Chat support in the digital era 

Chat is emerging as the most-used channel of communication for both business and personal use. Nearly half of all customers today lean towards chat support as their preferred channel for customer support. Customers want immediate answers, and the introduction of live chat and chatbots are taking customers closer to getting their issues resolved in a jiffy. 

But there arises a few questions when you are considering chat support for your business. 

Do you want an agent-operated live chat or one with chatbots? Do you need both? How do they differ and how will each help you deliver your business goals and provide an enhanced support experience? Let’s jump right into it. 

Live chat Vs Chatbots 

Live chat offers human-to-human communication and adds empathy to support conversations, while chatbots elevate the support experience by offering instant answers and automating responses to support queries. Live chat and chatbots work together to provide a high-quality customer support experience to your customer. 

 

Live chat 

Live chat is a digital communication channel that allows businesses to interact with customers in real-time via messaging. 

With a chat widget deployed on your website, customers can easily reach out to your agents and get their queries resolved. Live chat support can also be offered on messaging platforms like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, and Apple Business Chat.

 

- Support conversations are handled by human agents who understand customer emotions. 

- Live chat conversations are completely handled by humans, no matter the size of the query/issue.

- Human agents can handle a maximum of 3 to 4 concurrent chats at a time.

- Human agents have to work round the clock to offer 24/7 support. 

Chatbots 

Chatbots are a conversational interface that mimics human interactions with customers. 

They are available to engage with customers,  nurture leads and collect customer data. Chatbots can also be integrated with messaging channels like WhatsApp, FB Messenger, and ABC to interact with customers on their preferred messaging channels. 

 

- Support conversations are handled by machines and in some cases, the chatbots are powered by AI/ML to facilitate human interactions.

- Chatbots are more efficient in resolving routine/repetitive queries so agents can solve complex issues.

- There are no limitations to the number of chats a chatbot can handle at a time. 

- Chatbots offer 24/7 support without any exhaustion or extra cost. 

How to choose between Live Chat v Chatbot: Feature Face-off

Both live chat and chatbots are used by businesses to help customers resolve their queries and deliver a better support experience. But based on your business needs, a live chat, a chatbot, or both might be required to help you meet your goals. Here’s how:

 

1. 24/7 support 

Chatbot > Live Chat 

Offering support 24/7/365 is a fundamental capability of chatbots. Chatbots don’t have downtime. Even if you make changes to their workflow, they iterate in real-time. 

As an automated service, chatbots offer consistent and speedy responses to customers. While live chat can be made available 24/7, it would mean your human agents will have to work round the clock. But this also means that customers will be able to get personal support at any time of the day.  

If you are looking to offer 24/7 support, consider the following:

2. Implementation time and ease of use 

Live Chat = Chatbots 

Both options are fairly simple when it comes to implementation. Live chat and chatbots are easy to implement and you can get started in a few seconds. 

Live chat software like Freshchat requires no-coding and you can get it up and running on your website within seconds. There is no training required for support agents to learn how to work with live chat or chatbots.  Both tools can integrate with a suite of other helpful tools such as a CRM, ticketing software, calendar, etc. Find out more about chat implementation.

3. Handling complex issues 

Live Chat > Chatbots 

When it comes to handling complex issues, we have a clear winner - live chat. No matter how complex an issue gets, human agents are capable of handling it. 

Live chat agents can collaborate with other teams and discuss with the customers to provide the best solution for the issue. Chatbots, on the other hand, are trained to respond accordingly to a specific set of keywords. If a customer raises a complex issue which the chatbots are not trained to answer, it will again redirect you to a live chat agent to get it resolved. 

Though chatbots are now powered with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), chatbots aren’t quite there yet to resolve complex customer queries.

If you are looking to solve complex queries, consider the following:

4. Customer satisfaction and loyalty

Live Chat = Chatbots

Live chat is the perfect tool to offer real-time assistance to your customers along with a human touch. 

Human agents are capable of understanding the mood and tone of the customer and are skilled in delivering the right support to the customers. They can drive meaningful conversation and improve customer engagement. Establishing a connection with the customers increases customer satisfaction and also builds brand loyalty. 

However, we have also seen that instant responses also boost customer satisfaction and chatbots are extremely capable of doing it. Moreover, AI chatbots are now capable of initiating small talk and engaging with customers. This makes the conversations sound less robotic and improves engagement. 

It really boils down to what your customers expect from your brand, and which offers more benefits to customers and agents alike. 

5. Instant response 

Chatbots > Live Chat 

Chatbots take the lead when it comes to delivering instant responses to customers. 

With a chatbot deployed on your website, it can instantly respond to every customer who reaches out for support at the same time. Chatbots also help in eliminating wait time for your customers. 

With live chat, customers would have to wait for a few minutes before they get connected to the right agent. Wait times can be minimized by live chat if your chat support team is well-equipped and staffed to handle the number of incoming queries. But with canned responses and access to chat scripts your agents deliver instant support with live chat. 

If you are looking to offer instant support, consider the following:

6. Personalized responses 

Live Chat > Chatbots 

Live chat powered by human agents is a clear winner when it comes to personalized responses. A human agent behind a live chat can not only pull up customer data anytime and offer customized messages to each customer, they are also able to have human conversations with customers and empathize in a very real way. 

On the other hand, AI-powered chatbots save customer data, provide contextual support, send proactive messages to your customers and even offer solutions based on the intent behind a customer’s messages. Chatbots can also quickly gather customer data and send triggered messages to nudge your customers to purchase or help them with any issues. 

However, the best solution is a combination of both, where customers can get answers tailored to their previous interactions from the bots but can be also redirected to live agents if required to continue the conversation.

With Freshchat, Klarna, a Swedish fintech company, were able to continue delighting their customers even when the number of transactions increased to 1M per day. They integrated with tools that helped fetch data from CRM and third-party apps. This provides the agents with complete context to offer personalized support and to have an informed chat conversation. 

7. Cost-efficient 

Chatbots > Live Chat 

Studies have shown that chatbots are helping businesses bring down their operational costs by 30%. For instance, a single chatbot can perform 20 or more agents, which might be the entire support team for small businesses. Also, deploying chatbots means no spending on infrastructure or salary, both of which would cost you in live chat. 

If you are looking for cost-efficient support options, consider the following, 

8. Agent productivity 

Chatbot > Live chat 

Though live chat boosts agent productivity compared to traditional support channels, chatbots surpass live chat due to the following reasons. 

Studies have proved that chatbots can deflect 60% of the incoming support queries.  Chatbots can completely clear your team’s plate of routine and common questions and have them worry only about complex issues. This enables agents to focus on the complex issue at hand and solve them more effectively. 

AI-powered chatbots like Freddy resolve all common queries and customer issues by sending the best-fitting answer from the knowledge base and FAQs. It constantly learns from each customer interaction and so it requires minimal to zero agent supervision or intervention. 

Phonepe, India’s fastest-growing mobile payment app, deflects 60% of their support tickets with chatbots. By integrating their ERP system with Freddy, they were able to resolve customer service inquiries without any human intervention. 

On the other hand, live chat boosts agent productivity compared to other traditional support channels. It offers all your customer data and your integrations on a single screen without having agents switch between tabs to find the right information. With assignment rules, you can auto-assign the conversations to the right agent based on their skills, expertise, and ticket load. This prevents overloading a single agent and also manually assigning conversations.  

Live chat can also be powered with automation features, including canned responses with which agents can choose from a set of predefined answers and resolve customer issues quickly without typing it out every single time.

Fantastic Services, a property maintenance service, improved agent productivity with Freshchat.IntelliAssign and Read Receipts helped agents focus more on solving queries than spending time on manually picking up the tickets. Read Receipts helped them classify the conversation as active or passive based on whether the customer has seen the message. This enabled them to save time and boost agent productivity.  

Do you need either live chat or chatbots or both? 

As you can see, both live chat and chatbots are capable of functioning independently without the other. Live chat possesses advantages on its own and so do chatbots. Similarly, both are best suited for specific scenarios, and businesses should choose based on the scenario they are facing. As a bundle, offering live chat and chatbots together will enhance your customer experience, bring down operational costs, and will help you offer instant real-time communication to your customers. 

There are many scenarios where live chat and chatbots go hand in hand to deliver an exceptional support experience to your customers. If your business has fewer agents but has a rising volume of incoming tickets deploying a chatbot will resolve all the routine queries, whereas live chat agents can work on complex tickets. Dive into the next section to know more about how both work together to deliver the best results. 

How live chat and chatbots complement each other 

Offer 24/7 support 

Having a chatbot integrated with your live chat software will enable you to offer support beyond your business hours. If any complex issue arises, the chatbots can collect the information and pass it on to your agents during your next business hour to resolve the issue. 

Engage proactively 

You can send targeted proactive messages and initiate a conversation with your website visitors. Chatbots can then carry on a conversation if the visitor engages with the proactive message. This information can be passed on to human agents by chatbots to take it further. 

Get instant responses 

Having a chatbot can help bring down your wait time and solve common queries at ease. Live chat agents can focus on the complex issues at hand and work on bringing down the resolution time. 

Engage via messaging channels 

Integrating your chat tool with messaging channels like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Apple Business Chat will help you reach your customers on their preferred platforms. Chatbots can offer basic information, including order details, tracking id, payment details and shipping details, whereas live chat agents can assist them with complex questions and information. 

Multilingual support 

Live chat and chatbots break down all language barriers and help you offer support to your customers in their preferred language. With live translation, you can instantly translate your texts in English to any of the 33+ languages of your choice. 

Improve KPIs with live chat and chatbots 

First Response Time

Live chat facilitates instant communication and powered with automation, it helps bring down first response time. 

Average Resolution time 

With chatbots taking care of all your routine queries, live chat agents can focus completely on resolving complex issues and bringing down average resolution time. 

Chat to conversion rate 

Chatbots help in a faster conversion rate because they resolve queries much faster. This will enable the agents to move potential leads more quickly along the sales funnel. 

Churn rate 

Bring down churn rate by engaging with your customers with the right chat triggers and keeping them informed. 

Customer Satisfaction 

Chatbots for instant responses and live chat to offer empathy and personalization, boost customer experience and customer satisfaction scores (CSAT). 

Run your chat support on Freshchat

Chat support has now become a significant customer support tool for businesses across the world. The ease of use and ability to get instant answers on website and messaging channels has made it quite popular among customers. Freshchat is the customer messaging software that your team needs to engage and delight customers. With our smart and customer-friendly, Freddy chatbot you can keep your customer conversations going on round the clock. Try Freshchat for a seamless live chat-chatbot support experience.