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The difference between chatbots, AI and live chat

2 min read

Does your college need a chatbot, AI or live chat?


These three terms are often used interchangeably, but there are distinct differences among them. When it comes to conversational marketing for colleges and universities, each of these features is equally important. So, what’s the difference?


A chatbot is an automated response solution that is prompted by someone visiting your college’s website. Chatbots are available 24/7 to answer questions about your institution and guide website visitors to their desired outcome. Learn more about how chatbots help your college's website>>

Live Chat

Live chat is a chatbot feature that allows your staff members to jump in and take control of a conversation when appropriate. This could be necessary if a visitor is not finding the information they need or if the conversation could benefit from a personal touch. A good example of the value of a live chat could be when a prospective, post-traditional student, years removed from the education experience, checks your website. The interaction with staff would go a long way toward making them more comfortable. 


Artificial intelligence refers to a machine’s ability to execute routine tasks, use Natural Language Processing to read responses and give the most efficient answer possible, and learn by being trained over time. In the case of chatbots, the more data that is collected through conversations with visitors, the more the chatbot can determine whether or not past outcomes were successful and then produce better responses for the end-user. 

How do college Chatbots know what to say?

Chatbots function through playbooks. Before a chatbot is added to your college’s website, playbooks are built with a library of questions that prompt responses from visitors and pre-planned answers. With Mongoose, the Harmony team will work with your team to design a specific series of questions and answers designed to satisfy a person’s reason for visiting your site. Harmony can also hand off the conversation to a human, and even book a meeting with a staff member, if needed. You can see what a playbook looks like here>>

It’s important to remember that it is not ideal for a visitor to your college’s website to assume a chatbot is a live person. It should be clear when they are receiving assistance from an automated playbook and when they are chatting with a friendly staff member in order to establish trust and maintain expectations. 

The ideal chatbot has the best of all three worlds, using artificial intelligence to learn while having the capabilities to hand off conversations to humans for live chat. 

Chatbots are not designed to replace staff members. A chatbot is a software solution that helps students, parents, and alumni find answers to questions. Chatbots also help staff members by managing repetitive tasks so they have more time to be human. This leads to better outcomes for everyone. 

Want to learn more about Harmony, higher ed’s intelligent chatbot solution?
Check out our features here or talk with Otto, Mongoose's friendly chatbot, he's hanging out in the bottom, right corner 🤖➡️ .

Does your college website need a chatbot?  Use Google Analytics to find out. LEARN MORE


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