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What is a Chatbot and How Do Customer Service Teams Use Them featured image

What is a Chatbot and How Do Customer Service Teams Use Them?

Customer service is an always changing landscape. While many aspects of providing excellent customer service have held true over decades, the reality is that customer expectations have grown and shifted with technology. As consumers have adapted to digital technologies for communication in their personal lives, their preference for digital communication channels has crept into the customer service space. Reinforcing this, a 2022 research study found that 72% of an organization’s customer interactions are now digital.

For many organizations, the leap to digital support means introducing live chat for customer service – now the most popular channel to connect with brands. As organizations see the strong return on investment from live chat, they are now naturally looking to the next step in digital communication.

Enter AI chatbots – ever-improving tech that lets organizations automate conservations and meet the modern demands of fast, 24/7 support. This segment in digital customer service is growing fast, and 70% of customers now either use or are interested in chatbots for simple customer service. If you feel like you need to catch up on what chatbots are and how they work, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll answer your questions like “what is a chatbot?” and “how does a chatbot use machine learning?”

What is a chatbot? 

Chatbots are software that can hold online conversations through a chat interface. Chatbot software is often embedded within live chat software and programmed to have conversations with visitors without human involvement. The technology they are powered by depends on the type of chatbot, which we’ll look at in the next section. 

The most basic chatbot software is often known as a keyword chatbot. These bots are “trained” from existing reference materials like a knowledge base or FAQ bank. The bot is then able to draw from these resources when customers ask common questions. With a well-established knowledge base integrated, the chatbot can follow a pre-defined conversation flow based on rules to serve up an answer. 

AI chatbots take chatbot responses to the next level through their understanding of intent, expressions, and language. These bots can understand conversational dialogue and more accurately and quickly identify what the person’s needs are. With AI, bots can also improve their responses over time based on customer confidence in their answers. This process is also known as machine learning and brings us to the common question “how does a chatbot use machine learning?” Compared to the pre-defined responses of a keyword chatbot, chatbots utilizing machine learning provide more accurate responses based on real-world feedback. 

Task bots are another effective type of chatbot. They are commonly used to automate routine tasks and workflows, allowing customers to complete requests through conversations instead of forms. Depending on need, these requests can include booking meetings, capturing contact details, or registering attendees for upcoming events. 

Voice bots build on AI-powered technology to communicate with customers using speech via a telephony system. These bots help organizations to automate queries, reducing wait times and providing customers with immediate support. It also allows them to offer 24/7 support when teams are offline. 

With AI bot technologies comes opportunity for improved agent service. In the next section, we’ll also be looking at Agent Assist features. This is an AI-powered tool to help agent responses to customers. With intelligent suggestions from the AI and resources powering a bot, agents can deliver better experiences and improved efficiency. 

Types of chatbots 

Now that we’ve answered the question “what is a chatbot?”, we’ll look further into the types of chatbot available to see how they can fit into any customer service operations. 

1. AI Chatbot 

Many people ask – how do AI chatbots work? Simply, AI chatbots are powered by artificial intelligence so rather than just following a pre-set range of questions and answers, they can also understand intent and complexities of language. This means they can engage in more natural conversations and handle more complex questions. Rather than just serving as an interactive FAQ, AI chatbots can also take action and help customers accomplish tasks like booking meetings or making payments. 

Comm100 AI Chatbot can handle up to 91% of queries without any human interaction, as it is doing for Tangerine Telecom

Conditional Logic is an intelligent feature some AI chatbots offer that makes it possible to personalize every customer interaction based on a customer’s profile and relationship with the business. This lets you deliver high-quality and personalized service without building and maintaining multiple chatbots. 

AI-powered chatbots shouldn’t be difficult to build either. Comm100 AI Chatbot boasts an easy-to-use, code-free UI so that with a little initial support, people without programming knowledge can build an AI-powered chatbot. 

“I don’t have a computer science or programming background so finding a chatbot that was simple to build and code-free was crucial – and Comm100 Chatbot delivered on this. With a little learning and guidance from Comm100’s bot architect team, I built our bot from scratch with no technical knowledge. I think anyone who has a social media account can build a Comm100 Chatbot.”

– Lachlan Todd, Communications & Systems Coordinator, Thompson Rivers University

2. Task Bot 

Task bots guide customers through a series of questions and answers using buttons to resolve their query or complete a task. Task bots can use text, images, videos, links, and more to create a dynamic response that is engaging. 

Here are some examples of how organizations can utilize task bots: 

  • Answer simple and common FAQs
  • Direct customers to relevant pages for answers
  • Book meetings
  • Capture contact information from customers
  • Route customers to the best agent for the job.

Besides automating manual and time-consuming requests, task bots also let companies deliver 24/7 support without spending thousands of dollars hiring new staff or outsourcing to an international customer service provider. This improves CX, as well as engagement and lead generation. 

Task bots are often a good place to start in your chatbot journey because they are incredibly easy to build and require no coding. You can simply choose from a selection of templates or build your own with an intuitive drag-and-drop functionality. 

3. Voice Bot 

Voice bots make it easier to update, manage, and automate voice channels supporting a customer service workflow. Like other bots, voice bots can handle unlimited simultaneous conversations, allowing them to provide immediate support and cut down wait times. Perhaps most importantly, voice bots can provide 24/7 voice support to customers in a cost-effective way. 

Some of the key features of voice bots include: 

  • Text-to-speech and speech-to-text capabilities to understand customer intents
  • Intuitive and code-free building interface
  • Intents of greetings, goodbyes, and other conversational language for better understanding
  • Fully customizable escalation to human agents
  • Collection of information for variable responses.

Comm100 Voice Bot offers an intuitive drag-and-drop interface that allows for simple customization. This includes a flow builder equipped with built-in dialog management and Natural Language Understanding (NLU) features. 

4. Agent Assist 

Comm100 Agent Assist takes the best features of AI chatbots and puts them to work for support agents. When a customer sends a message, Agent Assist offers appropriate answers to the agent. The agent can then simply click the answer and it is sent to the customer without any time-consuming typing or searching for answers. Agent Assist works across live chat, social media and SMS. Here are just some of the benefits and use cases of Agent Assist: 

  • Provide more helpful responses with direct links to knowledge base resources
  • Reduce the time that agents spend seeking answers and typing responses
  • Automate workflows through Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
  • Train agents faster by guiding their learning as responses are suggested.

As with Comm100’s other chatbot technologies, getting up and running with Agent Assist is simple. You just need to select the knowledge resources to be used and agents will start receiving suggestions. Agent Assist also gets smarter over time by watching agent behavior. Just like a standard AI chatbot, Agent Assist will provide better responses as the machine learning algorithm understands what responses leads to improved customer outcomes. 

Conclusion 

If you’d like to learn more about chatbots, take a look at our Comprehensive Guide to Chatbot Software. Our comprehensive guide goes into greater detail than we have here, for questions such as: 

  • What are the key benefits of chatbots?
  • What are some chatbot use cases?
  • How do I build a chatbot?
A Comprehensive Guide to Chatbot Software

A Comprehensive Guide to Chatbot Software

Learn everything you need to know about chatbots, from their key benefits and popular use cases to how to build them.

Learn more
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About Kate Rogerson

Kate is the Content Marketing Manager at Comm100. She has extensive experience in content creation for technology companies across the world, including the UK, Australia and Canada. She specializes in B2B messaging, branding and soccer trivia.