Chatbot vs. Live Chat: Which is better for customer service?

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We all know that keeping customers happy is the backbone of customer service.

Chatbots are becoming increasingly popular as a way for businesses to answer customer queries, but can they really take the place of a real person? 

In reality, both live chat and chatbots have their own unique features and strengths; what works for you will depend on your business requirements. 

Stick around, and I’ll explain the pros and cons of each option to help you figure out which will best suit your customers’ needs

Key Takeaways

Live chat and chatbots are both popular options for customer service, but there are a few key differences to consider when making your choice:

  • Availability: Chatbots can be available 24/7, while live chat is limited to when your customer service agents are working.
  • Complex queries: The human agents working the live chat are ideal for handling complicated or unusual requests from customers, while chatbots are best for responding to common queries or concerns.
  • Cost: Chatbots are cheaper than human employees and highly scalable; it’s far easier to cope with sudden influxes of queries with a chatbot than with a live chat team.
  • Why not both?: Combining both live chat and chatbots is a great way to get the best of both worlds; a chatbot can answer simple queries and escalate the conversation to an agent if it gets too complicated.


So, what are chatbots? In a nutshell, chatbots are software that uses AI to sound like humans and respond to user questions. 

They’re particularly popular in the world of e-commerce, allowing companies to instantly respond to and engage with customers. 

Good chatbots can mimic the conversational style of real humans, but with the ability to respond to many queries at once.

Examples of chatbots

Chatbots are great for taking care of frequently asked customer queries and addressing issues that come up relatively often:

  • JennyBot: JennyBot is used for customer service, and can provide extremely fast responses to customer questions. The chatbot is estimated to be able to solve more than 90% of customer queries.
  • Sendbird: Another great example of a customer service bot, Sendbird is designed to work alongside human agents to take care of simple queries and save your live chat team time.

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Live Chat

In contrast to chatbots, live chat has a real person behind the screen.

It gives customers direct access to a member of your customer service team, who can provide personalized and adaptive responses to their queries.

Examples of live chat software

Live chat is best used in cases where customers have complex issues that a chatbot would not be able to solve.

These are a couple of my favorite live chat software options:

  • Zendesk: Zendesk offers 24-hour support from real people who can work to solve customer issues
  • Intercom: This software aims to help your clients as soon as they need help with purchasing your product, helping to increase sales and boost ROI.

LiveChat is a complete customer service platform that delights your customers and fuels your sales.

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What’s the difference between a chatbot and live chat?

ChatbotLive chat
Responses are automatedReal human behind the response
Available 24/7Subject to human working hours
Limited personalization and complex problem-solvingHighly personalized, able to solve unusual customer service requests
Can respond to many queries simultaneouslyCan usually only respond to about 3 or 4 chats at a time

Pros & Cons

Learn about the pros and cons of both chatbots and live chat to see which one would work better for your business needss.



Available 24/7

Very affordable

Easily scalable

Instant replies to the majority of queries


Customers can find a chatbot impersonal

Can struggle with complex customer queries

Live Chat


24/7 support

Personalized responses

Integrates with CRM

Solves customer problems faster


Limited to staff availability

Difficult to scale

How to choose between a Chatbot and Live Chat

Choosing between a chatbot or live chat comes down to your needs.

  • What are you looking for and what does your company value?
  • Are your most important requirements cost savings and round-the-clock support? 
  • Are most of your customer queries relatively simplistic, or are they often nuanced and complicated?
  • What is your budget, and what do your customer support staffing levels look like? 

All of these questions need to be considered to reach a decision that’s right for your business.

Chatbot vs. Live Chat: Which one is better for me?

Hey, well done for making it to the end of my article on chatbot vs. live chat.

It’s a pretty complex issue, but hopefully, you now have the information you need to make a decision for your business. 

Choose a chatbot if: You’re handling a high volume of relatively simple queries, you need round-the-clock availability, and you’re trying to cut costs. 

Choose live chat if: Personalized customer service is your priority. It’s also best if your customer queries are often complicated or unusual, and you have the resources to provide sufficient in-person customer support.


Can you use chatbots and live chats together?

Absolutely. In fact, I highly recommend it! Chatbots can be used to deal with the more common queries, and they can pass the conversation to a human agent if unable to solve the problem.

Are chatbots accurate?

This depends on their training, but they’re generally accurate for routine inquiries.

Is live chat proven to improve customer support?

Yes, it has! Studies have found live chat that is responsive to the needs of the customer can improve customer satisfaction, and boost how they perceive the business.

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Donny is the founder of SMB Guide. He is a seasoned small business owner and entrepreneur, with over 17+ years of experience growing and building companies. He is a well traveled and multi-faceted individual with several successful six figure business exits.