What Is A Chatbot And Why Are They Effective In 2021?
Chatbot applications have become incredibly popular throughout 2021. Whilst marketing automation is on the rise, the use of virtual assistants to increase customer engagement and decrease human support time has become the top of many businesses digital strategy. Artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots can be programmed to respond specifically to certain inputs via keywords or voice; with this capability, they are then able to respond appropriately and save time for your business team. The newest and most sleek chatbots work through natural language processing (NLP), which is described as ‘to interpret, recognize, and understand user requests in the form of free language.’ Having this allows for human conversations to occur, rather than selecting through specific answers to move further in the messaging application.
What Are The Different Types Of Chatbot?
There are many different types of chatbots you can incorporate into your website, and selecting the right one will have a huge impact. The selection depends on the type of business you are offering, and how you communicate with your target audience. You are even able to add transactional bots, allowing purchases to take place depending on the context of the conversation. Below is a few different types of chatbot technology used today:
- Voice Bots (Smart)
With the use of AI, this type of bot is capable of natural language understanding (NLU). Voice bots are incredibly effective and highly accurate, providing an easy way to communicate. This is one of the most advanced and modern chatbots today.
- Button Based Bots (Simple)
Button based chatbots are amongst the most simplest and common forms of bot used in businesses, particularly popular in customer services. These present a conversation with visitors in the form of question-answer based options, where you are taken down a tree of answers to come to the most appropriate end result.
- Hybrid Bots
Similar to button-based bots, these bots are able to ask questions in order to be taken down a scenario tree. Being slightly more advanced, they are able to format an appropriate response to the topic of conversation with use of natural language understanding.
- AI Bots
AI bots are the most advanced and are self-learning. They use both NLP and machine learning, and are able to communicate in complex scenarios as a human may. AI bots have the ability to read conversations and the emotions of a customer, enabling natural responses throughout the conversation. This is usually the most expensive to implement, and will have an impact on your business depending on the scale and profit.
Why Are Chatbots Beneficial For Your Business?
Chatbot platforms are becoming the go-to for business-customer communication. Although real human interaction may give you the most natural conversation, the hours put in can be highly un-effective for your company. With the use of a chatbot, you can see a great increase in operational efficiency, and even be provided with useful customer data whilst saving time. As they are digital, you can retrieve data from how visitors are interacting with your messaging, who you are engaging and where they may be dropping off from the chat. This allows you to make improvements in various aspects of your business; whether that be what you are selling, messaging used, or the type of audience you are attracting.
The great thing about chatbots is that they can be hidden and not a nuisance to visitors, with both your UI and UX benefiting from the addition of this technology. You can even add chatbots to mobile apps such as Facebook messenger and other various messaging apps where you have business pages.
Automation can be an incredible addition to influence your lead generation strategies; with constant 24-hour responses, filtered data, and personalisation, you can increase customer retention at a low cost. A huge 69% of consumers prefer chatbots because of their ability to provide quick replies to simple questions. (Chatbots Magazine, 2018).
Customers want an easy way to contact people, with studies showing many prefer instant messaging rather than taking up time searching or calling people. If you are lacking quick responses, this can have a huge drop on your sales; people will simply move to your competitors to find what they are looking for. Instant responses show professionalism, enables you to answer queries quickly, and opens up the connection between your business and potential prospects. As a business, you will often get simple questions to reply to, however, the volume can be large. This is where great amounts of time is taken up, rather than pointing efforts in other important areas to influence your business growth.
How To Create A Chatbot Effectively
You firstly need to understand the exact goals you are looking to reach with the addition of your chatbot. This will help to streamline the type of chatbot used, and how their functionality is organised ready for interaction. Once setting these targets, it’s time to choose the type of chatbot that will best reach your set targets. Will it be task-orientated? customer support-driven? Create a mindmap of specifics ready for planning your bots script. When designing the conversation, define the tone in relation to both the bot’s purpose and your business brand. You want to mimic human interaction, along with giving them a feel for what your business stands for. The next step will be to design the flow of your conversation, identifying the possible scenarios during conversation and setting limitations. Don’t forget to add a visual for your chatbot, this will build trust with the recipient and create a more human experience.
The Evolution Of Chatbots
There may currently be a buzzing trend surrounding chatbots, however, the first ever concept named ELIZA dates back to 1966 by Joseph Weizenbaum. This natural language processing computer program was designed at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, created to simulate a psychotherapist’s operation. Followed on in 1979, PARRY was used acting as a patient, and was said to have a better controlling structure and even it’s own ‘personality’ whilst communicating. These early steps are what has influenced the ever-evolving chatbots we see today, highly intelligent and able to mimic our own human interactions with accuracy. With the innovation of voice bots such as Siri and Alexa, we are seeing the incredible chat technologies we are capable of creating, and with much more ahead of us.