A chatbot is a computer program that can interact with human users in conversation. Usually, the user interfaces with the chatbot through text messages and input fields. Chatbots can be classified as either goal-oriented systems or conversational agents. Goal-oriented chatbots are designed to conduct tasks such as customer service and sales, while conversational bots often deal with non-goal-based dialogue and typically mimic human responses.
What Does a Chatbot Do?
Chatbots can be used to provide information, technical support, and another customer service. They are often deployed in phone or web-based interactive voice response systems that follow a question-and-answer format.
Customers interact with the system by pressing buttons on their telephone keypad or taking some other action such as saying “representative” and then speaking their request.
Conversational bots are less like interactive voice response (IVR) systems, and more like apps that run on a mobile device. They can be embedded in messaging apps or used with other services to handle simple requests.
Users start the conversation by sending a message or talking into the app. The conversational bot then uses artificial intelligence algorithms to determine what the user is trying to communicate and responds according to how it has been programmed.
For example, if you tell Slackbot that you want to see your product roadmap, Slackbot will check your account settings for viewing permissions and then return a list of files available for sharing on your team’s workspace. If users have trouble using a conversational bot, they can easily close a chat and connect with a human.
Types of Chatbots
There are three main types of chatbots, each with varying degrees of artificial intelligence.
The first type includes those that understand language as well as those that only understand pre-programmed responses to direct questions or inputs.
Those without understanding can be said to have little intelligence and are comparable to the “mobile responsive websites” popularly called bots that exist for basic tasks such as weather forecasting, stock market updates, and sports scores.
However, this is not an accurate representation as these simple bots can become considerably complex given their integration into business applications and processes and the addition of sophisticated machine learning tools.
Second-level intelligent bots can understand natural language and do not need pre-programmed responses to direct questions and inputs. These bots can engage in meaningful conversations and their level of understanding and responses can be said to be the beginnings of artificial intelligence.
Finally, third-level intelligent chatbots that also understand natural language can talk freely with any human about nearly anything, just as a real-life person would.