A chatbot or chatterbot is a software application that simulates human conversation through voice commands or text chats or both. Chatbots are a form of artificial intelligence (AI) used in messaging apps. These tools are automated programs that interact with customers like a human would and cost little to nothing to engage with. Chatbots generally work in two ways- either through machine learning or with set guidelines.
The term “ChatterBot” was originally coined by Michael Mauldin in 1994 to describe these conversational programs. There are a number of synonyms for chatbot, including “talkbot”, “bot”, “IM bot”, “interactive agent”, or “artificial conversation entity”. Most chatbots are accessed online via website popups or through virtual assistants. Some examples of chatbot technology are virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant, and messaging apps, such as WeChat and Facebook Messenger.
Types of chatbots
There are two categories of chatbots: Rule-based chatbots and AI-based chatbots.
- Rule-based chatbots
It can only respond to a set number of requests and vocabulary and is only as intelligent as its programming code. An example of a rule-based chatbot is an automated banking bot that asks the caller some questions to understand what the caller wants to do.
- AI-based chatbot
It is equipped with artificial intelligence and trained using machine-learning algorithms and can understand open-ended queries. AI-based chatbot identifies the language, context, and intent, which then reacts accordingly.
What are the advantages of chatbots?
The advantages of chatbots are as follows:
- Chatbots are convenient for providing customer service and support 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week.
- They are less expensive over the long run than hiring people to perform support.
- Chatbots can be used as a sales and marketing tool.
- Chatbots are very efficient.
- Chatbots automate routine functions.
- Chatbots provide individual connections to a limitless number of users at scale.
- Chatbots are social allowing for a two-way dialogue with suggestions.
What are the disadvantages of chatbots?
The disadvantages of chatbots are as follows:
- Many chatbots are limited in the scope of queries that they are able to respond to.
- Chatbots can be expensive to implement and maintain, especially if they must be customized and updated often.
- Lacks emotion and is not personalized.