A chatbot is essentially a computer program that simulates conversations. In other words, a bot is nothing more than a piece software that performs automated tasks designed to communicate with in a format similar to instant messaging.
When asked a question, a chatbot will respond based on the information database available to it. If the conversation presents a notion it does not understand, it will either re-direct the conversation or possibly pass it to a human operator. Whichever way it goes, it will learn from that contact and save that knowledge for future conversations. Therefore, it gets smarter and better every day.
That’s a pretty simple definition, but because chatbots can do so much, we’ll leave it there for the moment.
There are three main types of chatbots:
Rule-based chatbots are the simplest type of chatbots today. People interact with these bots by clicking buttons and using pre-defined options. In order give the right answers, these chatbots need people to answer a number of questions which ultimately results in a longer customer journey.
But these bots are amazing when it comes to qualifying leads. They ask questions, people answer them with the offered buttons and the bot evaluates the data and gives a reply.
But for more advanced set-ups with numerous conditions or aspects, they aren’t always the best solution.
Intellectually independent chatbots use Machine Learning (ML) which is the ability of the software to learn by itself, recognise patterns and make decisions with nominal human intrusion.
Intellectually independent chatbots are trained to comprehend specific words and phrases that trigger its reply. Over time they continue to train themselves to understand more and more questions and so learn from experience.
As an example, if you wrote, “I can’t into my account”, the bot would recognise the words “can’t”, “log” and “account” and would provide a pre-defined answer based on these.
AI-powered chatbots combine the best parts of both from Rule-based and Intellectually independent bots.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a imitation of human intelligence. AI is the area of computer science that focuses on creating intelligent machines that work and “think” like people.
AI-powered chatbots can comprehend free language, but also follow a predefined flow to ensure they are answering the user’s question. They can always recall the context of the discussion being had as well as the user’s preferences. They can even move from scenario to scenario when required and answer random user requests at any time.
These chatbots use a combination Machine Learning, AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand what is being asked.
NLP is the capability of the program to analyse and understand speech, find the correct response and reply in a natural language pattern. The goal of NLP is to make the communication between machines and people feel like communication between just people.
What can chatbots do?
They can deliver Marketing, they can make Sales and they can do a lot of your Customer Service. You name it, they can probably do it.
Marketing - Your Messenger chatbot sends a drip campaign to 22,000 users automatically.
As the users respond, your chatbot segments them into specific groups based on demographics, responses, and how much they spend on whatever it is you sell each month. Seriously. There’s no limits on what you can do.
Sales - The chatbot automatically pings these customers 24 hours after their interaction to remind them of the offer, invite them for a chat, or simply to provide another offer.
Customer Service - Once you have a customer (or a potential customer), your chatbot (via either Facebook or your website), can answer many variations of customer service questions such as:
- Where’s my order?
- How much does it cost?
- When will my delivery arrive?
- What are your trading hours?
- Can you send me directions to your store?.
So that’s chatbots in a nutshell.
Chatbots are crucial for business success because they can provide individual connections to an unlimited number of users.
They can automate routine tasks and facilitate superior customer care.
Chatbots can make money and save money.
Chatbots are the magical unicorns of the customer journey.