Chatbot Definition

Learn more about what chatbots are in business.

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chatbot definition

The definition of a chatbot is a computer program or application that is designed to interact with users, typically over the internet. A chatbot’s definition includes artificial intelligence. Chatbots mimic human interaction, but they’re actually just computer programs. 

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What is a Chatbot?

A chatbot may engage with users to answer product questions or direct users to information. Thus, a chatbot’s business definition is to engage with customers online at any hour of the day. This is particularly useful to businesses that can’t pay customer service representatives to work 24/7.

A chatbot’s meaning is to assist users through a computer program. Chatbots can be embedded on websites as pop-up boxes that answer basic questions. The chatbot may also ask the user to type in a question or will direct them to click on a listed topic for more information. If you ask a question that the chatbot doesn’t recognize, it may redirect you to a human representative.

Some types of chatbots engage verbally with a human. A human can verbally ask a chatbot a question, and the chatbot will reply verbally. Your tablet, smartphone, or computer may have these types of verbal interaction chatbots.

Chatbot Benefits

One of the benefits of a chatbot is that it can engage with a user at any time of the day or night. A chatbot is basically like a 24/7 customer service representative. A business owner can use a chatbot on their website to help customers answer common questions when no human is available. This can save a business owner in customer service costs and can help facilitate sales at any hour of the day. 

Chatbot Considerations

One of the disadvantages of a chatbot is that its abilities are limited. A chatbot isn’t a complete replacement for human interaction. For example, let’s say you have a question specific to your circumstances that the chatbot can’t answer because of its programming. A chatbot, by definition, is a computer program whose programming limits its responses. Thus, chatbots typically can’t respond to complex questions requiring a decision. A human conversation can discuss details and answer questions outside the chatbot’s scope.

Perhaps the chatbot doesn’t understand the way you formulate your questions. If a business relies on a chatbot as their front line of customer service, a chatbot may frustrate a customer who feels they can’t adequately explain their question. A human conversation, however, can clear up any misunderstandings. The customer may also feel they have to jump through hoops to speak to a human.

Other Names for a Chatbot

A chatbot may also be called a “chatterbot,” “bot,” “talkbot,” or “IM bot.” A business website may refer to its chatbot as a “virtual assistant.”

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Chatbot Examples

You may still be wondering what a chatbot is. There are many chatbot examples in your daily life. Examples of chatbots that engage in verbal interactions with users include Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. Messaging-type chatbot examples include a message box that pops up when you visit your bank’s website. Your phone company may have a chatbot respond to you when you text their helpline. Even the U.S. Department of Education’s federal student aid website uses a virtual assistant.

Summary

A chatbot is a computer program that interacts with users via messaging or verbally. A chatbot replicates human interaction and is a form of artificial intelligence.

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Disclaimer: The content on this page is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

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