Are Chatbots Better Than Live Chat?

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Person chatting with a chatbot in a mobile phone
Pembrook Nelson
Pembrook Nelson
May 2, 2020
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As a business owner, you are always looking for ways to improve the customer experience. One of the things you might want to consider is whether to use a chatbot, or live chat to answer website visitor questions. Since most visitors demand instant gratification when they come to your site, either of these options might be beneficial, but how do you know which one to choose?

Difference Between Chatbot vs. Live Chat‍

Chatbots and live chat share some similarities, but to make it clear, a chatbot is software you add to your site that allows customers to talk to artificial intelligence (A.I.) that has been programmed to answer specific questions. Live chat is where your customers talk to a real human being.

Both options can be done through a messaging system, and this allows your customers to get real-time answers to questions. Investing in either of these options can make your customers feel valued and important, and it ensures that they come to your site for any problems or issues that they might have. Although some customers prefer one option over the other.

Deciding Between Live Chat and Chatbots‍

When it comes to deciding whether you should add a chatbot or live chat system to your website, it’s beneficial to look at the pros and cons of each.

Pros of Live Chat

Visitors Get to Talk to a Real Human‍

Person answering live chats

If your customers are getting onto your site, whether to ask a question or because they have a complaint, it’s often beneficial for them to talk to a real, live agent. Unlike chatbots, which are programmed to give certain responses based on what the customer types, a real human can go off-script, and empathize with the visitor.

When a customer has a problem, they want to feel like they are being heard. When they get empathy and sympathy from the person on the other end of the chat, this may be all they need to feel better about the situation. Should they realize they are talking to A.I., this might enrage them further and make them feel like they aren’t valued or heard.

Using live chat allows customers to see the face behind the business, which allows them to see that real people are working and trying to make a difference. This humanizes your company and may make it so that customers can relate to your business.

You Can Boost Customer and Brand Loyalty‍

If website visitors have a good experience on your site, then they will be more inclined to become loyal and buy from you in the future. Even if they are coming to your site to complain, if your human agent handles it correctly, they can turn an unhappy customer into a happy one—and that may be all they need to become loyal.

Cons of Live Chat

No messaging system you add to your site is going to be perfect and knowing some of the downsides of live chat can help you determine if it’s worth the investment. Here are some of the cons:

A Live Chat Agent Has to be Online‍

Once the customer initiates the live chat option on your site, the agent at your business then has to accept it. Depending on the time of day and how busy they are, the customer may have to wait for an agent to come online. If this is outside of business hours or even on the weekend, it could take hours or days for the agent to respond—and this can be incredibly frustrating for both customers and prospective customers.

It Takes Time Away from Your Employees‍

Unless you have a dedicated team of live chat agents, you will probably expect your current employees to take check the chat throughout the day. When that happens, they will be taken away from their other duties and responsibilities. If customers aren’t sure how to use the system, this could mean your employees have to answer unnecessary questions—and that can be incredibly frustrating for them.

After looking at the pros and cons of live chat, let’s look at the pros and cons of using chatbots on your site.

Pros of Chatbots

They Are Always Working‍

Chatting screen with a chatbot and some questions

No matter what time of the day or night a customer goes to your site to ask a question, they will always get a response when you use a chatbot. Since the A.I. doesn’t need to take breaks or go to sleep, when a customer needs an answer to a common question, they won’t have to wait.

They Can be Fast, Accurate and Customized to Your Needs‍

Within seconds of a customer asking a question, the chatbot can respond. You even can customize it to answer some of the most common questions that a person might ask. You may even have the ability to change the colors and appearance of your chatbot so that it matches your business branding. If you get an advanced system, you may even be able to change the if/then logic to suit your company’s needs.

Cost-Effective‍

One of the reasons many businesses decide to go with a chatbot vs. live chat is the fact that they are less expensive. When you have real humans working on the other end of the computer, you have to pay them to be online. It doesn’t matter if customers are asking questions or not if you have live chat, the employee expects to be paid for their time.

While you have to pay for a chatbot system, you don’t have to pay beyond the one-time installation cost and monthly software fee. This allows you to find a system that will fit into your budget and keep customers and visitors happy.

Cons of Chatbots

Chatbots can do some amazing and advanced tasks, but they aren’t perfect. Some of the cons that come from incorporating this system include the following:

They Can Frustrate Visitors‍

Woman frustrated with the computer

If a customer gets online and wants to talk to a live person, having to deal with a chatbot can be incredibly frustrating. Also, chatbots can only operate within their preprogrammed structure, so if a customer asks something that the bot doesn’t understand, it won’t know how to respond. Again, this can be irritating for the customer.

They Can’t be Used in Every Industry‍

Chatbots are pretty advanced, but they are also incredibly simple. Thus, if you are in an industry that requires thorough consultations or in-depth responses, a chatbot might not be the best option.

Which Option Should You Choose?

When it comes down to deciding between a chatbot vs. live chat, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. You have to find the solution that works best for your business. You might even consider adding a combination of both chatbots and live chat to help visitors get the information they're looking for, and to ensure your customers stay happy. Multi-channel products like MobileMonkey's OmniChat®, give businesses the ability to connect with website visitors and customers in real-time via Web Chat, SMS & Facebook Messenger, all from one dashboard.

Talking to a professional can help. At E-Marketing Associates, we can help you determine whether a chatbot, live chat, or both will work best for you. And, you can even get a free online business report that will show you how your business is performing online against the competition, so you will know if your business is functioning optimally online. Contact us today!

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