A Chatbot, Bot, virtual assistant or intelligent assistant can be best described as a computer program designed to engage and respond to customer enquiries.

How it engages is dependent on the type of Chatbot.

You’ll now find chatbots are slowly infiltrating your everyday world appearing in Facebook Chat, Text Messages, Websites and more delivering improved customer experiences and reducing the cost to serve customers via your call centre.

What is a Chatbot?

Chatbots are still a relatively new technology and as a result, there is a range of definitions and types which can make the use of the term chatbot quite confusing.

Some of the names you will hear are:

Depending on the chatbot (refer below) they use different types of technologies including:

  • Natural Language Understanding
  • Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning

Note that a virtual assistant is different from live chat where a human/live agent is handling enquiries over a chat engine. Search suppliers of live chat technology for contact centres >

Types of Chatbots

Ignoring the sales pitches that are flooding the marketplace, broadly speaking Chatbots can be sorted into four key categories:

1. Rules-Based / Sequential

Essentially a script-based chatbot where the responses to common questions need to be programmed.

When the Chatbot is unable to locate a response to the question asked, it will typically offer to connect to a human.

2. Generative 

The Generative chatbot relies on a database of information to determine the right response.

This gives it some contextual awareness, but it all has to be pre-programmed to cover a whole range of scenarios requiring a fair amount of set-up work.

3. AI Chatbots 

AI Chatbots analyse the answers to understand the users intent.

By understanding keywords and phrases, the AI Chatbot can determine the best response to the question.

4. Retrieval-Based

These Chatbots use deep-learning (a form of Machine Learning) where it can ‘learn’ from its experiences to determine the right answer to provide. Also, refer to Supervised Learning Bot.

Benefits of Chatbots

You don’t have to look far to experience how companies are embracing Chatbots as part of their service mix.

Some of the benefits for businesses launching chatbots include:

Improved CX

The ability to self-service for customers and to get the right answers quickly to questions we already know is a key driver of CSAT for customers.

And that’s exactly what a well functioning bot can deliver – fast, consistent and accurate responses to customer questions.

Lower costs

Operating effectively, a chatbot costs significantly less than a human-based conversation to complete a customer enquiry.

Even if the Chatbot only services 50% of the customer’s enquiry before requiring a connection to a human, that still delivers some significant cost savings.

Hours of Service

With no need to pay shift work penalty rates, a chatbot can be open 24/7 enabling you to service customers around the clock.

Data Collection

As well as providing responses to customers, a chatbot can also collate lots of information that can be used as part of Customer Analytics and Big Data applications.

Improved Staff Engagement

With the bots taking care of the easier and more transactional types of enquiries, this frees up your call centre employees to handle the more interesting and diverse types of calls.

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