Chatbot Tutorial Part 1: Artificial Intelligence Within Reach of Your Business

Have you ever called your cable company and waited for hours to be served by their call center? (Of course you have.) Or maybe you contacted a company on Facebook and only got silence on chat? Well, that has happened to me way too many times, so I have found the perfect solution: chatbots. In this post, learn about the benefits and use cases of chatbots. In a subsequent post, we’ll show you how to build your own chatbot with a developer tutorial.

A chatbot, sometimes referred to as a “chatterbot” or “chat robot,” is a computer program, powered by rules and sometimes artificial intelligence, that attempts to simulate the human conversation experience through customized voice and text.  A user can ask a chatbot a question or make a command, and the chatbot responds or performs the requested action. Chatbots are now commonly customized and used in any major chat product, such as Facebook Messenger, Slack, or Telegram.

 

How do you know if you need a chatbot?

In order to determine if your business could use a chatbot to facilitate customer service tasks, you could ask yourself the following questions:

Do you receive many questions from your customers?

Do you tend to receive repetitive questions?

Do you have a list of FAQs?

Do your customers expect to receive customer service 24/7, or do you want to offer interactive customer service 24/7?

Do your competitors have a chatbot?

Do you want to improve your customer engagement?

If you answered at least three questions positively, then you are a good candidate to implement a chatbot in your business.

 

Why are chatbots a great opportunity?

Even if you already have a customer service team, a chatbot can help alleviate customer headaches and provide answers easily and quickly. Here are some of the benefits:

Availability 24/7 – A chatbot works every day of the year without needing to take a break, allowing your clients to receive an immediate answer to their questions.

Instant response – Nobody likes to wait for an answer. Chatbots can reduce wait times for customers and solve problems more quickly since they can have simultaneous conversations with many people, each of whom will receive an immediate response.

Support in multiple languages – In addition to answering immediately, chatbots can also respond in several languages.

Data – Chatbots not only can interact with humans, but also collect feedback and data analysis about your customers, allowing you to make strategic improvements in your products and services.

Engagement – Getting people to interact with your chatbot through visual content such as videos and images allows you to monitor and track consumer preference, enabling you to make offers more personalized.

Less expensive – By using chatbots that complement the customer service department, companies save money. Since chatbots are automated solutions, they can handle many customers at the same time, and once they have been created, the costs of keeping them updated are relatively low.

Platform agnostic – Users spend a lot of time on applications such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype, Line, Telegram, Viber, Twitter and others. You can develop a single chatbot that works on all these platforms because chatbots are platform agnostic and are easy to adapt and integrate into any business.

 

Some use cases

Chatbots can be used in exciting ways in many businesses and brands:

Ordering food – Some chatbots help people make reservations or take their order online.

Weather reports – You can ask a chatbot about the current weather conditions in your area.

Customer support – Bots can respond to frequently asked questions and provide 24/7 support for your customers’ enquiries and issues.

News updates – Chatbots can help people get news pertaining to different topics such as politics, sports, celebrities and others.

Finding places – Chatbots can help you find places that are near your location, in addition to providing information such as business hours and price ranges.

Retail and e-commerce – Chatbots help customers find the best deals, whether they are looking for something specific, or simply want to set price alerts for some products.

Booking flights – Chatbots can help you find flight schedules, purchase tickets, create check-in reminders, send the flight status, and other tasks.

Finance – Chatbots can help people with deposits, money transfers, credit card payments, transactions, and finding banks or ATM locations.

 

How do chatbots work?

There are two types of chatbots: those that are rule-based, and those that use artificial intelligence (machine learning).

Rule-based bots – They can answer questions based on specific rules in which they are trained, but they are restrictive because they can only respond to specific commands. They are excellent if users are expected to only have simple queries that refer to a limited set of information.

Chatbots powered by artificial intelligence – They work using machine learning, which is the technology that allows the robot to get smarter as it learns from the interactions it has with end users. Chatbots with artificial intelligence can interpret a user’s language to understand and satisfy their needs.

 

How to build a chatbot

The following steps or tips will be helpful when you start developing a chatbot:

1. Define the goals – Set goals before starting anything; clearly indicate the list of functions that your chatbot needs to perform and be specific. The more specific your goals, the better your chances of success with the chatbot.

2. Set an identity – Giving your chatbot an identity that attracts customers and feels human can have a positive impact on the overall experience of end users. Your chatbot must be synchronized with your brand identity.

3. Feed the chatbot the right data – Start training your chatbot with data from typical email queries, information stored on pages like FAQs, call logs made to support staff and customer service, and questions asked by your customers on social networks.

4. Design dialogue flows – A chatbot achieves its goals through communication flows; these flows help you organize your content and think about the best ways to create your chatbot’s responses. A good chatbot knows what to say. To achieve this effect, make a visual map of all the conversation routes that are available and cover all the possible questions and answers.

Chatbots have a wide range of applications, and there are many more benefits than those mentioned above. How might implementing a chatbot help your business? If you want to learn more about chatbots or talk about your ideas, do not hesitate to contact me. I would be happy to speak with you!

Stay tuned for my second post in this series, a developer tutorial on how to build your own chatbot. 

 

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Lincy Gonzalez
Lincy Gonzalez
Lincy Gonzalez is a Sr. Web Developer at Gorilla Logic. With more than 10 years of experience in web development, she has worked on projects for high profile brands such as Yahoo, Merck, Heineken, General Motors, Trailer Park, Legalshield, Sephora and others. She was also on the redesign team of Teletica.com. Lincy has been a professor at the Costa Rica National University since 2011.

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