If you’re in charge of a business’s customer support and sales efforts, you may be asking yourself, “Should I use chatbots or live agents?” Read on to learn why there’s a place for both bots and people in the world of digital customer service.
Live chat has been around in some form or another since the 1970s. And the first chatbot was created in 1966. Despite their long history, neither really became widely used until the late 1990s. Chatbots have seen a boom in innovation and improvements in recent years. Now, their popularity and effectiveness rival that of a real human agent.
But which one is right for your customer support strategy?
What chatbots do best
The #1 reason why businesses use chatbots is time savings. Customers can get their questions answered immediately, and employees don’t have to spend time answering the same questions over and over.
Chatbot technology automates common, simple customer service interactions. Pattern-recognition technology allows bots to recognize what customers are asking. Then, the bot reports the answer from a knowledge base.
Another benefit of chatbots is that they’re available 24/7. Staffing phone or live chat support with human agents is much more expensive than a bot.
Read more: The Complete Chatbot Glossary for Beginners
What chatbots don’t do well
In contrast, there are many areas where chatbots aren’t sufficient. For instance, chatbots often can’t respond adequately to complex questions. Despite sentiment analysis capabilities, they can’t match a real human for emotional intelligence.
Additionally, they tend to have trouble answering complex questions. Their responses may be oversimplified or they may miss the real point of what the customer asked.
Finally, it tends to be obvious when you’re talking to a bot and not a human. When a customer knows they’re talking to a bot, they’re less likely to feel heard. Simply put, bots can’t provide the emotional support that humans can.
The place for live agents
Live agents can be a saving grace when your customer service process is rudimentary at best. Responding to emails a few hours later is not going to cut it when it comes to providing quality service to customers. You want to keep them happy and keep them coming back.
Highly trained agents can roll out the red-carpet brand experience for your customers. By treating them with empathy, compassion, and patience, your team demonstrates you genuinely care and want to help. Using agents that are experts in their fields ensures your customers will walk away content.
And, it’s what consumers expect. 46% of customers prefer live chat compared to just 29% for email, and 16% for social media. Give the people what they want!
So, should I choose chatbots or live agents?
As you can tell, there’s no one right answer. Evaluate what your needs are and what your customers want.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- How complex are the questions my customers ask?
- What’s my budget?
- How much time does my staff currently spend on customer support?
- What’s the ideal customer experience for my business?
Once you’ve thought these through, choose between chatbots or live agents, or both. Even once you implement an option, continually evaluate it to make sure it’s working for you.
Related: Three Steps to a Winning Live Chat Experience