What’s the difference between chatbots and live chat?
Live chat offers website owners the chance to have direct live chats with every visitor that arrives on their website. Typically, there is someone ‘manning’ the chat at the client end, who can instantly respond to any question asked by the visitor.
Chatbots potentially remove at least part of that manual, real person, intervention by automatically responding to website visitors. They can ask questions based on the page the visitor is on, offer semi-smart suggestions to questions asked by visitors, and can redirect the chat to a real person if required.
Both live chat and chatbots generally appear as small coloured icons in the bottom right corner of the screen when visiting a website. Visitors will either click on the icon to start a conversation, or the chat will automatically introduce itself to the visitor a few seconds after the page has loaded.
There is a range of chatbot solutions available for WordPress, including:
Various CRM solutions also offer chatbot options (e.g. Agile CRM, Hubspot).
Find more chatbot platforms by Googling something like ‘WordPress live chat platforms’.
All are easy to install on your website, either by using a plugin or by inserting some script code directly into your site. The difficult bit with chatbots is styling them to look like they are part of your website and actually building in the functionality (asking the right questions, handing them off to the right human agent, etc.).
Live chat Options
The following is a list of the more popular WordPress live chat platforms:
Zopim (now Zendesk Chat)
Live chat platforms are easy to set up and try out. So you could switch between a few to see which works best for you. Like chatbots, you usually have to sign up to the service externally. They will then give you some code to install on the website (or point you to a plugin that does it).
Do you need a Chatbot or Live Chat on your website?
I’m not a great fan of chatbots and live chat. If you get a lot of traffic and are in front of your computer (or accessible on a smartphone) for most of the day, then live chat can be good. But if you cannot respond quickly to a chat when it starts, it can work against you. Chatbots can be good if you get a lot of website traffic and are constantly fielding the same types of questions when visitors call in or email you (e.g. ‘Do you offer a free trial?’). They can also be good for technical support desks.
Both live chat and chatbots are generally easy to install on a website, and often have free trial periods. Even when going for a paid version, they are rarely prohibitively expensive. The real cost is in employing someone to handle the live chats. Even if you assign an existing member of staff to do it, the risk is that they will be constantly distracted from doing other things to respond to visitor questions.
So, you could easily set up a low/no-cost trial period to see if it will work for your business.