Live Web Chat VS Chatbots: Key Differences!

Incorporating chat is a great way to make your website more engaging and interactive. But beware: not all chat solutions are created equal.

Chat solutions are split into two main categories: chatbots and live web chat. They might be in the vicinity of each other, but their use cases, capabilities and benefits are very different.

With so much debate happening around both of these solutions, we thought it would be useful to simplify things a little bit.

In this video, we’ve broken down some of the key differences between chatbots and web chat, typical use cases, the pros and cons and how you can tell which is going to be better for your business.

Read our Ultimate Guide to Live Web Chat and Chatbots here to explore this in more depth:


Chat solutions are a great way to make your website more interactive and engaging, but not all chat solutions are created equal.

1. Web Chat is Human-powered

Web chat is a web-based communications feature which uses WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) to allow agents to have conversations with customers through a website. It’s designed to enable human to human conversation and is a communication channel which can be used for direct customer support.

Chatbots are robots which have been built to answer questions on a website. They are either AI powered or use decision trees to answer questions.

2. Web Chat is Better for in-depth, meaningful conversations

The human-powered nature of web chat means that customers can have a real conversation with the agent. This is particularly useful:

• If your company’s products are expensive, complex or require a high degree of deliberation
• If you need to deliver specific or personalised support
• When creating a virtual in-store experience

Chatbots can’t have proper, human conversations with customers (particularly if they are decision-tree based), so they are better suited to answer FAQs and simple queries.

Web chat also offers the ability to escalate conversations to voice, video, or cobrowsing sessions when required. Crucially, because the chat is already taking place between two people, the customer doesn’t need to wait in a hold queue.

4. Fast vs Immediate Responses

Web chat offers customers fast, considered and helpful responses. The agent can make use of canned messages where appropriate to make responses even faster, too. Provided the chatbot understands the query, their responses are immediately. Naturally, they will be faster than humans because they don’t need to think, type or spell check.

5. Customer relationship vs Quick support tool

Web chat helps to build customer relationships. People like to speak with people, and being able to showcase the human side of your company whilst delivering high quality support improves customer loyalty and drives conversions. On the other hand, chatbots functionality is better suited to fast, high level support. This can help alleviate pressure on customer service teams, so that they can focus on offering more in depth support to those who need it.

6. Web chat is mostly reactive, but chatbots are likely to be proactive

Web chat is fundamentally a reactive customer contact channel, which means that the customer has to initiate the chat in order for it to take place. Having said that, it is common for companies who offer web chat to encourage customers to begin conversations through nudges or prompts, which can pop up for a number of reasons, such as time on web page or if they are a returning customer.

Chatbots are more likely to be proactive on the webpage than web chat. This means that the bot can start a conversation without the customer initiating it. But beware: despite proactive chat increasing overall chat numbers, it should be used with caution to not come across as invasive to the customer journey.

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