Chatbots versus Live Chat: Which is Best?

Two chat bubblesThe way businesses communicate and provide customer support is constantly changing. Today, businesses are switching from a transactional approach to a more communicative one using marketing tools like chatbots and live chat with real people. Both marketing tools have the power to assist customers, provide positive customer service and help customers reach a purchasing decision. The big question is: Which one does it best? 


Chatbots are a type of computer program that provide instant, computer-generated responses that simulate human interaction. Using a chatbot, customers can type questions into a chat box and receive an instant response. Chatbots often take the form of a widget on a website, but they can also live any other chat format such as Facebook Messenger or text messages. There are currently three types of chatbots used today that range from rule-based chatbot with pre-programmed answers to chatbots that use machine learning and artificial intelligence to answer more complex, human-like responses.

Pros of Chatbots

Using chatbots, businesses can provide a higher level of assistance without investing a lot of time or money in an employee. Systems are relatively inexpensive to set up and are more cost-effective than live agents. They can work 24-hours a day, seven days a week and can handle multiple queries at a time. Setting up chatbots is incredibly user-friendly, meaning that essentially anyone with basic technology knowledge can set them up. According to Quick Sprout, 85 percent of customers can manage their relationship with a brand without human contact. With how quickly they are being accepted and expanded, chatbots are definitely becoming a norm in online communication.

Cons of Chatbots

As great as chatbots are, they do have their downfalls. Due to their programmed responses, chatbots often lack context and have difficulty answering more complex questions. Even those using machine learning or artificial intelligence may not be able to apply their knowledge to find a solution. Also, despite being able to simulate human responses, most customers prefer the personalized touch of a human agent when tasking questions regarding a purchasing decision. 

Live Chats

Unlike chatbots, live chats offer customer assistance through a real, live agent – a person sitting at a computer ready, willing and able to answer questions. Businesses should consider live chat agents as a customer’s personal assistant through their buying journey. They are available in real-time to answer customer questions and help them come to a quicker buying decision through personalized responses. Live chat is typically integrated into business websites through widgets, making it easy for customers to ask questions while they’re already exploring the site.

Pros of Live Chats

The human managing the chat is the biggest appeal of live chat. According to FurstPerson, approximately 73 percent of consumers state that live chat is their most preferred form of communication with a 92 percent customer satisfaction rating. Consumers would rather converse with a real person and prefer the personalized level of communication live chat provides that chatbots aren’t always able to. Also, because live chat agents have the ability to make more personal connections with customers, businesses can expect an increase in positive customer experience along with a boost in conversions and return customers.

Cons of Live Chat

Humans make mistakes and aren’t always as timely or clear with answers as customers expect. Ideally, live agents should respond to customer chats within two minutes or less. Otherwise, the customer is likely to go elsewhere. Another downside of live chat is overhead costs. Since live chats involve hiring an actual employee, they are more costly over time and don’t offer the full 24/7 availability that chatbots can.

Which to use?

Chatbots and live chats are both powerful business marketing tools that can be used to positively engage with customers and boost leads. Weigh the pros and cons and find the solution that works best for your business and customer base. Consider factors such as response time, cost efficiency, availability, effectiveness and the importance of human touch. It’s impossible to please everyone, but it’s always good to be as close as possible to it. 

Can’t decide which to use? Why not use both! Working together, chatbots and live chat offer customers the best of both worlds when it comes to customer satisfaction. Using the chatbot, customers receive the 24/7 service they need for simple questions. However, if a question requires more personalized attention, the chatbot can easily transfer that customer to a live agent. This not only provides customers with a human contact, but it also weeds out the frequently asked questions and allows the live agent to provide better service for more complex problems. 

How are you currently communicating with customers? To find out how our team at Denim Marketing can help incorporate chatbots and live chat into your marketing plan, visit or call 770-383-3360. 

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