What TF is The Difference Between a Chatbot and an AI Agent?

McKay Borbon | Content Marketing Manager

The adoption and innovation of customer support automation is rapidly rising and showing no signs of slowing down.


When CX professionals think of automated support, chatbots likely come to mind. After all, it was one of the first automation tools to be widely used in the customer service world. So when new automation technology enters the scene, “how TF is this any different than a chatbot?” is a commonly asked question.


Enter: AI Agent

AI AgentIf you don’t know what TF an AI Agent is, you can get a quick rundown here. If you do know what an AI Agent is, you may be wondering how TF it is different from a chatbot. And if that question is not on your mind, you’ll still want to keep reading. 95% of customer service interactions will be supported by AI, so the more you know about conversational AI solutions the more equipped you’ll be to get your brand ahead! 


So, what TF is the difference between a chatbot and an AI Agent? Let’s break it down.👇


1. Communication Channels


The primary communication channel for chatbots is live chat, however some can engage with customers via SMS and in-app. 


An AI Agent provides service across every text-based support channel - even email! In fact, email support is one of the things an AI Agent does best. With an AI Agent onboard, your customers can receive quick and easy support no matter how they contact your brand.



2. Helpdesk


A chatbot works outside of the helpdesk, whereas Thankful’s AI Agent operates within your helpdesk just as a human agent would. By communicating with your existing ecommerce engine and business processing tools, an AI Agent receives, understands, and even takes action on support tickets - all without human intervention!



3. Level of Understanding


When it comes to understanding your customers, a chatbot uses chat buttons or keyword detection to recognize service requests. 


Thankful’s AI Agent not only analyzes freeform text, but it uses best-in-class Natural Language Processing to go beyond surface level intents and understand each individual customers’ contact reasons, motivations, and even their sentiment. With the deep ability to understand what customers want, Thankful’s AI Agent is able to deliver the service they need. 


4. Customer Context

While a chatbot does not retain information on individual customers, an AI Agent never forgets a customer or their history with your brand. After all, context is key! 



5. Personalization

An AI Agent doesn’t retain all that customer context for nothing; it dynamically changes engagements according to customer sentiment, geography, LTV, contact history, and dozens more parameters. Interactions are tailored to each individual customer for truly personalized service experiences that chatbots are incapable of delivering.



6. Resolutions

Chatbots are most commonly leveraged to deflect customers; redirecting them to a self-service tool. An AI Agent, on the other hand, performs tasks. Just like a human agent, it takes action to fully resolve over 50 types of service queries. 

AI Agent 50+ Actions

7. Handoffs

It’s no secret that customers don’t like being passed around from one agent to another (and another and another). A transfer extends wait times and they’re forced to repeat themselves - further prolonging the service experience.


Whether support tickets are handled by human agents or an automation tool, handoffs are bound to happen every now and then; and when they do the process should be quick and easy. That’s why an AI Agent, unlike a chatbot, is designed to seamlessly escalate queries to human agents. Conversations pick up right where they left off - customers won’t even know a transfer occurred!



8. Human Touch

A chatbot presents as technology, but an AI Agent can present as either a human or technology. You read that right; an AI Agent delivers experiences that are so human-like your customers will think they’re communicating with one of your human agents!👇

Thankful AI Agent End Customer Review

TLDR: chatbots and AI Agents both automate support, but only an AI Agent can deliver the accurate, personalized, and empathetic full-service experiences today’s customers demand.


With more and more brands leveraging automation tools for customer service, it is important to remember that not all technologies are created equal. If your current tech is not providing the quality of support your customers expect, consider looking into more advanced solutions to avoid falling behind your competition.


Learn if an AI Agent is the right tech for your CX here



Additional Resources:

AI in Customer Service | AI Ecommerce Platform | AI Email Automation | Artificial Intelligence in Customer Service | Customer Service and Support Automation | Customer Service Platform | Customer Service and Automation | Ecommerce Customer Service Automation | Ecommerce Customer Service Outsourcing | Future of Customer Service

McKay Borbon | Content Marketing Manager

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