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Chatbots vs. Live Chat: Pros and Cons

Should Your Website Use Chatbots or Live Chat?

Chatbots and live chat continue to rise in popularity.

It makes sense: smart companies are looking for ways to continuously improve customer experience, and offering improved customer support is a great way to do just that.

But, which option is best suited for your business? Chatbots or live chat? Both have their distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Below we look at the differences between the two and highlight how you can determine which one is going to be the best fit for your website.

Pros and Cons of Chatbots

Chatbots are robotic software that responds to customer requests through predefined rules and questions. Usually, this interaction is done via a live chat window on your website.

 

Pros of Chatbots

The pros of using chatbots on your website include:

1. No Human Supervision Needed

Chatbots are great because you can set up the software and forget about it. There’s no hiring or team training. Just input the basic response requests and questions, and the software will handle the rest.

2. Easily Handle a High Volume of Requests

If your website receives a ton of live support requests, then you’ll need to way to process these requests in a timely manner. Chatbots can handle hundreds, if not more requests, in a given moment. On the other hand, with a live support team, your customers will have to wait for a response until the current support request has been resolved.

3. Speedy Response Time

Chatbots can provide you with near instant response time. Since chatbots are just software, they look for the pre-programmed answer to your customer’s question and send it off. Of course, responses may be more limited, but your customers won’t have to sit around all day waiting for a response.

 

Cons of Chatbots

Using Chatbots can be a great solution for various support needs, however, they might not be the perfect fit for every style of business out there.

1. Only Answer Specific Questions

Chatbots are limited to the kinds of questions they can effectively answer. The chatbots of the future will employ more machine-learning algorithms to answer a wider spread of questions. But, typically chatbots won’t be able to answer the same range of questions a well-trained live chat support staff can.

2. Lack of Human Interaction

Connecting with a chatbot is a different experience than live human chat. These differences are felt in the breadth and depth of communication. For example, a live chat rep might be able to quickly handle a support request and offer alternative solutions for solving their problem, while a chatbot may not be able to solve the problem at hand, and instead leave the customer frustrated.

3. Spelling Needs to Be Perfect

Most chatbots are based upon input and output. If the question the customer inputs into the chatbot contains spelling errors, the chatbot might not be able to reference the correct answer. More advanced chatbots can handle spelling errors, but typically this will need to be improved over time.

 

Pros and Cons of Live Chat

Live chat has been around for quite some time. Today’s most common form is the live chat window that’s actually occupied by a living breathing human.

 

Pros of Live Chat

Here are some of the unique advantages of using live chat on your website:

1. Provide Tangible Human Connection

With most live chat environments, the support representative won’t leave the customer’s side until the problem is solved. Chat representatives might also have the option to go the extra mile by offering incentives or coupons to further improve the interaction.

2. Can Solve a Variety of Requests

Live chat support will be able to more effectively answer and solve a wider scope of questions and problems. Whereashatbots are limited by the requests you program in, live chat agents are only limited by their overall education of your products and services.

3. Higher Quality of Communication

Until chatbots employ advanced machine learning and AI, live chat with a real representative will outshine chatbots. Live chat provides customers will a level of customization that’s not limited to a basic set of questions. There’s nothing better than having obscure requests quickly resolved by a support team.

 

Cons of Live Chat

All that being said, live chat isn’t the best fit for every style of business. Below we look at some of the biggest drawbacks of using live chat support.

1. Limited Hours and Availability

With a live support team, the hours available for your customers to access support will be limited, since most companies can’t afford a 24/7 support staff. If your customers have an issue that falls outside of the time window, then they’ll have to wait.

2. Requires Hiring Support Staff

Live chat requires an extensive hiring and training process. Your new hires must be educated about the ins and outs of your company and your products, so they can respond to requests in an accurate and timely manner. This will require an added time and monetary investment on your end.

3. Can’t Handle Multi-Language Support

Unless you have the budget to hire a large and multi-lingual support team, you’ll be limited in the languages you can provide your support in. Chatbots are typically equipped to handle multiple languages with speed and efficiency, although they won’t be able to provide the same depth of communication.

 

What’s the Best Fit for Your Site?

There is no best fit for every style of website out there. Instead, the decision to use chatbots vs. live chat on your website will depend on your business needs. Overall, chatbots are cheaper, faster, and easier to employ. Meanwhile, live chat provides your customers with a more in-depth helpful experience, but it’s more costly and time-intensive on your end.

If you have a very simple business model and tend to receive the same customer questions time and time again, then using a chatbot might be the better solution.

However, if you receive a wide range of support requests, have a large catalog of products, or offer a complicated product, then live chat might be the best option for your needs. Of course, you’ll need the budget to hire and train a team. But, the alternative is alienating your customers by providing ineffective support with a chatbot.

Yet another method is to utilize both. The initial customer request is handled by a chatbot. If the initial question, or set of questions, is easily answerable, then the chatbot will proceed with the request. But, if it’s outside of the scope of the chatbot’s capabilities, then the request will be passed on to a live agent.

There really is no wrong option for improving your customer support via chatbots or live chat. Hopefully, the analysis above will help point you in the right direction about what’s going to be the best fit for your online business.