This article is part of a larger series on VoIP.
A chatbot is an artificial intelligence (AI) messaging interface that mimics the interaction between an agent and a customer. Live chat, on the other hand, facilitates communication between a human agent and the client. Both services provide an on-brand messaging solution that responds to sales and general inquiries. When comparing chatbots vs live chat, note that chatbots are less expensive, but live agents offer a more personalized experience.
- Chatbot: Better for businesses with a high volume of common service inquiries
- Live chat: Better for teams with highly technical concerns needing a more personalized conversation
In choosing which is better, consider your call volume, the complexity of your products and services, as well as your available resources. The cost-advantage would vary for each business.
Chatbot vs Live Chat at a Glance
Intended for Use By
Businesses wanting a cost-effective solution that provides instant response 24/7/365
Businesses that receive complex concerns needing personalized support and seeking to provide an enhanced customer experience
Monthly Starting Price
Free options with paid services starting at $30
Free options with paid services starting at $15 per agent
Moderate to lengthy
(requires training and protocols)
Moderate to high
Ease of Setup & Use
When to Use Chatbots
Chatbot systems maximize AI technology to simulate a text or voice conversation. Chatbots are typically used to provide automated customer support in place of direct human interaction, especially for routine tasks and service inquiries. With increased automation, chatbots help businesses lower operational costs by removing infrastructure and salary expenses.
Most customers encountering issues or questions while browsing your website or application want an immediate response. In most cases, chatbots are able to help customers decide on products and provide accurate and timely information. Below are examples of how chatbots help improve business operations:
Automate Responses to a High Volume of Inquiries
Deployed chatbots instantly respond to inquiries, eliminating customer wait time. Today’s customers want instant and efficient customer service, and chatbots offer real-time responses or quick resolution—ideal for small businesses with limited financial and human resources.
Acquire Customer Feedback
Chatbots are programmed to take customer feedback conversationally and capture clients’ thoughts after a purchase. Strategically timing your touchpoint after a business engagement offers greater accessibility to your feedback process and allows your clients to let you know their experience. Also, a chatbot is friendlier than other feedback collection approaches, such as impersonal web forms and generic satisfaction surveys.
Automate Website Support
Chatbots minimize cart abandonment by answering customers’ questions in real time, taking orders, and helping clients choose the right products and services. Automated bots resolve common questions most website customers ask while reducing the need for live human agents. Chatbots are especially effective in industries that need to deliver instant customer service, such as health, banking, and retail.
Increase User Engagement Within Apps
Chatbots are an excellent way to give customers a go-to support channel while using mobile applications. Chatbots help by addressing questions while users are in the application so customers do not have to resort to contacting you through other mediums. Chatbots also help confirm orders, track shipments, and shorten the traditional multistep process of logging into the website and keying in order numbers to get delivery updates.
Pros & Cons of Chatbots
|Established response times||Limited comprehension and unable to adjust to typos and customer error|
|Available 24/7||Detached, generic support|
|Allows for behavioral targeting for better timing when engaging customers||Minimal maintenance and post-setup expenses|
|More affordable, needing less human resources|
When to Use Live Chat
Live chat connects customers with your sales support teams for real-time assistance. Our recent unified communications as a service (UCaaS) statistics found that most customers prefer live chat as the medium for contacting a business. This functionality is a good fit for companies that want to provide a quick response to urgent customer concerns and requests.
Discover the most valuable benefits of live chat for small businesses and solopreneurs:
Resolve Highly Technical Inquiries
Live chat agents are better equipped to handle complex, out-of-the-ordinary inquiries than chatbots. Companies that work in design or other industries that provide unique products and services per customer benefit from live chat agents that are able to answer any question about the business.
Increase Chat Agent Productivity
Live chat helps boost agents’ productivity by allowing them to handle multiple customers simultaneously. While a person typically tackles one call at a time, chats allow live agents to take on more customers who need support. More complicated questions would require more attention, but common inquiries may be handled quickly or more than one at a time.
For more information on measuring agent performance and operational efficiency, read our article on call center metrics. Monitoring metrics and key performance indicators help create positive customer experiences and identify areas for agent improvement.
Gain a Customer Service Advantage Over Competitors
Startups and small businesses with direct competitors offering similar services and products benefit from having a channel for customers to get immediate support. Live chat provides a better customer experience, lead nurturing, and convenient customer support. This makes you more competitive, especially if your competition does not offer chat services.
Pros & Cons of Live Chat
|Less mechanical, more personalized and meaningful responses||Human agents are more expensive than chatbots|
|Allows for the handling of multiple support tickets||Requires staff training and human supervision|
|Increases brand trust and credibility||Record and notekeeping prone to human error|
|Multiple inquiries managed simultaneously|
Chatbot & Live Chat Providers
Live chat and chatbot services are tools companies of all sizes use to improve operations and customer service. The most popular service providers offer both solutions, often together or as features in a service package. Providers offer tools for developing or customizing chatbots to suit each customer base through templates.
Not what you are looking for?
Check out our guide on the different business phone systems to explore your options and choose the one that suits your business needs.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are messaging platforms better than call answering services?
Messaging platforms are a great fit for small to medium businesses that want to ensure customer convenience and instant resolution at an affordable rate. Compared to phone support, which is a one-to-one interaction, chatbots and live agents have multiple conversations simultaneously for faster issue resolution and less customer wait time.
Which industries are best for chatbots & live chat?
Chatbots and live chat are applicable for businesses of all sizes and industries. Companies use chat services in banking to process payments and transactions, in telecommunications to collect customer feedback, in retail to support in-store purchases, and in human resources to discuss benefits and perks.
Which is more expensive, chatbots or live chat?
Generally, a chatbot is cheaper than live agents because they require less staffing. Employing live agents entails operational expenses, such as payroll.
In our comparison of the difference between live chat and chatbot, we found that while chatbots offer convenience, affordability, and 24/7 service, there is a human element and deeper customer service benefits from live agents. Take a look at several chat providers we’ve included above, or consider call center phone systems, which bundle both voice and call options for those who may need both.