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The Importance of Chatbots in a 24/7 world.

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When the conversation turns to artificial intelligence of any kind; and particularly to robots, we all conjure images of Terminator, Blade Runner, Ex Machina, and all other famous Sci-Fi movie evil robots. However, nothing can be further from the truth. Although A.I. is getting better every day, we are far from the emotional beings with free will that you see on shows like Westworld.

A.I. is a sophisticated technology based on a set of instructions that are limited in scope. Real “intelligence” requires learning, and that, my friend, is a long ways off. However, on to the topic of today’s blog; why are chatbots important today? What can they do and how? Let’s find out.

What is a chatbot?

One cannot talk about the benefits of chatbots without first, explaining in detail what chatbots are, and second, outlining the different functionalities of chatbots. Chatbot, from what the name suggests, means “robots” that have the capacity to chat; hence, a chatbot is a variety of bot that performs automated or autonomous functions in live online or social media platforms; that is, chatbots are bots that can have conversations with humans.

What are the uses for a chatbot?

A chatbot is used by companies to interact on live chats with their customers. Chatbots are especially crucial in company websites, as they have become an integral part of the user experience. The integration of chatbots in applications reduces the limitations of human “interactors”—like online customer care representatives, as chatbots can run twenty-four hours every single day of the week.

What kind of chatbots are there?

There are three different varieties of chatbots:

Scripted chatbots are chatbots that follow strict programming rules. When a question is asked, scripted chatbots pick keywords and interpret the issue to the best possible variant; then, they give a scripted answer.

Intelligent chatbots are chatbots created with Artificial Intelligence attachments. These bots are usually used in narrow fields. They cannot function appropriately in broad areas as too much information might break them. Intelligent chatbots are flexible and can adapt with new information; they also assist humans with information—like providing videos to human “interactors.”

Application chatbots are created to provide answers in the form of the graphical interface in application widgets.

Misconceptions about chatbots

There are a few misconceptions about chatbots, including what they can do, and what they can’t do. Some of these misconceptions have given chatbots a bad name. See if you have heard any of these:

Misconception 1:
A chatbot can have a conversation with a human the way another human can.

This misconception has been dramatically fuelled by the movies that show chatbots exercising human-like intelligence and emotions. Chatbots are limited in their functionalities and capacities. They often have to follow basic programming principles, and even chatbots designed to have artificial intelligence can only perform with flexibility in a narrow field of information.

Misconception 2:
A chatbot chats with a human using only text or voice.

Chatbots are often created to converse using a graphical interface. Bot creators and web developers are bearing towards the direction of a graphical interface rather than voice and text for interactions with humans.

Misconception 3: Chatbots are apps.

Chatbots are not apps, but identity software that works with different applications and platforms. Facebook Messenger, Kik, Wechat, and other company software work with chatbots to interact with users and customers.

Misconception 4: Chatbots are created to eliminate the need for human interactors.

Movies also fuel this misconception. Chatbots cannot have the human capacity. They are created to ease the work of humans—especially in customer care services and information gathering services. Most chatbots are built to work well with humans.

Benefits and functions of chatbots

  • A chatbot is used by companies to interact with customers. Chatbots can work on various interfaces and platforms and can converse with multiple people at the same time.
  • Chatbots can perform more efficiently than humans when they are set in a narrow field. A chatbot answering questions only about a particular type of service will be able to generate more specific and useful information quicker than a human will.
  • Chatbots assist humans. Chatbots are not created to work independently from humans. They help humans with information generation since all the information about a service or company is already stored within them. A chatbot does not need time to think. If the required data is present within its database, it will provide it in a matter of microseconds.
  • Chatbots can also be used by companies to track customer and client satisfaction. Chatbots are usually at the other end of customer complaints forms. They automatically search through the forms for keywords. For example, a restaurant that uses chatbots to gather and integrate complaints might set its chatbots to look for keywords such as “time, bad food, rude waiter, rude waitresses.” The time and effort it will take for a human to gather and process such information can be greatly reduced if a chatbot helps such human.
  • Chatbots save a company money. A single chatbot can do the work of twenty humans. Their capacity to interact with multiple users and still give out correct information makes them invaluable to companies that have to attend to a large number of people at the same time. They, therefore, present cost-effective solutions to customer satisfaction problems.
  • A chatbots’ interactions with humans can create a technological sync that has features of both Artificial Intelligence and human empathy. Chatbots cannot read tone or emotions of customers. They cannot perceive if a customer is angry or sad or disappointed; however, humans can. Which means that when a chatbot and a human work together, the chatbot can provide useful information to a customer, while the human can perform functions such as allaying fears or anger of the customer. This teamwork creates a satisfactory customer care experience.
  • The ability of chatbots to pick keywords make them an excellent tool for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Chatbots can quickly identify common words used by customers in their questions; hence, identify keywords that will prove useful to company web developers. For example, if a company that sells books online uses a chatbot to gather information and interact with customers, if the chatbot recognizes “cheap eBooks” as a frequently used word in customers questions, this will give the company details that many users are looking for platforms where they can get eBooks at subsidized or cheap price.

 

So, no Ava from Ex Machina, or William, from Westworld or even HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Chatbots are an excellent resource for online interactions with customers in a 24/7 world. Not only can they provide customer care at any time of the day, but they can also communicate with multiple customers at one time and answer all the mundane questions; freeing up your customer care representative to solve the more complicated, or unique problems.

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