Customers prefer to use chat as their primary means of communication with brands. Chat support is fast, efficient, and eliminates the need for long wait times on the phone or endless emails.
There are two primary website engagement tools used for chat support: live chat and chatbots. Both have become wildly popular in digital customer service, and their popularity only continues to grow.
This results in a hot debate of chatbot vs live chat. Many experts and businesses try to weigh the benefits of these two website engagement tools to crown a winner for their business.
Some argue that human-powered live chat is the way to go, while others swear by the convenience and automation of chatbots. And then some suggest a hybrid version of both. But which chat support is best for you?
We understand that deciding the winner in chatbot vs live chat is crucial for the success of business in the digital sphere, so I've put together a quick chatbot vs live chat guide to get you started. Whether you want to improve your chat support or seek out new website engagement tools, this guide has got you covered!
Chatbot vs live chat: What’s the difference?
When looking at the chatbot vs live chat debate from afar, both chatbots and live chat offer the same chat support. They’re also both website navigation tools that increase customer engagement with websites and reduce bounce rate.
However, there are subtle differences fuelling the chatbot vs live chat debate. So let’s look at the difference of these website navigation tools to determine which one is best for your business!
When it comes to live chat, you get to have a real human agent who engages with your customers in real time by providing chat support through the chat window. This method is perfect for businesses looking to offer their customers a personalised experience. For instance, if you’re in the automotive industry and want to provide chat support to potential customers while closing deals quickly, live chat is the way to go.
Live chat allows customers to ask questions and receive immediate assistance from a real person, which is ideal for resolving complex issues and building stronger customer relationships.
On the other hand, chatbots are automated website engagement tools running on pre-defined chatflows designed to mimic human conversation and answer frequently asked questions – all in real time. They’re incredibly versatile and handle a high volume of customer queries at any time in providing their 24/7 support.
For example, if you own an ecommerce store, you're probably aware that customers can have trouble finding the right product for their needs. A chatbot with a search function can make it incredibly easy for customers to find the product they're looking for.
You can even take things a step further and and let your chat support help customers add products to their carts as they browse. The chatbot can be automated to add products to cart up to a certain amount, then ask the customer if they're ready to check out or wanting to continue shopping. Also, you can extend them a live offer to encourage them to keep shopping, like "You've added $250 worth of products to your cart. Add $50 more to get 10% off your entire purchase!"
Chatbot vs live chat: Who’s the boss in personalised chat support?
According to a study done by Comm100, 73% of customers feel more comfortable communicating with customer service via live chat than email or traditional phone support. That's a pretty big difference!
In this segment of the chatbot vs live chat debate, live chat gets the upper hand. As humans, we prefer human interaction and love being assisted by others. Even in the digital era, this still applies to most, and live chat statistics back it up. Customers often find phone calls or email exchanges frustrating, preferring chat support from staff rather than website engagement tools to help them out.
Depending on the size of your customer base, you might need agents to engage with customers, and you'll have to train them to assist customers effectively. This might sound like a drain, but the return on investment for live chat is exponentially higher and so are the benefits you reap.
That's why having a live chat option on your website is important if personalised customer chat support is your goal. Live chat immediately signals to customers that while interacting through a digital chat widget, the person on the other end cares about them and is working to resolve their issue. This reduces the distance between your brand and the customer, all while increasing the chances of them being a repeat customer.
Live chat involves a human agent providing a personalised experience to customers. Live chat as a result has a slower response time than chatbots because it involves people who may need to consult on an issue before providing answers. Live chat, however, is better suited for resolving complex issues for that reason – the human interaction.
Chatbot vs live chat: The ultimate chat support assistant?
Yes, chatbots are automated and for that reason are one of the most sought after website engagement tools.
In fact, chatbots can even be the most eye-catching feature of a website. When a customer is overwhelmed by the information presented on a website, the small chat widget that pops up in the corner offers instant and relevant assistance.
According to studies, chatbots can increase business by 67%, providing unparalleled customer support. Chatbots are great chat support tools especially helpful in handling simple queries and providing quick solutions and 24/7 support – unlike traditional live chat.
But the real advantage of chatbots in the chatbot vs live chat debate (and over other website engagement tools) is their ability to gather leads. Customers are increasingly interested in pre-sales assistance from chatbots, and this is driving them to leave their contact details. By reducing customer handling time, chatbots push customers further down the sales funnel, aiding the sales team in closing deals more efficiently.
Chatbots are also highly versatile. They can dynamically pull in information from different web pages and present it to customers in a filtered manner. For instance, if you're a recruiting agency, you can use a chatbot as a search engine that allows customers to input information such as their target job role, seniority level, type of job, and pay scale.
The chatbot then pulls information from various pages and presents it to customers. This means customers don’t need to search thousands of webpages for information. A single chatbot does that for them.
Check out our detailed blog post about real estate chatbot vs live chat to learn about the various use cases and advantages of using these website engagement tools for chat support.
Chatbot vs live chat: Who wins the battle?
In this guide, we compared two website engagement tools: chatbot vs live chat, exploring their various use cases, examples, and chat support features.
It's important to note there's no actual competition between chatbots and live chat, as neither is inherently better or worse than the other. Instead, their features and functionalities deliver different outcomes depending on the nature of your business and the purpose these tools serve.
When deciding on website engagement tools, it's crucial to consider the type of customer support you need. You can categorise customer support into three types: personalised, instant, or both.
If your industry demands customised assistance for every customer and customers are asking a broad range of questions, then live chat may be the right choice for you. You can manage your team's working hours through the live chat backend and then respond to customers when your team is available.
If your website attracts a large number of customers and needs to be available 24/7 to assist them with basic FAQs or capture and convert incoming website traffic, a chatbot is the ideal option for you.
But why choose between the two when you can have both?
As I’d mentioned, you can integrate both the live chat and chatbot functions into your chatbot! This way, you enjoy the best of both worlds.
You can get started today with Serviceform's forever free DIY plan to experiment and see which between chatbot vs live chat is best for your business. Alternatively, you can read more about chatbots by returning to our Chatbot guide main page!