Chatbots have been around for longer than you might think. In fact, ELIZA is believed to be the first ever chatbot, programmed by Joseph Weizenbaum back in the 1960s. Fast forward to today and we find ourselves at the forefront of a new and rapidly evolving era of customer engagement. One where innovation-focused organizations are empowering customers to engage with brands using everyday language. To seek information and support through channels they’re familiar with, at any time of the day. And to do all of these things more easily and with less effort thanks to significant advances in technologies including natural language processing (NLP), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML).
What role do chatbots play in this new era of customer engagement? Read on as we break down what chatbots are, how they work, and why so many businesses are starting to adopt them. We’ll also cover everything you need to know about launching a chatbot and what it means for the future of your business.
“We think that you should just be able to message a business in the same way you message a friend. You should get a quick response. And it shouldn’t take your full attention like a phone call would. And you shouldn’t have to install a new app.”
—Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg, 2016
Chatbots support a range of digital and voice channels to offer users, including both customers and employees, a conversational self-service experience at scale. Common digital channels include messaging apps, mobile apps, and website, and voice channels include IVR and smart speakers, such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
The word chatbot, short for chatterbot, is used interchangeably with “bot”, “virtual assistant”, “AI chatbot”, “conversational agent”, and "talkbot" among other terms.
Over the years, the technologies that support chatbots have evolved immensely, with a few thousand solutions now in the market. Chatbots can be broadly categorized into the following types based on technical sophistication.
Much like a flowchart, rule-based chatbots map out interactions to anticipate user queries and provision appropriate responses. They’re considered the next evolution of the scripted chatbot and can even integrate with legacy systems. Businesses use them to help users complete simple tasks like finding the right product, booking an appointment with an agent, ordering a pizza, checking flight status, and so on.
Unlike scripted or rule-based chatbots, AI-powered bots are context aware and can learn continuously from prior interactions. They use predictive intelligence and analytics to personalize interactions based on a customer’s profile and preferences, inferred from past behavior. The more interactions a bot performs, the smarter it becomes.
It’s important to note that an effective AI-powered chatbot can be labor-intensive to build, train, and deploy—especially if you’re building your own solution. Accuracy levels can be a challenge. That’s why choosing the right partner to build and deploy your AI-powered chatbot is critical to reaping the potential benefits, which are substantial. An AI-powered bot is your best bet for simulating conversations that feel human.
While these are the three broadest categories of chatbot, several other types are also available in the market today which you can learn more about here.
When talking about chatbots, the term “conversational AI” often comes up—and for many people, the line between the two can be fuzzy. In some cases, the terms are even used interchangeably. So, are chatbots different from conversational AI? In this section, we’ll review how chatbots and conversational AI are connected.
For starters, let’s clarify a few things:
Our 7 AIVA Conversational AI technology brings together a range of advanced capabilities for an omnichannel user interface, contextual awareness, language processing, response generation, intent management, exception/escalation management, advanced analytics, and integration. If you want to dig deeper into conversational AI, read:
Conversational AI: What Is It, How Does It Work, and Why Does It Matter?
Conversational AI contains components that allow it to capture, break down, and process user inputs so it can understand them and generate a response that’s both meaningful and natural—all within microseconds. This is possible because conversational AI combines NLP with ML to continuously improve the AI algorithms.
Now let’s compare AI-powered chatbots with “traditional” scripted and rule-based chatbots.
Chatbots and conversational AI are still in their infancy. Building, training, and deploying a chatbot for your business is complex and costly. To be effective, a chatbot needs to blend human knowledge and advanced technologies such as NLP and ML. Plus, the lifecycle of a chatbot extends far beyond deployment. Ongoing maintenance is imperative so that the bot will continually improve how it serves both your customers and your business.
Let’s look at some of the common challenges you should be wary of when deploying a chatbot for your business.
Chatbots are cost-efficient and scalable. You can use them across all your customer engagement channels for a variety of use cases and across functions. And they can be available for your customers 24/7.
Let’s look at the key ways chatbots benefit businesses, big and small.
Let’s review some common ways businesses of all sizes across industry verticals can use chatbots.
To learn more of the impact our products can have on your industry, read about our 7 Answers Product Insights blog.
Combining 20+ years of contact center expertise and people-centric technology with industry-leading conversational AI, 7.ai offers everything you need to build, train, deploy, and continually optimize an effective chatbot for your business. The 7.ai Engagement Cloud™ makes it easy to drive synergies between human intelligence and chatbots across voice and digital channels. Support sales growth, supercharge the experience for your customers and agents, and increase cost efficiency through automation and self-service.
To discover the true potential of chatbots for your business, contact us today.
Chatbot marketing strategy is a critical component of customer service in any modern business that functions on the
If you're planning to build the best chatbot, you must consider the following factors: Bot Capability: It is esse
Any company that deals with customer service must ensure that the communication flow between the company and the cus
An AI virtual assistant is an application program that understands natural language voice commands and completes tas
Chatbots are one of the significant trends powering e-commerce and other modern-day industries that experts predict