Chatbots vs Live Chat – Users are Confused

Ever visit a site and have a chat slider try to engage with you only to find out nobody is there? If you type in your question, you may get one of three responses:

  1. After a few seconds you get a live person – a live chat
  2. You take your time and write a request only to get a message saying nobody is home or we will email you later – a unattended live chat
  3. You type in your question and get a response answering your question or narrowing down what you are looking for – a chatbot

Have you ever wondered if you are engaging in a conversation with a human or with a chatbot?

There are two types of chat functions – live chat and automated chat. Live chat is when a real person is sitting at a keyboard on the other end of that chat window and typing out answers to your questions. Automated chats or chat bots have no human in between you and the response because the response is automatically generated based on the words and phrases you entered in the chat window.

It’s not a surprise that users are confused. Chatbots are programmed to mimic a human conversation, and the responses programmed into a chatbot will sound exactly like a human response. When you start a chat conversation, it may take awhile before you know the difference. Phone systems are now trying to do the same thing.

How to Tell the Difference

Chatbots are powered by artificial intelligence with logical rules. They have FAQ’s to answer questions, sales funnel decision trees to get leads, support and service information to reduce live calls, and ecommerce product assistance to get you to the right product quickly. 

A user can ask any question, but the response is limited to the answers programmed into the chatbot. The question asked must include specific keywords in order for the chatbot to understand the question. If the user does not enter the right keyword, the chatbot cannot give a relevant answer. In these cases, the chatbot responds with a “fallback” response that says it doesn’t understand the question and asks the user to try entering the question in a different way or click here for a live chat, phone or email contact.

If the user misspells a word, the chatbot will only understand if the misspelled word was programmed into its memory. When you see an “I don’t understand” message in the chat window, you are probably engaging with a chat bot.

Live chat is human-powered. It is a customer service rep or salesperson on the other end of the chat window answering the questions that you enter. The person will introduce themselves with a human name, and if they don’t have an immediate answer to your question, they will say something like “Give me a moment to check on that.” After some time has passed, the representative will come back with an answer. There are many situations where live chat is needed. Complex questions or issues that require human emotion, empathy or intuition is where a human must step in to preserve customer satisfaction. Human traits like empathy are something a chatbot cannot understand. 

In a chat window, many users will ask “Are you a bot?” If it’s a bot, the response should acknowledge it is a chatbot. If it’s a human, the response will confirm that a human is present.

chatbots and live chat

Customer Engagement Strategy for Chat

The ideal customer engagement strategy is a combination of both live chat and a chatbot. The conversation can begin with a chatbot to answer basic questions, and if the chatbot cannot find an answer, the chatbot redirects the question to a human in a live chat scenario. This combination strategy works well for both the customer service reps and the customers. It gives customers 24/7 access to ask questions and get a response, and it gives humans an opportunity to deal with more complex situations which increases their overall productivity.

As customers are becoming more demanding and expecting service day and night, providing an immediate response gives you a competitive advantage, even if the chatbot cannot perfectly answer the question.

The next time you are visiting a website, engage with the chat window and see how long it takes to figure out if you are talking to a chatbot or a human.

You can quickly create a simple website chatbot. Find out how at Ochatbot. Need help building a chatbot? Our chatbot consulting team is ready to help with your chatbot project. Click here to learn more. 

Greg Ahern
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