That’s very important to drive the point home.

Sarah: Yeah, if they’re on a pricing page, anticipate that. Is there anything I can help you with? And then boom, they ask, Oh, I was looking at this dah, dah, dah, and then there you go. You start leading them down the path. So, number five. This is the last one of these five points we want to make, which is Cost Efficiency, which we all look at the bottom line. So, live chat, really both live chat and chatbots, can help reduce the cost of phone support. Paying somebody to be on the phone and manning all the calls. Live chat agents have the ability to multitask, which is really, really cool, so they can help several customers at once and that can’t be done over the phone. It’s like, “hold, please, hold please, hold please.” The pricing is obviously going to depend on a lot of factors, such as the number of people you’re currently paying right now, the times that they’re available, how many employees do you have to handle, or that you need to handle, the live chat communications, so you’ve got to gauge your time. It’s also going to be very dependent on whether or not you’re paying in-house staff to handle all of your calls, or if you’re outsourcing this service to some general customer service agency. There are a few factors in that, but it’s something to really consider based on the volume you’re getting.

Glyna: That’s exactly right and having people available is a huge deal. You may say, I don’t have that many employees to handle all of this, so you can outsource it to a customer service agency that may be a little less expensive than having somebody on-staff 24/7. But if you think about it, nobody knows your business and your products better than your own employees who are working in it every day, so you may lose some quality responses if you’re outsourcing it, compared to somebody who knows the business. Then again, chatbots can lower the costs. Again, think about your business, how detailed is the business? If you can use chatbots, it’s going to be less expensive in the long run compared to outsourcing or paying employees additional funds to manage the chat software. As we always talk about in marketing, you have to weigh out your options and this will be a great time to talk to us and we can help you weigh out your options. What’s the takeaway on this? If you’re looking for the cheapest option, you’re better off with chatbots. If they’re using human reps to respond via live chat, it’s still cheaper than 24/7 phone support.

Sarah: Yeah! The key thing with live chat, the interaction is carried on by a human. So, it enables agents to respond immediately and they can respond to emotions as well. They can sense if the customer is happy, angry, dissatisfied. Chatbot, the interaction is processed by a machine, so it can translate common questions and respond quickly to any inquiries. Second point is that live chat is incapable of tracking customer information unless you can set it up. You can definitely set that up in some ways, but modern chatbots are capable of pairing conversational data with the visitors profile so they can remember the customer’s experience and pull up that persona or profile that they’ve put into play and have it work towards that particular customer. The third point is that they’re less useful. Live chats are less useful when the type of customer inquiries are simple, common and repetitive. Chatbots are best when the nature of the conversation is simple or common and remember, they lack the human touch. Then the fourth point is really that chat live chats, aren’t available 24/7 and chatbots are available 24/7. So I feel like it comes down to what your response is, how quickly you need the response, how sophisticated are the questions that your customers are asking, and availability. Do you find majority of your customers need a response immediately and at all hours or do they not? Those are big distinctions to know which tool is best to put on your website or even through Facebook Messenger.

Glyna: Yeah, I think the bottom line is that maybe you just never thought about using a chatbot or live chat or having that customer service available. That’s definitely something we can help you with and we can add it to your website. We can also help you determine what would be the best route to go and how it should be set up for your business. So, that’s pretty much all we had for our introduction to live chat and chatbots. Did you have anything else that you wanted to cover?

Sarah: No, you’re absolutely right. Something to really think about, to plug in for your business, set up that customer service, and drive some more leads in business and convert it to sales.

Glyna: Yes, don’t leave people hanging! Be able to answer their question. As always, we love to consult with people in businesses and talk about all of these types of digital marketing topics. If you need any help, all you have to do is reach out to us, and we love to have that conversation with you. We’ll be back again next week, next Friday morning at eight o’clock for the next Marketing Mix. Until then, have a great week. Bye!