Introduction to Chatbots

What is a Chatbot?

A chatbot is a computer program or an artificial intelligence which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. -Wikipedia

It is the general definition for a chatbot from Wikipedia. In a more interpretable way, we can consider chatbots are the applications which converse with the user through text input(can be audio also)

chatbots are the future of automating the engagement of the real users in an information system. Even there are companies who deliver customized virtual agents.

Yes I said ‘Virtual Agents’, does it sounds good?

Even it doesn’t, those companies says it sounds good. None of the companies building chatbots like to call their product as a chatbot. Because they try to either imitate or replace a human agent to serve the customer with information with the best user experience. So with respect here after we can call chatbots as ‘Virtual Agents’ 😊

Virtual agents already started doing something in enterprises with a great impact. Some of the major tasks they do are:

Improve customer service. It is the best option for those who don’t want their customers to:

  • Wait for operator’s answer – “Stay on the line, your call is important to us” is always annoying, isn’t it
  • Search for an answer in the FAQ – as a rule, users don’t have time for scrolling dozens of pages with instructions.

Streamline the shopping process. It only takes to write what you want to the chatbot and the bot will send the information to the sales department. You don’t need to repeat several times “I need the same, but with metal buttons”. Besides, the chatbot remembers your preferences and uses this information when you return.

Personalize communication. A chatbot answers the specific questions of visitors instead of displaying a long list of information. The more attention a customer gets the more increases his desire to buy something.

Improve a response rate. About 90% of questions sent from Facebook business pages remain unanswered. Chatbot responds to 100% of messages and converts more visitors into buyers.

Automate repetitive tasks. Most customers want to get answers to the same questions – When do you work? What is your location? Do you make deliveries? In order not to write the same answers every time, make a chatbot. It reduces your employees’ workload.

Refer Link

The above list is the major reason for the acceptance of this technology product in the market. Let us see the overview of technologies behind this. Before that let me mention one point which is the starting point of tech inside virtual agents. Machine learning based Virtual agents are broadly classified into two:

  • Retrieval based agents
  • Generative based agents

Hey, I have a question for you. Is it possible to build a virtual agent without AI, machine learning or whatever intelligence?

If you are aware of about what is generally happening inside it, you may say yes. If yes, what might be the way is another question that you may raise. There is some kind of software stuff called rule engines or in other way comparing the information in our hands with the words in the query of the user by means of our conditional statements. Then what is the advantage of a virtual agent with AI over agents without AI?

A broader answer is: There are chatbots that are designed with basic programming that can be impressive, but chatbots built on A.I. are exceptional  — Nick Gordon

Reference Link

I agree with Nick, so hereafter virtual agents without AI is out of topic for me, at least here.

General ways to implement a chatbot –

  • Open source tools available for chatbot Quora Read
  • Which language is used frequently – Python (libraries and packages)
  • How to set up your system to make it ready for building chatbot.
  • What will be the expected Input and output for the chatbot
  • How to evaluate your chatbot

What should be the next steps to achieve advance chatbot building. All these details I will start posting in the next series of articles.

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