Live chat vs Website chatbot vs SMS chatbot

In 2022, almost every business needs a chat solution on its website, It’s almost like your website visitors expect it. What if they have a query regarding your services? Or about the pricing? Resolving a customer query as soon as possible will ultimately bode well for your business. The best way then, is to instantly engage your customers and answer their queries  through a chat option.  

Fun Fact
Research says that a staggering 42% of the customers expect to see a chat option on the website compared to 29% who prefer communicating via email and 16% through social media channels.

Now that we’ve established the fact that your website needs a chat solution, it is important to understand what type of chat is important for your business.

This post is going to compare three popular options against each other – The traditional: “website chatbot” and “Live chat ” and a fairly new player “the SMS chatbot”. All three are good and have distinctive characteristics, but which is the best for your business? Before we find that out, let’s dive deeper into what Webchat, Live chat, and SMS chatbot are and what they do.

What is Live Chat?

Live Chat is a feature that allows website visitors to chat with your customer support team in real-time. 

The entire conversation happens online while your team member and your customer stay online. As soon as either one of them drops off, the conversation ends.


What is a Website chatbot?

A website chatbot or web chat is very similar to live chat with the only exception that it answers questions automatically to the questions it has answers for. No agent is present to answer the customer’s queries. Instead, an automated system is trained to answer commonly asked questions. 

Web chatbot

What is an SMS chatbot?

SMS chatbot is a text conversational platform that facilitates conversation between the customer and the business. Unlike web chatbot where conversations happen over the web, SMS chatbot uses text messaging as the communication medium. 

SMS chatbot

Although an SMS chatbot is closely related to a web chatbot, it can also be used as a live chat with the right tool.

Picture this, a customer writes in a query on your website chat widget. It could be either a live chat or a website chatbot. In case it is a website chatbot, the customer query can be answered then and there. On the other hand, if it is a Live chat and no agent is available at that time, the customer may drop off from the web. In such a case, you might not be able to connect with the customer again till they are online. Consider adding a live chat in your application using in-app chat API, to have multiple options for customers.

Suppose, however, you have an SMS chatbot, if no agent is available the customer will receive a text message on their phone stating the reason for unavailability. What this does is, it creates a channel for customer communication that is now not dependent on the web. Whenever an agent is available they will send in a text message and the communication with the customer will be continued.

Remember how we said the right tool can help turn the SMS chatbot to live chat? It can be facilitated through a platform like Emitrr. 

With Emitrr, you can monitor the conversations that are happening in real-time on its dashboard. As and when required, you will be notified about the live agent requirement. From therein the agent can continue the conversation, which is still happening over SMS.

Some KPIs that are improved through chat options:

If you are still wondering why you need to invest in chat options, have a look at the KPIs that are improved through them. 

  • First response time: Instant communication is achieved through a combination of all three widgets.
  • Average Resolution time: With web chat resolving commonly asked questions and live agents dealing with only complex problems, resolution time is brought down significantly.
  • Chat to conversion rate: Chats are more engaging, particularly SMS chats. These help the sales team to convert leads more quickly. 
  • Churn Rate: Churn rates are also significantly reduced as customers become more and more satisfied with the support experience.

  • Customer Satisfaction: Quicker response times and accurate problem resolution will inadvertently lead to better customer satisfaction. 

How to choose between Live chat, Website chatbot and SMS chatbot? : What is best for customer communication and conversion?

Now that we’ve discussed all three chatbots, how do we decide which one is best for your business? To help you make an assessment we are going to be assessing the three on 6 parameters. They are 

  1. Response time:

    When it comes to response time, website chatbots have better rates than live chats. This can mainly be attributed to the fact that chatbots answer commonly asked questions, answers to which can be simply fed to the system.

     Live chat on the other hand is preferred when complex customer queries come in. The solutions to these queries may often involve inter and intradepartmental syncing and may be more time-consuming.

    Since the SMS chatbot uses both system training and live agents, it also has a good response time. 

    Final Score:

    Website chatbot: 5/5
    Live chat: 4/5  (Due to dependence on agent availability)
    SMS chatbot: 5/5

    P.s: If you wish to choose a chat widget based on response time, do look into the nature of queries coming in. If you receive queries that are easily handled by a website chatbot, then website chatbot is the clear choice for you. If however you receive a significant amount of complex queries then deciding which chat widget to use should not be response time dependent. You will require human expertise and hence a live chat would be the preferred option.

  2.  24/7 Support

    Clearly, the website chatbot is able to provide 24/7 support. As you do not need human intervention, basic customer queries for which you have trained the system will be answered by the webchat at any time.

    Live chat can also be available 24/7 provided that you assign agents who will be available to answer the queries round the clock. You will have to employ 2 different shifts of agents for this purpose.

    SMS chatbot is also able to provide 24/7 support. 

    Final Score:
    Website chatbot: 5/5
    Live chat: 3/5  (Dependence based on round-the-clock agent shifts)
    SMS chatbot: 5/5

    – To decide whether or not you need live chat services at odd hours, you can look into your previous ticket timings and see if there is a pattern to the time at which you receive more complex customer queries.

    3. Scalability


    Conversational AI platforms like website chatbots and SMS chatbots are extremely scalable. They help businesses perform better with respect to their customer experience whilst not burning a ton of money on new recruits for support.

    The hiring and training aspect of human agents can pose a significant weight on growing companies and hence make Live chat a tad bit difficult to scale. On the other hand, a website chatbot and SMS chatbot can be trained once and used as many times as needed. Just regularly keep updating the system with new frequent questions and answers and you’ll be good to go.

    Final Score:
    Website chatbot: 5/5
    Live chat: 3/5  (Depends on the business’s hiring and training plans)
    SMS chatbot: 5/5 

    P.S Look at the number of queries/tickets your business is receiving and check if if you need to scale your existing chat solution

    4. Customer satisfaction


    When it comes to customer satisfaction, live chat and website chatbot and SMS chatbot can fair well depending on the situation.

    If for example, a customer’s query is a minor one and needs to be answered quickly, web chat would be the ideal choice. It will solve both customer requirements, resolution along with speed. This will ensure that the customer is highly satisfied.

    On the other hand, if a customer has a complex problem, they will need someone who can understand the problem thoroughly and handle the situation with empathy and patience. In such a case, the customer will be satisfied by engaging with an available agent and hence Live Chat will result in better customer satisfaction.

    SMS chatbot can do both and since it uses SMS as a platform is able to engage the customer more. 

    Final Score:
    Website chatbot: 3/5 (Complex questions won’t be resolved)
    Live chat: 5/5  (resolution is guaranteed)
    SMS chatbot: 5/5 

    P.SAgain, to decide which chat option would work the best for your business, look at the type of queries/tickets coming in. 

  1. Personalization

    When it comes to personalization live chat is clearly the winner because agents have a better understanding of a customer due to their previous learnings, and access to a database along with the ability to tailor the information according to the situation. 

    They can use features such as Call Pop that display caller information and use the details to personalize the conversation. With caller information readily available through call pop,  a reduction in after-call work time and average handle time can also be seen.

    While website chatbot systems also have access to databases, only certain information can be processed and reflected on the front end. It limits the systems from making personalizations barring the name of the customer.

    SMS chatbot can also leverage personalization through CRM integration. 

    Final Score:
    Website chatbot: 3/5 (limited reading and understanding of database)
    Live chat: 5/5  (agent ability and experience will help )
    SMS chatbot: 3/5 

  1. Cost-Effectiveness
    Web chatbot and SMS chatbot are highly cost-effective as they can easily do the job of 20 or more agents. It is proven to improve the operational efficiency of a business. You just need to invest in a conversational AI-based webchat once and continuously keep training it (which costs 0 $) to get the best of its abilities.

    Another way in which web chat is cost-effective is that it free’s up agents from monotonous repetitive tasks and helps them efficiently handle complex customer queries. This way even if the number of agents is lesser they will be able to perform to the best of their ability without the additional baggage.

    SMS chatbot also uses the same training process and is therefore cost-effective as well. 

    Final Score:
    Website chatbot: 5/5
    Live chat: 4/5  (Depends on companies ability to hire more agents)
    SMS chatbot: 5/5 

    Comparison Table

FeaturesWebsite chatbotLive chatSMS Chatbot
Response time5/54/55/5

24/7 support








Customer satisfaction3/55/55/5
Cost Effective5/54/55/5


Average scores:
Website chatbot: 4
Live Chat: 4 
SMS Chatbot: 4.6 

As you may have gathered by now, each chat solution has its own advantages and disadvantages. To make a decision about which chat solution to use, you need to factor in the type of tickets/queries you receive and which of the above mentioned features will help the most in the resolution. 

Use a website chatbot if you receive a lot of simple queries and you do not currently have the means to invest a lot in training live agents. Website chatbot is a good option as it has a good response time, is cost effective and scalable. 

Use a Live chat option if your ticket size is considerably high and you receive complex queries a lot. Live chat option will help as agents will be able to tailor solutions and add a touch of personalization to ensure maximum customer satisfaction. 

Use SMS chatbot if you never want to lose a new lead. As the SMS chatbot prompts website visitors to leave their contact information, it ensures that no customer query is left unresolved even if they drop off the web. It can work both as a conversational AI chat or Live chat depending on the requirement. Response time, support, personalization, scalability all features score high for sms chatbot. 

Using Live chat and Website chatbot in tandem for better customer engagement through SMS chatbot

Coming back to the question we initially posed, how do you decide which is the best for your business: Website chatbot, Live chat or SMS chatbot? As you may have gathered from the above section, the efficiency of web chat and live chat is situation dependant. It may be confusing to decide which one to pay more attention to. 

To help ease this confusion, an SMS chatbot can be used.

Take the example of a cleaning service company. Suppose a customer visits your site and has a question about the pricing. They open the chat widget on your website and ask for the price. Now, this is a fairly common question, that a trained AI webchat will be able to answer. A slight difference here is that the customer will receive the answer directly on their mobile phone via text. This way they do not have to wait on the web to get an answer.

Let’s take this situation one step further. Suppose this same customer wants a very specific set of services from this business. The prices for these need to be customized and are not something that a conversation AI system would know the answer to. What can be done now? The SMS chatbot can now chime in a live agent to answer this specific question.

One thing to note however, is that in many cases, website chatbots can also have the option of switching to live chat as and when required.  This method ensures that the best out of web chat and live chat is utilized according to the situation.

So what exactly makes SMS chatbot better?

The SMS mode ensures maximum engagement with the customer. How? Consider this. A customer leaves a query on the website widget, however no agent is available to answer it. The customer may leave the page and go off web. Now there is no way to get in touch with this customer again. 

If instead your website widget is an SMS chatbot, it can prompt the customer for their name and phone number. Once an agent is available they will text the customer. This way a communication medium is established and you will not lose the customer. 

Add to it the high engagement rate of 98% with text messaging and you can be assured that your conversation with the customer will keep going. 

Through this example, we are able to understand that SMS chatbot is the clear winner! 


All three chat options: Web chatbot, Live chat, and SMS chatbots help in the resolution of customer queries. Depending on the nature of the customer query, each of these methods can be used. But as we saw, overall SMS chatbot stands out due to its dual nature, and the use of text messaging as the communication means. Just to put things in perspective, text messaging has an engagement rate of 98%. This alone tells us that the use of SMS chatbot will ensure that the communication with the customer is not dropped off at any point! 

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