Chatbot Vs. Live Chat: Which Is Best For eCommerce Websites?

Chatbot vs Live Chat: Which Is Best for eCommerce Websites?

Chatbot vs live chat: which should you choose? Both of these have merits, so the decision is not really easy.

Today, I will help you weigh the pros and cons of these two options. By the end of this comparison between chatbot vs live chat, you should be able to make an informed decision.

What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is a chat messaging application for a website. With a chatbot, the user or potential customer can ask the robot some questions, and the robot will provide an answer.

There are simple chatbots and complicated ones. The simple chatbot allows you to create a Q&A type of program. Once a customer clicks on the chat app, he can choose from these questions, and the answers will simply drop down, and appear like someone answered his question.

The complicated version allows a customer to actually type and ask a question. The backend server, which is also an algorithm, “reads” the question, and then chooses from a pool of answers.

Usually, the chatbot provides the user with several links to answers that the customer can click and read.

Chatbots are dime-a-dozen. There are many chatbots that you can use, including Facebook Messenger. Some of the most popular chatbot examples that you can use for WordPress are WPChatbot, Tidio, Landbot, and Botsify.

What is live chat?

Live chat, on the other hand, is the crudest form of chat. It is a messaging app that you embed on your website, and a real person answers the question in real-time.

A live chat only works if there is a human behind a computer ready to answer the question. A live chat functionality can be a simple one where there is only one employee who can answer it. Or, it can be a complicated one where there are hundreds of employees who can service the customer.

Many contact centers use live chat to service consumers. There are hundreds of customer service agents behind a computer, and the live chat system automatically routes the chat of a customer to the agent who is available.  

These services are not free—they also have a monthly cost. Most big companies buy well-designed software from a developer, and they have exclusive use of it.  

Pros of chatbots

Here are some good reasons why you should use a chatbot.

  • Faster resolution – sometimes, customers have simple questions that do not need a human being to answer. If you know the frequently asked questions of your customers, you can use a chatbot, so your consumers get immediate answers. This is also better than a knowledgebase since the customer does not have to make some search on your website.
  • Save on Cost – one of the financial benefits of chatbots is that you do not have to pay employees to sit behind a desk waiting for a customer to ask a question. You only have to pay a monthly fee, and that is it.
  • Customer satisfaction – since you are making it easy for customers to find a solution to their problem, they are likely to leave your site with a smile on their faces.

Ultimately, a customer service chatbot is great if you have an influx of inquiries that are repetitious. However, it also has some shortcomings.

Cons of chatbots

Here are the cons of chatbots.

  • Service limitations – while chatbots are available 24 hours a day, the kinds of questions you can answer are limited to what you programmed it to answer. It has no intelligence like that of a human being, so the kind of questions you can answer is limited.
  • Not personalized – a chatbot has no ability to analyze personal issues. For example, a customer may ask why you overbilled him. In this case, the chatbot has no real answer. The chatbot will simply direct this customer to the billing FAQs. This, however, does not answer the question.  
  • Downtime – a chatbot is a machine, and it can experience downtime. If this happens, customers will not get an answer to their questions. And since you do not have a live chat, the users are forced to send an email, which is something they do not want to do.

As you can see, a chatbot has its own benefits, but it is not the best solution to your problems.

Pros of live chat

Now, let us take a look at the pros of having a live chat.

  • Personalized experience – a chat service representative has the capacity to answer specific questions that a customer has. Unlike chatbots, the answers are unique, giving the customer a real experience. This prevents customers from having to go back and forth on your site.
  • Instant customer feedback – some customers have some things to say. Be it good or bad, your chat representative can easily relay this information to the manager, and you can work out a solution right away.
  • Can increase sales – your employees can inform your customers of new products and offers, and this can help you boost your revenue. Also, it can make your employees happy if you give them a commission.

If you ask your employees to upsell, you’d better have a quality control system where you can validate if the sale is legitimate. Live chat is far better than bot chat in some conditions. But it is also far from being perfect.

Cons of live chat

Here are some of the things you need to worry about if you use the live chat in your business:

  • Can be costly – you have to pay an employee to be behind a computer to answer inquiries. On the one hand, this is great if you do not receive a large volume of customer chat inquiries, as the employee has to toggle between two responsibilities. However, you will have to pay more people if the volume of your customer inquiries increases.
  • Prone to error – employees are bound to make mistakes. Sometimes, they misunderstand a question, and they provide the wrong answer. This irks customers, and a bad user experience will make customers unhappy.   
  • Wait time is frustrating – since you are offering live chat, the customer, on the other end has to wait until your customer service representative has finished servicing the first customer. This results in a queue, and waiting for a customer service rep can be frustrating to your customers.

Live chat has its challenges. Some employees may not be up to par as far as standards are concerned, and some may not even have real empathy to serve customers. If this happens, you are compromising your customer service standards, and you may be better off with a chatbot.

Summary: Chatbot vs live chat

So, what should choose?

My take is that you should have both options on your site. What I recommend is that you choose a tool that allows you to do both. Personally, Facebook is one of the best options out there.

If you are using WordPress, you are in luck. There is a Facebook Messenger app that allows you to install the Messenger plugin to WordPress. What this does is that it integrates your FB Messenger from your page to your website.

On your FB settings, you can create a specific number of questions that your customers are likely to ask. You can also create the answers—this is your chatbot. On the other hand, you can answer the questions live if you want to.

John Kilmerstone

I'm an Aussie living in Japan who enjoys traveling, photography, and blogging. Please visit this website and explore the wonderful world of blogging. Discover how to turn your passions and pastimes into an online business.

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