Why Customer Service Chatbots Aren’t a Great Fit for Ecommerce

Why Customer Service Chatbots Aren’t a Great Fit for Ecommerce

Chatbots have become a go-to customer service tool for many brands. Their promise? Efficiency and scalability, powered by artificial intelligence (AI). But when it comes to ecommerce, these bots often miss the mark in providing a solid service experience. 

The customer service chatbot has its place in answering straightforward questions. But it often falters when faced with intricate questions, or inquiries that require managing orders. When customers need to see their order status or request a return, a ChatGPT-style answer is annoying, not helpful.

Instead, a better customer experience comes from customer self-service automation that’s built with these ecommerce use cases in mind. Below, we’ll explore the downsides of chatbots and share some powerful alternatives to help your support team automate repetitive tickets to save time for interactions that really need a human touch. 

What is a customer service chatbot?

A customer service chatbot is a digital tool on your website or app designed to mimic human interactions and answer user questions. At a basic level, chatbots aim to interpret customer inquiries, generate responses with AI, and resolve the issue without any agent effort. 

For an ecommerce business, implementing a chatbot promises to deliver 24/7 automated customer support at scale without requiring as many human customer service agents. 

Should you use customer service chatbots?

Chatbots aren’t terrible, but they struggle to respond accurately to more complex or nuanced customer questions. And most chatbots can’t actually change a customer’s order, or show up-to-date information specific to that shopper. Even if the chatbot doesn’t have an answer, it will still try, resulting in confusing or inaccurate information for the customer. 

While chatbots can help handle basic FAQs, they’re less effective for ecommerce-related customer interactions. Chatbots regularly fail to deliver satisfactory results when customers want to change an order, inquire about order status, or ask more complex questions. 

Before implementing chatbots, consider their limitations in meeting your customer’s needs and the customer relationship you want to build with buyers.


How AI-powered chatbots are used in customer service

While chatbots promise many customer service solutions, their capabilities are narrow. Though they’re helpful for high volumes of repetitive questions, chatbots have limited aptitude as a comprehensive customer service solution. Their strength remains relatively basic automated assistance.

Here’s how chatbots are used in customer service:

  • Providing 24/7 assistance. A 2021 study from Drift found that 44.2% of respondents cited engaging buyers 24/7 across the globe as a top benefit of implementing an AI chatbot. Chatbots eliminate the need for brands to have customer service agents available to respond at all hours of the day. 
  • Answering simple questions. Chatbots provide immediate responses to basic customer inquiries on live chat channels. Their scripted dialogues resolve common FAQs, reducing response times. 
  • Responding immediately to customer queries. Chatbots provide instant automated responses to questions submitted on live chat, day or night, providing timezone coverage across countries.
  • Accommodating international support. Chatbots are often multilingual, answering questions in various languages. This facilitates a better user experience for international shoppers.  

Downsides of customer service chatbots

At first glance, chatbots seem appealing. Who wouldn’t want round-the-clock availability and limitless scalability? However, their limitations emerge when testing the limits of conversational AI for satisfactory ecommerce customer service.

Often unsatisfying for customers

A 2022 Userlike survey of 415 respondents found that 60% of respondents who chatted with a chatbot could not solve their issues because they needed to speak with someone. Approximately 50% indicated the chatbot did not know how to solve their issue, and nearly 40% indicated that the chatbot didn’t understand them. 

While chatbots aim to use machine learning to respond accurately to customer issues, their capabilities crumble in complex scenarios. Yet, they still try to spit out a response, annoying customers.

Adds another layer between the problem and solution

Given their limited problem-solving capabilities, chatbots often fail to resolve more complicated customer issues fully. This forces customers to painfully repeat explanations of their issues across different channels, seeking out an actual solution. 

Adding these unnecessary repetitions and delays only further frustrates customers who want their ecommerce order issues quickly fixed on the first try.

Bots struggle with more complicated queries

For straightforward FAQ-style queries, chatbots manage fine. However, they struggle whenever contextual complexities enter the equation. Their canned scripts struggle to dig deeper into dynamic customer issues. 

Chatbots disappoint customers who expect tailored, back-and-forth dialogue when describing complex order scenarios or product problems.

Only works in a chat window 

For the most part, chatbots operate solely on your website’s chat window, so they can’t support customers across channels like email, social media, voice, etc. This limits their ability to handle multifaceted issues. Customers understandably seek and expect omnichannel customer service, especially options that provide a swift resolution.

A better automation solution to manage customer requests

The right automation focuses more on resolving customer issues than imitating humans. That’s why self-service options — like self-service order trackers, FAQs, and product quizzes — are a great alternative to chatbots. A 2022 Salesforce Research report found that 66% of respondents have used self-service account portals, with 66% of millennials and 61% of Gen-Z consumers preferring self-service for simple use cases.

The Gorgias Automation Add-on serves as an advanced chatbot replacement. This suite of automation tools is built for ecommerce, and customizable for your brand’s unique needs. Below, we’ll show you how each feature takes a more straightforward approach to solving customer issues than chatbots. 

But activating automation doesn’t mean forgoing live chat altogether — or needing it 24/7. With the right solution, you can offer automated options only during select hours or have customers use them before contacting an agent. 

Answer common questions in seconds 

The ideal customer service solution instantly resolves frequent, repetitive questions through robust automation. When customers have questions like, “What’s your return policy?” or “What product is right for me?,” they deserve an answer at the click of a button. And that’s exactly how Flows work.  

Gorgias Flows

Gorgias Flows are buttons in your chat widget and Help Center (and soon, email) that provide instant answers — personalized to customers, where needed. 

Whether buyers seek product recommendations, pricing, or your sizing chart, they only have to click a button to get a pre-written response (that you know is more accurate or on-brand than an AI-generated answer). If you want to personalize the answer, you can program the Flow to ask follow-up questions to understand the customer’s location, preferences, etc., for the most accurate answer.

TUSHY, an ecommerce company that sells modern bidets that attach to toilets, uses Flows to respond to common questions swiftly. 

Example of self-service in chat

Queries like “Which TUSHY is right for me?” and “Will TUSHY fit my toilet?” are automatically answered through these self-service flows without customers needing agent assistance.

Example of an FAQ getting answered by self-service

And if customers have follow-up questions or still want to speak to an agent, they can get connected to the TUSHY team with the click of a button:

Example of handoff to a human agent

Automate access to order tracking, refund requests, and cancellations

The right customer service solution doesn’t just answer FAQs, it helps customers track and manage their orders. 

Rather than relying on agents (or chatbots with limited capabilities), automation enables customers to get answers and close the loop on routine issues independently, boosting customer satisfaction. 

Gorgias Order Management Flows

Gorgias Order Management Flows provide customers with self-service options to track orders, report issues, and request refunds or cancellations without needing agent assistance. Customers simply access Order Management Flows through the chat widget or Help Center.

Customers log in with their email or phone number (no need to remember an order number!) to independently check the order status, initiate returns or exchanges, and make other changes. This feature closes the loop on common post-purchase requests and empowers customers with instant DIY resolutions, letting your support reps focus on more complex interactions that actually need human support.

Loop Earplugs, which sells high-quality audio earplugs for concerts and loud environments, uses Gorgias Order Management Flows to let customers handle post-purchase requests independently. This automated self-service enables tracking shipments, reporting order issues, and initiating returns or cancellations without chatting with a support rep. 

Loop Earplugs with the Gorgias chat widget and quick responses

Here’s what it looks like to log in, see recent purchases, and request a return:

Example of self-service return requests

Provide article suggestions

One advantage of chatbots is they can answer a variety of questions. While you can only have up to 6 Flows, another great solution is leveraging content from your knowledge base or Help Center to answer a wider range of customer questions. 

Gorgias AI-powered Article Recommendation in Chat

Gorgias’ Article Recommendation in Chat harnesses advanced AI to analyze incoming chat tickets, pinpointing and sharing the most pertinent help center articles as immediate responses. This ensures customers receive precise, relevant information in real-time, streamlining their query resolution process. 

And again — your customer experience is free of potentially incorrect or off-brand AI-generated responses. AI only steps in to provide the correct human-created content at the right time. 

Here’s an example from Sol de Janeiro, a skin and body cream brand using Article Recommendations to answer customer questions about their products:

Sol de Janeiro with the Gorgias chat widget

Automatically respond to customers' email common questions

Chatbots only work on your live chat window. But ideally, when customers submit inquiries via email or contact forms, they also get an immediate answer. 

Gorgias AI-powered Autoresponders

Gorgias Autoresponders use AI to scan every single incoming email and contact form submission for frequently asked questions, like “Can I get a return?” or “Where is my order?”

When one of those questions is found, the Autoresponder instantly replies with a pre-written and designed email that gives personalizes support answer to the customer, pulling data from Shopify, BigCommerce, or Magento

Example of Macro

Other alternatives to customer support chatbots (and how to use them)

While chatbots have become a popular AI customer service tool, they’re not the only solution worth exploring. Brands have many options at their fingertips, each catering to buyer needs along the customer journey. 

Live chat, for instance, offers real-time interactions, bridging the gap between immediacy and personalization. On the other hand, for customers who still want to leverage chatbots, Gorgias integrates with leading providers like Siena AI, combining the benefits of automation with specialized support. Diversify your customer service strategies and embrace alternatives to ensure that every customer touchpoint is addressed.

Live chat

Your team doesn’t need to choose between a chatbot vs live chat. When shoppers face pressing issues or need assistance on the fly, live chat steps in as the hero, providing real-time, personalized support from human agents. Plus, amplify live chat support efficiency using templates and automation, reserving agent’s energy for complex concerns.

Gorgias Live Chat

Gorgias Live Chat provides an instantaneous bridge between customers and brands. Real-time interactions allow customers to get swift, personalized responses to their queries or concerns. Enhanced with automation and templates, this feature guarantees swift support and consistent quality in communication, making every customer feel valued.

Live chat in Gorgias

Parade sells comfortable, size-inclusive, sustainable underwear made from recycled materials. They use the Gorgias Automation Add-on alongside Gorgias Live Chat, available to their website visitors during business hours. This allows for the best of both worlds — easy and automated responses for simple questions and a human touch for more complex queries. 

Parade with the Gorgias chat widget on their homepage

Contact forms

Every customer’s concern deserves the attention it needs. With contact forms, shoppers can detail their queries, complaints, or feedback when it works for them, even if you’re not online staffing the chat. This format, which prompts customers to categorize their message and provides details, also gives your team everything they need to (hopefully) resolve the issue in one response.

Gorgias Contact Form

The Contact Form, which is available standalone or in the Help Center, streamlines the customer messaging process. It offers customers a direct and structured way to submit their concerns and questions. Incoming communication arrives organized, making it easier for your customer service team to prioritize, tag, and resolve tickets.

Comfort One Shoes, which sells high-quality, stylish footwear that fits just right, uses the Gorgias suite of products, including the Help Center Contact Form. This form on their website lets customers get specific about their asks, including attachments to add every detail.  

Comfort One Shoes contact form

Help Centers

Help Centers are like the libraries of customer service — organized, exhaustive, and empowering. Customers can independently navigate these centers to find order-related answers, leading to instant resolutions. And if they can’t find what they’re looking for? That’s when support agents step in to handle more intricate or unique questions. 

Gorgias Help Center

The Gorgias Help Center is a comprehensive hub for customer support, allowing brands to create, import, house, and categorize resources to assist users. Whether it’s FAQs, guides, or tutorials, customers can find the answers they need without the wait times.

Parade hosts their resources on a Gorgias Help Center, which has an abundance of articles for customers to find the answers they need on a host of topics:

  • Returns and exchanges
  • Product and sizing
  • Sustainability
  • US orders
  • International orders
  • Refer-a friend

Email support

In the age of instant messaging, email remains a steadfast channel for customer service. Customers can lay out their concerns in detail, asynchronously. On the other hand, brands can prioritize email requests based on current customer demands, getting away from the immediacy and urgency of live chat.

Gorgias Email

Gorgias Email is tailored to redefine email-based customer support through its shared workspace format. Its advanced tools facilitate a more organized, efficient, and rapid response to incoming queries by keeping track of email threads and allowing agents to respond quickly with Macros

Example of Macro

By integrating with other platforms and using its automation capabilities, Gorgias Email ensures that each customer email is handled with precision and timeliness, elevating the standard of customer service.

Community forums

Community forums are essentially marketplaces of ideas and solutions. Here, ecommerce customers can tap into the collective wisdom of their peers, crowdsource advice, and find solutions to questions that others have faced before. They reduce the number of repetitive inquiries to customer service agents and foster a community spirit among first-time shoppers and brand loyalists alike.

Streamline support with the Gorgias Automation Add-on

Enhance your customer support capabilities with the Gorgias Automation Add-on. Tailored to address high-volume routine inquiries, the top 10% of Automation Add-on users deflect at least 30% of overall questions, while the top 5% automate up to 45%.

But it’s not about replacing the human element; quite the opposite. When the Gorgias Automation Add-on complements your current strategy and pairs with the genuine human connection, it crafts a harmonious and effective customer support environment. 

Live chat vs chatbot

Book your demo today to learn more about Gorgias and the Automation Add-on.


Frequently asked questions

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Jordan Miller
The customer service platform built for ecommerce brands

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