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The term chatbot comes from the contraction of the words chat and robot. These are software solutions designed to simulate a conversation with human users.

The chatbots are having a really great success and it is assumed that they will grow (in use and performance) in the next few years. Why are they so popular? Because they fit perfectly with the context we are used to: we look for quick answers and immediate contacts, and they can give us all this.

The chatbot is an assistant that communicates with us through text messages, a virtual companion that integrates into websites, applications or instant messengers. The most popular field of application are chat platforms, such as Facebook Messenger, Telegram or Whatsapp. Why? Because today people are using chat apps more than others, even more than social networks.

This software solution helps entrepreneurs to get closer to customers, creating a new frontier for interaction between companies and costumers.

The chatbot can be applied to various field, such as information, news, assistance, services and sales. Thanks to its flexibility can be used to make customer care, build loyalty, create engagement, make lead generation and accomplish. More generally, marketing actions. 

TYPES OF CHATBOTS

Currently there are 3 types of chatbots, with three different complexity level

1st LEVEL: MENU / BUTTON-BASED CHATBOT

The most basic type of chatbot on the market today, similar to multiple choice auto responders. 

At each step in the conversation the user will need to pick from explicit options to determine the next step in the conversation, and to dig deeper towards the ultimate answer.

They are not suitable in more advanced scenarios in which there are too many variables. It’s also worth noting that menu/button-based chatbots are the slowest in terms of getting the user to their desired value.

2nd LEVEL: KEYWORD RECOGNITION-BASED CHATBOT

It can listen to what users type and using customizable keywords and artificial intelligence. It is able to serve an appropriate response to the user.

This kind of chatbot is suitable for fields not too complex and well defined.

[It is becoming quite popular to see chatbots that are a hybrid of keyword recognition-based and menu/button-based. They offer to the user both the multiple choice and the recognition of keywords, depending on the option selected or the type of conversation]

3rd LEVEL: CONTEXTUAL CHATBOT

The most advanced kind of chatbot. It utilizes Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to remember conversations with specific users, to learn and grow over time. They are smart enough to self-improve based on what users are asking for and how they are asking it.

It is the best solution but is also the more complex and expensive.

Which benefits can chatbots bring to you business?

1) IMPROVE CUSTOMER SERVICE

Chatbots can provide assistance real-time, no time or day limitations. Having a good customer service 24/7 has a positive impact on your customer satisfaction.

2) AUTOMATE REPETITIVE TASKS

Customer support process can be improved with the help of chatbots. Bots can be programmed to give automated answers to repetitive questions immediately.

3) SAVE HUMAN RESOURCES FOR HIGHER QUALITY ACTIVITIES

Bots never go to sleep and they are not bored to perform repetitive actions. This enables human customer service representatives to save time and assist more important cases rather than time consuming simple tasks.

4) INCREASE BUSINESS BRANDING

Chatbots allow you to start a conversation with each customer, regarding any issue, any time of the day. This will make your customers feel that your brand is one step ahead, like a friend who is available 24/7, and (obviously) improve your brand perception in the long run.

5) PERSONALIZE COMMUNICATION: BEST COSTUMER EXPERIENCE AND ENGAGEMENT

The user lives a positive experience because he receives immediate and appropriate answers to his/her needs, arousing in him/her a feeling of trust. It also has a personalized experience thanks to the data that the chatbot can collect on the user. 

6) INCREASE SALES

The Chatbot guides the user through the purchasing process, advising him/her and looking for personalized solutions. It supports up-selling or cross-selling strategies and makes the steps that lead to the final purchase easier. 

The potential of the chatbot are many and many others will open with their development in the coming years. However it is a tool that can not totally ignore the human presence: some activities can be carried out by bots, but entrusting them the whole process can bring problems and negative results.

The most virtuous examples are represented by an intelligent coexistence between bots and human personnel, proposing both automated services and the intervention of human personnel on issues that go beyond the machine. 

Technology has to be a means, not the end.

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