Chatbots vs. Live Chat

chatbots v live chat

Today we’ll be talking all about chatbots and live chat and how your customers feel about them. They’re both vastly different options that are here to serve different purposes and ultimately different price points.

At the root of all this is customer service. If you’re looking at the difference between chat options, you need to keep this in mind. You can’t separate it from this topic because that is the purpose of chat, to help you with your customer service.

Take time to really think about how each of these will impact your customer service. Will it help you to make your customers feel cared for? Will it ultimately make them feel like they got a resolution to their question/problem? How will it impact your conversion rates?

Let’s start with defining what each service is:

Live chat– this is where real customer service agents are able to chat with customers live to help answer questions and resolve problems.

Chatbots– this is where you use an AI program to instantly answer customer questions and resolve problems without a human behind the keyboard. It uses pre-programmed responses.

Now, let’s talk about the real topic, live chat versus chatbots, because they are very different…

Response Time

There is a clear winner when it comes to response time for live chat versus chatbots: chatbots. Since this software is programmed to respond immediately, it has the quickest response time. It blows traditional forms of customer service, like phone calls and emails, out of the water.

Live chat isn’t always as consistent. Unless your business can maintain a crew to man the chat 24/7, 365 days a year, this is a costly undertaking, though and even outsourcing that kind of coverage can be expensive. Businesses who chose this option must stay consistent in keeping their response time as short as possible.

Customer Impressions

When it comes to customer impressions, there is another clear winner: live chat. Studies show that people clearly prefer knowing a human is responding to them. In fact, 73% of customers have reported that live chat is their communication preference over any other type of customer service option available. Now, it isn’t perfect. In fact, on average, 21% of live chats will go unanswered.

Most customers have reported that they are still suspicious of using AI when it comes to chatting. It’s a hot topic in general, and people are very leary of AI, so it’s not shocking that those feelings resonate here.

Another major difference that sets live chat apart in this category is the human touch. There are simply some things that chatbots can’t do. Picking up on emotions like anger, frustration, or panic is a major one. Most people are coming to a chat for 1 of 2 reasons: asking a question or resolving an issue. Chatbots are great at answering simple questions most of the time, but the latter isn’t their strong suit.

Don’t forget, though, a chatbot can direct a customer to a human representative, it can also hand off data if it needs to. This depends on the software you use and its capabilities. Sometimes a blend of the two is ultimately the best option.

Price Difference

When it comes to picking a winner here, chatbots take the trophy in the price category. It’s simple, the software is cheaper than having real people do the work. It does depend on the quality and type of software you use, so keep that in mind.

For live chat, most agents can handle more than one inquiry at a time if necessary. The more they handle, though, the more things can slip through the cracks and the more the response time slows down. It’s a delicate balance and something that should be monitored closely to ensure that it’s still achieving your goals for you.

Ultimately though, both are great options compared to other forms of customer service. Live chat is still cheaper than phone calls, emails, and other traditional methods. Multi-tasking and handling more than one customer at a time isn’t even an option with phone calls.

And the winner is…

A blend of the two. Most companies find the most success when they use a combination of live chat and chatbots. Chatbots work best for simple, repetitive questions. Live chat is best for resolving problems and for complex questions. Ultimately, every business will need to assess their unique needs and consider what type of inquiries they’re getting more often.

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