A chatbot is a computer program that simulates human conversation, which could be in the form of text or speech. It uses AI(Artificial Intelligence) and NLP(Natural Language Processing).
Chatbots make it very easy for users to find the information they need by interacting with them and responding to their queries without any human intervention. Some common examples of chatbots could be a chatbot integrated into a website, that could answer your questions via chat. Some latest AI-based chatbots are often called “virtual assistants” or “virtual agents” Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa.
Evolution of chatbots
The first Chatbot named Eliza was developed by Joseph Weizenbaum in the 1960s. It was a computer program to mimic human conversations in textual form. It should be noted that Joseph was a professor at MIT(Massachusetts Institute of Technology), a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
In the past, chatbots were programmed to answer a limited number of questions predefined by the database developers. But, when it comes to complex or tricky questions, they failed to respond. After a few decades, programmers added more rules and integrated AI, and Natural Language Processing to make the chatbot answer any possible user question.
How does a chatbot work?
A Chatbot is commonly used on a business website. You would have probably seen a chat messaging prompt popping up when you spent some time on a website. It is a chatbot. The working of a chatbot depends on how it has been programmed.
There are basically two types of chatbot
Declarative chatbots: They are made by feeding some scripted questions or responses. They can be seen on a website where users can have similar types of interactions in the form of questions and answers. They can be used to ask the users for review or feedback or to make a request. This type of chatbot is limited to a set of pre-defined questions and is intelligent only to the extent of its programming code.
An example of this chatbot is the LPG gas booking chatbot. It would answer only a limited number of questions that the chatbot asks itself. Like it would ask, do you want to book a cylinder? If you answer other than yes or no, it would not understand and repeat the question again. These are the most commonly used chatbots.
Predictive Chatbots: They are a more complex and sophisticated type of chatbots. They can interact and carry out a conversation with a user and are often called virtual or digital assistants. They use Natural Language Processing and complex algorithms to process user input and provide them with an accurate response. Examples of these could be Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, or Google’s Google Assistant.
Uses of Chatbots
Customer Support: Chatbots are frequently used in customer service to handle common inquiries and provide instant support. They can answer frequently asked questions, assist with troubleshooting, and guide customers through basic processes.
Lead Generation and Qualification: Chatbots can engage with website visitors, collect information, and qualify
leads by asking relevant questions. This helps businesses gather valuable data and identify potential customers.
E-commerce and Sales: Chatbots can assist customers in finding products, recommend options based on preferences, provide information about pricing and availability, and even facilitate the purchase process.
Virtual Assistants: Chatbots can function as personal virtual assistants, helping users with tasks such as scheduling appointments, setting reminders, sending notifications, and providing relevant information.
Information Retrieval: Chatbots can retrieve specific information or answer questions based on predefined knowledge bases. They can provide details about products, services, policies, or general knowledge topics.
Booking and Reservations: Chatbots can handle bookings and reservations for hotels, restaurants, flights, and other services. They can check availability, provide options, and facilitate the booking process.
HR and Recruitment: Chatbots can assist with the recruitment process by screening candidates, scheduling interviews, and providing information about job openings and company policies.
Education and Training: Chatbots can be used as interactive learning tools, providing personalized guidance, answering questions, and delivering educational content.
Surveys and Feedback: Chatbots can engage users in surveys and collect feedback to gather valuable insights and improve products or services.
Social Media Engagement: Chatbots can interact with users on social media platforms, answer queries, provide information, and engage in conversations to enhance brand presence and customer engagement.
Language Translation: Chatbots can act as language translators, assisting users in translating text or phrases from one language to another, facilitating multilingual communication.
Financial Assistance: Chatbots can assist with financial queries, provide account information, offer budgeting advice, and perform basic banking transactions.
Pros and Cons of chatbots
- Lower cost than human employees.
- They can provide service 24/7.
- Can provide comparatively quick responses to customers.
- They can also be used as a marketing tool.
- Being multilingual, a chatbot can serve multiple users speaking different languages.
- Not all the time they understand the user queries accurately.
- They lack emotions and therefore the responses generated are not personalized.
ChatGPT was launched by an American Artificial Intelligence Research Laboratory named Open AI in November 2022. It is considered to be one of the most advanced and intelligent chatbot till today. Apart from asking simple questions, it can be used for different purposes like coding. You can ask chatGPT to make a computer program and it would present you the whole code within minutes. It can also be used for language translation.