The end of June 2020 broke a few records for the South African economy. It marked the first time in history that our economy shrank in four consecutive quarters. The end of June was also the first time that our economy contracted by 51%.

How to provide outstanding service has become a matter of debate:

  • Do you keep your full in-house call centre?
  • Should you use chatbots instead?
  • What about outsourcing your call centre?

Here are the differences between live support and chatbots. Daria Leshchenko, the chief executive officer of SupportYourApp, gives more insights about the advantages and disadvantages of each.


Chatbots, particularly those running on artificial intelligence engines, are becoming increasingly valuable to the market. The new breed of bots incorporates natural language programming, making it better able to mimic human conversation.

The advantages

Companies use bots to provide instant answers and improve workflows. You can read more about this in Five ways that chatbots can improve workflows in the 'new normal.

The primary advantage of chatbots is that they're available 24 / 7. They provide consistent service and answers and are entirely objective. Companies don't have to worry about strike action or ongoing employee costs. Once you've paid the development fee, you own the bot.

The disadvantages

The disadvantage of using bots is that they're limited. The context of their programming limits them. It may be possible to build software capable of answering any question your client may ask, but it would be expensive.

Another issue is that bots don't have emotional intelligence. They can't empathise with a client in the same way that a human consultant does. Finally, we have a problem that's strictly South African. With 11 official languages, should your chatbot communicate in more than one?

As we see, chatbots are useful, but we can't pin all of our hopes on them.

Live Support

When your company supports hundreds or thousands of account holders, it's no longer practical for your switchboard to field support requests. You'll then need to consider:

  • In-House support: Running a team of full-time consultants working for your company. With this option, you have ultimate control. That's including employees, infrastructure and all the resultant costs associated with them. It's an expensive option to run.
  • Outsourcing support: Globally, firms are opting to hire specialist BPO companies. These firms provide businesses with world-class call centres at a fraction of the cost. The company saves by not paying someone to sit around and wait for the phone to ring.
  • Chatbots: While chatbots are a useful solution, they shouldn't be used on their own. They might, for example, respond to a simple query on social media. Are they capable of building the relationship or upselling? Not quite, unfortunately.
The advantages

Dealing with a highly trained consultant negates four out of the top five reasons clients choose to move to a different brand. According to PWC, these reasons include:
  • bad employee attitudes
  • unfriendly service
  • untrusted company
  • employees without the knowledge to assist, and
  • inefficiency

Human employees help to build a relationship with the client. They have EQ and so will empathise with your consumer. They're also able to think a few steps ahead and offer alternatives or upsells.  

The disadvantages

It's not the kind of work that everyone will do well. Consultants need significant amounts of training and must have the correct attitude.

The best option for your company

Should you choose chatbots, live support, or a hybrid version of the two together? That will depend on your target market and how they wish to interact with your company. Now that you know the pros and cons of both options, you're in a better position to decide for yourself.

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*Image courtesy of Pixabay