Chatbots – your virtual assistant

Chatbots – your virtual assistant
You know that little box on the side or the bottom of a website that pops up, seemingly out of the blue? It normally has a nice picture of a helpful looking human, and a carefully typed out message. Something along the lines of, how can I help you today?

Well that innocent picture and phrase could well be Artificial Intelligence.

A chatbot, or talkbot or something to that effect is an algorithm that has been designed to seem like a human. It answers simple questions on a website or even has conversations, depending on the programming of course. Now, before you start down the rabbit hole of disappointment that the chatbot who helped you with a serious question was actually a computer program, let me show you how helpful chatbots really are.

Chatbots come in a variety of different forms, some are programmed with premade responses, others pick up on keywords to respond and some even use Machine Learning (ML) to adapt to certain conversational stimulus. They can be used in social messaging, on websites and text messages. These little helpers go far beyond your automatic ‘out of office’ email. They can save businesses time by responding to customer enquires efficiently. In the current climate, studies show that people prefer to message businesses rather than call. So the use of chatbots is a win-win for businesses and clients.

Why are chatbots important?

A chatbot is more than an algorithm that chats with clients. They can be used to enhance a business’s marketing strategy and offer recommendations and offers. They can also follow up on business processes. By taking in information about typical client requests or questions, a chatbot can gather data to highlight some parts of a business that isn’t working. An example of this is where a chatbot notices a lot of clients in the same area ask the same question about delivery times. This information could help the business to streamline delivery in that area so that the times are better for the customers.

Chatbots also allow business to appear to be available 24/7. This means that they are more likely to reach customers in different time zones. This increases customer-business engagement and makes the customer feel more open to the business. Above all, chatbots are in keeping with the way clients like to do business online and they give businesses more time and money to invest in other important aspects of their business processes.

As much as chatbots are perfect for businesses, they also help the average person. Virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa are a type of chatbot too. They respond to verbal communication from the user and relay relevant information. In this age of constant motion, it seems that the use of chatbots and artificial intelligence affects many aspects of the day to day activities of people.

One of the more interesting applications of chatbots is in healthcare. The Russian technology company, Endurance, introduced a ‘companion chatbot’. The idea of this chatbot is to be a companion for persons suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The chatbot can chat with the seniors on general topics such as the weather and sports.

By leveraging chatbots, it appears that everyone from the senior citizen to the young traveler and the business owner can benefit. In a world that is edging closer and closer to interconnected relationships, chatbots seem to be a crucial part of the jigsaw. Why not ask a chatbot what it thinks of that?

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