The use of live chat software can be pretty demanding for freshly established startups. Sometimes, you can’t afford real-time support 24/7. And even if you can, you still may not be familiar with the best support practice.
To prevent frustrations and increase customer retention, some startups decide to use chatbots instead of live chat. Chatbots are considered a popular solution when it comes to increasing live support time-efficiency. That’s because they provide instant, automatic responses to customers’ requests.
But we can’t help but wonder if a chatbot can completely replace live chat support.
Is it possible to achieve customer satisfaction by completely excluding the human factor from the support system?
In this article, we’re discussing both the benefits and disadvantages of live chat software and chatbot implementation to check which tool has the potential of providing better results. Read on the chatbot vs. live chat discussion below and find out if your startup should rely on live chat software or a chatbot.
Benefits of Live Chat Software for Startup Business
Live chat software has become an incredibly popular support solution for a reason. If you implement this tool in the right way, you get to enjoy its numerous advantages. Apart from letting you communicate with customers effortlessly, if used wisely, it can also help you increase customer retention and conversion rate. In short, a complete bonus package for any startup owner.
So, what are the essential qualities of live chat support?
#1 Real-Time Interaction
Having in mind that the average wait time in 2018 was 48 seconds, it’s pretty clear why customers consider live chat as the most convenient support system. It lets them communicate with your business time-efficiently, reducing their frustrations caused by slow responses.
#2 Simultaneous Interactions
Not only does live chat software reduces individual customers’ frustrations, but it also lets you attend to several customers at a time. This way, you’re also increasing your agents’ efficiency, speeding up the customer service.
#3 The Convenience of Messaging
Owing to a simple messaging system that doesn’t require direct contact yet provides the fastest responses, live chat is a favourite support system for 41% of customers. They get the feedback in just a couple of minutes, avoiding long wait time typical for call centres and email support.
This way, you’re practically offering easily accessible support wherever your customers are. And they can reach out to you even using their mobile devices.
Benefits of Chatbots for Startup Business
The artificial intelligence keeps bringing incredible improvements to the modern market, and chatbots are the part of it that’s completely changing the ways of providing customer support.
However, the truth is, several businesses still feel insecure and sceptical when it comes to automating the support system. It is predicted that by 2020, 85% of customers’ requests will be handled by support centres that won’t have any human agents.
But what do chatbots provide to your startup customer service?
#1 Automates & Provides Speedy Feedback
We’re all aware that customer service consists of numerous repetitive tasks. Chatbots give the agents a chance to use their time for more complex issues, while the automated system handles frequently asked questions and simpler customers’ requests. Besides, chatbots provide fast responses which keep the customers satisfied.
#2 24/7 Support Without Agents
Chatbots help you provide necessary support 24/7 without investing in hiring agents. This means that you get decent cost-effective customer service as long as your customers don’t have too complicated requests for chatbots.
#3 Increases Proactivity
There are chances where live chat agents may not have enough time to interact with each of your website visitors proactively. In such situations, chatbots may be the perfect way of showing all of your customers you’re available for their questions. All you have to do is set them up to initiate communication with every new visitor.
Chatbot vs. Live Chat Software: Pros & Cons for Startup Business
Each of these support systems certainly come with their advantages. But it’s difficult to realize which solution is better for your startup if you don’t contrast their performance. That’s why we’re now presenting you a contrastive analysis of results that both chatbots and live chat software provider in terms of different support aspects.
I. Response Speed
On the one hand, chatbots represent an incredible support solution if your primary concern is the feedback speed. Chatbots offer a reply within a couple of seconds, and it can also deal with more straightforward requests that your customers may have, providing accurate and precise answers.
But, businesses whose customers don’t mind waiting a bit longer to get a comprehensive, personalized, and human-like response may consider implementing live chat.
So, if the products and services you offer are highly customizable and their personalization impacts customer experience, you should consider hiring live chat agents. This way, they can easily communicate and explain any aspect of your purchase that your chatbot may not be able to handle.
Finally, don’t forget that 95% of customers don’t mind waiting a bit longer if that means that they will get clear and precise feedback that solves their issue.
II. Affordability And Cost-Effectiveness
Depending on your choice of software, chatbot implementation may require significantly less money than the use of live chat, as chatbots only require a one-time investment. Introducing live support, not only do you decide to invest in customer service support software but you also invest in hiring agents. Accordingly, chatbots may save you the money you’d otherwise spend on extra salaries, agent training, and other operational tasks.
However, the fact that you have to provide salaries to your support employees and invest in other aspects of support doesn’t necessarily mean that live chat is not cost-effective. As a matter of fact, 22% of businesses claim to achieve a revenue increase of up to 10% using live chat. Besides, people who reach out to live support are 85% more likely to make a purchase.
So, if you’re looking for a solution that requires lower financial investment, you may want to implement a chatbot system. But if you want a cost-effective solution, in the long run, you should consider live chat software as it provides a more detailed and reliable support system having in mind it is based on the human factor.
III. Impact On Quality Of Communication
While technology based on artificial intelligence may facilitate the support process, chatbots are still incapable of delivering support like a well-trained live chat agent. And customers still prefer talking to actual people that show understanding and empathy as they address customers’ requests.
Besides, depending on the quality of the chatbot system, this AI-based solution may have trouble identifying your customers’ questions and requests. This may lead to increased frustrations and, therefore, decreased customer retention rate.
So, it is not surprising that well-developed live chat software used by skilled agents provides a higher quality of communication as it creates a natural conversational ambience and increased possibilities of personalization. And customers prefer personalized experience to automated generic content that has little to do with their specific requests.
IV. Handling Simple Requests
Chatbots are a perfectly acceptable support solution when it comes to customers’ simple requests and tasks that can be automated. Not only do they provide ready-made answers in no time, but they’re also capable of handling an endless number of requests at a time.
Accordingly, if your startup is more likely to receive simple questions that can be addressed without the human factor, you may decide to introduce the chatbot system. This way, you’ll eliminate both the costs of hiring live chat agents as well as having them reply to the same questions all the time.
V. Handling Complex Requests
When it comes to complex requests, if you use a chatbot-based support system, you may experience several types of problems.
First of all, your chatbot may be completely unable to understand what your customer’s request is.
Secondly, it may also understand the question partially and provide the information that’s inaccurate or simply not adequate.
Thirdly, it may provide too generic feedback that won’t be helpful to your customers.
No matter which of these issues you experience, they will all become serious obstacles if you want to achieve customer satisfaction.
Provided that you have a well-trained agent with a decent knowledge base, live chat software will help you handle complex requests with minimal effort. Depending on the complexity of customers’ requests, agents can decide if they are going to:
- Direct customers to the relevant section of frequently asked questions,
- Consult knowledge base and help them solve the issue in a couple of messages,
- Start a co-browsing session and provide visual help to customers’ requests.
Live chat provides a diversity of ways of solving complex issues while chatbot doesn’t seem to fit in this kind of support scenario.
Chatbot vs. Live Chat Software – Who Wins?
As you can see, small businesses dealing mostly with simple and generic questions and requests tend to opt for a chatbot as an affordable yet useful support system. However, more developed businesses with a more significant number of customers usually cannot imagine their interaction with customers without customer service support software and professional agent.
In terms of responsivity, a chatbot may be a better solution as it provides faster responses. Additionally, it’s an excellent option for those startups that need an on-site support system but still are not ready to invest in live chat support.
However, if your main concern is long-term cost-effectiveness, you may want to implement live chat.
Recommended Read: Top 6 Reasons: Why Businesses Go for Chatbots
On the one hand, even though a chatbot requires only a single investment, its drawbacks may cause you troubles with customers. Practically speaking, with a chatbot, you have to confront the risk of misunderstanding and increasing customers’ frustrations owed to poor and inadequate responses. On the other hand, live chat may require additional investments (employee training and salary, software purchase, etc.), but it will let you build a more stable and reliable support system.
When it comes to the quality of communication and customers’ preferences, there’s no wonder why live chat still makes a better choice than artificial intelligence. Human agents provide the essential conversational aspects that AI-based solutions lack.
Primarily, we’re referring to a genuinely pleasant and friendly vibe, personalized customer experience, and empathetic approach. All these aspects help customers overcome their issues in a stress-free way, even if the process lasts a bit longer.
Summing Up: Why Not Both
Even though it seems like live chat software has better chances of providing reliable, thorough, and efficient support in the long run, this doesn’t mean that you should forget about chatbots. They can also get an important place in your startup support system as they can help you take your live chat software to a higher level.
Combining live chat support with chatbot’s AI-based mechanism, you’ll get the most out of both tools. On the one hand, you’ll have the simpler customers’ requests solved faster and easier, without overloading your agents. On the other hand, the agents will have more time to focus on more complex customers’ issues and therefore, they will be solving them with increased efficiency. And your customers will appreciate it.