Chatbots are taking over traditional mobile apps with their ability to mimic conversations and offer instant connections. According to Gartner, by this year 2021, over 50% of businesses will spend more per year on bots and chatbot creation than traditional mobile app development.
Today, more businesses – irrespective of the industry – are making the most out of chatbots. While chatbots offer 24/7 customer service communication, they also offer data points to predict customer behavior. However, chatbot programming, technology, and type determine the customer base it’ll serve.
Chatbots fall into two main types: Rule-based chatbots (also known as simple bots that work based on keywords), and AI chatbots.
The first and most simple bots are rule-based chatbots. These are the most common bots, and most of us have interacted with one either through live chat features, on social media, or e-commerce sites.
These chatbots hold a basic conversation through “if/then” logic. A human operator, such as a digital marketer, maps out the bot’s conversations using logical next steps and clear call-to-action buttons.
Here is an example to put in perspective how rule-based chatbots work.
As you can see, the conversation always starts with a welcome message. And the visitor has to opt-in to continue the chatbot conversation.
If the visitor deems the content as valuable, the bot asks if they’d like to subscribe to an email newsletter. Next, they must fill in their personal information such as their name, company, and role.
However, if the visitor doesn’t want to continue the conversation, the chatbot will ask if there’s anything it can help with.
Rule-based chatbots are simple and efficient. And the more if/then branches you map out, the better the experience the customer will have and they’ll be fewer errors.
Social Media Chatbots
Many social media chatbots are rule-based, and they live on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
• Facebook Chatbots: Today, there are over 300,000 Facebook chatbots, which makes Facebook the most common platform to use chatbots. Brands such as Sephora and Whole Foods are among many that use Facebook Messenger to automate customer service, online sales, and marketing.
Facebook chatbots communicate with users using call-to-action buttons.
• Twitter Chatbots: Although Twitter has fewer chatbots, it’s still a useful platform for communicating with your audience.
Etsy, for instance, uses Twitter chatbots to automate its customer service. And as you can see, the brand also uses CTA buttons to resolve the customer’s problems.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Chatbots
AI-powered chatbots are more complex than rule-based chatbots. These chatbots are dynamic and they don’t rely on CTA buttons to map out conversations with their visitors.
There are two types of AI chatbots: Natural language chatbots and machine learning chatbots. These chatbots are also known as smartbots.
• Natural Language Chatbots
Natural language chatbots rely on natural language processing (NLP) to understand the visitor’s intent and context – something machines struggle with.
Humans don’t speak logically: we use idioms, slang, and sometimes misspelled words. And we express ourselves differently from machines. Machines need details, structures, and processes.
However, NLP helps machines understand human language.
NLP helps visitors to hold a conversation with the bot similar to text messaging instead of having to navigate through buttons and menus. This offers a more personalized humane experience.
• Machine Learning Chatbots
These chatbots are similar to natural language chatbots, but they’re optimized for learning more about the visitor, retaining information, and predicting a conversation’s next steps.
Machine learning chatbots use artificial neural networks that act as an artificial brain to store large sets of data. And as far as chatbots go, these sets of data are essentially previous conversations and questions that help the chatbot learn.
And like natural language chatbots, machine learning chatbots deliver a personalized experience for the visitor.
NOTE: I shall continue sharing basic information about chatbot features in the next few series. You may view live demo on how chatbot work by clicking ‘Can I help you‘ featuring myself as a chatbot at the bottom right corner of this page. This demo was created using ConversioBot. If you need more information, please email your enquiry to email@example.com