“Chatbots” are very famous these days. With the evolution of Machine Learning and Deep Learning Technologies, chatbots have gained a significant popularity in the industry. Many companies are trying to build chatbots for their businesses.
What are Chatbots ?
Chatbots are a piece of software that handles conversations in text or audio formats. Their main purpose is to fulfill some human intention. For example, think you want to order a pizza. So “ordering a pizza” is your intention. The chatbot should understand this intention and should be able to gather required information like, which type of pizza you want, what size, how many and any additional ingredients etc. After collecting this information, the chatbot helps you to place the order and thus the intention is fulfilled. In this process there is a whole conversation involved. This is same as the conversation that takes place with a cashier. In other words, chatbots replicate humans and provide a service on behalf of them.
Teaching a machine or a software to understand a conversation is not that easy. Why? Let’s see an example. You can ask about the time in different ways like;
- “What time is it?”
- “What is the time right now?”
- “What’s the time?”
- “Can you tell me the time, please?”
The intention of all these questions are to ask the time. If you are trying to build a software, to understand the user’s intention, you will have to code thousands of lines of conditionals. That’s a nightmare! This where we need Natural Language Understanding (NLU). Natural Language Understanding is a part of Natural Language Processing (NLP). NLU helps to convert human language into machine language and vice versa.
There are a considerable number of chatbot frameworks with NLU technology in the internet. Some are free and some are paid. Different frameworks have different capabilities. And there are some opensource frameworks as well. Some of the famous chatbot platforms and frameworks are;
- Microsoft Bot Framework
- IBM Watson
Those chatbot platforms provide tools and features to design a chatbot that can handle a conversation like a human.
When were Chatbots originally introduced?
The word “Chatterbot” (now Chatbot) was first coined in 1994. However in 1950, Alan Turing developed a “Turing Test” which can test a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. This is considered as the idea that laid the foundation for chatbots and all machine intelligence developed so far. “ELIZA” which was developed by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in 1966 is considered as the first chatbot in history. ELIZA can recognize keywords or phrases from inputs and then reproduce a response using those keywords from pre-programmed responses.
Nowadays chatbots have more capabilities and features and surely the technology will continue to evolve in the future.
Why do we need a chatbot for our business?
In every business which has an online presence, handling customer inquiries is a hassle. Chatbots can effectively handle this hassle for you by providing a personalized and delightful customer experience because chatbots are available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. They can handle multiple conversations simultaneously. Chatbots can collect data of the customers and analyse that data to identify the personal preferences of each and every customer, which enables to provide a personalized customer experience. For example, if there is a customer who only orders vegetarian food, the chatbot can show this customer only vegetarian menus. When a customer feels that the service you provide is customized for them, they would be delighted.
“Satisfied customer is the best source of advertisement”
― G.S. Alag
Chatbots are great source of generating business leads. That is why many businesses who handle customers online, implements chatbots. Many famous messaging platforms allows you to link chatbots to their messaging platforms, opening your business to their large user base. For example Facebook Messenger is a great platform to reach potential customers for your business.
Capabilities of chatbots are not limited to ordering food only. They can be used to manage hotel bookings, weather forecasting, flight bookings, bank account management, music streaming and many more services.
Chatbots have made a significant revolution in the healthcare industry as well. Many healthcare providers are using chatbots to offer various services to their clients. Patients can schedule an appointment with a Doctor at any time by interacting with a chatbot. Moreover, those chatbots can help you to check symptoms, understand your medical conditions, view your medical reports, guide you to a specific medical clinic, share health tips, remind you of your appointments with Doctors etc.
As a company which is inspired by innovation and latest technologies, we at Cloud Solutions International too have implemented chatbots to provide our services like scheduling appointments, remind doctors appointments etc.
Now you can understand how chatbots have influenced to revolutionize many industries. Chatbots are a trending technology that will be a game changer for many businesses. You can think of many creative ways to utilize a chatbot to promote your business and to provide a promising service for your customers. If you haven’t implemented a chatbot for your business yet, it’s time for you to give it a shot!