What are chatbots?
The term chatbot is a name given to a type of computer program specifically designed to converse with a human user. These programs vary wildly in their sophistication and possible applications, but at the simplest level, they provide an output of text that changes in response to a human input on the other side of the conversation.
Chatbots are a great example of AI as their responses are usually dependent on a particular input, and they can even evolve over time with the help of machine learning algorithms. The use of these specialized bots is becoming more and more widespread as the technology behind them advances, and they can be applied in all sorts of creative ways by organizations.
The purpose of the software, as with most AI and machine learning products, is generally to increase productivity and reduce costs. Many monotonous processes that would traditionally require a human employee can now be automated with the help of chatbots. It’s easy to see the potential savings to be made by those who utilize the technology intelligently.
Beyond chatbots, Conversational AI refers to the use of messaging apps, speech-based assistants, and chatbots to automate communication and create personalized customer experiences at scale.
Why are Chatbots important?
For traditional customer service, and when businesses need to interact with members of the public, things need to be done either face-to-face or over the phone. This means having specialized customer service professionals in the company, and often large numbers of them. In large-scale, customer-focused companies, these departments can even be among the largest in the company.
The costs associated with these departments can be huge. Hiring, training, office space, equipment – it all adds up to a serious investment. But having good-quality customer service is something that’s vital for almost any company to succeed, so it has always been a necessary expense.
“Having good-quality customer service is something that’s vital for almost any company to succeed, so it’s always been a necessary expense.”
Around the 1960s, things began to change. At first, rudimentary computer programs were created to have conversations with people. These programs had a very limited set of responses and were more of a gimmick than something genuinely useful.
However, over time, the programs have advanced into what we now know as chatbots. Two major developments have accelerated this advancement. The first is the ability of software engineers to build more complex code, enabled by greater computing power. This has resulted in rapid development of related technologies like Natural Language Processing(NLP). Many of the more advanced modern chatbots use machine learning algorithms to adapt to specific interactions and present novel responses. This can involve large numbers of calculations in a very short space of time and simply was not possible without modern processing power.
“Chatbots are very capable or answering most queries about a given product just as effectively as a human employee.”
The second major advancement is the internet. With an internet connection, chatbots can access the sum of human knowledge and link with any user on the planet. This means that some types of chatbots can both learn over time and ‘talk’ with people on the other side of the world. With these tools, modern chatbots are more convincing and have more potential applications than ever. When deployed in a specific context such as customer support, they are very capable of answering most queries about a given product just as effectively as a human employee. Many chatbots are now even able to convince human users that they are real people.
Despite how far chatbots have come in recent years, the technology is still developing all the time, becoming more and more sophisticated.
Sales & Marketing
Many marketing-related processes can be automated via the use of chatbots, allowing companies to reach out to potential customers on a large scale more efficiently. For example, chatbots may be used to contact people on social media or respond to inquiries about a product, helping to increase exposure, engagement, and numbers of good-quality leads.
Beyond marketing, bots can also be used to help with direct sales in place of, or in conjunction with, real salespeople. By reaching out to existing leads, booking meetings, answering queries about products, and more, chatbots are becoming valuable sales tools.
Customer service is perhaps the most obvious and widespread application of chatbots today. Chances are you’ve had several conversations with customer service bots in the last few years, possibly without even realizing it. They often function as a sort of advanced FAQ section, or as a first line of customer service that helps to redirect inquiries in an appropriate way.
By bypassing the need for human employees, companies can save a lot of time, money, and effort, and often get even better results.
Transform your customer experience
Chatbot technology is an exciting field that is changing the way countless organizations interact with people. At the cutting edge of this technology are AI and machine learning.
Sciling is a team of machine learning experts with decades of experience in both academia and industry. We use our unique expertise in the field to build world-class chatbot technology from scratch, customized for any business and any purpose.
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Get in touch with the team to see how we can help you.