What's the Difference Between Live, Automated, and Hybrid Chat?


Many people refer to all types of webchat as "live chat", which is slightly misleading. Live chat, automated chat, and hybrid chat aren't interchangeable terms. This short post explains the difference between the three types and how to know which one works best for your business.

What is live chat?

Humans manage live chat in real-time with no intervention from automated chatbots. This type of chat works best for businesses that employ one or more agents to respond to every message.

difference between live chat and automated chat

Live chat allows your customers to communicate with your team using their preferred platform: instant messaging. It combines the convenience of texting with the personal touch of a human customer service agent.

While live chat is a top choice for both customer satisfaction and preferences, it has its disadvantages. To successfully manage live chat, an agent must be standing by 24/7. What happens if your customer sends a message out-of-hours and you don't respond?

Simple. They'll find a competitor who will.

What is automated chat?

Chatbots manage automated chat with no intervention from humans. This type of chat works best for tasks that are better handled through automation. A few examples include:

  • Qualifying leads
  • Scheduling appointments
  • Answering frequently asked questions about pricing and opening hours

Automated chat is available 24/7, replies instantly, and never leaves customers on read. It can also manage unlimited chats at once without getting tired or needing a lunch break.

However, businesses using 100% automated chat must choose a sophisticated program that's capable of handling most queries. As we've seen in another post, chatbots are evolving every day, but they won't be ready to replace humans anytime soon.

What is hybrid chat?

As its name suggests, hybrid chat combines live and automated chat. Here's what that looks like.

Let's say you run a local plumbing business. A customer starts a chat on your website. You and your team members are notified instantly. The chatbot is handling the conversation just fine, but then the customer says they want to speak to one of your technicians. Your team receives another notification, and one of your technicians jumps in right away to chat with the customer.

That pretty much sums it up. And if your business is closed, the bot can reassure the customer that someone will be with them as soon as possible.

How to know which type of webchat works best for your business

which type of web chat works best for your business

With so many webchat software platforms out there, it can be hard to know which option works best for your business.

Live chat might work best if...

  • You have a 24/7 customer service team (or the budget to hire one)
  • You're reasonably sure that your staff members can respond very quickly to every chat
  • You receive a high volume of queries that require human intervention

Automated chat might work best if...

  • You want to use webchat to automate tasks like qualifying leads and schedule appointments
  • You're reasonably sure that your chatbot can answer most, if not all, queries that come in
  • You're looking to cut customer service expenses

Hybrid chat might work best if...

  • You want full control over your messaging
  • You want more time and money to spend solving complex problems
  • You'd like to deliver a truly personalized solution to your customers

Wrapping up

Each type of webchat has its pros and cons, but hybrid chat is the clear winner of the three. Live chat and automated chat each have limitations that can impact your business. Hybrid chat offers the best of both worlds, giving you maximum control.

Got questions about webchat? We've got answers. Send us a message to see our hybrid chat solution in action. Feel free to browse the blog to learn more about what webchat can do for your business.

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