Chatbots or conversational assistants are software applications that help users across websites. Chatbots are special virtual assistants that understand user needs and guide them towards that action.
Today’s chatbots can make sense of the human language and interpret it contextually. They do so by using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP).
Types of chatbots
There are many different types of chatbots. Some popular places where you see chatbots are:
food delivery apps
social media platforms
Chatbots get classified based on their applications or how they work. Here are a few chatbots classified based on their functionalities:
Menu or button-based chatbots: These chatbots rely on pre-defined buttons to help users get their answers. They have limited capabilities and are best suited for responses like FAQs.
Rule-based chatbots: These are also known as linguistic chatbots, and they function on the if/then logic. They recognize and predict the response based on defined language flow. They are best suited for predictable flow of conversation.
The programmers need to input all possible combinations to make them effective. The effort required to develop this model is considerable as it requires a rigid set of rules.
Keyword-based chatbots: These chatbots are a little more advanced as they use NLP to process the questions asked to them by the users. They use keywords to recognize context and NLP to predict the proper response. They start getting confused though when faced with a range of similar keywords.
These chatbots are pretty popular and are often developed as a hybrid model. By combining keyword- and menu-based functions, they can cover a wide range of support.
Machine Learning (ML) chatbots: These chatbots are the smartest as they can hold contextual conversations. They are developed using AI/ML algorithms, and learn from the user behavior. In short, they become smarter and more personalized the more they are used. They can predict the services or items they would need by analyzing their past requests.
Hybrid chatbots: AI/ML chatbots need a ton of data to train on, along with specialized programming. Hence, businesses often choose the hybrid model with both rule-based and AI functionalities.
Voice bots: These are voice activated chatbots much on the lines of Siri or Alexa. They are becoming popular due to their ease of use and convenience for the end customer. They use the same abilities as any other chatbot model.
Conversational chatbots are AI-based applications developed with ML algorithms using advanced neural networks. They help businesses engage with their users on a personal level. They offer them a multichannel, multilingual, and seamless experience.
A chatbot with AI/ML capabilities can deliver many features to benefit your business.
Contextual responses: Leveraging its training on data sets, it can understand the context of an interaction. It learns from interactions and uses structured and unstructured data for more insights.
Multi- or Omni-channel capability: Delivers a seamless experience to the users as it can follow users across channels. This ability further reduces costs of customer follow-up and retention.
Multilingual support: AI/ML chatbots have multilingual capabilities to respond to users in their language.
You can program conversational chatbots to deliver personalized, intuitive, and friendly responses. They can lead the users towards their outcomes better and help cross-sell or upsell. By analyzing user preferences and past interactions, chatbots can offer better options.
How to Design an Effective Chatbot
Designing an effective chatbot begins with identifying your requirements. Then you have to map your users and their preferences. Typically, you need to use a chatbot platform to develop the application. Many no-coding-required platforms can design a chatbot in a few simple steps.
You need to look for a few critical functionalities while choosing the platform:
Security: You must ensure that all the data that passes through the chatbot is secure. Check for advanced security protocols and features.
Pre-trained ML algorithms: Ensure that the chatbot gets trained on the data sets relevant to your industry. It must have experience with your users.
Robust neural networks: Ask about the scalability and flexibility of the algorithms and neural networks. The platform must be able to handle global interactions.
Seamless API integrations: The chatbot application must have an easy and fast API to integrate. It should not need a ton of custom coding.
Human access: Ensure that the chatbot knows when to transfer interactions to a human rep.
Reporting and Analytics: These are critical features for ensuring continuous improvements and insights into customer requirements.
Improved Customer Satisfaction: With chatbots, the customer response time gets reduced and users get quick resolution. This quick response leads to better customer satisfaction and better customer retention.
Better Bottom lines: The customer service costs go down with automated responses of chatbots. This cost reduction leads to a positive impact on the revenue.
Chatbots are available 24X7: Customers can leave a message, check FAQs, or get other support. This availability increases customer engagement without the cost of having more reps.
Increased Rate of Customer Acquisition and Retention: Advanced AI/ML chatbots can offer a seamless omnichannel experience for customers. This capability allows users to continue their interactions even when they switch channels. This leads to more number of completed transactions. This feature is handy for eCommerce businesses looking to reduce cart abandonment.
Chatbots are not new and have been around the block for some time now. Today, they are used in applications such as appointment scheduling, customer support, marketing, and sales, among others.
Chatbots have been able to reduce the workload of human reps and speed up response times. With technology advances, their ability to understand people’s requirements has improved.
Chatbots can provide a hassle free experience to your customers and it helps in enhancing your brand image. Make sure that you are using the chatbots in a unique way that not only helps your own business but also delights your customers.