If artificial intelligence measured time the same way as we do, we’d now call her a millennial. In the limited perspective of the human mind, she’s only 27 years old; perceived from the standpoint of a technologically advanced future, the Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity is the first of its kind.
Designed back in 1995, ALICE was already portrayed on film by none else than Scarlett Johansson.
But, we’re not interested in movie reviews. All our attention goes to cutting-edge tech solutions, and the way they’re making our personal and professional lives easier. In such a context, ALICE is the mother of all chatbots. Web-based or standalone, versatile or single-turn, all bots owe their existence to Her.
These are the many common types of contemporary chatbots, and how people use them.
3 Types of Business Chatbots
Entrepreneurs big and small have started using chatbot platforms about three to five years ago. Thanks to trailblazers like SnatchBot, they’re now enabled to build and implement them without any knowledge or experience in computer science. Businessmen like you and me can simply visit the SnatchBot archive, pick a readymade bot, tweak it here or there, and launch it wherever they see fit.
When they choose to build bots from scratch – which also requires zero technical knowledge and no money – they commonly design them for support, skills, or assistance. These are therefore the three main types of contemporary chatbots, developed to master certain domains, to provide single-turn help, or to offer a little bit from both. The most advanced among them are called virtual assistants.
Thanks to ALICE, NLP, and machine learning, they now dominate entire industries, sectors, and niches.
- Customer Service & Success Reps
Despite their versatile nature, chatbots remain the epitome of modern-day customer service. No other sector has managed to employ them on such a large scale, with more than 80% of companies planning to exploit their immense potential by 2020. By then, they’ll grow even smarter and way more useful.
For the time being, customer service chatbots play a vital role in effort reduction. For customers themselves, it means little to no time for receiving the needed information and resolving common issues. To human agents, it offers automation, while for CEOs, chatbots equal efficiency boost and higher ROI.
The benefits are many for all participants of the customer journey, all of them relying on the chatbot’s ability to ensure convenience. Being available 24/7 across many channels and all devices, these virtual assistants can successfully – and tirelessly – do the work of at least three to five customer service reps.
- Lead Scouts & Salesbots
Moving on to the sales department, a careful observer could notice at least one diligent robot at each of their favourite brands’ com channels. Disguised as the Chiss Pratt’s Star-Lord himself, Marvel’s bot uses a somewhat limited amount of responses to sell the company’s comic books and movie tickets.
What’s brilliant is that your business doesn’t have to be as big as Marvel’s ever-expanding universe in order to sell products and services via chatbots. Thanks to SnatchBot and the like, effective salesbots are now available to startups and SBs as well. It’s up to you, though, to make yours as equally creative.
But before you start selling, you need to make sure that you know who you’re selling to, right? Most salesbots thus serve as lead scouts too, detecting lucrative prospects in real time, qualifying them as cold or hot leads, engaging in personalized dialogues accordingly, and assigning them to sales agents.
- Brand Ambassadors & Engagement Bots
Depending on how they’ve been designed, chatbots can use NLP and machine learning to master specific areas of expertise, or to gain basic knowledge about a variety of topics. Assistant chatbots can even serve as mediators between specialized bots and human agents. But, they can also crack a joke.
Typically used as engagement bots, these assistants often assume a role of brand ambassadors. Their main purpose is brand building and awareness, and they are mostly utilized by marketers at the very beginning of the customer journey. While salesbots convert, engagement bots attract and persuade.
Take Disney’s newest virtual assistant, for instance. Targeted at younger audiences, it does virtually nothing but engage kids in a fun game of mystery solving. By luring in its core audience, the company builds brand awareness with their parents too, indirectly inviting them to buy movie tickets and merch.
- Masters of Data & Survey Bots
Modern chatbots do a swell job facing the customer. From engagement to sales to support, their business applications now cover the entire buyer’s journey and navigate the customer throughout the sales funnel. But, their potential to improve entrepreneurship goes beyond these upfront interactions.
When savvy, today’s companies are using virtual assistants even when they’re not particularly talkative. This type of chatbot doesn’t have to learn at every touchpoint, to personalize conversations, or to answer FAQs in real time. Its sole purpose is more straightforward – it collects invaluable data.
Call them survey bots or poll bots, these assistants don’t answer, but ask. UNICEF uses one to allow people from developing nations to speak out the urgent needs in their communities. User feedback is then translated to actionable data, helping the organization boost and improve its social contribution.
- Digital Companions & Medical Bots
From ALICE to SnatchBot, digital assistants have truly come a long way. Their application in business and social sciences already matches the early predictions, with more innovative uses now exceeding all expectations. Such is their role in the medical industry, currently led by IBM’s AI assistant, Watson.
State-of-the-art chatbots are diagnosing common health issues as we speak, with little to no help from real physicians. The only thing they need, after all, is a comprehensive database. But even more interesting are bots that serve as digital companions to patients suffering from dementia or insomnia.
With humankind being on the verge of a new technological era, its virtual assistants like ALICE, SnatchBot, and Watson that are writing the first chapters of history books for the digital age. Before 2020, they’ll most certainly add a few hundred pages more. Until then, we’ll keep looking forward to some new, exciting types of chatbots. Judging by the current state of things, we won’t be waiting for long.