Live Chat vs Chatbots: A Detailed Comparative Analysis

live chat vs chatbots

Quick issue resolution is not just a way to stand out, but an absolute necessity to survive in a competitive marketplace.

Customer frustration results in churn. This is why organizations use a range of support techniques to ensure that clients receive adequate support, as and when they need it. 

However, picking the right support channel may not always be easy. One common dilemma that support teams face is choosing between live chat and chatbots.

Automation has altered the face of how businesses interact with customers, making chatbots a popular support solution. However, conventional live chat continues to offer a broader scope for personalization. 

So, the question still stands- 

Live vs chatbots- which one is the ideal choice for you?

In this blog, we will cover the key differences between live chat and chatbots, helping you choose one (or both) that would enhance your customer support strategy. We also assess the top chatbot software and live chat software to help you find an effective vendor.

Let’s begin by evaluating the strengths of both these channels individually and then compare them against each other.

What Makes Live Chat Important 

Live chat is one of the quickest channels for businesses to troubleshoot problems and deliver personalized support in real-time. It only requires a customer to visit the website and initiate a chat with an operator. Sounds pretty simple, right?

This simplicity is why live chat is believed to be one of the most easily accessible forms of business communication.  A case in point being its market value, which is expected to grow to $1.7 billion by 2030.

Live chat operated by customer support agents makes for more personalized solutions. It ensures that customers receive the most appropriate answers and are not stuck dealing with generalized auto-responders that add little to no value to their experience. 

This infographic by FinancesOnline provides more insights into the use cases and customer preferences for live chat:

Source

Here are some of the most significant live chat advantages:

  • Improve Customer Satisfaction

If you’ve ever tried to connect with a business via voice or email, you already know how annoying it is to wait around for someone to answer your concerns.

Live chat software gives customers a medium to discuss their issues right away. Since customers receive personalized responses in a jiffy, live chat makes for improved support experiences and enhances customer satisfaction.

Source


Read More: How to Boost Customer Engagement Using Live Chat


  • Handle Complex Issues

Certain customer issues can be highly complex. And more often than not, these issues cannot be handled with automated chats or AI-powered bots. In such situations, it is essential to offer live chat support where customers can freely express their concerns to a human agent and get the chance to discuss and solve complex issues.

  • Deliver Personalized Solutions

Over 50% of customers purchase again from businesses that offer live chat.

Such loyalty results from highly personalized and effective solutions that can be relayed via live chat. Customer support agents can not only use live chat as a medium to resolve issues but also foster long-term relationships by leveraging personalized interactions. 


Read More: How to Create Perfect Live Chat Customer Experience


  • Offer Diligent Support 

Human support agents can empathize with customers and their issues, which is something that automated support solutions cannot do. Live chat enables businesses to connect their clients with the most suitable executives who can understand their pain points and deliver fitting support solutions. 

  • Facilitate the Purchase Decision 

Having questions answered by a human during an online purchase is a highly recommended feature for websites that can accelerate the decision-making process. Answering simple queries instantly, such as how to select the preferred payment method or getting clarification on the shipping duration, eliminate unnecessary friction from the buying process, which is something all businesses can benefit from. 


Read More: How Does Live Chat Work?


What Makes Chatbots Important?

Chatbots are programmed to conduct conversations with website visitors and keep them engaged by automating support experiences. This AI-powered communication method is the fastest channel to deliver answers to common questions without the need for engaging with a human support agent. 

According to Gartner, chatbots will become one of the primary customer support channels for a quarter of organizations by 2027. Moreover, their survey revealed that over 54% of respondents use some form of a chatbot. 

But what has caused an upsurge in the popularity of chatbots?

Quicker resolution times, more leads, improved customer satisfaction… and the list goes on.

Let’s explore some of the most advantageous aspects of using chatbots for customer service in more detail.

  • Improved Handling Capacity 

While live chat may be far more responsive than voice, it still depends on human agents, thus limiting its handling capacity. Chatbots, on the other hand, can have simultaneous conversations with thousands of people. They do not rely on agent shifts, and the customers get a response every single time they engage with the chatbots.

  • Be Available 24/7

A major advantage of chatbots is that you can deliver ongoing support to your customers, no matter the hour of the day. This always-on customer support approach makes the process far more convenient and effective. Chatbots are more prompt in answering simple customer queries, which makes them a quick issue resolution channel for frequently asked questions. 


Read More: 15 Best Chatbot Examples to Skyrocket Your Business


  • More Cost-Effective

Chatbots are a cost-effective and scalable means of handling a surge in ticket volume. They save the cost of hiring more support executives to manage a growing number of customers. Moreover, chatbots automate the support process and are less prone to errors, which further enhances their profitability. Chatbots make support solutions quick and accurate, contributing to an improvement in customer satisfaction scores.

  • Improve Agent Productivity

Repetitive tasks can hamper productivity. So when it comes to redundant activities like offering simple answers, chatbots save time and help support agents be more productive. Such automation enables support executives to focus on more critical and complex issues, reduces the average response time, and enables them to handle multiple chats at the same time.  

  • Capture More Leads

Chatbots not only help deliver quick answers to customers but also enable you to grow your lead lists. You can deploy an AI chatbot to capture visitors’ information on your website and automatically push these leads to your CRM system. This can contribute to an enhancement in your business revenue.


Read More: Top 15 Benefits of Chatbots for Your Business & Customers in 2022


Live chat vs Chatbot

You can use live chat, chatbot, or a combination of both to support your customers. However, to find which of these would be the most effective choice for your business, you must consider what each support channel has to offer. Here is a comparison to help you out.

Live Chat  Chatbots 
Live chat enables businesses to deliver real-time customer support through messages drafted by human agents. Chatbots help automate support conversations with customers by leveraging AI and machine learning.
Live chat offers highly personalized customer support.  Chatbots offer quicker issue resolution and better handling capacity. 
Live chat can handle highly complex issues and provide more satisfactory responses since they come from a real-life support executive. Chatbots are limited to dealing with simple and redundant queries. They fail to resolve highly complex issues without escalating them to a support agent.
Live chat is subject to agent availability. Chatbots can work 24/7.
Live chat has a limit on the number of queries that can be handled simultaneously. Chatbots do not have an upper limit on the number of ongoing conversations that can be supported at the same time. 

How to Choose Between Live Chat and Chatbots

Live chat and chatbots can either work independently or in association with each other.

Some companies use one solution at a time, while some implement both technologies to streamline their support process. While chatbots act as the first point of contact, live chat helps get in touch with support operators for a more personalized user experience. 

When considering either one for your business, remember:

  • Chatbots are capable of providing an instant response. But live chat takes the support experience one step forward by adding a human touch.
  • While chatbots help you gather insights on customers, live chat helps your brand understand customer pain points.
  • If you need to analyze which of the two would be more effective, you must consider your use case and business objectives. 

We have compared the usability of live chat and chatbots based on certain key factors to help settle the live chat vs chatbots debate. 

  • Business Fit 

Chatbots are ideal when for answering basic queries and executing predictable tasks. Say a customer wants to know what pizza flavors are available, wishes to book a room, or needs to know the available sizes of a clothing item– chatbots can easily take care of these queries.

But when it comes to more complex tasks or personalized solutions, such as providing tech support or comprehensive consultations, live chat undoubtedly does a much better job.

If a person fails to explain their concerns clearly during the chat, chances are that the chatbot will be unable to provide a reliable solution. But know this, some bots can prompt the visitor to initiate a chat with a live chat agent if they fail to provide a resolution. This way, the visitor can receive better assistance as live agents will be able to comprehend their issue and find an appropriate solution. 

  • Cost-Effectiveness & Availability 

In the battle of live chat vs chatbots, the budget can be a major concern. If you are a business with a low chat volume, live chat might work out well for you. However, if you experience a large volume of queries or are looking to scale your support operations, then chatbots are the ideal solution.

Chatbot costs are significantly lower and require lesser manpower to deliver real-time support. Moreover, they have a non-existent downtime and can handle a higher chat volume, saving you the cost of hiring more support staff. 

If you want to offer 24/7 support, chatbots would be the preferable option since you wouldn’t have to pay more support executives to work round the clock. 

  • Response Time

Both live chat and chatbots are used to deliver instant support to customers. However, if we compare the response time for both, chatbots have the upper hand.

Chatbots can handle more customers at the same time than support agents. For example, if your chatbot is integrated with a knowledge base software, it can instantly direct customers to the right articles or fetch and display answers in the chat window.

Furthermore, while not all chatbots may be equipped to handle complex queries, what they can do is escalate it to a human agent. This sort of “agent-assist” can cut average resolution times. 

  • Complexity of Issues

You must also pay attention to the level of human intervention your support issues require. In-depth queries can be better resolved via live chat. 

For instance, a visitor on your website looking to find out answers to questions, such as the amount of time required to ship to a particular location or the specific cost for a particular weight of a shipment, can be better addressed by a live chat agent. 

Conversational chatbots work on pre-defined flows, which limits the spectrum of queries they can resolve. Some queries can be too confusing for a chatbot and may require assistance from a support agent. This is why it’s best to use a chatbot that promptly escalates complex queries to the most appropriate personnel.

Best Live Chat & Chatbot Providers

Now that we have established the difference between a chatbot and live chat, let’s also take a look at the best platforms that you can use to deliver instant support to your customers. 

Product ProProfs Chat LiveChat Freshchat Drift Zendesk
Pricing Starts from $20/month Starts from $16/month Starts from $15/user/month Custom pricing Starts from $19/user/month
Live support Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Chatbot Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Intelligent routing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Canned responses Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Self-service Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Chat preview Yes Yes No No No
Real-time visitor tracking Yes No Yes Yes No

Live Chat vs Chatbots: Which One Will You Choose?

Live Chat and Chatbots both make for a compelling customer support experience.

When considering live chat vs chatbots, you must consider the specific needs of your business. Pay attention to the challenges that your support team faces. Is it the lack of personalization in your support experiences or a large volume of support tickets that add to the employee workload? 

Once you have the answers to such questions, you can determine whether live chat, chatbot, or a combination of both would be the apt choice. 

If you wish to add a human touch to your support, live chat is what you need. On the other hand, if you are looking to improve the speed of issue resolution and reduce ticket volume, a website chatbot is the one to go for. Alternatively, you can invest in a powerful tool such as ProProfs Chat that offers you the best of both worlds, keeping your support strategy intact and successful.

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About the author

Jared is a customer support expert. He has been published in CrazyEgg, CoSchedule, and CXL. As a customer support executive at ProProfs, he has been instrumental in developing a complete customer support system that more than doubled customer satisfaction. You can connect and engage with Jared on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn