The chatbot paradox:
what chatbot is perfect for your business

As chatbots for a lot of people is still unknown territory, we almost start every workshop we give on chatbots with an introduction about the 'what are chatbots', 'why all the hype around chatbots', and what could they fundamentally mean for your business.

The great thing about managing expectations in chatbot workshops, is the fact that you can kill any hype. We don't like hype as it almost certainly lead to disappointment over time. We prefer to work from a data-proven point of view, where hype is replaced by potential and opportunity.

Let us just start with some numbers: numerous studies reveal that 65% of the people prefer to be assisted by a real life person. On the other hand, 61% agrees on the fact that a chatbot will most likely reply and assist faster. In a world where customer experience and customer relationship is getting more and more important, but where the customer also expects personalized assistance, it's not easy for a business to find the right balance. Considering a chatbot makes sense in some cases, and in other cases not, depending on your target audience and their online and digital habits.

With regards to artificial intelligence, the evolution of the latter has been happening for a while now and we don't expect it to stop very soon neither. Chatbots are only a small part of this revolution, a revolution that is driven by customer convenience. Because in the end, a business wants to comply to their customers as fast and as good as possible.
Now what exactly is a chatbot?

The definition of a chatbot, according to Oxford Dictionaries is:

"A computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet."

The tricky part about chatbots is the fact that it is a chatbot, a computer program. I mentioned earlier that people prefer human interaction over computer interaction. But when you use a chatbot in the right way it can be so much more than just a computer program. For a business owner, a chatbot can be a revelation, a convenient companion who makes your work a lot easier.

In order to find the chatbot that is right for your business it is important to know that not all chatbots are made equal. In fact, there are three types of chatbots:

Menu/buttons; keyword recognition and contextual chatbots.

Menu/button based chatbots

These chatbots are the most commonly used chatbots out there, the most basic type, you might even call them the scripted kind of chatbot. These chatbots are basically 'decision tree hierarchies" presented to their user in the form of a menu or buttons. We all interact with menus on websites on almost a daily basis, just like those menus these chatbots also require the user to make several selections to help you find the ultimate answer.

A nice executed button based chatbot is the Ask Emma food ordering chatbot, which allows you to order take-away food by just pushing some buttons.

Keyword recognition chatbot

These chatbots are smarter than menu based chatbots. Unlike menu based chatbots, these chatbots can actually listen to or read, and interpret your messages and respond appropriately. By utilizing customizable keywords, these chatbots recognize how to answer appropriate to the user.

For example: you're talking to a ecommerce chatbot and you're looking for some new, brown shoes in a size 10. The chatbot will recognize the keywords "brown", "shoes" and "size 10" and the chatbot will offer you all the brown shoes in size 10 that they have in stock.

When we advance to more complex scenarios, where there are more variables/knowledge necessary, these chatbots fall short at replying users with confidence. When the user will start asking similar questions with returning keywords, this chatbot will start to slip.

More popular nowadays is a hybrid chatbot of recognition-based and menu/button-based. By combining keyword recognition and multiple choice menus/buttons, the chatbot is able to handle the request more specifically which automatically lead to a higher success rate.

This kind of chatbot aligns with the conversational commerce capabilities of the Shopitag platform (available in the advanced plans).

Contextual chatbots

Last but not least, the contextual chatbot. By far the most advanced chatbot. By utilizing ML (Machine Leaning) and AI (Artificial Intelligence) these chatbots remember conversations with users to learn and grow over time. Contextual chatbots are smart, unlike keyword recognition-based chatbots, contextual chatbots are smart enough to even fulfill self-improvement based on what the users ask and how they ask it.

For example, a contextual chatbot that allows users to order food will store the data from each conversation and learn what the user likes to order. This will eventually result in the chatbot remembering the user his favorite order, their delivery address and their payment information. So he will just have to confirm the suggestion of the robot and his meal will be on the way!

Obviously this is only a very basic example, but it shows the potential of the contextual chatbot and how powerful conversation context can be when applied to AI and ML. For some of our customers who are ready for this kind of artificial intelligence, we have built the Cleverchat solution that supports organisations going from "no AI" to "advanced AI". S

So what chatbot is right for your cause?

To decide what chatbot will make your customer happy, you have to think like the user, you have to step in their shoes and become the user. Think of the value that they will look for and the value they will try to receive.

Will a menu or buttons do? Or do you think that a more personalized method will be better to serve your customers: by using a keyword-recognition based chatbot you give your users the ability to talk to your bot, which makes the vibe more personal.

The right chatbot is that one that conveys the best value proposition to your users. For some businesses AI-capabilities are necessary, for others a simple menu buttons might already do the trick. Write down what your priorities are for this chatbot, put yourself in the users place and test the chatbot extensively. And you will end up having a companion in your business that you could not live without.

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