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The Difference Between A Live Chat and A Chatbot

June 20, 2019 at 1:11 PM

Most websites or apps lately have a chat function, whether that be an AI-powered chatbot or a live chat function. But many people (and some businesses) don’t know the difference between the two and aren’t sure when they are talking to (or have installed) a bot or an agent.

In this blog, I discuss the main differences between the two and how to choose which type of chat function is best for your business.

What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is a computer programme that has been designed to simulate human conversation via either text or audio and is often used over the internet. The chatbot is designed to work autonomously, or without human intervention. A chatbot can have many different functions, but is mainly used to automate tasks or for customer support.

There are three main “types” of chatbots in use today:

  1. The routing chatbot, where a user gets routed to a section of the website or app that will help them answer their question.
  2. The FAQ chatbot, where a user asks a question and if there is an answer mapped to that question, the bot will give you a pre-filled answer.
  3. The intelligent bots, which can have conversations that flow naturally and build upon previous questions. These bots can recognise and understand words, will learn from each conversation and will answer questions based on what it has been taught.

What is a live chat tool?

A live chat tool is a function, typically on a website that provides the opportunity for visitors to connect with a human representative of the company. This can be to answer questions about the website content, to complete transactions or to provide customer support.

What are the benefits of a chatbot?

The main benefit is that a chatbot doesn’t sleep or take holidays. Humans work 8 hours a day and are only available during these hours – and only if they are employed solely to manage the live chat will they be available all 8 hours. If they have other meetings and responsibilities, the time that they are available on the live chat will be much less. Automation by way of a chatbot means your customers or users can get the service or support they need 24/7/365.

Chatbots can also be scaled to handle a large volume of requests at the same time – it just depends on your server size. With one chatbot, you can answer all queries you receive at the same time. With one agent, not so much, meaning your users don’t get the immediate response they have come to expect in 2019.

Chatbots are also much more consistent in the answers they give than a team of agents, who might all give slightly different answers to the same question. But with a chatbot, you can programme it to give the company line and be confident that it won’t deviate.

What are the benefits of a live chat?

Humans understand nuance and can express empathy, which a bot unfortunately can’t do yet. This means that when a customer is talking to a chatbot and is frustrated or struggling, a human agent will be much better suited to engage with them and solve their problems: especially if their problems are very complex or new. Chatbots could struggle with queries or commands they haven’t encountered yet, and that’s where having a live chat function surfaces as the winner.

If your business offers services or products that are complex and robust and needs in-depth consultation and support, a chatbot very likely won’t be suited. A human agent that is trained in handling the specific queries for your business would be much more likely to be able to cater to your customers’ needs.

Should I get a live chat or a chatbot?

If you haven’t been able to make a clear choice based on the above pros and cons, then you likely need both. An intelligent chatbot that can take care of all basic queries and support issues, but that can recognise when a user has a complex issue or would simply like to interact with a human instead of a bot and can smoothly handover to a human agent, is your best bet. This gives you the best of both worlds and will give your customers and users a good experience that is likely to improve their satisfaction and loyalty. Check out these stats on chatbots to see just how much.

We’ve recently partnered with Atura to bring their world-class chatbot to the credit and collections industry.

Read more about Atura here.

Belinda Oldewage
Belinda Oldewage
I'm a seasoned consultant with 23 years of experience solving my clients’ problems in the financial services, insurance, banking and technology industries. I'm currently focusing on assisting South African contact centres to enhance their strategy and increase their revenue through innovative data-driven solutions. If you'd like to work together, connect with me on LinkedIn.

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