In an age where texting is more prevalent than telephone calls, and a 5 second wait seems like an eternity, it’s not a surprise that Chatbots and Livechat have become a preferred method of inquiry and support. Particularly for those in the younger generation.

At DesignWorks, we regularly field questions about adding live chat or chatbots to both new website designs and refreshes. While the stats seem clear – approximately 70% of customers purport to prefer messaging over voice for customer support – we believe an analysis of your company’s personality, target audience, and product/service set is necessary to determine which will help drive ROI for your company.

Below is a brief look at chatboxes vs live chat, and where each is of ultimate benefit. To determine which option may be best for your specific company, let’s talk!


A chatbox is an AI-driven software that provides computer-generated answers to user questions.

The most obvious benefit of a chatbox over a call center or live chat is that they can answer questions instantly, 24/7/365. Moving prospects through the sales funnel without relying on human support. At a basic level, they can point people in the right direction, recommend additional resources from your website, or provide consistent answers to questions with keywords or phrases built into their database. They are also more cost effective. Bots can handle an unlimited number of conversations simultaneously – all at the flat cost of the software. Even the best multi-tasker on the other hand can likely only handle a handful of livechat conversations at once.

For companies that typically field routine questions about clear-cut products / services, bots have proven quite successful without live support behind them. Particularly for users actively looking for answers.

The primary challenge with chatbots is that they can only offer answers they are designed to provide, without much nuance. Humans don’t always ask linear, clear questions; but do often expect nuanced answers. This can lead to the irritating moment we’ve all experienced where the chatbot responds incorrectly a number of times and you get frustrated and close out of the website. For companies with complex services/products, this can pose a major challenge.

The good news is, chatbots have begun to evolve. Some more robust options can “handoff” to live support if the conversation goes beyond the bot’s knowledge base. And some are being set up for machine learning (ML) – allowing them to leverage ongoing experiences to independently build their knowledge base to handle increasingly complex interactions.

As AI and ML continue to expand, so too will the benefits and opportunities of standard chatboxes.


Live chat features, on the other hand, bring the human element to the conversation. They are more engaging, which means driving relationships faster, more extended conversations, and flexibility in problem solving. Because of these reasons and more, live chat tends to lead to higher customer service ratings than chatboxes. For companies with complex products / services, or that field a wide variety of more nuanced questions, live chat may provide better ROI.

Isn’t this the same as just having someone email a question, or call into a call center? Not exactly. First, live chat offers nearly immediate response times where there’s often a wait for a representative at a call center, and obvious lag time with email. (Can we just agree, email is the least responsive option?) Second, as we’ve mentioned, in today’s digital world, the vast majority of users prefer messaging over voice. As a society, we’re used to instant … everything. Online consumers are no different. They expect instant responses or are quick to jump to a competitor’s site.

The drawbacks of course are the opposite of a bot – multiple customer service people could provide varying answers for the same questions, and unless you’re running a customer service group 24/7 you will miss users who are online before or after business hours.


While bots and live chat have each proven to move the needle on customer engagement, for most companies exploring these options we would recommend a hybrid approach. The have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too approach can take several different forms depending on the sophistication of the bots you employ.

  • Leverage a chatbot that only picks up outside of business hours, with live chat covering the workday
  • Leverage a chatbot for extra capacity during the day, with live chat working in parallel
  • Leverage a chatbox to pre-screen users in order to get them to the right customer service rep or department, and handoff in-screen

As we stated at the beginning, the level at which you employ either a chatbox or live chat, in addition to your traditional customer service team, should depend on your company’s personality, target audience, and product/service set. But with user preferences trending toward messaging, and patience for wait-times at a minimum, it’s clear that some combination can positively influence customer service ratings and conversions for the majority of companies.

DesignWorks has helped many clients develop chatbot and live chat marketing and sales support strategies, and employ them to live websites. If you’re contemplating the best approach for you company, give us a call today!

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