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by Vagelis H. 08/21/2020

While working with many healthcare companies to build their chatbot strategy, one recurrent confusion and dilemma is the role of live chat vs. chatbots. A chatbot is an AI program that automatically responds to the user (patient), whereas in live chat there is a human agent (for example, a receptionist at a dentist’s office) that chats with the user.

We have found that about 80% of small healthcare businesses (for example, dentist or podiatrist offices) prefer a pure chatbot solution, as they cannot justify having a dedicated live chat agent for the relatively small number of patients that will request live chat each day. The percentage decreases to about 50% for medium-sized companies, that is, companies with several locations and hence with more human resources.

There is also a very small number of companies, less than 5%, that only want live chat. In this case, the chatbot is reduced to a single message like “How can I help you today?” and human agents take over if a user enters anything.

Next, we discuss the two most common strategies to blend chatbots with live chat or follow-up.

Combining Chatbots with Live Chat

SmartBot360 offers several ways to seamlessly switch from chabot to live chat. For example, in FAQ bots, if a user submits two consecutive questions that the chatbot cannot answer, the user is automatically placed in the human agent’s live chat queue.

In Flow Diagram bots, you can set when the chat will be moved to the Agent Queue as shown below, where the chatbot checks if there is an online agent (i.e. logged into the Management Dashboard). In addition to checking if an agent is online, the bot can also check if the time is during business hours and respond accordingly, for example, if it is outside business hours say that no live chat is available.

Placing a chat in the Agent Queue works well if an agent is logged in all the time and monitoring the chats. If this is not the case, this strategy has to be augmented with agent notifications, so the agents receive emails or SMS messages when the chat reaches a specific state. In this case, the agent receives an email with a hyperlink. Once clicked, the agent will be taken to the chat in the Management Dashboard to live chat. A drawback is that by the time the agent opens the email and clicks the link, the user may have dropped out of the chat, in the case of Web bots, which is a key reason that many small practices prefer the next strategy.

Combining Chatbots with Follow-ups Through Smart Notifications

We have found that this is the most preferred strategy by small practices and about half of the medium-sized ones. The key assumption is that there is a human agent that is available from time to time to work on the chats, but this person also has other duties so (s)he cannot be logged in the SmartBot360 Management Dashboard all the time.

In this strategy, the chatbot collects the necessary contact information, such as email or phone number, and notifies (usually by email) the agents that this user needs follow-up. See for example, the below chat, which is taken from one of our template bots. This chatbot has been programmed to notify the agents when a user asks a question.

To summarize, there are several strategies to blend chatbots, live chat and follow-up communication. The exact strategy depends on the business workflow and the human resources of each business. SmartBot360 experts can discuss with you the best strategy for your business.

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