What are the different types of chatbots?
There is a lot of talk around chatbots, as they are revolutionary in communication. But what types of chatbots actually exist? There are rule-based bots, bots with artificial intelligence (AI bots) and application-oriented bots that combine both rule-based and intelligent dialogue systems. In this article, we will introduce you to the different types of chatbots and show you the most important areas of use for them, as well as best cases.
What you’ll learn in this article:
Chatbots are automated dialogues. One of the biggest advantages of the technology is that chatbots can be extremely successful in customer service for companies. They are not limited to that, though! They have similar potential for the entire field of digital communication, depending on what type of chatbot you use.
Fundamentally, there are different types of chatbots. As a general rule, you can distinguish between two types of chatbots: rule-based chatbots and AI bots.
1.1 Rule-based chatbots (click bots)
The frequently used rule-based chatbots (also known as click bots) are based on predefined conversational paths, for instance, where users get predefined question and answer options. If a user tries to ask questions outside these pre-designed questions, the bot cannot answer them.
This is why it is important to design the rule-based chatbot in a versatile way. Different media formats such as images, GIFs, audios, videos, etc. can help. Also, a personal approach (requires the prior request of the name or first name) and different response options improve the experience. In comparison to AI bots, click bots are quickly designed, implemented and inexpensive.
1.2 Chatbots with Artificial Intelligence (AI bots)
Chatbots with artificial intelligence are able to conduct intelligent conversations with customers. The basis for this is their AI and, subordinately, so-called machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP). But what do these terms actually mean?
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence allows machines to simulate human intelligence and is an umbrella term.
AI is now an essential component in almost all apps we use in everyday life. Netflix uses AI to suggest movies that match your preferences, Spotify shows us songs based on your playlists, and YouTube can already guess which new videos might interest you based on your history.
Natural Language Processing (NLP)
Natural Language Processing enables machines to understand or translate human speech.
They can assign a meaning to the written or spoken word and, for example, provide grammatically correct translations or extract keywords. A good example is the spam filter, which reads the subject line of your e-mails and decides whether a mail belongs in the spam folder.
Machine Learning (ML, also DL = Deep Learning)
Machine learning enables an AI to recognize patterns in data sets. This allows it, as the name proposes, to learn on its own and continuously improve.
Today’s unbeatable chess bots, for example, play through millions of games and can use ML and data from previous games to learn which moves are strong or weak. The last recorded victory by a human against a chess AI was in 2005.
An AI bot is able to incorporate the context of the user’s input and respond to it appropriately in the chat. Thus, the user can converse with the bot in a natural, conversational style. In addition, the bot is capable of constantly learning from user feedback and the dialogues that have already taken place, and constantly improves the quality of its responses.
Previously found mainly at large companies, bots with artificial intelligence have now also arrived at medium-sized companies. With the AI chatbots from Chatlayer, for example, companies can automate their customer communication in an AI-driven way. With over 125 languages, large parts of the world can be covered.
1.3 Application-oriented chatbots
The application-oriented chatbots are hybrids that combine rule-based and intelligent conversational systems.
As mentioned, experts classify bots into two types, AI bots or FAQ bots. However, it must be taken into account that this is a purely technical view. It does not really do justice to the versatile use of chatbots.
A messenger is a communication channel. Therefore, classic communication patterns can be used for classification, such as 1:n, 1:1, and n:m communication. However, it is popular to classify the types of chatbots according to their use case for the user.
2.1 Consulting and service bot
A relatively simple assistant can now be ideally used in first-level support, for example, to directly answer recurring questions from customers. For more complex questions, the first-level support chatbot can help pre-qualify the customer and find out what kind of problem needs to be solved, so that it can be assigned directly to the right agent.
The turnaround time for inquiries at Women’s Best has dropped by 50% since the introduction of Messenger, and the customer care team receives 70% fewer emails.
David Kurzmann, CEO & Co-Founder of Women’s Best
Women’s best is an online store offering apparel and nutrition for female fitness enthusiasts. This example shows that with its customer service via WhatsApp Business, the international e-commerce company has been able to reduce the average turnaround time of customer inquiries by more than 50 percent and offers twice as fast service as before.
💡 Find out more in our exclusive case study How Women’s Best uses WhatsApp & Co. to offer its customers twice as fast services.
2.2 Gamification chatbots
These types of chatbots work much like computer games from the 1990s. With the help of questions and answers, together with the user, the chatbot works its way towards a goal.
Examples for a gamification chatbot can be one, that produces a personalised video for the user, to collect money or ask a friend to pay his debts. With a Q&A structure to the chat, German bank Sparkasse’s chatbot gets the information needed for the video
Another good example is a chatbot, that helps new employees to get familiar with their new employer via Quiz. The questions are designed to educate the user about the history and products of the company.
2.3 Bots that inspire
These virtual assistants help users with specific questions on a topic. For example, the chatbot from German food magazine Lecker offers numerous suggestions on the subject of cooking and baking. You can ask for recipes and (usually) get suitable answers. The chatbot from Lecker also provides daily inspiration for the next meal.
2.4 Information bots
The most widespread and successful virtual assistants at the moment are certainly the info chatbots. These inform you regularly about certain topics based on defined parameters such as time, location, and content preference. The chatbot from the Spanish e-mobility start-up GoeeMeep works as an FAQ bot and answers the questions of users with AI and NLP.
2.5 Chatbots for education
For regions of the world, that are not as digitalized or regions that are mobile first, chatbots for education make a lot of sense. For small or large groups, even whole countries in such regions, that lack knowledge in a certain field, a learning experience powered by a chatbot is proven to be quite effective.
The case of youth-led digital education organization Digify Africa demonstrates, that Africans are very open to learning via messaging app. To teach them the topics of safety in the digital world, digital competence and how to utilize digital services for themselves and their businesses, Digify built three different chatbots.
One of them was Naledi, a digital marketing learning chatbot helping young people and entrepreneurs to learn how to market themselves or their business on the internet and on social media.
The results of all three chatbots are impressive:
Chatbots can be used in all areas of communication. Wherever companies have a touchpoint with customers, be it assistance in the store, a service hotline or via mail and social media – a virtual assistant can take over simple or complex tasks. If you want to create a simple but effective customer service bot for your company, we recommend the Chatbot Builder from MessengerPeople. It’s free for our customers, and you don’t need any programming skills.
Many companies use chatbots in three main areas: marketing, consulting and service and HR.
Adidas: Marketing new boots with a chatbot on WhatsApp
For their new Predator football boots line, Adidas started the campaign “Rent-a-pred”. Football teams from London that are missing a player can reach out to Adidas via chatbot to get a replacement player that Adidas guarantees to be “100 % unfair”.
The Rent-a-Pred chatbot uses NLP to understand spoken language, dates, location, and teams of the match. This information is used to send the replacement player to the match. Plot twist: With a bit of luck, the unfair player may be world-famous football player Kaka.
💡 Tip: If you want to know more about AI bots, check out how Chatlayer by Sinch designs chatbots that can move your bots from awkward conversations to real interaction!
3.2 Consulting & Service
BMW: FollowNow chatbot offers customers real-time service on the repair status of their car
The aim of the chatbot is to enable customers to find out about the repair status of their car at any time. The WhatsApp bot relieves the customer service in first level support, and, thus, gives them more time for more complex customer inquiries.
The range of services offered by the FollowNow chatbot includes not only the prequalification of customer inquiries, but also appointment scheduling. In the meantime, many customers use this option and abandon phone calls, which massively relieves the customer service.
💡 Tip: In our case study “BMW Munich: 60 percent fewer calls with WhatsApp service!“, you can find out how BMW automates its workshop customer service quite simply.
AZUBIYO: Job offers via WhatsApp
HR chatbots can be very useful, as the user does not need to look for the job actively, but gets fitting job offers via messaging app. A use case can also be notifications, with which users also get new job offers first and can up their chances to get an interview. With the job platform for entry-level positions AZUBIYO, users get job offers from the page via WhatsApp. The chatbot offer them title and company of the job with a suitability score for their profile. A link to the full job description is offered.
💡 Tip: For more examples and information on chatbots and conversational messaging in HR, look at how recruitment agencies and HR use messaging services to inspire applicants.
Developers and communication managers should take sufficient time, especially in the consultation phase, to clarify the following points:
- What goal should a (marketing) chatbot have?
- How should the tone sound?
- What should it talk about?
- Do I want to offer a guided or free conversation?
- How do I design a valuable conversation?
- How do I respond to questions that my chatbot can’t answer?
💡 Tip: With these 5 Simple Things To Keep In Mind When You Build a Chatbot, you are equipped to build your own chatbot.
Of course, not all chatbots will work wonders. But to avoid common rookie mistakes, take a closer look at this list below, so that your chatbot will actually help your users.
- Your chatbot does not understand the questions or has very limited access to the answers (data).
- Chatbot is more like a computer game – but doesn’t answer questions about brand products or services.
- The dialogue only follows rigid patterns, but cannot do anything with differently asked questions or comments, and is then stuck in an endless loop.
- Your chatbot has no personality – it answers dully and inflexibly like a machine.
- Your campaign does something, but forgets to generate real added value for the user or customer in relation to the company. The bot does not answer important questions about the company or product.
Many projects with virtual assistants are discontinued after some time because they were not successful. Mostly, however, this is because the virtual assistants are poorly advertised and simply cannot be found.
The best ways to promote your chatbot is via social media, website, and newsletters. You can use click-to-chat ads on social media to direct customers to your chatbot in one click. It is also critical to prominently place buttons or your phone number on your website to increase visibility.
If you want to know what options you have to get more users on your messaging service, we recommend our article on how to get more users for your WhatsApp messenger service!
There are many types of chatbots or virtual assistants. It makes more sense to differentiate according to use cases from the user’s point of view than on the basis of purely technical features. Artificial intelligence is still a field of research rather than a hard use case. It is particularly important to think about what the bot must be able to do and, above all, what the user expects from the company (for which the chatbot “speaks”) in advance of the conception.
💡 Tip: Listen to Chatlayer’s CPO Joachim Jonkers talk about Chatbot Trends & Predictions 2022 – Where is the journey heading?
Chatlayer: Building real conversations with the leading AI chatbot provider
When it comes to chatbots, the Chatlayer team can teach you how to get started really fast! As the leading provider of AI chatbots, they engineer state-of-the-art technology. The bots are optimized for different industries and use cases, such as e-commerce, customer service, human resources, and insurance.
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