Chatbots vs Live Chat: Which is best for your Customer Service team?

The world is evolving. Business needs, stakeholder requirements, and consumer demands are ever-shifting. Year on year, the technological revolution is opening up all industries to endless possibilities.

There have been significant shifts in consumer browsing habits. Customers now require total accessibility at every point in their journey. Instant responses, on all platforms.

According to research, our attention span has decreased to less than that of a goldfish (9 seconds). Not so surprising when you consider that the average user picks up their phone over 1500 times per week, but will leave a web page in less than 20 seconds.

I wonder how quickly you skimmed that last sentence?

This change creates challenging markets. If you are not connecting with potential customers in the manner that they wish, you can be sure that your competition is.

However, it also generates a wealth of opportunities for businesses to harness. The demand drives commercial efficiencies and enhances customer experiences.

According to Econsultancy, 79% of consumers say they’d prefer Live Chat when connecting with a company because they don’t want to wait on hold.

This is where a ‘Chat Now’ function comes into play.

A human – or robotic – customer service agent is available for the customer to speak to. ‘Chat Now’ offers the satisfaction of a phone conversation, with the convenience of direct messaging.

In theory, this should mean that customers receive immediate responses, quickly having their issue resolved.

This is great when there are agents available to cover requests.

But 21% of live chat requests are ignored. And following those instances, expect an angry mob of customers armed with flaming torches outside your office door. Or maybe a frustrated email, telling you that they are never shopping with you again…

Chatbots are an automated way of communicating with customers, Live-Chat relies on human agents. Both have unique benefits, both have their own pitfalls. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences:

Benefits of Live Chat


  • Technology is brilliant, but of course, sometimes it is flawed. It doesn’t yet understand the subtleties of human conversation, and it definitely doesn’t understand sarcasm.
  • A Chatbot can’t negotiate with a customer, helping to change their thought process and win a dissatisfied customer over.


  • Chatbots don’t quite have the ability to think outside the box (again, ‘yet’). Chatbots work well with simple tasks, usually frequently asked, fact-based questions which can be automated.
  • Live Chat agents can answer any questions relating to their business, within reason. They can also provide extra information on points that the customer might not have considered. A Chatbot can do this last task, though not yet as fluently as a human.
  • Although Chatbots can learn, and NLP (natural language processing) allows a Bot to understand written text, when there are errors and mistakes in messages that the Bot has not yet encountered or been programmed to understand, it can become confused. Live Chat agents will not normally have this issue.

Benefits of Chatbots


  • One of the biggest advantages of Chatbots is that response time will be immediate, regardless of the number of incoming queries.
  • With Live-Chat, the average response time per message is over 15 seconds. This is not huge, but when multiplied with each response in the entire interaction, across all agents, high wait times accrue.
  • Chatbots go beyond just responding immediately. It is unreasonable to expect a Live-Chat agent to reach out to every person landing on the page, but a proactive Bot can, with no issue. This immediately shifts customers into the sales funnel.


  • So, Chatbots respond immediately, Live-Chat agents don’t. When a business grows and website traffic increases, there are two ways of dealing with increasing numbers of queries through Live Chat – employ more staff or let wait times increase.
  • The first option is expensive and is an inefficient use of budget. The second is unacceptable, leads to dissatisfied customers who head to competitors, and damages the brand.
  • Regardless of how many new queries are incoming, a multitasking Bot can handle them all at once, seamlessly. In comparison, one Live Chat agent will handle 4-6 chats at a time.
  • With Bots, Customer Service can be scaled to include further marketing initiatives, which a regular Live-Chat workforce could not handle.

Adidas used Chatbots on Facebook messenger to create an interactive booking process for a brand engaging workout studio. Achieving the same success with human agents would have required Adidas to invest in ‘thousands of field team members’, much more than its current staff of 30.


  • Chatbots do not require human supervision to perform their task as they have been programmed. In fact, they can continuously respond to messages and interact with potential customers 24/7. This saves time, money, and energy.
  • Humans can become frustrated answering the same trivial questions repeatedly. On the other hand, Chatbots happily keep going, and exhibit the company’s desired personality.
  • The time that human agents would have spent on computers answering questions, can now be spent on more complex tasks, whilst the Bot takes care of customers.

Bots and Live Chat, Together?

To conclude, there is no clear winner.

Bots most definitely trump Live Chat when it comes to efficiency – saving costs, time, and energy. However, they miss the ability to communicate exactly like a human and get confused by the nuances of interactions.

But used together, the two synergize and offer customers the most optimized experience. Bots can be used brilliantly to handle the 80% of routine, repetitive queries which come through.

This frees up human agents behind Live Chat to handle more complex queries, and deal with other more pressing issues.

This way, the customer receives immediate responses, with the satisfaction that their query is being dealt with. The business benefits too, with the opportunity to grow and scale without needing to spend on potentially extortionate costs of more Live Chat agents.

If you want to discuss how AI or a Chatbot might work with your customer service team to meet your company’s challenges, feel free to get in touch:

Posted by

Alex Dixon