What is a chatbot? Simulating human conversation for service


Chatbot definition

A chatbot is a software application designed to simulate human conversation with users via text or speech. Also referred to as virtual agents, interactive agents, digital assistants, or conversational AI, chatbots are often integrated into applications, websites, or messaging platforms to provide support to users without the use of live human agents.

“Chatbots are an application of natural language processing that allows typically text- but increasingly voice-based conversations, bidirectional, between a user and the digital interface,” says Liz Miller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research.

Chatbots originated as menus of options for users, decisions trees, or keyword-driven tools that looked for particular phrases, such as “cancel my account.” Current iterations use AI and machine learning to create a more human-like experience.

As AI systems improve, chatbots are likely to see massive growth in use. According to Mordor Intelligence, the global chatbot market is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 35% from 2021 to 2028, when it will reach $102 billion.

Chatbot examples

Chatbots are used on customer- and employee-facing platforms and communication channels, such as websites, social media platforms, or enterprise communication systems, and are increasingly built into major enterprise software systems such as customer relationship management, customer experience, HR, and help desk platforms.

They are used to answer common questions, with natural language processing engines enabling them to understand questions posed with unusual wordings. Chatbots can also be used to guide customers or employees through common tasks, or teach them how to use products and services.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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