Like virtual assistants such as Siri, Cortana or Google Assistant, chatbots are tools with Artificial Intelligence at the service of customers. Contrary to what many people might think, they are not a recent invention for they have existed on the web for several years. Here are the main points to know about them, especially if you run a professional website.

What Is a Chatbot?

Among your chatbot questions list, the real definition of a chatbot is certainly on the head of it. So, a chatbot is software that can interact with customers and prospects. As a matter of fact, it is able to simulate a conversation like a human. This word comes from “chat” which designates an online discussion and from “bot” for robot. The very first conversational agent, named ELIZA, was created in 1966 and it imitated a psychotherapist. Subsequently, the first virtual assistants appeared in 2004, but due to various issues (limited responses, expensive software, etc.), they did not make a great success. The craze for chatbots appeared in April 2016 when Facebook announced that all companies with a Facebook page will be able to use a chatbot on the Messenger platform.

The 2 Types of Chatbot

This technology is more than useful for your business but before you take the plunge, know that there are 2 types of chatbot you can use on your website:

  • Programmed chatbots: virtual assistants which are programmed to give a specific answer to a specific question. They usually understand what is being asked of them and respond according to a pre-programmed script. It is the most used solution on the web so far.
  • Learning bots: it is about an artificial intelligence capable of learning and thus improving its responses as it goes. This type of chatbot can also remember a customer as well as their preferences. This option is then more efficient but also more expensive.

Why Use a Chatbot on a Website?

The main purpose of using chatbots is to improve the user experience by helping them solve a problem, order a product or direct them to the appropriate service in real time. You can personalize your chatbot as you want it to best represent your company: a unique personality, a humorous one, etc. With the uptake of the internet, chatbots have become more and more present in our daily lives. The biggest companies such as Spotify, Sephora, Starbucks or even Mastercard all have their chatbot that is often represented in the form of an animated character or just a dialog box where customers and prospects can ask their questions.

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