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Chatbots what they are and how they help businesses

Chatbots have become incredibly popular over the last few years. According to a study by the American GSMA company, 51% of consumers want stores to be reachable 24 hours a day and to respond immediately to their inquiries. Another study by Salesforce found that users have already grown accustomed to chatbots and prefer to use them to solve their problems 69% of the time because they will receive a prompt response. Given that both studies were conducted a few years ago, this statistic would now be even more positive.

People don’t want to wait around for company managers to respond; the world is noticeably getting faster and they want information now. Because of this, chatbots are becoming more and more crucial to businesses.

A chatbot is a program that communicates with users following pre-written scripts. In general, this definition covers voice assistants like Siri, Alice, and Alexa in addition to our standard chatbots found in messengers and on social media. The former stand out as a separate category, but in fact use the same underlying principle.

The widespread use of messengers served as a potent catalyst for the use of chatbots. The popularity of messaging apps like WhatsApp, Viber, and others skyrocketed in the 2010s. Today, messengers account for about 80% of our communication.

There are two categories of chatbots: scripted and AI-based.

The first type scans customer messages for keywords and phrases before providing an appropriate scripted response. The bot won’t be able to respond to the client’s request if it isn’t covered by the script. Such bots are not very useful for businesses whose client communications can be highly variable.

This issue is resolved by the second type of bot, based on AI. Their functionality is based on NLU (Natural Language Understanding) or NLP (Natural Language Processing). A vast training database and a lot of computing power are needed to build a smart and flexible chatbot, though.

Chatbots are used in solving repetitive or standardized tasks:

– Process automation

– Communication with users

– dialogue-based sales

– CRM integration

Here’s an illustration of how an online store chatbot functions:

The customer selects an item and sends it to the chatbot to purchase it. The chatbot offers guidance, coordinates delivery, and suggests the user to pay for their purchase. Payments via SBP don’t even require you to enter your credit card information, which further streamlines and expedites communication.
After making a purchase, a customer can inquire the bot about the delivery status and ask any other questions they may have. The CRM system will receive all transactional data automatically, and the bot will even gather customer feedback after the order is delivered. On top of that, the chatbot can periodically remind users about itself and the store, enticing them to make another purchase. This way, a small online retailer only needs to hire a storekeeper to ship orders and occasionally enlist the help of a technician to handle non-standard requests.

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