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In the era of digitalization, chatbots have become a company’s “must-have” and are especially used as customer services and communication tools. But what is exactly a chatbot, how does it work and how has it influenced the way companies interact with their customers?

The word chatbot comes from the contraction of two words, namely chat and robot. It is a programmed computer software that enables discussions on predefined subjects with individuals in an instant messaging tool box. It is also known as “conversational agent”.  

There are two kinds of chatbots: linear chatbots (or click-bots) and non-linear chatbots. The latter integrates Artificial Intelligence (AI).  Both types of chatbots use predefined answers to respond to a specific request but they differ in the way this request is introduced.  

Click-bots require the user to click on predefined questions or answers and thus works as a decision tree. However, it is time-consuming.

On the other hand, non-linear chatbots are more efficient because they recognize key words via the AI in the manually written request.

 

Example : OUIbot from SNCF illustrates perfectly this kind of chatbot. The keywords are Departure- Arrival- Day-specific cards.

Other example: Bbot from Belfius  answers questions related to credit cards. The bot will choose the type of credit card that best matches the needs of the customer by asking questions. However, if the key words are not in the database with the corresponding answers, the chatbot does not understand the request.

In order to enrich the keywords database, companies store most of the conversations, analyze them and programmers decide on whether to keep a specific question with its corresponding answer or not.

These kinds of chatbots using the AI of 1st generation are usually replaced by the 2nd generation of AI. The latter uses the Natural Language Processing (NLP). The intentions are clear and identifiable and the chatbot is driven by a “Supervised Machine Learning”. Chatbots will answer by analyzing the request and find similar questions in the database.

However, the technology around chatbot and Artificial Intelligence evolves constantly. In the near future, chatbots that integrate AI of 2nd will be replaced by 3rd generation which will allow companies to treat more complex requests by detecting the whole context and not only key words. These kinds of robots will be more similar to human beings because they use the “Unsupervised Machine Learning”. It means the chatbot will learn how to answer to questions he has never treated before.

Why do companies integrate chatbots?

According to Gartner, 40% of companies will actively use chatbots in 2019. Are you part of it?

The main advantage of chatbots is that it provides smoother communication. Some companies even adapt the responses according to the personality of the customer and his way of writing. With more personalized responses, customers would feel more unique and closer to the brand.

Conversational agents are available 24h/24 and 7d/7 which ensures that customers receive answers easily, rapidly and automatically. This also allows employees to better allocate their time and focus on other important matters.

Even though most of chatbots help customer service, they can also be used for supporting multiple aspects of a company such as:

  • Customer service (replace FAQ)
  • Marketing / Ecommerce (support sales)
  • Internal functions (HR, Support helpdesk)
  • Entertainment (ex : Netflix chatbot helping you to find a film)

 

BONUS: Do not miss out one of these nice bots on Messenger!

  • CNN: helps you follow breaking news
  • Instalocate: helps you stay informed about flight schedules, delays, etc.
  • 1800-Flowers.com : You would like to send flowers to your girlfriend but you are out of town? You can do it!
  • 20 minutes: sends you articles depending on your interests 
  • TheScore : keeps you informed about football scores