There seem to be hundreds of different types of chatbots. But whether they’re helping people find things to do over the weekend, helping sports fans keep track of their favorite teams or helping personnel get to grips with a company’s human resources policy, there are only three types of chatbots operating behind the interface – Basic; Intelligent; or Hybrid.

Each operates differently and each has its own unique benefits. However, what all types of chatbots have in common is that to work as chatbots for business, they have to deliver a conversational experience that users can get to grips with right away, i.e., without any prior training.

What are the differences between chatbots – and which is right for your business needs?

Basic chatbots

A Basic chatbot’s job is to get the user from point A to point B via a predetermined series of questions and potential answers. The actions of a Basic chatbot, say for ordering a pizza, can be charted as a decision tree. There are a finite number of decisions to make – size, number of toppings, side orders and the end result, point B, is a pizza is sold.

Therefore, these types of chatbots aren’t saturated with artificial intelligence (AI). This means that at the development stage, each potential way a customer could ask the same question has to be considered, integrated and linked to a corresponding predefined answer. The structure of the English language means that there can be at least 10 different ways of phrasing the same yes/no question.

Smaller scope but no mistakes

For this reason, Basic chatbots are at their best when operating in a clearly defined domain. This rigidness of focus means that they’re not going to deliver a game-changing level of customer engagement, but it also means that they don’t make mistakes.

All of which makes them the ideal interactive tool for moving a customer along a sales funnel, removing the frustration from getting answers to frequently asked questions – and thus improving contact center call deflection – or completing forms and registering for a service.

Intelligent chatbots

An Intelligent chatbot leverages elements of AI, such as machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) and is powered by big data, to understand a wider range of questions and queries and to deliver a more immersive, naturalistic user experience.

An Intelligent chatbot can maintain a conversation – think of an interactive tour or museum guide – or can still transport a user from one point to another, but does so when the context and position of both points keep changing – think personal assistant.

Open to interpretation

But in order to maintain a conversation, or to identify individual words in a question that completely change the context of the request, an Intelligent chatbot needs to be able to recognize and act upon a much larger vocabulary and number of intents. If there are can be 10 ways of phrasing the same simple yes/no question, there can be 200-350 different ways of asking the same open question or signaling the same intent – i.e., that the user wants something.

Consider how many different ways there are of asking for a weather forecast based on if the user wants the forecast for this evening or next week, if he or she wants it for their current location or the other side of the world and if they construct the request as a straightforward question or type, “do I need an umbrella?”

An Intelligent chatbot needs a sizable dataset of existing intentions and responses to work with as a foundation and, although it will learn from its mistakes over time and get better at delivering its intended purpose, it needs to be trained in order to reach an initial level of understanding and capability before it goes live.

Hybrid chatbots

If we consider a Basic chatbot as acting like a pipe, enabling the flow of requests to a single answer, a Hybrid chatbot is a more like a funnel. It can leverage the same AI that gives an Intelligent chatbot its smarts, but in order to channel users to one of any number of scripted responses. If we return to the concept of an assistant again, its intelligence lies in understanding what command or service the user requires and then diverting the request to the correct channel.

Sometimes the result is a simple yes/no, off/on, if-this-then-that solution. However, that solution could be something complex that requires human intervention or human emotional intelligence and problem-solving. In these situations, it’s the Hybrid chatbot’s role to hand the user off to the right customer service expert who continues the interaction.

The best of both worlds

All types of chatbots are faster than a person at trawling through data, of holding multiple conversations with multiple people simultaneously and of repeating the same task over and over again without a drop in quality or consistency. However, no matter how well it is trained and how much relevant data it has to work with, a chatbot has to remain in a clearly defined domain of expertise in order to be effective.

A Hybrid chatbot is a customer service chatbot. It allows you to leverage each of a chatbot’s and each of a person’s strengths to offer a seamless super-intelligent experience for end users.  

From understanding and developing a clear business case to creation, promotion and chatbot deployment,  Sitel Group can accompany your organization on every step of the journey toward conversational business.

To learn more about how a chatbot could boost your brand’s customer experience, speak to one of our Digital Solutions experts.

If you missed the first article in our chatbot series, you can read it here: An Introduction to Chatbots

Do you want to gain insight into where in the customer journey a chatbot can sit & what it can do? Read the third and final article in our series: How Should You Use Your Chatbot


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