There are two types of chatbots available: those that function based on rules and those that use artificial intelligence (A.I.). Chatbots that function based on rules are much more limited than those that work with A.I. because they only respond to specific commands. Hence, they require a great deal of programming in order to be an effective tool. Chatbots tools that are powered by artificial intelligence are more dynamic because they respond to language, and don’t require specific commands. They learn continuously from the conversations they have with people and can help fulfill an array of tasks without a monumental amount of programming.
Chatbots – also known as “conversational agents” – are software applications that mimic written or spoken human speech for the purposes of simulating a conversation or interaction with a real person. There are two primary ways chatbots are offered to visitors: via web-based applications or standalone apps. Today, chatbots are used most commonly in the customer service space, assuming roles traditionally performed by living, breathing human beings such as Tier-1 support operatives and customer satisfaction reps.
“It’s hard to balance that urge to just dogpile the latest thing when you’re feeling like there’s a land grab or gold rush about to happen all around you and that you might get left behind. But in the end quality wins out. Everyone will be better off if there’s laser focus on building great bot products that are meaningfully differentiated.” — Ryan Block, Cofounder of Begin.com
This form of artificial intelligence was first developed by MIT Professor Joseph Weizenbaum in the 1960’s and named ELIZA. It wasn’t until 2011, when chatbots had a resurgence with the inception of WeChat in China. Customers could create chatbots on this platform and interact with one another seamlessly. In 2016, Facebook introduced its own chatbots which paved the way for this form of artificial intelligence to enter and interact with mainstream media consumption.
This chatbot aims to make medical diagnoses faster, easier, and more transparent for both patients and physicians – think of it like an intelligent version of WebMD that you can talk to. MedWhat is powered by a sophisticated machine learning system that offers increasingly accurate responses to user questions based on behaviors that it “learns” by interacting with human beings.
Marketer’s Take: If you operate a takeout business or if you want to be the next Domino’s Pizza food delivery service, then Burger King offers an excellent example of how a simple bot can take food or product orders without the need for an expensive mobile app. Its second generation bot will most likely start to predict when you’re hungry and offer discounts on your favorite food order if you purchase in the next 30 minutes. So much for that lean body you’ve always wanted to maintain.
Chatbots are increasingly present in businesses and often are used to automate tasks that do not require skill-based talents. With customer service taking place via messaging apps as well as phone calls, there are growing numbers of use-cases where chatbot deployment gives organisations a clear return on investment. Call centre workers may be particularly at risk from AI-driven chatbots.
Interestingly, the as-yet unnamed conversational agent is currently an open-source project, meaning that anyone can contribute to the development of the bot’s codebase. The project is still in its earlier stages, but has great potential to help scientists, researchers, and care teams better understand how Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain. A Russian version of the bot is already available, and an English version is expected at some point this year.
The process of building, testing and deploying chatbots can be done on cloud-based chatbot development platforms offered by cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS) providers such as Oracle Cloud Platform  and IBM Watson. These cloud platforms provide Natural Language Processing, Artificial Intelligence and Mobile Backend as a Service for chatbot development.
Online chatbots save time and efforts by automating customer support. Gartner forecasts that by 2020, over 85% of customer interactions will be handled without a human. However, the opportunites provided by chatbot systems go far beyond giving responses to customers’ inquiries. They are also used for other business tasks, like collecting information about users, helping to organize meetings and reducing overhead costs. There is no wonder that size of the chatbot market is growing exponentially.
Develop intelligent, enterprise-grade bots that let you maintain control of your data. Build any type of bot—from a Q&A bot to your own branded virtual assistant. Use a comprehensive, open-source SDK and tools to easily connect your bot across popular channels and devices. Give your bot the ability to speak, listen, and understand your users with native integration of Azure Cognitive Services.
24/7 digital support. An instant and always accessible assistant is assumed by the more and more digital consumer of the new era. Unlike humans, chatbots once developed and installed don't have a limited workdays, holidays or weekends and are ready to attend queries at any hour of the day. It helps to the customer to avoid waiting of a company's agent to be available. Thus, the customer doesn't have to wait for the company executive to help them. This also lets companies keep an eye on the traffic during the non-working hours and reach out to them later.
Smooch acts as more of a chatbot connector that bridges your business apps, (ex: Slack and ZenDesk) with your everyday messenger apps (ex: Facebook Messenger, WeChat, etc.) It links these two together by sending all of your Messenger chat notifications straight to your business apps, which streamlines your conversations into just one application. In the end, this can result in smoother automated workflows and communications across teams. These same connectors also allow you to create chatbots which will respond to your customer chats…. boom!
Marketer’s Take: The bot was surprisingly effective yet fell short several times when queries like “Show me Blue Jeans” came with a canned bot response, “Sorry, I didn't find any products for this criteria.” Yet I know they sell “blue jeans”. Still, the bot was one of the best eCommerce bots I’ve seen on the platform thus far, and marketers should study it.
HealthTap helps you get answers for your health queries from physicians around the world, for free. You can browse through and read answers for similar queries as yours. Over 100,000 physicians with different specialities regularly review and post answers to the questions asked on HealthTap. So, the next time you’re down with headache after texting the entire night on Messenger, you know who to ping next.