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Human, chatbot or hybrid - which type of chat should you get?

June 10, 2021
June 10, 2021

TLDR: Human chat works well for specialised conversations, chatbots can handle simple FAQs, and hybrid is a blend of both. We look at the pros and cons here.

There are three types of live chat, human, chatbot and hybrid, and what will work best for you depends on your business needs. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look here.

Human chat

What is it?

Human chat means that your site visitors will be able to speak with a real person, whether that be an employee trained from your in-house team or a dedicated outsourced chat agent. Many customers expect personalised, human service that is understanding and empathetic to their issues. With a real person, you can guarantee that will be the case.

Pros of human chat:

  • Provides a personalised, human experience
  • Able to understand complex queries
  • Great choice for sales enablement and capturing leads

Cons of human chat:

  • 12 hours+ coverage per day is expected, meaning it requires a large team
  • Cost is a lot higher
  • Can’t handle as many chats as AI
  • Response times are slower

Who is human chat right for?

Unlike an AI option, humans can understand highly complex queries and talk in detail about anything, which makes them a top choice for many businesses. The downside to human chat is that the ongoing cost required is considerably more, as agents need to be employed or trained, and humans can only handle a few chats at a time.

Human chat is great for everything and is not limited to one area. Not only are they able to deal with complex technical support queries, but humans are also particularly strong when it comes to driving sales and leads, as they have that trustworthy, personal element.

53% of US online adults won’t complete a purchase on-site if they don’t find quick answers right away, so if you’re looking to handle in-depth questions, you need the human touch to represent your brand, or your main goal is to drive sales through your website, human chat is for you.

Chatbot/AI chat

What is it?

A chatbot means that your site visitor will be speaking to artificial intelligence. Chatbots recognise words and phrases, and are programmed to reply with set responses depending on what the user has said. Chatbots have advanced a lot in the last few years, and although they certainly still have limitations, they are now able to handle queries that are more complex than previously.

coding and CSS on laptop screen

Pros of chatbots:

  • Fast response time
  • Lower cost to serve
  • Able to handle unlimited conversations at once
  • Perfect for repetitive enquiries

Cons of chatbots:

  • Unable to handle complex queries
  • Can be repetitive/annoying for customers
  • Lacking a personalised, human touch

Who are chatbots right for?

If you’re considering using a chatbot, it’s important to consider what your business needs are. Bots are versatile and can be used for almost any purpose, but as a general rule, they are better suited to handling simpler queries.

Human chat is typically the first thought when it comes to using chat to enhance your sales experience and drive more ROI, but chatbots are also effective in this area as they can answer last-minute questions, guide customers through the sales process and make product suggestions.

If you are looking to increase the number or quality of leads coming through your website, chatbots can also be used. Bots work particularly well for booking appointments, taking details for viewings, free trials and signing up to receive more information.

Due to the fact you can add many integrations into a chat window, chatbots are a great option for handling routine tasks. Anything from changing an appointment or meeting time, updating information, checking on order status, or any other common queries you get through your website.

Chatbots work well for increasing conversion, but they also shine in customer service. If your business is often approached with simple customer support queries such as checking order status, changing address, finding the closest branch or store, then a chatbot could be a good fit.

Hybrid chat

A hybrid solution can be a great way to blend human and AI and use both on your website. By answering simple enquiries with a chatbot, you can reserve human agents for more complex queries where they can add the most value to your business.

robot shaking hands with human

Pros of hybrid chat:

  • The best of both worlds, efficient at scale and your human team have the time to properly support more complex enquiries

Cons of hybrid chat:

  • Can be complex to get right
  • Requires a higher traffic volume to justify both channels

Who is hybrid chat right for?

Due to the complexity involved in setting up both human and AI chat, hybrid chat is usually best suited to larger businesses. If you are a big business with high website traffic and a good budget to invest in live chat, then you could consider hybrid.

If you have many simple FAQs coming from your site visitors, you can set up a bot to handle these, and have it divert to a human agent if the conversation gets out of its depth, or if the customer wants to talk about a certain topic.

Getting hybrid right for sales takes some very careful thought to ensure every visitor receives a positive experience.

How to decide what is right?

Choosing the right type of chat can be tricky and it requires some analysis of your business needs:

  • What are your goals for chat?
  • What are your customer’s needs with chat?
  • What kind of queries does your team frequently get?
  • What is your budget?

After answering these questions and using the information above, you should be in a better place to understand which type of chat you need.

table pros cons of live chat

Final thoughts

All types of chat have their pros and their cons, but what you require is down to your specific business. If all of this sounds way too complicated and you’re still not sure, or you just want an expert to make a recommendation, get in touch with us.

Read more

What can live chat be used for?

Free vs paid live chat – the pros and cons

Benefits of live chat

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