Routine, everyday interactions make all the difference between satisfied customers whose wants and needs are met and disappointed ones who’ve already moved on. We’re talking about predictable basics like answering common questions, qualifying potential customers, booking appointments, sending reminders, assessing levels of satisfaction, asking for referrals and the list goes on.
The biggest companies can afford staff to handle all these functions, but small- and medium-sized businesses can’t, and they increasingly have had to find other ways to compete, but fortunately, things have changed and chatbots are here to help you better serve your customers and grow your business faster. Let's get started.
What’s a Chatbot?
A chatbot is a computer program that has a set of conversational rules and learns from interactions to acquire intelligence. It's designed to deliver human-like responses for natural conversations with customers, acting as a virtual customer service representative for your business.
A chatbot is a little helper that complements the purely human abilities to provide empathy or subject matter expertise. It can deliver answers to many simple and moderately complex questions on its own. This frees your brain and hands, gaining the precious time to think about things that matter most for the success of your business.
When was Chatbot Invented?
It may come as a surprise, but first chatbot has been created before the Internet. The history of chatbots starts around mid of 20th century with one of the first computer programs that could carry a natural-sounding conversation created between 1964-1966.
Thanks to the recent advancements in natural language processing and artificial intelligence they made their way to the mainstream by becoming always active smart helpers that can provide immediate customer support and assist humans in performing a variety of everyday tasks.
What Makes an Effective Chatbot?
1. Clear purpose
A chatbot must have a clear purpose and capabilities to perform its function efficiently.
It should simplify repeatable tasks and offer complex information in simple terms.
3. Natural experience
It should offer the kind of experience that users expect from a natural conversation.
4. Engaging interactions
It must be effortless to use without any training and motivate end-users to interact with it more.
What are the Types of Chatbots?
1. Simple chatbots
Simple chatbots (also called rule-based chatbots) follow a structured approach to conversing. They are either linguistic-based where the conversation is driven by the use of particular phrases or work on a "decision-flow" basis, where every answer leads to fewer and fewer potential conclusions until the chatbot finally narrows it down to one answer for the visitor.
2. Smart chatbots
Intelligent chatbots are designed to deliver free-flowing, near-human interactions with customers. They use artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms that are fed with user data. AI chatbots that can handle both voice and visuals are often called multimodal bots, but they're often broken down further by their dominant modality into voice bots and chatbots.
3. Hybrid chatbots
Simple and smart chatbots represent the extremes of the chatbot spectrum. Hybrid chatbots are a combination of both of them and can complete both rule-based tasks and understand the intent, mood, and context of every interaction. Knowledge base chatbot is an example of a hybrid chatbot that can automate a variety of common business interactions you have with your customers every day.