A website chatbot is a software application used to conduct an on-line chat conversation via text or text-to-speech, in lieu of providing direct contact with a live human agent. Designed to convincingly simulate the way a human would behave as a conversational partner, chatbot systems typically require continuous tuning and testing, and many in production remain unable to adequately converse or pass the industry standard Turing test. The term "ChatterBot" was originally coined by Michael Mauldin (creator of the first Verbot) in 1994 to describe these conversational programs.
Website chatbots are used in dialog systems for various purposes including customer service, request routing, or information gathering. While some chatbot applications use extensive word-classification processes, natural language processors, and sophisticated AI, others simply scan for general keywords and generate responses using common phrases obtained from an associated library or database.
Most chatbots are accessed on-line via website popups or through virtual assistants. They can be classified into usage categories that include: commerce (e-commerce via chat), education, entertainment, finance, health, news, and productivity.
Applications of website chatbot
Many companies' chatbots run on messaging apps or simply via SMS. They are used for B2C customer service, sales and marketing.In 2016, Facebook Messenger allowed developers to place chatbots on their platform. There were 30,000 bots created for Messenger in the first six months, rising to 100,000 by September 2017.Since September 2017, this has also been as part of a pilot program on WhatsApp. Airlines KLM and Aeroméxico both announced their participation in the testing; both airlines had previously launched customer services on the Facebook Messenger platform.The bots usually appear as one of the user's contacts, but can sometimes act as participants in a group chat.Many banks, insurers, media companies, e-commerce companies, airlines, hotel chains, retailers, health care providers, government entities and restaurant chains have used chatbots to answer simple questions, increase customer engagement, for promotion, and to offer additional ways to order from them.A 2017 study showed 4% of companies used chatbots. According to a 2016 study, 80% of businesses said they intended to have one by 2020.
Company internal platforms:
Other companies explore ways they can use chatbots internally, for example for Customer Support, Human Resources, or even in Internet-of-Things (IoT) projects. Overstock.com, for one, has reportedly launched a chatbot named Mila to automate certain simple yet time-consuming processes when requesting sick leave. Other large companies such as Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, Renault and Citroën are now using automated online assistants instead of call centres with humans to provide a first point of contact. A SaaS chatbot business ecosystem has been steadily growing since the F8 Conference when Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg unveiled that Messenger would allow chatbots into the app. In large companies, like in hospitals and aviation organizations, IT architects are designing reference architectures for Intelligent Chatbots that are used to unlock and share knowledge and experience in the organization more efficiently, and reduce the errors in answers from expert service desks significantly. These Intelligent Chatbots make use of all kinds of artificial intelligence like image moderation and natural language understanding (NLU), natural language generation (NLG), machine learning and deep learning.
Many high-tech banking organizations are looking to integrate automated AI-based solutions such as chatbots into their customer service in order to provide faster and cheaper assistance to their clients who are becoming increasingly comfortable with technology. In particular, chatbots can efficiently conduct a dialogue, usually replacing other communication tools such as email, phone, or SMS. In banking, their major application is related to quick customer service answering common requests, as well as transactional support.Several studies report significant reduction in the cost of customer services, expected to lead to billions of dollars of economic savings in the next ten years. In 2019, Gartner predicted that by 2021, 15% of all customer service interactions globally will be handled completely by AI. A study by Juniper Research in 2019 estimates retail sales resulting from chatbot-based interactions will reach $112 billion by 2023.Since 2016, when Facebook allowed businesses to deliver automated customer support, e-commerce guidance, content, and interactive experiences through chatbots, a large variety of chatbots were developed for the Facebook Messenger platform. In 2016, Russia-based Tochka Bank launched the world's first Facebook bot for a range of financial services, including a possibility of making payments. In July 2016, Barclays Africa also launched a Facebook chatbot, making it the first bank to do so in Africa. The France's third-largest bank by total assets Société Générale launched their chatbot called SoBot in March 2018. While 80% of users of the SoBot expressed their satisfaction after having tested it, Société Générale deputy director Bertrand Cozzarolo stated that it will never replace the expertise provided by a human advisor. The advantages of using chatbots for customer interactions in banking include cost reduction, financial advice, and 24/7 support.
Chatbots are also appearing in the healthcare industry. A study suggested that physicians in the United States believed that chatbots would be most beneficial for scheduling doctor appointments, locating health clinics, or providing medication information. Whatsapp has tied up with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to make a chatbot service that answers users’ questions on Covid-19.The Indian Government recently launched a chatbot called MyGov Corona Helpdesk, that works through Whatsapp and helps people access information about the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.Certain patient groups are still reluctant to use chatbots. A mixed-methods study showed that people are still hesitant to use chatbots for their healthcare due to poor understanding of the technological complexity, the lack of empathy, and concerns about cyber-security. The analysis showed that while 6% had heard of a health chatbot and 3% had experience of using it, 67% perceived themselves as likely to use one within 12 months. The majority of participants would use a health chatbot for seeking general health information (78%), booking a medical appointment (78%), and looking for local health services (80%). However, a health chatbot was perceived as less suitable for seeking results of medical tests and seeking specialist advice such as sexual health. The analysis of attitudinal variables showed that most participants reported their preference for discussing their health with doctors (73%) and having access to reliable and accurate health information (93%). While 80% were curious about new technologies that could improve their health, 66% reported only seeking a doctor when experiencing a health problem and 65% thought that a chatbot was a good idea. Interestingly, 30% reported dislike about talking to computers, 41% felt it would be strange to discuss health matters with a chatbot and about half were unsure if they could trust the advice given by a chatbot. Therefore, perceived trustworthiness, individual attitudes towards bots, and dislike for talking to computers are the main barriers to health chatbots.