Live Chat VS. Chatbots: The Pros & Cons of Each

Live chat and chatbots are slowly taking over websites. And for good reason.

Geared toward the younger generation, both live chat and chatbots create a unique customer experience for users who don't want to call up a company or send them an email with a question or concern.

How are chatbots and live chat different?

Live chat is a function on your website that allows users to connect with a sales rep or other employee from your company immediately.

chatbot is an automated system of communication with users. By building out chatbot flow and if/then logic, a chatbot can answer questions, send users to specific pages on your site, or qualify them before sending them to an employee for further discussion. 

But, have you ever considered the pros and cons of each? In what ways is one better than the other?

Here are the pros and cons of live chat and chatbots on your business's website.

The Pros and Cons of Live Chat

Pro: Customers Receive the Instant Gratification They Want.

An Econsultancy article found that 79% of customers say they prefer live chat over other channels (e.g., email, phone calls) because of the immediacy it offers. Because of this, customers are more likely to head to your website to connect with an employee about questions or inquiries they may have.

Have you ever really enjoyed those 25 minutes on hold with scratchy elevator music blaring into the phone? I didn’t think so.

Con: Customers Have to Wait For an Agent to Come Online.

Although live chat offers real-time connection with a business, someone from your team has to accept the chat. Therefore, depending on the time a user sends a message over live chat, they may have to wait.

Various time zones and after work hours could leave someone waiting hours (even days, if on the weekend) for a response. This contributes to a com

mon pain point — 24% of consumers says their biggest frustration is long wait times.

Pro: It Can Boost Retention.

An Emarketer statistic shows that 63% of customers were more likely to return to a business website that had a live chat function.

People enjoy positive experiences, and they love sharing it — 29% of consumers have told others about a positive live chat experience. Live chat can encourage positive experiences if your team members are able to effectively answer questions or guide users in the right direction. More likely than not, they’ll come back for more.

Pro: Live Chat Can Boost Customer Loyalty.

Branching off of the pro above, 51% of consumers are more likely to stay with a company or buy from them again if their website offers live chat. Happy customers like happy experiences and might even buy from you again.

Con: Having to Monitor Live Chat Can Take Valuable Time Away From Day-to-Day Business.

Unfortunately, not everyone seems to understand the purpose of live chat. Businesses have received “hello” messages and other random messages that rarely relate to their business products or services.

Live chat is not useful when it takes time out of your employees’ day to answer unnecessary questions. You don't want your live chat to become counterproductive for your team. 

The Pros and Cons of Chatbots

Pro: They Work 24/7.

Unlike live chat, where an agent has to be online to chat with a customer, chatbots work all hours of the day. Chatbots don’t have lunch breaks or 9 to 5 work hours. They’re designed to answer the common questions a user visiting your website might have whenever they might have them.

Pro: They’re Fast, Accurate, and Customizable.

Chatbots can respond within seconds of a message. When you design your chatbot logic out, build out the answers to common questions. If you are using a more robust chatbot feature, like HubSpot’s chatbot, you can customize your chat bot however you like – from colors and appearance to the if/then logic of how your bot functions.

Con: Customers Could Get Frustrated.

If a customer is looking to speak with a rep from your company, they may get frustrated with an automated response of a chatbot. Because a chatbot only functions within the realms of its design – with specific if/then logic and flow – it may not properly answer questions or send people to the right place.

Luckily, some chatbot softwares, including HubSpot’s, can add the option to speak immediately to an employee, eliminating the need for bot functionality.

Pro: If Designed Correctly, Chatbots Can Qualify Leads.

Some chatbots can be uniquely created to qualify leads before directing customers to a rep. With this capability, your employees don’t have to stress about talking to customers who aren’t a right fit for your company’s services.

Con: They Aren’t Suitable For Every Business.

Unfortunately, chatbots aren't best suited for every business and every industry. If your services are too robust or require thorough consultations, a chatbot probably won't benefit your website functionality or lead-qualifying efforts.

Use Live Chat and Chatbots Together for a Unique Customer Experience

A best approach to using live chat and chatbots is to use them both.

Place chatbots on webpages that are more general and where customers might have general questions. For example, you can use chatbots on your blog page to share other relevant blog content based on what viewers are currently reading.

Use chatbots as a lead-qualifying method before sending customers to a live chat conversation with a rep. With this, your sales reps will have a better understanding of who they are talking to before they even talk to them.

Utilize live chat features on other parts of your website that might require more in-depth conversations between a prospect and your sales team, such as your services tab. With live chat, it'll be easier to tailor a conversation to the specific person interested in one of your services.

Understanding the pros and cons of both of these functions will give you better insight as to which is best for your business. Better yet, find ways to use both to boost your brand loyalty, provide valuable information and answers, and identify qualified leads to nurture into customers.