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Live Chat vs. Conversational AI – What’s the Difference?


With the dawn of the internet, humanity gained so much. A way to connect with communities across the world. Instant access to the breadth of human knowledge. And, most importantly, a way to complain about and to businesses.

JK, JK, just a little customer-service humor over here. 😎

In reality, the world wide web brought the opportunity for businesses to level up their customer service like never before, via informative websites and new communication formats. At first, that meant email support. But today, chat is the medium of choice for online consumers; in fact, 64% of people say they’d rather message a business than call.

So if your Shopify store hasn’t integrated a Shopify chatbot app yet: what exactly are you waiting for?

Check this: more than 1 billion messages are exchanged each month between businesses and people on Facebook Messenger. In other words, customers be chattin’. And if you have an e-commerce business, you’d better be there to respond to what they have to say. 💬

Because the question these days isn’t “should I offer customer service via chat?”….

…It’s “what’s the best way to offer customer service via chat?”.

Essentially, you’ve got two options when it comes to customer-service chat: live chat, and conversational AI

Which one your business goes with is really up to you — we’re not the Shopify boss — but if you have any interest in automating this part of your business to sell more on Shopify and scale faster, may we recommend conversational AI?

At the end of the day, we want to let you do you! This is why we’ve done a complete breakdown of customer service chat options so you can make the right choice (and hopefully do your Shopify boss proud — even if that’s literally just you).


What is live chat?

To make things easy, live chat is a form of customer service communication. 

Instead of calling or emailing your team with a question or concern, shoppers can have a conversation via an instant-messaging tool. 

It’s more direct than email, more casual than picking up a telephone, and certainly more effective than a carrier pigeon. 🐦  

No wonder live chat is the first-choice service option for shoppers aged 18 to 49.

But the benefit of live chat is the same as the downside: a real person is on the other side of the chatbox helping the customer. Sure, it’s a great chance to make a new pal… but to provide a human touch like this requires an awful lot of, well, humans. 

Luckily, there’s a less staff-heavy way to keep the chat a-flowin’, and that’s conversational AI.


What is conversational AI?

Don’t be fooled by the technical language: conversational AI is just fancy computer-scientist talk for “a super friendly, super helpful chatbot who totally has your customer’s back.” 🤖 

Conversational AI refers to technology that can answer questions or talk to people like a human, typically via a text-chat platform. Chatbots that use conversational AI can recognize language and imitate it, creating an experience that’s pretty dang close to humans.

For businesses — particularly Shopify businesses! — conversational AI creates an opportunity for some seriously streamlined customer service. 

Whether via your Shopify store, a website, or a social media channel, a chatbot can answer customer Qs, suggest products, track shipments, and much more, all while doing its very best impersonation of an all-star customer service agent. (Maybe one named, say, “Barry”? But that’s really a personal choice.)


How does conversational AI work?

Conversational AI uses machine learning to collect information from interactions and get even smarter. That means, unlike your Beanie Baby collection, your chatbot will increase its value over time. 

It also uses something called “natural language processing” (NLP). Basically, it’s the process AI goes through to recognize words and phrases, before moving on to generating natural-sounding sentences of its own. This skill is the backbone of the “conversational” part of conversational AI and stimulating conversation.

For instance, if a customer starts a chat inquiring about care instructions for your brand’s sequin lounge pants, a conversational AI chatbot will recognize any familiar phrases or words, and importantly, know how to respond. (“Hang dry, and wear with flair,” obviously.🕺)


What’s the difference between conversational AI and live chat customer service?

Both live chat and conversational AI are great ways to serve a customer who wants help ASAP but does not want to pick up that phone. 

But there are some key distinctions between the two services.


Conversational AI saves you time

Of course you want to spend all day lingering and having deep and meaningful conversations with every one of your customers. Are those pants available in extra-large? What is the meaning of life? 

But the reality is, there are only so many hours in a day, and so many people on your team. So if you can outsource the simpler inquiries to conversational AI, you can free up your human crew to attend to the deeper Qs. (Case in point: Heyday by Hootsuite has helped Shopify merchants automate up to 80% of their customer service conversations. You’re welcome.)

Conversational AI also has the benefit of being able to help multiple people simultaneously, while live chat customer service agents can realistically only focus on one conversation at a time. (Unless you’ve trained some sort of hyper-intelligent customer service octopus to juggle chat windows? 🐙 If so: please send pics.)


It’s hard to offer live chat around the clock

Sure, it’s possible to provide 24/7 customer support with a live team… but that’s an awful lot of staffing. 

Conversational AI, on the other hand, can service customers around the clock, whatever your business hours may be. 🕗

Conversational AI, for instance, can provide information about order tracking in just seconds, even as the rest of your team is getting some well-deserved shut-eye. And when you’re available at your customer’s beck and call? They’re going to feel pretty, pretty, pretty good about the experience. 


Conversational AI has your catalog memorized

Listen, we love humans. Love ‘em! We’re human ourselves, we were raised by humans, and some of our closest friends are humans. And while there are lots of things humans are great at (making pancakes; telling lies; eating pancakes), AI has us beat when it comes to the meticulous recall of information. 

Machine learning allows conversational AI chatbots to assess a customer’s cart or browsing behaviors and suggest products or add-ons they’re statistically most likely to buy. 🛒

Chatbots have information about your full inventory and history of consumer journeys right at their fingertips. Well, if they had fingers, anyways. (That’s one more thing humans are admittedly better at: having fingers. Not to brag.)


There are no language barriers with conversational AI

Unless you only hire polyglots, chances are your live chat is going to be limited to the one or two languages your team members speak. A chatbot, on the other hand, has a whole world of linguistics to draw from. 

Most conversational AI features built-in language translation to detect and generate almost any language instantly. Whether you’re providing customer service in English, French, Japanese, or Portuguese, a sale in any other language is just as sweet (for Heyday’s Sales & Support Chat, we currently offer service in English and French).


Ok, cool — but what’s so great about Heyday’s conversational AI?

Admittedly, we’re a little biased over here at Heyday HQ. But there’s so much to love about our conversational AI chatbot that we can’t help but brag a little bit.

We’re all about helping Shopify merchants deliver best-in-class customer service with features like…


AI product searches

With lightning-fast recall and search skills, Heyday can pull together personalized product recommendations in a split second, any time, day or night. 

Its powerful AI capabilities can capture customer preferences easily, tracking preferences like sizes, materials, price, or color.


Automated FAQs

Getting the same questions again and again? Covering FAQs is Heyday’s specialty. Free up your time by automating answers to repetitive queries. 

There’s also an automated order tracking feature that takes just seconds to set up so your new chatbot BFF can take care of common shipping Qs, too.


Chat across multiple channels

Multichannel chat functionality brings all of your conversations together under one roof. 

Whether your customers love to talk on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or your website’s chat window, Heyday is there to dish with ‘em.


Analytics galore

You’ll be drowning in data with Heyday’s advanced analytics, designed to unlock a treasure trove of customer and conversational intel. 

Get the pulse on your performance and understand your client’s purchase path to level up your e-comm game.


Team up with humans

We know enough to know Heyday can’t do it alone. The best customer service combines the convenience and speed of conversational AI with an authentic human touch — which is why Heyday is designed to make bot-to-human handoff a breeze. 

Complex or sensitive questions are passed directly to a real-live person to address. And if no one from your team is available, Heyday can capture contact info so you can connect and help in the future.


E-commerce-specific training

Here’s why Heyday is so smooth with your e-comm customers: this little chatbot has done its homework. We built our AI on the foundation of millions of retail and e-commerce conversations… so it’s pretty tough to stump.

The bottom line? Incorporating conversational AI into your Shopify store is going to be the most effective way to provide five-star customer service, drive more sales, and save your customer support team time. 

If you’re interested in scaling your e-commerce business successfully and smoothly and are dreaming of building an omnichannel empire for a global customer base, maybe it’s time to integrate a hard-working conversational AI chatbot service into your shopping experience. 🤔


Ready to start selling more with conversational AI? Head over to the Shopify App marketplace (and get 14-days free).

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