Chatbots and conversational AI are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. Understanding the differences between them can help you decide which technology is best for your customer service experience.
Chatbots are computer programs that simulate human conversations to provide better experiences for customers. Some work based on predefined conversation flows, while others use artificial intelligence and natural language processing (NLP) to interpret user questions and send automated responses in real-time.
Conversational AI is a broader term that refers to AI-driven communication technology such as chatbots, virtual assistants (e.g., Siri or Bixby), and generative AI(e.g., Chat GPT or Google Bard). Conversational AI platforms use data, machine learning (ML), and NLP to recognize vocal and text inputs, mimic human interactions, and facilitate conversational flow. As you know, the unveiling of ChatGPT by OpenAI in December 2022 has garnered significant interest. These generative AI, known as large language models (LLMs), possess the ability to generate text across an extensive array of subjects. Gaining an understanding of LLMs is crucial to comprehending the functionality of ChatGPT.
Chatbots in the modern era can be broadly classified into two types: rule-based chatbots and AI chatbots.
Rule-based chatbots, also known as decision-tree bots, operate based on a series of predefined rules. These rules form the basis for the types of problems the chatbot is familiar with and can provide solutions for. Like a flowchart, rule-based chatbots map out conversations in anticipation of what a customer might ask, and how the chatbot should respond. However, they cannot answer any questions outside of the defined rules. These chatbots do not learn through interactions and only perform and work with the scenarios you train them for.
On the other hand, AI chatbots use machine learning and natural language processing to understand the context and intent of a question before formulating a response. These chatbots generate their own answers to more complicated questions using natural-language responses. The more you use and train these bots, the more they learn and the better they operate with the user.
While rule-based bots have a less flexible conversational flow, these guard rails are also an advantage. You can better guarantee the experience they will deliver, whereas chatbots that rely on machine learning are a bit less predictable. Some other advantages of a rule-based chatbot are that they are generally faster to train (less expensive), integrate easily with legacy systems, streamline the handover to a human agent, are highly accountable and secure, can include interactive elements and media, and are not restricted to text interactions.
AI chatbots, on the other hand, work well for companies that will have a lot of data. Although they take longer to train initially, AI chatbots save a lot of time in the long run. AI chatbots learn from information gathered continuously, improve as more data comes in, understand patterns of behavior, have a broader range of decision-making skills, and can understand many languages.
Conversational AI refers to technologies that can recognize and respond to speech and text inputs. In customer service, this technology is used to interact with customers in a human-like way. The interaction can occur through a bot in a messaging channel or through a voice assistant on the phone.
Conversational AI platforms use data, machine learning, and natural language processing to understand user intent, mimic human interactions, and facilitate conversational flow. They can also use other technologies such as sentiment analysis, emotion detection, and speech synthesis to enhance the customer experience.
Conversational AI can handle more complex and dynamic conversations than chatbots. They can also switch between different topics, contexts, and channels seamlessly. Conversational AI can provide personalized and proactive service based on customer data and behavior.
Chatbots and conversational AI can benefit customer service in many ways, such as:
The choice between chatbots and conversational AI depends on your business goals, needs, and resources. Here are some factors to consider:
Chatbots and conversational AI are both powerful technologies that can improve your customer service experience. However, they are not the same and have different strengths and limitations. By understanding the differences between them, you can choose the best option for your business and your customers.
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