AI-Powered Chatbot vs Live Chat – Which Should You Choose?

Robot and human handshake

Karina Howell at 8×8 explores the difference between AI-powered chatbots and live chat, and which you should choose.

AI-powered chatbots get all the headlines these days—and rightfully so. But web chat has long been known for offering high customer satisfaction rates (second only to voice).

With recent advances in generative AI, contact centre leaders are faced with not one, but two options for the chat function.

So, what’s the right choice for optimizing your CX goals? If this is a decision you are now faced with as a contact centre leader, read on.

What’s the Difference Between Live Chat Support and Chatbots?

Let’s start by clarifying what we mean by each of these two options.

Live Web Chat

Live web chat connects customers with actual human support reps through a conversational online widget. This engagement option has been popular with customers since the dawn of eCommerce—well over 20 years ago—and its benefits are well established.

Beyond offering high satisfaction rates for providing live human service to digital customers, it’s also a proven method for reducing abandoned online shopping carts.

When deployed right, live chat also offers higher agent productivity than voice, since agents can handle up to six sessions at the same time.

Automated Chatbots Powered by AI

Automated chatbots powered by AI are now the second option that all contact centres should consider to gain potentially massive benefits of improved productivity with reduced costs (after an initial up-front investment.)

While AI technology has been available to contact centres for many years, it’s only following recent innovations in generative AI that these solutions are now ready for prime time and accessible to contact centres of all sizes.

Making the Right Choice for Your CX Goals

To make the right choice, you need to consider a variety of factors in your customer service operations. We suggest you take the following into consideration when choosing the chat solution (or combination of solutions) that’s right for your business goals.

  • The types of transactions your contact centre handles (for example, routine and high volume versus complex and lower volume)
  • The metrics you are trying to optimize (for example, reducing interaction costs versus maximizing upsell)
  • Your overall budget for upfront technology investment

Let’s take a deeper look at when you should deploy one chat solution over another.

AI-Powered Chatbots

This solution is perfect for:

  • Providing instant responses to customer inquiries
  • Proactively reaching out to customers browsing on a website at scale to increase engagement and sales
  • Delivering customer service on a 24/7 basis
  • Answering a high volume of routine, repetitive inquiries
  • Reducing operational costs by automating a large number of interactions

Despite these compelling benefits, chatbots pose limitations, including the following:

  • Limited range: The ability to quickly resolve the customer’s problem may be limited, typically depending upon the complexity of the customer’s question.
  • Setup costs: The initial investment may be high, although this is mostly a one-time investment with the potential for a massive ROI.
  • Training lag: It may take time to train the AI-powered chatbot to accurately answer the full range of potential customer questions.
  • Limited empathy: For sensitive and complex matters, a chatbot may not demonstrate the range of empathic responses that a customer would expect.

These limitations shouldn’t stop contact centres from implementing AI-powered solutions in their environment. The opportunity to streamline operations and reduce costs is significant, and leading analysts expect that the advantage enjoyed by contact centres deploying AI will only grow.

For example, Metrigy research projects that contact centres without AI will need 2.3x more agents than those with AI.

It’s important to remember that delivering on customer expectations for omnichannel experiences often requires providing the option to escalate to live channels when automation does not resolve their issue. That’s where a combination of AI-powered chatbot with live chat or voice service comes in.

There are also cases where live web chat is an ideal solution as an escalation channel from self-service or automated channels.

Evidence that this channel is a surefire way to improve customer satisfaction abounds. According to the recently published 2023 NTT Global Customer Experience Report, 15% of consumers between 40 to 59 years of age prefer web chat over any other channel; for consumers 25 to 39 years old, this number rises to 21%.

Live Web Chat

This solution is ideally suited for the following scenarios:

  • Your contact centre tends to handle a smaller number of complex and even unique customer questions.
  • Your contact centre needs to get chat support up and running quickly.
  • Closing online sales is a high priority.
  • Budget to invest in an AI-powered solution is not available.

While live chat responses may not be as instantaneous as a chatbot, a human may be better able to resolve an issue on first contact by answering more complex questions not yet included in a bot’s repertoire.

What’s more, a human handling chat can typically be trained in a shorter time frame than an AI-powered bot.

Finally, the empathy and personalization that humans provide can build profitable customer relationships.

In the long run, live chat is more expensive than a chatbot. But the potential efficiency benefits of live chat should not be forgotten. For example:

  • Live chat is an opportunity to resolve detailed, complex matters that are often best resolved over text . Using chat agents can resolve customer issues that may have taken days to resolve over email in a 10 to 15 minute online conversation.
  • Live chat offers a lower cost of service compared to voice by allowing an agent to handle several queries at once.

Offering a chat solution—whether via AI powered chatbots or live chat—potentially makes a massive difference in improving customer satisfaction.

One reason is because customers can access service without being required to wait on hold. Traffic can also be deflected from the phone, lowering costs. For these reasons—and many others—we strongly recommend that you add the chat channel, if you aren’t doing so already.

This blog post has been re-published by kind permission of 8x8 – View the Original Article

For more information about 8x8 - visit the 8x8 Website

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Call Centre Helper is not responsible for the content of these guest blog posts. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Call Centre Helper.

Author: 8x8

Published On: 2nd Apr 2024
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