Conversational AI vs Chatbot vs Live Chat: Is there a difference?

This blog outlines the definitions of conversational AI, chatbot & live chat, including their differences, so you can decide which is best for your business.


Yes! There sure is. And you should be well aware of the nuances before deciding which of these customer service solutions is the best one for your organisation, contact centre or business. Chatbots, whether in their more evolved, conversational format or live chat (the actual human kind), are all forms of customer-facing interactions which must be implemented with great care and consideration for your brand and the objectives of your business. In this blog, we outline the basic definition of each and guide you towards the vital question: How does your business want to chat to customers?  

What is live chat?

Live chat is a super important part of your contact centre’s customer service delivery –– it’s where the customer is speaking (or typing ) to a human. We mention this first because it’s the most common interaction that customers are accustomed to. Live chat doesn’t require the users to download any software. Much like a standard chatbot interface, a live chat messenger app will pop up as a small widget on the screen, inviting the customer to initiate conversation with an agent – these prompts are usually carried out by a standard chatbot (see below). 

Customers can type text and attach files the agent may request to see. This facilitates quick, real-time resolutions without waiting for emails to ping back and forth or make return calls. The operator will have access to a CRM, pre-prepared responses and all the tools they need to assist the customer effectively.


What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is a programmed AI that simulates human conversation. This can be done through voice or text. These days, chatbots can be as sophisticated or as rudimentary as you like, but ideally, they should be able to serve the audience they’re built to assist – engagement being a key metric they’re measured on (read more about this here). When building your chatbot, you’ll select a natural language processing engine that allows the chatbot to make basic targeted conversations that reply based on a specific script. Chatbots can greet visitors on your website, gather preliminary information about the customer’s query, and route them through to the best department or agent capable of taking over the conversation in a live chat. Rule-driven chatbots rely on a programmed workflow, limiting them to a single sequence of actions and conversational capabilities. 


What is conversational AI? 

Conversational AI is another level up from the standard chatbot. It actively learns and becomes smarter so that it provides an enhanced experience to the customer.  AI-driven bots utilise natural language processing (NLP) to understand what the user is asking or looking for. They’re continuously learning so that they can improve their conversations and become better and mimicking human dialogue in a meaningful way. The goal is to integrate your conversational chatbot into other operational business systems so that the bot can give an end-to-end customer service experience without human intervention – you may be surprised to learn that chatbots already handle  68.9% of chats from beginning to end. Unlike chatbots, conversational AI aims to be immersive and experiential, making the customer feel as though they’re having a human conversation.


How does your business want to chat to customers?

Speaking to a human is always great; many customers enjoy some friendly natter while getting their queries resolved. But not all customers have the luxury to sit on the phone. Plus, it doesn’t make good business sense to employ a tonne of call centre agents for the purpose of answering common questions ––their time is better used on more complex queries, and, in many instances, customers are happy to self-serve (on their own terms and in their own time). That’s where chatbots and conversational AI come in. You see, with the help of natural language processing, friendly natter isn’t strictly reserved for humans. Conversational chatbots act as virtual assistants that offer more flexibility and personalisation to the user, helping to reinforce the positive customer experience you strive for. 

Does your client have an FAQ? Your chatbot can tap into your knowledge base and direct the querent to the right answer. Do you operate a global business that caters to different time zones? Your conversational chatbot can assist your clients when the humans are asleep or gather enough information to equip the agent with the best solution when they call back the following day. 
Of course, there will be situations where the chatbot can’t provide the ultimate solution to the customer, but they can lead them through the part of the customer journey that’s perhaps repetitive or cumbersome for the call agent. Once the identification questions are out of the way using automated workflows, an agent can take over in a live chat. This truly optimises your approach to customer service, offloading much of the stress that call centre agents experience when high volumes of queries arise and ensuring that customers are immediately assisted and put in a queue to the correct person.


Integrating chatbots into your CX delivery - it's not as complicated as you think

If your bot successfully handles 50% of your queries, you’ve potentially gained 50% back in agent time and operating costs. You’ve also created a satisfied customer who’s potentially very pleased with the efficiency of your business and willing to return, time and time again. 


Want to know how chatbots can improve your contact centre’s efficiency, then please feel free to contact us.

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