Chatbots vs. Humans: The Better Option for Customer Service

Chatbots are going head-to-head with human customer service. They can help you reduce customer service costs by up to 30%1 in some cases.

But this certainly doesn’t mean that they are indispensable or so crucial, that they will make human interactions redundant. As a matter of fact, many consumers say that they actually prefer humans over bots.

In a recent survey2, nearly 50 % of respondents from the UK and around 40 % of respondents from the US, said that they would rather speak to a human agent.

All of the conflicting data can make it hard to know whose side to choose and advocate. Are bots the key to excellent service? Or are humans?

When is it best to use a chatbot and when is it best to use a human customer service agent?


bot for business


When to Use a Chatbot?

More and more brands are using chatbots, and that trend doesn’t look like it’s changing any time soon.

By 2020, 80% of brands3 want to have chatbots on their sites. You can (and should) use a chatbot as a tool in the following instances:

#1 As a Sales Channel

Believe it or not, chatbots can be perfect to use as sales channels. They are never offline, and can sell your products for you even when you and your agents aren’t online.

With the advent and popularity of e-commerce giants such as Amazon or deliver services like Postmates to name a few, nobody really thinks of driving down the story anymore. Everything is already available for you.

People are going online to buy products anyway, why not sell to them via your chatbot while they’re there?

A large number of e-commerce brands, such as H&M, use their chatbots4 to sell products.

chatbotsChatbots can remember customer answers and craft their responses accordingly, allowing them the sell products that suit the specific needs of each customer.

The personalized product recommendations also make the interaction feel more humanized and less like you’re talking to a nameless, faceless robot – even though you technically are.

Chatbots can also help you answer support questions when your agents are offline or overloaded.

#2 When Your Agents are Offline or Overloaded

Your chatbot doesn’t have to stay online all the time.

You can set up your bot to appear online when your agents are out of the office or when they’re overloaded with urgent and important queries.

Support agents can only handle so many tickets a day, and they can only talk to one person at a time. While they may get tired or feel stressed, a robot obviously doesn’t.

It can also help multiple customers simultaneously, which is great for improving customer UX.

With a chatbot, you can be rest assured that every customer who is contacting you will receive an immediate response whether your team is in or out of the office.

Chatbots can also help filter and guide through frequently asked questions and can also assist customers with finding self-service articles.

Here’s a great example from Betterment’s website:

Bots can quickly direct customers to technical articles on your site by detecting specific related keywords or phrases.

Freddy, Freshdesk’s omnichannel AI-powered bot is a perfect example. It continually learns from agents and published guides about how to best deliver self-service content.

You can even use it to gather contact information, which agents can later use to follow up with customers.

Chatbots can also be used for faster onboarding of employees.

#3 For Faster Onboarding

When learning to do most things, there is a bit of a curve.

For example, newly hired support agents won’t have every skill necessary to provide excellent support, until they’ve been trained and have had practice with solving a few tickets.

This is an ongoing process when it comes to your employees. At any given time, you will have employees who are new hires or long time agents with your company.

And each of these “new” or “old” hires will also have varying degrees of personal experience in the field, which impacts the amount of training they will require.

The bottom line? You’ll have to spend a ton of time and money onboarding each employee.

The replacement of an employee can cost anywhere from 30% to 400%5 of their annual salary, depending on whether their pay was low, mid-range, or high.

Plus, after you finally hire the right employee, they won’t be ramped up to full productivity until they’ve fully learned the ropes of the job.

Chatbots can eliminate these issues. You won’t have to worry about your bot quitting, and you’ll never have to spend time or money finding a replacement bot!

Additionally, once you’ve entered all of your bot settings, there’s no training required.

Before you do away with your entire customer service team and replace them with bots, read on to find out when human customer service agents are necessary.

When to Use a Human Customer Service Agent?

Chatbots are advanced, sophisticated tools. But human service agents are not obsolete.

In fact, 83 percent of consumers6 say that they prefer human interaction over digital channels when they’re trying to solve customer service issues.

That’s why you can (and should) rely on human customer service agents for the following instances.

#1 For Complex, Technical Issues

Since most chatbots operate based on a limited database, they aren’t able to improvise in sticky situations.

So when someone is trying to solve a complex technical issue, your bot might simply keep responding with the same answer without actually providing any meaningful help.

This will certainly frustrate customers. And in most cases, bots can’t detect frustration7, and even if they do, are not equipped to handle it.

That’s why customer-facing bots might actually negatively impact the overall customer experience.

Customers who want to make transactions online, or who need a detailed answer to a complicated issue, will want the secure, detailed and undivided attention that a one-on-one conversation with a human agent will bring.

That’s why it’s important to have agents on hand to deal with upset customers or customers who have issues that are slightly complex.

#2 Documenting or Reviewing Product Damages

There are several things that a chatbot just can’t accomplish.

Chatbots can’t filter through different product damage tickets and try to determine if a refund should be issued to a customer or not.

This job can only be entrusted to trained agents who can document product damages, review them, and decide to refund customers who were sent damaged or defective products.

#3 Dealing with Angry Customers

Some of your customers will get upset, no matter the industry you’re in or how wonderful your services and products are.

And a negative customer experience can cause an alarming amount of harm to your company.

More than 60% of people think that a company’s reputation for having good customer service is very important when it comes to deciding whether or not they should buy from them.

So negative reviews of your business can encourage potential buyers to stay away.

On the other hand, great customer service can turn an angry customer into a loyal one.

Chatbots don’t have feelings; only a human can detect frustrated customers, and calm them down by sympathizing with them and offering an actionable solution.

Now that you know some of the pros and cons of chatbots and human service agents, which one is best for providing great customer service?

Chatbots and Humans Should Work Together

When it comes to chatbots and human service agents, there is no clear winner. In certain situations, a human agent might do you better, while there are certain tasks that a chatbot can handle with ease.

The best solution is for chatbots and humans to work together, giving you an iron-clad support strategy that covers any possible gaps.

With Freshdesk’s cloud helpdesk, you can integrate chatbots and live human support so that all queries can be found from one dashboard.

By adding every support channel to one place, your team and your chatbots won’t ever miss a trick.  


Chatbots and human customer service seem to be facing off. Some people say they would rather deal with a bot, while others say they would rather talk to a real human.

So which one is actually better? The short answer is that both are necessary for a strong approach to customer service.

Your chatbot and human service team should work together to create a seamless customer service experience.

Integrate your chatbot and all other human customer service channels today, by using Freshdesk’s omnichannel helpdesk.

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