AI Chat vs Live Chat Agents: Which is Right for You

AI Chat vs Live Chat Agents

Providing good customer service isn’t easy, especially now that people have come to expect 24-hour service. Deploying chatbots seems like a good way to field those odd out-of-hours inquiries and help you lighten the load on busy agents, but can AI chatbots offer the quality of service that your customers deserve?

There are pros and cons to both AI and live chat agents, and some businesses even employ both depending on the situation. To make an informed decision, it’s helpful to understand the unique characteristics of each type of service.

Live Chats

Live chats staffed by real customer service agents have been the backbone of online customer service for many years. Even relatively small brands often have a chat widget on their websites that directs queries to a customer service team. The first available human agent is assigned the query and answers the question.

Live chats can be an effective way of handling customer questions, but there are limits to how many queries each customer service agent can handle. In addition, if you’re hoping to offer 24-hour service, you’ll need agents available outside of office hours.

The Pros of Live Chats

The Cons of Live Chats


Chatbots are often referred to as AI chats, and to the average person, they certainly seem intelligent. However, the chatbots we’re using today often aren’t true AI. They’re large language models that ingest massive amounts of data and combine that with natural language processing algorithms to offer human-like responses to customer queries.

While machine learning is incredibly impressive and can offer rapid response times and surprisingly accurate answers to questions that fall within the realms of the dataset they’re trained on, chatbots do have limitations. Virtual assistants can be good at answering simple, repetitive queries, such as “Has my order been dispatched yet?” or “Can I cancel my reservation and get an automatic refund?” However, they often fall down on complex queries. 

The general public is getting more comfortable with customer service chatbots, but people are still quick to express frustration if an automated system doesn’t understand their needs. Companies that employ chatbots should think carefully about how they’ll pass on queries to live agents if the chatbot cannot resolve them quickly.

The Pros of Chatbots

The Cons of Chatbots

Choosing Between Live Chat Agents and AI Chatbots

If you’re considering making some changes to how you offer chat functionality on your website or social media profiles, put your customers first. 

Think about the type of customer questions you typically receive and the volume of queries that come in. Remember, your customers want to get their queries answered as quickly as possible — and ideally have them resolved on the first contact. This is especially important in highly specialized industries that require more steps to qualify leads.

If the only option for customer engagement you have right now is the telephone, outsourcing live chat as an additional option could greatly reduce customer waiting times. Chatbots can handle queries even more quickly but at the expense of accuracy and personalization.

Interested in learning more about live chat agents for your website? Request a demo today.