Broadly speaking, chatbots can be divided into rule-based chatbots and AI chatbots.
These chatbots are built with decision-trees and use a set of rules to respond to user inputs. They are limited in what they can do but are good for simple interactions. You may have come across a rules-based chatbot on a web page where you are asked yes/no questions or choose from a drop-down list. If it can’t answer the question, the chatbot can direct users to resources, such as an FAQ page or a contact form.
AI chatbots use smart technologies, such as Natural Language Processing to provide more human-like and personalised experiences.
They are also referred to as self-learning chatbots as they use Machine Learning algorithms to improve their responses over time.
They can handle complex queries and provide personalised experiences. AI chatbots interpret the context, intent and sentiment while talking to a person which informs how a conversation goes.
Generative chatbots: ChatGPT is the most well-known generative chatbot - the GPT stands for Generative Pre-Trained Transformer. These bots are able to create responses from their training on large language models and they continuously grow through Machine Learning.
Voice chatbots use speech recognition technology to allow users to interact with them through voice commands.
Retrieval-based chatbots have a pre-stored database of responses to choose from. They select the closest match to a user's query but may struggle to respond if something new or unexpected gets asked.
Hybrid chatbots combine features from different types of chatbots to provide a more comprehensive experience.
AI chatbots thrive in many situations, such as:
For example: automated conversations to answer queries, FAQs, process payments, etc.
For example: booking appointments, product suggestions, automated follow-ups, etc.
For example: promotions, conversations around products, guiding the buying journey, etc.
For example: gaming, interactive storytelling, quizzes, personal recommendations, etc.
For example: making appointments and sending reminders, giving general health advice, symptom checking, health tracking, etc.
Virtual assistants aren’t defined as chatbots, but they have some chatbot capabilities. They are powered by artificial intelligence but are mainly designed to respond to voice commands, control smart home devices and perform tasks, such as setting reminders, playing music, or answering questions.
You have probably come across the most well-known virtual assistants such as Alexa, Siri, Amazon Echo and Microsoft Cortana.
Chatbots are often used to handle simple and repetitive tasks, freeing up customer service agents to handle more complex and nuanced conversations. An added bonus is that, unlike human agents, they are available 24/7, all year round.