Chatbot or human: Which is better for your business?

03 Dec Chatbot or chat operator: Does AI chat beat human agents?

When James Cameron reboots the “Terminator” franchise chances are the films won’t focus on whether a chatbot or chat operator is a more effective business representative. However, the world needs a hero to take up this challenge like it needed John Connor to save the human race from Skynet.

We’re prepared to be that hero.

Artificial intelligence is in the news nearly every day. Typically it’s regarding statements made by Elon Musk or robots designed to assist humans. However, people are probably already interacting with one form of artificial intelligence all the time: chatbots. These bots are popping up everywhere. In fact, Facebook recently introduced bots to its own messaging platform. Of course, those chatbots ended up creating their own language leading to some overblown speculation about the beginning of the apocalypse.

No, the artificial intelligence-driven computer chatting with you through your computer or phone isn’t about to take over the world. However, this sort of service is set to appear on more websites in the near future. The question is: Are they outperforming their human counterparts?

Bots can juggle multiple chats at once. But when one chat gets too complex AI may not do the trick.

Bots can juggle multiple chats at once. But when one chat gets too complex AI may not do the trick.

Buying into bots

As with everything, there are pros and cons to both chatbots and human chat operators. Whether you should go with a real live chat agent or an AI-fueled bot really depends on your needs. Chatbots offer a number of advantages over having your employees handle incoming chats:

  • 24/7 availability: Unlike your employees, robots don’t sleep. And while they’re not dreaming of electric sheep they’re taking chats from your website visitors. Around-the-clock availability ensures your business isn’t missing late-night -or weekend leads. Consumers expect businesses to be available 24/7 and chatbots can make that accessibility easier for your business to manage.
  • Response time: Chatbots think fast. Intelligent automation makes them capable of quickly churning out answers to your customers’ questions.
  • Multitasking: Have you ever tried to hold ten different conversations at once? It’s hard to do – at least, it’d hard for a human to accomplish. A robot can talk to ten people simultaneously without issue. No matter how busy your site gets robots will be able to take incoming chats.

Humans like talking to humans

As great as these advantages are, robots aren’t perfect. And many people simply don’t trust them. In fact, when reaching out to a brand for assistance 57 percent of consumers would prefer to talk to a human, according to a Hubspot survey. People want to talk to other people – it’s natural. It’s one of the advantages live, industry-trained chat agents hold over chatbots.

  • Humans like humans: One thing most people share with Will Smith is a general distrust of robots. While people are generally fine chatting with bots, they’re likely to prefer a live person, as the Hubspot data indicates. Data released by Mindshare affirms the fact that people aren’t willing to place all their trust in AI just yet. In response to a question about chatbots pretending to be human, 48 percent of respondents to a Mindshare survey indicated it would be “creepy.” In addition to that, 61 percent of people polled stated they’d be more frustrated by a chatbot failing to answer their question than a human. And 79 percent said that if they were talking with a chatbot they’d need to know that a human could step in and take over if needed.
  • The human brain is different: People don’t have trust in a chatbot’s ability to process a complex request. Only 26 percent of respondents to the Hubspot survey indicated they’d be open to a chatbot assisting with a complex request. It goes beyond complicated questions, though. A human can empathize with a prospect’s wants or needs. That sort of connection goes a long way toward building a warm relationship between brand and prospect.
  • ‘My rof is leaking, can you help?’: Despite the spelling error, it’s pretty clear what the question is stating: The individual has a leaky roof and is looking for help fixing it. However, a chatbot might not pick up on that because of the spelling error. It’s like throwing a pebble in a machine’s gears and watching them grind to a halt. Sometimes a small, seemingly inconsequential mistake can force a chatbot to direct the conversation to a live representative.


Chatbot or chat operator … or the best of both worlds

Both human live chat agents and chatbots hold distinct advantages and disadvantages. However, there are ways to work around those disadvantages or combine their advantages to the benefit of your business. For example, rather than having your employees man live chats you can employ a team of live chat operators available around the clock. This can reduce response time and eliminate the 24/7 advantage chatbots hold over your employees.

Some live chat solutions can combine the power of bots with the trustworthiness of humans. For example, a chatbot can begin the conversation by collecting some basic information such as name and phone number. Then a human chat representative can step in for the more complex aspects of the conversation. Typically you’ll find that a chat provider offers one or the other: Bots or humans. However, as artificial intelligence grows increasingly pervasive you can expect more live-agent chat companies to work chatbots into the experience.

Whether you’re trying to figure out live chat pricing or deciding between chatbots or chat agents, live chat can be confusing. The one thing that’s certain is once you choose the solution that fits your needs your web visitors will be happy to chat.

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