Live Chat vs AI ChatBot vs Hybrid Chat vs Virtual Assistant

Are you trying to get more sales from your website and checking out the Chat Bot market?

Let’s say you’re thinking to engage with your website visitors in the hope that you turn more of them into paying customers.

What ChatBot platform will you choose for your website and why? Here’s our view on the different types of Chat Platforms available today. We outline the major considerations before you take the leap and trust your brand with a 3rd party customer service tool.

1. Live Chat

2. AI ChatBot

3. Hybrid Chat

4. Virtual Assistant

1. Live Chat

Choose the Live Chat option if being able to communicate directly with your customer base is essential to your business AND you always have someone available to immediately answer any questions that come through for any reason.

Online visitors do not wait more than about 15-20 seconds for a reply and if no reply will often consider your business bad at customer service or at the very least diminish any trust they had. Not only because you took too long to reply but you offered Live Chat and didn’t deliver on that promise.

Being available anytime….means day, night, weekdays, and weekends included. You have people being silly, asking dumb or rude questions, and of course you receive legitimate enquiries as well.  You have to filter and handle all of them by yourself.

Live Chat is most popular for large companies that have a Customer Service or Support team on-hand 24/7 to manage the Live Chat software and respond to every enquiry. With Live Chat software you can assign incoming enquiries to certain Team members or departments and track every piece of communication between the visitor and your company.

Examples: Zendesk, Intercom

2. AI ChatBot

These are usually just called ChatBots but they use artifical intelligence and are either customized or generic.

The average ChatBot uses Cloud Services to machine learn common human dialog but has the limitation of not understanding your business domain, your brand, or your customers.

So you have to pick either an expensive customized AI ChatBot that only knows what you teach it about your business, or a generic AI ChatBot that can offer small talk but then does poorly when asked basic questions about your products and services.

Both the custom and the generic AI ChatBot machine learn, using natural language processing to craft human-like sentences…but they need your help to teach the ChatBot new responses to new questions.

This part becomes tedious, time-consuming, needs constant human intervention or monitoring, and if you change your products or services you have to make updates again.

a) Customized

This is a great choice if selling high-end products, or complicated services such as accommodation.

The AI ChatBot creators have to learn what your most common questions are and write specific answers for each intended question.

You must dedicate time to learn what most of your customers are asking for and then update the dialog scripts as new products or services are addded to your business.

Works great if you have a limited number of products or services but not so good when a visitor asks a question you didn’t anticpate.

This is where visitors can get disappointed in your brand and therefore your business…just because the Bot cannot answer.

Examples: Intercom’s Custom Bot

b) Generic

This AI ChatBot ranges from FREE to $100+ per month.

Almost always the AI ChatBot has what is called a “Smalltalk” or a “Fallback” dialog where they can respond to any question, but it might not be the answer your visitor was expecting.

“Smalltalk” libraries are FREE and appear to make the AI ChatBot more intelligent than they are, yet they still know nothing about your products and services.

The generic AI ChatBot is really good at asking for contact information from visitors, but are less likely to be able to sell anything specific from your website.

Examples: Drift, Olark, Crisp

3. Hybrid Chat

Some Chat Platforms offer both Live Chat and AI ChatBot integrated together and provides a dashboard to communicate with multiple enquiries at the same time.

What happens is the AI ChatBot greets the visitor, attempts to gain their attention, and then passes over to a Live Chat person when the Bot can no longer answer the questions.

With this type of ChatBot you still need a person to be ready to take over with no delay or the Bot will try and take their contact details…just like a Contact Us page does. Works especially well for large corporations with dedicated service and support teams who can take over a conversation and close a sale.

Examples: Intercom, Crisp

4. Virtual Assistant

There is a new more powerful category of Chat Bot appearing on the Internet called the Virtual Assistant that is becoming increasingly popular.

You just drop a Virtual Assistant on your website and immediately visitors can ask about your products and services (we call it “drop ‘n shop”).

This is the latest AI ChatBot on the market that learns about the website content they are hosted on, indexes and searches over the website pages just like Google does, and has access to any resources it can find on the Internet to respond with an accurate answer.

Your Virtual Assistant learns from the content you write on your website so they effectively learn about your business, people, products, and services that you want to share with the world, continuously updating their knowledge base.

These highly engaging Bots are helpful for website visitors, using sales-oriented workflows and business knowledge to capture more enquiries and bookings than Live Chat, AI ChatBot, or Hybrid Chat combined.

Examples: Respondly


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