Choosing between Live Chat or Chatbots for your business

There are major differences between live chat and chatbot strategies and technology. It can get confusing trying to figure out which is the best option for your business. We’ve written this handy guide to help you navigate the world of conversational marketing.

Live chat or chatbots?

Firstly, let’s explore the differences between the two.

Live chat is designed to connect visitors on your website to a human agent. Usually, a prompt appears when the visitor is on a page with an invitation to chat with a human agent. Once the user starts the chat, a notification is passed on to the human agent who also joins the chat and a conversation begins.

Chatbots are automated programs that help users in two ways. They can be informational which as the name suggests provides users with more information or they can be utility bots which help users take an action. An example of an informational bot could be something that returns a snippet of info about a certain topic. A utility bot could be a bot that adds items to a shopping cart.

When choosing between them you have to work out what you are looking to get out of them, the resources involved and the potential business outcomes. It may be the case where you will need to leverage both for the best outcome.

How to choose between live chat & chatbots.

You can use the following infographic to determine the recommended option for your business.

Live chat pros & cons

Pros

Live chat works best for high-value prospects. Imagine you spend $100 to bring in a lead who has a lifetime value of $1000. Would you treat this lead the same way as a lead with a lifetime value of $500? The point we are trying to make is that it’s important you prioritise high-value leads and give them a premium experience through live chat. It works best when you pair it with ABM strategies or data enriched CRMs so you live chat experiences are personalised and a sales touch is introduced in a smooth fashion. This maximises your ROI on your headcount investment.

Live chat also works great for hard to resolve customer support queries. You can automate most support queries but if the customer is getting frustrated with the bot, it’s important to jump in.

Cons

Live chat has some obvious drawbacks around resources in terms of both headcount and training. It is resource intensive to dedicate a salesperson’s time to live chat for the whole of the business day. Not only do they have to possess fluent conversational marketing skills (how to talk to live chat prospects), constantly monitoring the channel is distracting and time-consuming. Requests come through unexpectantly which may ruin a salesperson’s plans. They also run the risk of speaking to unqualified prospects missing out on selling to potential prospects.

If you run business operations after hours, live chat has the potential to let prospects down. Prospects are looking for immediate satisfaction when they engage live chat and if you are not online, the chances of getting that sale slim down dramatically. They can just fill out a form if they wanted a response the next day right?

Chatbots pros & cons

Pros

Chatbots run 24/7 and can basically automate the conversational process. You can use chatbots throughout your customer’s lifecycle and the great thing is, everything is based on data. Bots are able to engage users, enrich data by having conversations and qualify prospects. They can also act as assistants linking into email automation and book meetings for you shortening the whole sales cycle.

There are different bot technologies out with unique usps. For example, a business that deals with international clients may need a bot that is able to translate languages. For marketing & sales teams, we often use technologies like Drift which is specifically built for these teams.

Cons

The main disadvantages of chatbots is actually a human one. With the technology we have at our disposal, building a chatbot is not a technical challenge. Instead, it is a performance issue. To build an effective chatbot, you really need to understand your user behaviour, be able to tailor messaging and timing, spend time training the robot and constantly challenge your winning bot so they are constantly improving.

Most businesses are not doing this and the chatbots on their website slowly stagnate and stop performing altogether. The cons of chatbots are the resources and skills needed to build an effective bot.

Closing Remarks

In most cases, you will typically find that a blended live chat and chatbot strategy delivers the highest ROI. Leveraging the best of both worlds is the smartest option but it isn’t always possible. That’s why we started ChatGen. To help businesses apply conversational marketing without all the cons.

You should always base your decision on your business’s circumstances. Why not have a look at our ROI calculator to help you weigh up your options?

Schedule a free Website Conversion Assessment to learn more about conversational marketing.

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