Although chatbots and live chats share a common goal (to support and scale business teams in their relations with customers), there are certain differences between the two which are important to know about.
So, let’s get the ball rolling. Why might live chat be more beneficial to your company over a chatbot?
1. Live chat interactions are carried out by a human
Live chat is great for certain situations which require a sense of emotion because customers will actually be talking to a human.
A lot of people turn to chatbots and live chats to make complaints, so conversations can become complex and require a human brain in order to solve the issue. Live chats are perfect for those kinds of situations, whereas chatbots can sometimes fall short due to the number of buttons and simplistic responses which are generated.
For example, a customer may have spent a lot of money at your hotel. They’re unhappy with the experience and turn to your live chat to vent their frustrations and make a complaint. There are several reasons as to why they are frustrated and decide to list them out.
Here’s how this could go wrong with a chatbot…
Customer: I stayed at your hotel in Newcastle last night. What an awful experience. There was a stain in my bed, mould on the wall and top it all off, a spider crawled up my nostril during the night.
Chatbot: Hey there! Thanks for your message. How can I help you today? Are you looking to book a stay at one of our hotels?
Customer: Did you not hear what I just said? Your hotel in Newcastle was absolutely terrible. Breakfast was hardly fantastic the next day. The bacon tasted like a piece of cardboard.
Chatbot: I’m not quite sure what that means. If you’d like more information about our hotel in Newcastle, I can send you over a link?
Customer: It seems as though your chatbot is equally as terrible as your hotel. Never mind. I’ll head over to leave my review on Trip Advisor now.
Chatbot: No problem. Glad we were helpful today!
Because a human manages the live chat they’ll be able to address each of the issues listed by the customer and respond with sentiment. This is something which a chatbot wouldn’t be able to do.
Humans are much more likely to resolve an issue than a robot. However, response times can be slower than a chatbot and this could potentially cause further frustrations if a customer is already upset about a situation.
2. Live chats are generally better at handling complex situations
Chatbots may not always be the right fit for your business. In some cases, the nature of a product or service may be too complex for a robot to handle. This means that conversations will require a human input to avoid mistakes further down the line.
This is where live chats are awesome. Since members of staff run them, they will always have the opportunity to go away and do their research to make sure that the correct response is generated.
3. Live chats can move your customers down the sales funnel much quicker
The fact that a chatbot can sometimes feel much more robotic than a live chat can hinder the opportunity of closing a sale. There may be times when the customer wants to know something very particular and your chatbot can’t provide the correct answer.
As your live chat is manned by a person, there’s less chance of this happening. Even if the sales rep doesn’t know the answer to the question, they can then go away and seek advice from someone else before typing up a response.
However, because live chats are monitored by people, there is the potential chance of customers having to wait longer for a response. This could be due to the fact that someone gets in touch during out-of-office hours or there’s a high demand of customers looking to have a discussion.
Whereas with a chatbot, they are designed to send a response to a user instantly. What the response says will completely depend on the nature of what the customer has to say.
4. Live chats allow you to expand your market reach
Just because you have a website, it doesn’t mean that customers will necessarily be comfortable placing an order on it. They may have particular queries which need solving before they go ahead and make the purchase.
If a customer is located on the other side of the world, they would have to pay for expensive international dialling rates if they wanted answers to their questions via the phone. Whereas if you have a live chat, they can get in touch for free without having to worry.
Even if they aren’t making the purchase directly from the conversation on your live chat, they’ll still be reassured that they can return to your website and there will be someone to talk to straight away. Regardless of how far away they are from your company.
Chatbots are also great at helping you expand your market reach as they can be configured to speak in multiple languages during the building period. Although this requires a lot of hard work, there are some awesome benefits which you’ll be able to enjoy:
- Customers who speak different languages can now communicate in their native tongue.
- You’ll be able to enjoy a strong competitive advantage. Not everyone has a multilingual employee who’s willing to manage live chat, regardless of the time.
- By having a bot which can speak more than one language, you’re increasing your chances of closing more global sales.
5. Live chats can help you reduce your expenses
Research from Forrester shows that live chat customer service is 17-30% cheaper than a phone call. Pretty impressive, right?
The main reason for this is because live chats enable your customer service team to assist several visitors at once whilst also doing other tasks at the same time. It’s estimated that a well-trained live chat agent can handle three or more conversations simultaneously.
If this is the case, you’re going to need fewer staff to offer the same support. This will allow you to cut down on wages and training expenses, ultimately saving you a serious amount of money.
But aren’t chatbots even more cost-effective?
That’s correct! Chatbots are more cost-effective than live chats. This is due to the fact that a chatbot is run by a machine as opposed to a person. This allows companies to cut down even further on costs such as wages and training expenses.
So, which is better? A live chat or a chatbot?
As you can see, both live chats and chatbots are equally as awesome as each other. There are circumstances where one works better than the other depending on your industry, goals and customers.
However, both of them can offer amazing benefits to your business, including reductions in expenses and the opportunity to expand your brand into different markets and locations.
Therefore, in order to make the most out of your conversational marketing strategy, the best option is to use both of them together. But before you can even consider making a decision on which one to leverage first, you need to know as much as you can about conversational marketing.
Learn more about the world of conversations within HubSpot in our brand new playbook
As well as offering advice on live chats and chatbots and which one will work best for your business, our playbook also discusses how to create an effective chatbot strategy in HubSpot and explains everything you need to know about conversational design.