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Chatbot vs. live chat: which is right for you?

Chat is quickly becoming many customers’ favourite way to communicate with brands. From getting their problems solved quickly to finding out more information about a company’s products or services, chat is fast, efficient, and doesn’t involve the long-wait times typically associated with phone calls or rounds of back-and-forth emails.

Brechtje van Houtum
Brechtje van Houtum,
Content Marketer

When it comes to offering chat on your website, you have two options: live chat (which involves customers talking to a salesperson or customer service rep in real-time) or a chatbot (where customers can interact with software that offers answers based on a pre-written script or a flow triggered by keywords or intent.)

Chatbots fuelled by artificial intelligence use NLP and machine learning to understand and analyse conversations with people and tailor their responses by drawing on pre-defined answers, an educational database, or previous conversations with customers. These bots are even able to handle transactions.

In this article, we explore the benefits of both live chat and chatbots and why you should consider both to meet your customers’ needs.

What is the difference between chatbots and live chat?

Live chat involves a live conversation between a company’s employee and a customer or lead. In comparison, chatbots refer to an automated conversation with a customer or prospect and software. Chatbots can answer a range of pre-defined questions, such as, “What are your opening hours?”, or “Do you deliver to Manchester?”. More sophisticated AI chatbots can help customers with subscription renewals, changing an address, or ordering food.

What are the benefits of live chat?

Meeting customers’ need for human interactions

With live chat, customers or prospects can directly engage with customer support employees or salespeople. One-to-one support has always been an essential part of delivering a great customer experience, and 70% of consumers say they desire human interactions when it comes to these conversations.

Users site personalised interactions as key to their positive experience of a brand. When customers are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, a warm, helpful, and supportive conversation with an agent can go a long way to take the edge off their stress and help them feel like your company cares about their problem.

Get a deeper understanding of prospects and customers

While you can review chat transcripts to find out more about the concerns of your prospects and customers, live chat gives you the opportunity for a deep dive into a person’s experience. With live chat, agents can ask questions that explore customer issues in more depth, helping them to gain a better understanding of users.

Tackle complex problems

Live chat is also a great channel for combining fast and efficient response times with the ability to resolve complex customer problems. Live chat allows users to discuss their complicated problems with a knowledgeable customer service representative.

live chat pop up

What are the benefits of chatbots?


Particularly in the case of larger companies or those looking to scale, investing in chat software is far more cost-effective than hiring several new employees to engage in online chats. AI-powered chatbots can reduce customer service costs by up to 30% — in contrast to the $1 trillion companies spend on customer calls every year.

Effective in nearly 70% of cases

While live conversations with agents offer an excellent opportunity to tackle more complex customer issues, chatbots continue to become more and more sophisticated every year. Comm100 reports that chatbots can successfully handle an average of 68.9% of chats from start to finish.

Unbeatable response times

90% of customers rate an immediate response from customer services to a question as “important” or “very important.” Chatbots can deliver near-immediate answers to customer queries. In addition, chatbots can provide 24/7 answers, providing immediate support whenever customers need it.

scripted chatbot

Read more: 5 tips for creating the best chatbot

What to choose: live chat or chatbot?

Chatbots and live chats both provide unique benefits. From the immediate responses and 24/7 availability that you find with chatbots to the hard-to-beat human interactions live chat delivers, each addresses different customer pain points and fulfils different customer needs.

Depending on your business, but also on your needs and your customers' preferences, choose what suits you best. In eCommerce, for example, live chat can attribute to and increase conversions. A quick personal interaction can take away small doubts. An advanced AI chatbot might be the best solution in utilities, with many repeating questions and standardised actions.

Always have your use case in mind before choosing a chat solution.

Chatbots and live chats: a dynamic combination

The best of both worlds? By providing a hybrid solution, you can offer immediate, round-the-clock response times with the assistance of chatbots. In addition, you can also set up chatbots to pass more complex issues onto customer service representatives, where live agents can provide emotional support and in-depth guidance.

Moreover, by combining live chat with chatbots, you can ensure conversational continuity by using chatbots to collect and pass on data to live agents – reducing the need for customers to repeat themselves. You can also protect your customer satisfaction and retention rates by routing customers to live agents that can provide in-depth support based on their expertise.

Chatbots and live agents work in tandem to meet complex customer needs and provide well-rounded and timely support to your customers. Bring live chat and chatbots together with Conversational AI Cloud and Mobile Service Cloud.

Discover more about our live chat and chatbot solutions with Mobile Service Cloud.

Brechtje van Houtum
Brechtje van Houtum,
Content Marketer
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As a content marketer, Brechtje is responsible for all content about our SaaS products. Loves to be up-to-date about new technologies and believes in 'customer first'.

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