Live chat vs chatbots has always been a hot topic of debate in the eCommerce sphere.
While some say live chat is the way to go for offering support and assistance to online shoppers, others say that chatbots can tackle all of it, without having to invest so much human time in it all.
So which side has it right? Let’s take a look.
But first, let’s talk about each channel and why it is the talk of the town for so many years.
What Is Live Chat And Why Is It Popular?
Live chat is a method of communication that allows businesses to engage with their website visitors in real-time, via messaging, and address all their queries quickly.
It works via a chat widget that is deployed on your website; in this case, your Shopify store, indicating that you’re available to offer any kind of assistance to online shoppers.
A visitor can simply click on this widget to start a conversation with you. Some live chats allow their agents to choose whether to accept a chat or not depending on their availability while some automatically assign an available agent to help out the customer at that point in time.
Basically, a live chat does the job of an in-store salesperson who is around to talk to you and assist you in making a purchase.
What Are The Advantages Of Live Chat?
According to research, your website visitors are 82% more likely to convert into customers if they’ve engaged with your business via live chat.
Live chat is fast and convenient because it’s not limited by timezone restrictions like phone calls and isn’t as slow as responding via emails. Plus, it’s super easy to use.
And since the communication happens in real-time on a medium most people are comfortable with, the customer support is better and more personalized.
The biggest advantage of live chat though, is that unlike chatbots, humans can resolve complex problems and troubleshoot faster, which in turn boosts customer satisfaction and retention as a result. With live chats, even a short conversation can pay off because it delivers a more personal conversational experience.
Say for example, you are selling skincare products and a certain customer comes to your website and they’re confused whether a certain product will suit their skin type or not.
In such a case, a human agent can ask them precise questions to get more context for a clear diagnosis and offer a much more personalized solution than a bot with pre-programmed answers can. And if your customers can get such complex questions answered by experienced agents, they’re more likely to shop with you again and recommend you to their family and friends.
Today, more than 41% of customers expect live chat on your website, whereas 42% customers prefer live chat over email and social media - making live chat the leading digital contact method for online shoppers looking for customer support.
But that’s not all.
Live chat has been seen to increase revenues by a whopping 48% per chat hour with a 40% increase in conversion rate. So if you’re still sitting on live chat, you could be losing out on a lot of potential sales!
What are the limitations of live chat?What Are The Limitations Of Live Chat?
When compared with bots, live chats have a higher average response time of 2 minutes and 40 seconds, the fastest being 7 seconds and the slowest being 9 minutes. And when it comes to sales and customer support, speed is everything.
Forrester found that 1 in 5 customers would stop using a product or service if the online chat response time is slow. And surprisingly, over 21% of live chat requests go unanswered because unlike bots, humans can’t be present everywhere and at all times.
Now let’s take a look at the opponent.
What Are Chatbots And Why Are They Popular?
A chatbot is an artificial intelligence (AI) software that can simulate a human conversation or a chat through messaging apps, websites, mobile apps, and on phone calls as well as social media.
Chatbots are great for customer support because they allow humans to interact with online businesses as if they were human, answering common queries that are pre-programmed using custom conversational journeys in the chatbot’s UI.
You’ve likely interacted with chatbots before.
For example, you’re on an ecommerce site and a window pops up asking whether you need some help, followed by a set of options of possible questions you might have. You click on one, and the chatbot sends you the relevant resources to solve your query.
Or for that matter when you dropped a message to a brand on Facebook and instantly got a response. That’s a chatbot too!
What are the advantages of chatbots?
Chatbots are highly efficient and cost-saving because they can handle 68.9% of chats from start to finish by themselves. They’re also easily scalable because they aren’t restricted by human limitations such as exhaustion and hence have faster response times.
Humans can solve complex problems, but they get tired and cannot be present 24/7. Chatbots in comparison are much cheaper and can save your business as much as 30% on customer support costs. They can handle a multitude of conversations simultaneously, without missing a single beat. This means no long waiting queues which deter customers from making a purchase.
If you want a query answered within seconds, chatbots are the answer. That’s why chatbots can generate a response rate as high as 80-90%.
Chatbots are loved by customers because of the quick responses. They have an average customer satisfaction rate of 87.58%, so no doubt they’re one of the most popular methods of digital contact for consumers.
What are the limitations of chatbots?
The limited and scripted responses of a chatbot can be frustrating for customers who have unique and uncommon questions. And though AI is getting better and better, chatbots still cannot understand the nuances of human conversations or understand spelling and grammar mistakes so they often give irrelevant responses if a query doesn’t exactly match what’s programmed in their database or if a customer makes writing mistakes.
A chatbot cannot think beyond its programming so it’s especially frustrating for your customer when they are being presented with the same responses in a loop and they can’t see a way out of it.
So which is more effective - chatbots or live chat?
We say both.
Live chat and chatbots both have their limitations, but put together they can overcome most of them. And knowing when an automated response will suffice and when a little more assistance and conversation is required, is the real trick to getting conversions.
For example, let’s say you’re a fashion store. When someone has a basic query such as details on the size of a product, you can have a chatbot answer it by sending them a size guide for the product. Even if they reach out to you at 12 am in the night, your chatbot can tackle their queries seamlessly.
But if this particular buyer has further questions on the sizing of the product - let’s say for example they want to know the armhole measurements - then a human agent needs to step in to take over the conversation because this is a one-off query and you cannot leave it unanswered lest you lose an interested buyer.
This is a perfect example of a bot and human working in tandem to drive conversions and close a sale.
Live chat adds empathy and a human touch to conversations, whereas chatbots provide an elevated customer support experience with instant responses and automated answers to common queries.
When combined together, the possibilities are endless.
How can you make live chat and chatbots work together?
The first line of action is to automate the answers to questions your customers ask most frequently so your human agents aren’t wasting their time on common questions that can be effortlessly answered by a chatbot.
You can create custom workflows to add conversational hooks to even automated answers so that your customers remain engaged.
For example, if someone asks for the size, give them the size guide but also ask if they need more help and present a set of questions they might further need help with. If they want to know what other colors are available, direct them to the options and then ask if they need help with something else as well and so on.
All of this can be done by building custom workflows using an app like QuickReply.ai which comes with an extensive library of rich UI elements and provides you an easy way to define or customise your own conversational flows so even your chatbot can get chatty!
QuickReply.ai’s live chat and chatbots are tailor-made for online stores. It comes pre-trained with common but very frequent ecommerce customer queries such as order status, order cancellations, payment options, etc.
It also comes pre-configured with ready-to-use conversational campaigns such as abandoned cart recovery, back-in-stock notifications and product feedback collection that you can use to sell, up-sell, resell and recover abandoned carts.
Enable smart notifications for a seamless bot-to-human hand off
AI Bots can handle about 70% of the customer interactions all by themselves. The remaining 30% which are pertinent and unique in nature must be seamlessly transferred to the human agents.
When a customer asks a complex question that can only be answered by a human agent, the chatbot should ask them to wait and let them know that a human agent would be taking over shortly. The chatbot can send you an instant notification so you can jump in on time and save the day.
You can also set up a system wherein a free agent gets automatically assigned to the chat if no one is able to accept the join request within 30 seconds, before the customer runs out of patience and decides to leave the site.
Set up a shared inbox for all support channels
If you have your chatbot set up on multiple platforms and channels, then setting up a one-inbox is critical so you can stay on top of every conversation whether it’s your chatbot answering or you.
Using an app like QuickReply.ai, you can get all your customer interactions in one inbox from Web, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more. No need to open multiple tabs to talk to customers engaging on different channels and scramble around to make sure no chat goes unanswered.
What’s more, it allows you to empower your customer support team with quick access to all the customers and order information within the same panel. Within minutes of plugging in, QuickReply.ai syncs information about the store’s products, inventory, coupons, customers, and orders. This helps them resolve queries faster and delight your customers.
Experience the best of both worlds with QuickReply.ai
QuickReply.ai’s chatbots and live chat can reduce your support fatigue and at the same time increase your customers' satisfaction and boost sales. With QuickReply.ai, you can sit back and relax, knowing your customer support is being handled by the dual power of AI and human agents because QuickReply.ai uniquely merges live chat, bots, and marketing automation to meet the expectations of the most demanding Shopify store owners.
QuickReply.ai has integrations available with all your eCommerce business tools such as eCommerce Store, Logistics/ Shipping Partners, Sales Channels, Payment Gateways, Marketing Tools, CRMs, Desks etc., along with advanced analytics so you can measure the platform performance and optimise your funnel.
Ending the Live Chat vs Chatbot Debate
To conclude this debate once and for all, it is important to humanize consumer communication but also important to automate what you can so you can focus on growing your business.
If you’re a business, then the efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and productivity of a chatbot can be advantageous. But to provide your customers the best customer support experience, the human touch of live chat is simply irreplaceable because chatbots can’t feel empathy or connect with your customers the way a human can.
That’s why combining the dual powers of live chat and chatbots is the way to mitigate the limitations of both and enjoy their hybrid benefits.
How can you do this?
QuickReply.ai is a next-generation customer service platform tailor made for ecommerce stores. It is equipped with AI bots specially trained on ecommerce use cases as well as a seamless bot-to-human transfer technology so you can serve all your customers as you really should.
Try QuickReply.ai today for 14 days and see for yourself as your query resolution times go down and your sales & conversions go up!
Q1. What's the distinction between live chat and chatbot?
Ans: Live chat adds empathy to support conversations by allowing for human-to-human communication, whereas chatbots improve the support experience by providing instant answers and automating responses to support queries. Live chat and chatbots work together to provide your customers with a high-quality customer support experience.
Q2. Can chatbots take the place of human conversation?
Ans: Chatbots are a great way to interact with your customers. They can help you get new customers and keep existing ones happy. Chatbots aren't meant to replace human interaction. Instead, they're there to make it easier for people to get the answers they need quickly.
Q3. Do live chats and chatbots can work together?
Ans: Yes, they can. Live chats and chatbots can work together to provide a better experience for customers. Live chats are best for when you want to talk one-on-one with a customer who's having a problem. The chatbot is great for gathering information or providing FAQs or other information that would be too much to give in a live chat. You can also use chatbots as an assistant in live chats.