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

Providing great customer service is important to any business. However, how you provide that service can vary depending on things like how many customers you interact with, or how many staff members you have.

Chatbots are a particularly useful tool to let a business work more efficiently and effectively. But how are chatbots different to live chat provided by members of staff?

Scaling efficiency

As a business grows and expands, your teams can often find themselves handling more and more customer queries throughout the course of a regular work day.

Over time, this might start to detract from your staff’s other responsibilities and hinder their efficiency. They might handle a particularly busy period of work, which takes them away from answering customer queries and causes leads or other enquiries and tasks to fall through the cracks. In cases like this, potential customers might grow frustrated and look to a competitor to meet their needs instead.

Adding more and more staff to deal with and filter an increased amount of customer queries is often too expensive to be a practical solution. Instead, a chatbot can be a cost-efficient tool for your business that can scale up really well.

Using a chatbot will mean your staff can spend more time on their other duties, while live chat will require one or more of your staff members to dedicate time out of their day to respond to customer queries.

The human element

Because chatbots are automated and can use powerful workflows to identify key trigger words and phrases for your business, many interactions can be completed without a customer having to talk to a member of staff.

When it comes to the difference between live chat and chatbots, the human element, or lack thereof, can be both a positive and a negative.

With live chat, the first point of contact is between a potential customer and a member of staff. From here, the interaction essentially starts from scratch. Staff will collect information to understand how best to handle the customer’s query. They might be able to deal with it then and there, or they could pass the customer on to the most suitable team within the business.

Chatbots collect this information by intelligently reading and analysing what a customer says, and the information can be seamlessly passed on to a member of staff if necessary.

This means that all the useful information will be in place, so that there’s no need to repeat and confirm details that have already been provided. Essentially, the first interaction with a member of staff will proceed much more smoothly, because they already have the relevant information from the potential customer.


With chatbots, there are no time limits on when someone can contact your business. Depending on the nature of their query, they might be able to solve their issue even in the late hours of the evening, such as if they need to update their details, or pay off an invoice.

However, for a really useful middle ground, it’s possible to combine elements of live chat and chatbots to create a more thorough and helpful hybrid tool.

For example, a potential customer might never have used a chatbot before and may struggle to use it effectively.  Or a query might be more complex and could be better handled by a person. In cases like this, it’s important that a member of your team can take over from the chatbot and provide human-led customer service.

Once the team member has finished helping the customer they can then seamlessly pass control back over to the chatbot. The chatbot can then carry on providing assistance to the customer – this could include completing a transaction, or confirming and finalising customer details.

This seamless transition between a chatbot and a staff member means that customers can get the support they need, when they need it without  customer service staff having to spend time on routine processes. This allows them to provide more direct assistance to your customers and work much more efficiently.

24-hour support

One key limitation of live chat support is that it’s often restricted to office hours, with out-of-hours support provided during brief windows, or not at all. Outside of these hours, anyone contacting your business may be out of luck until you re-open.

With chatbots, there are no time limits on when someone can contact your business. Depending on the nature of their query, they might be able to solve their issue even in the late hours of the evening, such as if they need to update their details, or pay off an invoice.

This level of support can be really useful over a long weekend, where your business is closed for 2-3 days. Instead of being inundated with emails and voice messages that each require following up when staff are back in the office, your chatbot can handle some of these queries for you while you’re closed, which can be helpful when it comes to easing staff workflow during the start of each day

How Flow XO’s chatbot services can benefit your business

There’s a lot to consider when thinking about how you can provide exceptional customer service every time. With the right systems in place, you can place yourself firmly above your competitors and become people’s first port of call when they need the services you provide.

To provide that exceptional customer service, a powerful and intelligent chatbot could be just what you need. This is where Flow XO come in.

We provide businesses with powerful chatbot systems that:

  • Integrate cross-platform – With over 100 integrations, we can place chatbots wherever you need them within your organisation
  • Provide intelligent responses – Powerful workflows allow you to create logical, robust systems that meet the needs of both your business and customers
  • Are business ready – Setting up Flow XO is simple, meaning you can get effective chatbot software in place fast with zero coding required

To find out more about how Flow XO could help your business, visit our Flow XO for Chat page.



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