From time to time humans have been trying to gain more and more ways to make lives easier using technology. A chatbot is an example of the same effort. What is the meaning of Chatbot? A ChatBot sometimes referred to as a ChatterBot, is a programmed software that simulates the conversation between a human being and a machine through text or voice interaction. It does not let you feel that it’s a machine you are talking to. It’s like a human sitting on the other side, answering all your queries. Although it is a new concept, it has been gaining a lot of popularity due to its features that make all the work convenient for the user.
Types of chatbots
Two types of Chatbots are most commonly known:
- Rule-based Chatbots
- AI-based Chatbots
- These essentially work as an interactive FAQ i.e. Frequently Asked Questions. You might have noticed while surfing any website, there is a separate section at the end of the page which has some predefined set of questions with certain predefined answers. The rule-based chatbot works on a similar concept where it has some fixed questions with already-fed answers. You can neither manipulate the answers nor add any further questions.
- They are programmed to recognize certain terms and patterns from which they can respond with pre-set answers.
- This type of chatbot lacks the adaptability and analytics capability of a human being to understand a person’s expectations and intentions well. This bot is very limited, it can respond only to a few specific commands. If you say something wrong, it will not understand what you said.
- For example, if you go to the official website of Bank of Baroda, you can find a tiny icon in the lower right corner named ‘Ask ADI’. When you click on it, a chatting pop-up appears which has a set of predefined options like Loans, Current Account, Savings Account, Deposits, Internet banking, Mobile Banking. You have these options only to select from. As you select any of the above options, the related list of subset options appears in the pre-set chatbot interface. It is a collection of the most popular FAQs and the answers to these queries are already defined which will be shown once you click on the subsequent choice. As soon as you type something out of the box, it will immediately print a message, ‘I didn’t understand. You can try rephrasing’.
- A rule-based chatbot will never be able to compete with his AI cousin.
- This bot has an artificial brain developed with the help of Artificial Intelligence. You do not have to be ridiculously specific when you are talking to it. It understands language, not just commands. This can be regarded as a revolutionary invention where the intent of the user is understood by the machine just like any other person would try to do at the moment. This takes users’ queries as they speak and attempts to solve them in real-time.
- This bot continuously gets smarter as it learns from the conversations it has with people. The more queries it solves, the more efficient and experienced it becomes like a part of machine learning. The precision and accuracy of answering are enhanced with every question.
- There are a lot of AI chatbots available in the market today but the most regularly used are Alexa, Google Home, and Apple’s Siri.
- Alexa is a voice-controlled virtual assistant that answers whatever you ask, in real-time. It has a lot of functions along with answering your general queries like,
- Play music
- Report the news
- Check the weather
- Offer sports updates
- Play podcasts
- Stream live radio
- Control your smart home
- Manage your lists and calendars
- Cell phones and other Alexa-enabled devices
- Set times and alarms
- Play audiobooks
- Find local business information
- Shop on amazon
- Do maths etc.
Examples of Chatbot implementations
These are ideal for the areas that require self-service and customer support. The major areas in the industry where chatbots are used are:
- Retail and e-commerce: We can purchase stuff using a chatbot.
- Media and Entertainment: We can listen to our favorite songs just by naming them anytime, anywhere as the Voice assistants like Alexa and Siri are quite portable.
- Finance and legal: We have already discussed the example of the Bank of Baroda on how it can be used in the finance sector.
- Food: In ordering food through an application.
- Health: While booking an appointment with a doctor.
- Travel: We can book flight and train tickets online with the help of a chatbot.
Top 10 Most Innovative chatbots in the World
Chatbots are everywhere these days owing to their excellent customer service and potential for marketing sales, thus corporate giants are embracing chatbots. Technological advancement in machine learning and other underlying technologies such as natural language, processing, etc. has made chatbots smarter, sensible, and more responsive. We all encounter chatbots in our daily lives when we go online. Let us look into the ten most innovative and useful chatbots that are making a difference nowadays:
- NDURANC Chatbot
It is useful for dementia patients. Russian technology company Endurance has developed it. Currently, it is an open-source project. Endurance has a great potential to help scientists, researchers, and care teams to better monitor and learn how Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain. There is a Russian version of the bot available right now and the English version is expected to be launched soon.
Casper chatbot helps insomnia patients to go through the night when they can not sleep. It acts as a companion by engaging the individuals in much-needed conversations so that they can feel relaxed. Casper is an amazing chatbot that is proving to be a savior for insomnia patients.
- Disney’s Chatbot
Like corporate giants, Disney also uses chatbots to engage the younger audience. Disney has devised a chatbot that features a character from the 2016 animated family crime drama “ZOOTOPIA”. Disney encourages the fans of the movie to help in solving crime plots. The fans can back the character in investigating crime scenes. Users are free to give their suggestions to which the chatbot responds.
- Marvel Universe Chatbot
The device used by Marvel is primarily for selling comic books and movie tickets. Marvel attracts comic book lovers by letting them talk to the star lord himself. One aspect of the experience it draws from individuals is the user conversations with the bot and the fabulous interface full of colors and artworks from Marvel comics.
- UNICEF Chatbot
International child advocacy non-profit organization United Nations Children Fund is leveraging chatbots to help people living in developing nations express the most urgent needs in their community. The bot performs a large-scale data gathering via polls and posts it on the website where the members call the reporters who can put in their responses.
- MedWhat Chatbot
It aims to make medical diagnosis faster. MedWhat relies on a sophisticated machine learning system that offers increasingly accurate responses to users’ queries based on the behaviors that it observes by interacting with human beings. Apart from being valuable to the users, MedWhat also serves as a pool of information for medical research in peer-reviewed scientific papers.
RoofAi is a bot that aids in lead generations. It’s a chatbot that helps real state marketers to interact with potential leads via social media. The bot utilizes social media platforms to identify potential leads via Facebook. Once it finds a lead, it responses instantaneously in a friendly helpful, and natural conversational tone imitating data to the real person. Further, based on user input RoofAi presents potential leads to provide significant information and assign them to the sales team. This usually impacts the conversion rates. It makes sure leads do not slip out by accidental overlooking.
- NBC Politics Bot
It allows users to engage with the conversational agent over Facebook. It can assess the breaking news topics individuals might be interested in. The bot helps users to stay in tune with the latest updates and breaking news. The bot also helped NBC to access what content most resonated with users. The network is to further customize and refine its content to users in the future.
- Unilever’s bot (Monkey Chatbot)
The chatbot aims at raising brand awareness for PG Tips tea and along with raising funds for its campaign named “The Red Nose Day Special” through the one million laughs. It’s called the monkey chatbot. Monkey responds to users’ questions and can also send users a daily joke at a time of their choosing. Users make donations to Red nose day at the same time.
- ALICE Chatbot
ALICE was one of the first chatbots to be launched online. Even though ALICE for life is based on such an old codebase, the bot offers users a remarkably accurate conversational experience. All the advanced bots would not have been possible without ALICE.
Benefits of ChatBots
- Customers can conduct any search they desire with the help of a conversation-based interface, instead of a search tab or drop-down menu.
- A single chatbot can act as a personal assistant to take care of everything. It is far better than having multiple executives for different tasks. A chatbot is a one-stop solution for all sections.
- Unlike traditional and old-school methods of interaction, chatbot gives a real-time and more humanly experience.
- Enhanced Self-Service
- Chatbots provide immediate answers to a wide range of questions.
- They offer 24*7 services, so there is no time restriction. You can have them at your service whenever and wherever you want.
- They give you a high-quality self-service experience where you can solve your problems without the need for any external help.
- No manipulation can be done to the answers provided as they are auto-generated.
- Increased efficiency
- Chatbots deliver faster service by eliminating manual processes.
- They increase automation in a way that decreases overall costs.
- They make the process comparatively less tiring and rigorous by reducing the human intervention in the answering process.
- Delay in getting the information is rare as you get immediate responses.
- Improved Brand Image
Conversation-based engagement creates a feeling of connectivity, which increases brand commitment.
- Differentiate a company through technology
- A company can meet its customers’ needs with a chatbot that includes the latest technology-based solutions which intensify its market value.
- If you want to be a first mover in this era of cutthroat competition then you need to be ahead of your competitors and use newer technologies like chatbots that provide a seamless user experience.
How do Chatbots work: choosing the right chatbot
Of course, there are several different ways to operate chatbots. The world is buzzing about artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) chatbots however the truth is that most chatbots are rule-based and they do their job just fine or even better than the fancy high-tech bots regardless of all the limitations they have. In all honesty who has not run into an AI chatbot that gets stuck when it does not understand what you are trying to ask of it.
No matter what kind of chatbot you go for, building a solid conversation flow is the key. All chatbots have their pro and cons so let’s get started by getting to know different kinds of technologies, what are their differences; user experience wise, and in setting them up and optimizing.
Rule-based and handcrafted conversational chatbots, in essence, mean that the conversation paths are defined and built into the chatbot. The underlying tech may be simpler, with no ML or AI involved but this approach emphasizes the need to understand the target audience. Understanding the needs and behaviors of users and customers is essential whatever bot technology you employ. The big difference is that the users won’t hit a wall on the way to conversation because the dialogue is based on a decision tree that always works.
Rule-based bots are quick to set up, it takes just a few hours to get started and you don’t need developers to help you get up and running. It’s also easy to adjust the handcrafted conversation compared to an algorithm, no need to rethink or reteach an algorithm. Easy customizability means that you will make adjustments only when there is a need for it. In the best-case scenario, your provider will even suggest improvements and take care of them for you.
On the other hand, AI or ML chatbots provide chatbot conversations by using sets of data. As the available data expands they should become better as they gather and learn from the information. Most AI chatbots are designed to handle a single task. This is due to the required processing power storage and use of data and them being quite expansive and not yet very sophisticated.
If the user is set to complete a niche task, the chatbot user experience is remarkably good, however, if the issue concerns a more complex task then the chatbot runs into trouble.
For example, users in the process of purchase, seeking to confirm a delivery-related detail, might find the chatbot fails if it’s designed for customer service rather than sales.
The setting up of an AI or ML chatbot takes months or even years. It requires a vast amount of data and tech-savvy people in addition to customer support marketing and salespeople to train the chatbots. The project team needs to invest a lot of time into the project. Even though you might think that AI chatbots will optimize themselves that is seldom the case. AI chatbots require constant effort from the project team to improve.
Concisely, choosing the right kind of chatbot technology always depends on your unique circumstances. The only clear way to make some kind of difference, in the beginning, is by assessing the budget at your disposal. If you are limited in budget and that budget is not too high then you should probably start with a rule-based chatbot.