Chatbot software is literally changing how the world communicates on the Internet. Also known as virtual assistants, interactive agents and conversational interfaces, this kind of software is allowing companies to interact with customers without the need of costly and inefficient support and marketing personnel.
These bots, which range from simple text-based question-and-answer systems to sophisticated programs that use voice recognition, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to resolve complex issues, are also always available whenever people need them.
In this article, we will explain how chatbots work as well as describe what are the different types of bots software, what are the benefits of using this software and what are examples of some of the best chatbot programs available.
Chatbot Software: How It Works
All chatbot software basically has the same goal: to interact with people and help them do things without any human interaction. But how they work can vary greatly depending on whether they are rule-based chatbots (pre-programmed chatbots) or AI-based (smart chatbots).
Rule-Based (Pre-Programmed) Chatbots
Rule-based chatbots are the most common and the most simple. You can find them all over the Internet, on both websites and social media platforms like Facebook. They are essentially a large set of questions that helps direct users to the information they are looking for, without making any attempt to mimic human intelligence. You can look at them as being a long list of if-then-else questions.
AI-Based (Smart) Chatbots
AI-based chatbots attempt to mimic human intelligence, by processing natural language queries by users and then giving them answers and/or providing actions in response. Some AI-based chatbots further use something called neural networks to learn from the interactions with users and become smarter, and thus better able to answer future queries.
Types Of Chatbots
Most chatbot software, regardless of how they work, can be broken down into the following 3 major types:
Support chatbots are the most common type in use. They typically include a very specific knowledge base, such as information about the products and services a company may offer, and they can walk users through a multiple set of questions and answers. They often also have a human-like personality and are aware of the context of the questions asked of them. Important attributes of these chatbots are ease of use and thoroughness.
Instead of asking and answering questions, skill chatbots perform actions on the behalf of users. Also, instead of processing a multiple set of queries, they tend to respond to a single query, by executing a command. While these types of chatbots can respond to text queries, they are more often used in speech applications, such as a chatbot that performs actions within the context of a smart home.
Assistant chatbots are the most advanced type of chatbot. They incorporate features of both support and skill chatbots. This means that they can walk users through a set of questions and answers while also being able to execute commands within the scope of these questions. Furthermore, these types of bots can not only carry a conversation but are also often able to be entertaining while doing so. In the future, these bots may as well be able to navigate users through a variety of unrelated chatbots.
Benefits Of Using Chatbot Software
There are many reasons why companies are implementing chatbot software. These include:
Chatbots Are Always Available
Unlike humans, chatbots do not need sleep, breaks, sick days or time off. They can work 24/7 and provide a wide range of answers and solutions to many problems customers or users face. Also, unlike humans, there are always an infinite number of them available. No matter how many people require their service at a given time, people never have to wait to use one of them, which can dramatically improve user experience.
Enhanced Customer Experience
For many reasons, contacting human support representatives can be a frustrating experience for users. Not only is there usually a lack of availability, but often support personnel lack adequate knowledge of the product and/or service they are supporting and there can further be communication difficulties when dealing with support personnel from different countries. But a recent study completed by SalesForce, Survey Monkey and Drift has shown that nearly 70% of consumers actually like communicating with chatbots. This has led to nearly 10 billion chatbot messages on Facebook alone.
Chatbots Can Help Build Businesses
Chatbots are not only for providing customer and technical support. Companies can also use them for sales and marketing purposes. They can acquire contact information from web visitors, sign people up for newsletters and webinars and even drive sales, all without anyone lifting a finger.
Chatbot Software: Examples
There are a great number of chatbot companies in the marketplace, and here are some of the best chatbot platforms available:
IBM Watson Assistant
While most people think of IBM products as being geared to large enterprises, even small companies can deploy Watson Assistant, which is a very flexible solution that can scale well as a company grows. Watson Assistant allows developers and businesses to collaborate on a wide variety of conversational systems. It does not require AI or machine learning experts. The company further offers state-of-the-art security mechanisms and top-notch support.
Drift focuses on creating chatbot platforms specifically tailored to sales and marketing. Their solutions are geared toward turning website visitors into customers, by using the power of conversations to unleash sales. They can also generate high-quality leads. Even though the company is only two years old, it already has more than 150,000 customers. Drift was also named to the Fortune Cloud 100 and to the LinkedIn Top 50 Startups.
Ada allows any company to harness the power of AI, regardless of their technical expertise. They are one of the premiere solutions for those looking for an automated chatbot. This automates the work of building a chatbot. Ada’s solutions have been shown to solve more than 70% of customer queries without human interaction.