One of the most commonly asked questions on Quora for me is usually, “How do chatbots work?”
This article is the third in a four-part series called Chatbot 18. Other articles that were published in this series can be found here:
However, unlike the other articles, in this post, we will be taking a closer look at how chatbots function and also deep dive into what to look for when investing in a chatbot solution.
In addition, if you would like an experiential product tour where we teach you how to build your own chatbot and take you through an in-depth walkthrough of the Verloop.io platform, then do join us for our upcoming Demo Day on 07 June, 3:30 PM IST by registering here.
Now, back to our topic at hand….
So, how do chatbots work?
Imagine for a minute what the process of communication with another human being is like.
Your mother asks you to go buy some Tropicana 100% Orange Juice.
Your first question is how much of it does she want? 1 litre? 500ml? 200? She tells you she wants a 1 litre Tropicana 100% Orange Juice.
Now you know that regular Tropicana is easily available, but 100% is hard to come by, so you call up a few stores beforehand to see where it’s available. You find one store that’s pretty close by, so you go back to your mother and tell her you found what she wanted. It’s $2, maybe $3, and after asking her for the money, you go on your way.
What does Tropicana Orange have to do with anything? Well, this is the answer to the question that all your bosses and clients will eventually ask, “How do Chatbots work?”
A chatbot follows the same process, with two fundamental differences, the channel of communication and what you’re talking about. I’ll give you a step by step breakdown based on the most fundamental principles of AI/Chatbots.
In the mind of the machine.
- You find a product on Facebook’s Messenger and for the sake of consistency, let’s say it’s the same bottle of Tropicana. You only ever see the presentation layer and send the bot a message that is picked up by the backend saying you want some Tropicana.
- Using Natural Language Processing (what happens when computers read a language. NLP processes turn text into structured data), the machine converts this plain text request into codified commands for itself.
- Now the chatbot throws this data into a decision engine since in the bot’s mind it has certain criteria to meet to exit the conversational loop, notably, the quantity of Tropicana you want.
- Using Natural Language Generation (what happens when computers write a language. NLG processes turn structured data into text), much like you did with your mother the bot asks you how much of said Tropicana you wanted.
- This array of responses goes back into the messaging backend and is presented to you in the form of a question. You tell the bot you want 1 litre and we go back through NLP into the decision engine.
- The bot now analyzes pre-fed data about the product, stores, their locations and their proximity to your location. It identifies the closest store that has this product in stock and tells you what it costs.
- It then directs you to a payment portal and after it receives confirmation from the gateway, it places your order for you, and voila in one to two business days, you have 1 litre of Tropicana 100% Orange Juice.
Suggested read: The Essential Chatbot Terminology for Beginners
Are they exactly like humans?
The biggest difference between chatbots and humans at this point of time though is what the industry calls empathy understanding. Chatbots simply aren’t as adept as humans at understanding conversational undertones.
For example, there’s a very large difference between the statements,
- “We need to talk baby!” and
- “We need to talk babe….”
While this is immediately apparent to a human being, it’s difficult for a machine to comprehend. Progress is being made in this field though and soon machines will not only be able to understand what you’re saying, but also how you’re saying it and what you’re feeling while you’re saying it.
What to look for when choosing your chatbot?
According to Accenture Digital, 57% of businesses claim that a conversational chatbot delivers a large ROI on minimal investment. This makes deploying a chatbot extremely attractive, but in order for you to find and invest in the right chatbot, here are a few features that we feel you should look for.
1. Real-time monitoring.
Real-time data delivery can help you take strategic decisions proactively and oversee customer conversations happening at the moment.
2. Omnichannel support.
Being on platforms that your customers are already on and are comfortable with is crucial if you want to offer extremely easy, robust and personalised customer experiences
3. Continuous AI training.
Having a customer support chatbot provider that will let you continuously train and build your chatbot with FAQs training data, along with the ability to add more intents and entities in turn optimising your chatbot to cover more use cases is a crucial feature you cannot overlook.
4. Extensive integrations.
Make sure that the chatbot you choose for your website is able to offer seamless integration with other products and services that your business uses.
5. Analytical data.
Ensure that your chatbot platform offers you an AI-driven analytical dashboard, this will allow you to turn raw data into actionable insights in simple visual formats for easy consumption.
While these are a few key features to keep in mind while investing in your chatbot, it is extremely hard to prescribe a one-size-fits-all solution. Finding the right chatbot requires finesse and patience and a clear understanding of your business’ needs and priorities.
In case, you have more queries and are overwhelmed with the information regarding the best features to look out for and what the biggest red flags to avoid are, we’ve got you covered.
Join us on our upcoming Demo Day to learn more about how to build your chatbot and what to look for when choosing one. It’s a fun, extremely visual and brief event. And we think it will be of great value and insight as you level up your customer support game.
Join us! Sign up here.