Striking a Balance Between Live Chat and Chatbots — When Do You Need Human Support?

Chatbots can be a valuable tool for your business. Whether you’re a small company that needs to offer constant customer support or a midsize organization with an in-house help desk, there are significant benefits to using chatbots. For instance, a single chatbot can have engaging conversations with multiple users at the same time, it’s inexpensive to set up 24/7 chat, and most users are willing to communicate with a brand through a chatbot.

Although chatbots are good at replicating natural conversation, they’re still a far cry from a chat with a human. Chatbots have a role to play in business, but their limitations mean that they’re nowhere close to replacing live chat completely. Human interactions are still the best choice in many situations.

The Benefits of Live Chat

With live chat, the quality of the conversation is always higher. A human is much more likely to understand users than a chatbot, both due to a wider vocabulary and the ability to put what a user is saying to context. This means users are able to ask more specific questions and receive detailed answers. Plus, only a human is able to understand and respond with emotion. These two things mean that human chat has the potential to offer a much better experience for the user.

It’s for these reasons that live chat is favored by consumers. One study found that live chat has a 92 percent satisfaction rate — higher, even, than voice, web form, and email. When you bear this in mind, you can see why live chat is sometimes a better solution than chatbots.

When to Use Live Chat

When users have complex questions

Chatbots are only able to answer questions about specific issues and solve certain types of problems. Although they do learn over time, it can take them months to become smart in a variety of situations. Even then, they are unable to offer the types of insights and advice that a human can.

If a user has a complex request, a chatbot is most likely useless. This leads to frustration for the user, which, in some cases, could cost you a sale. In fact, 73 percent of users say that they will not use a company’s chatbot again after a bad experience. Bringing in human support when a chatbot is unable to help, on the other hand, may save you a client.

To maintain relationships with your top customers

Whereas some of your top customers are drawn to your business purely for your products or services, others appreciate the human side of your brand. If you remove conversations with staff entirely, these customers will change their opinion of your brand. They may see your company as mechanical or lacking personality.

In particular, for small companies who have just a few important clients, it is important to check in with customers — to ask about their needs, desires, and opinions and to respond with real answers. If a client has an issue or concern or wants to provide you with feedback, live chat will show a sense of empathy.

When chatbots are struggling to understand

Even when a user asks a question about a subject the chatbot is programmed to understand, the chatbot may struggle to provide the correct information. One of the most common hurdles for chatbots is spelling mistakes. Although chatbots can learn frequent spelling errors, there is always the chance a user makes typo that the chatbot has never seen before.

In contrast, a human will understand immediately what the user wants to say. For these kinds of situations, having live chat as a backup is ideal.

To gather specific data

Chats are an excellent way to gather data about the preferences and demographics of your customers. Whereas you can program a chatbot to ask pertinent questions to gather such data, AI has its limits. For instance, a chatbot is unable to steer a conversation in the right direction to ask for information in a natural way.

If you’re looking to collect specific information about users, you may prefer to use live chat. This will create an atmosphere where the user feels comfortable opening up. Many users may even be unaware that they are providing you with data, as they’ll be having a real conversation, sharing their thoughts and opinions.

To convince leads to purchase

Some leads may turn to chat when they are making a final decision about whether to purchase from you. Although a chatbot can provide more information about the product or service, which may help, a human touch is often necessary to push a user to complete a sale.

Only your sales team has the skills and experience to know exactly what to say to lead. Whereas you can program a chatbot to say certain phrases (and it will learn what works best most of the time), only a human can pick up on emotional cues, customize the interaction, and keep the conversation feeling real.

The Takeaway

Chatbots certainly have a place in business today. They quickly provide solutions to simple and routine queries, they reduce the workload for your employees, and they save your company money. Unfortunately, although chatbots are becoming smarter all the time, the conversations they offer lack the quality of a human chat.

For this reason, it is critical to have live chat in place for certain situations and to keep human support available as a backup when your chatbot is unable to manage. This will ensure that you retain customers, maintain your brand image, and create a positive work environment for your employees.

About the author

Kelly has over 20 years marketing, sales and customer service experience. He is a champion for small businesses and prides himself in helping them compete and thrive in a digital world. Kelly is currently the VP of Marketing for Boostability, a company dedicated to helping small businesses grow online. He manages a team that is responsible for demand generation, customer messaging and experience, branding, social media and all things marketing. His expertise includes search engine optimization, social media, content marketing, customer communication, lead generation and conversion optimization, to name a few.

Twitter - @kellyshelton32

Email – [email protected]

Phone – 800-261-1537


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