Chatbot vs Conversational AI (Differences, FAQs)

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Chatbot vs conversational AI: What’s the difference?

While they may seem like the same thing, there are significant differences between the two technologies. This includes differences in how they work, their scalability, their outputs, and more.

In this article, we’ll cover the 6 key differences between traditional chatbots vs conversational AI and answer some related FAQs.

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Chatbot vs Conversational AI: 6 Key Differences

Here are the 6 key differences between chatbots and conversational AI:

  1. Definition

    Let’s start with how chatbots and conversational AI differ in terms of their definitions:

    What is a Chatbot?

    A chatbot is a computer program that’s capable of human interaction automation via text using predetermined responses. This program is also called a rule based chatbot.

    Most traditional chatbots exist as basic software programs, operating through a user interface designed for chatting on a website or an app. Some examples include Facebook Messenger, the WhatsApp chatbot, other social media chatbots, etc.

    What is Conversational AI?

    Conversational AI or conversational Artificial Intelligence is the set of AI technology tools behind automated messaging and speech-enabled apps that offer humanlike interactions between computers and humans.

    These conversational AI applications or AI technology tools include:

    • Natural Language Processing (NLP)
    • Machine Learning (ML)
    • Natural Language Generator (NLG)
    • Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR)
    • Dialog Manager (DM)
    • Deep learning
    • And intelligent analysis

    Examples of conversational AI systems include Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple's Siri, Google Home, and more.

  2. Type of Input and Output

    Both chatbot and conversational AI systems are designed to comprehend inputs (customer questions or issues) and generate a suitable output (solution or response). However, the kind of inputs and outputs differ greatly.

    1. Chatbot

      Traditional chatbots are capable of only text commands, inputs, and outputs, usually in a single language. They can’t comprehend or generate voice inputs or outputs.

    2. Conversational AI

      Conversational Artificial Intelligence, on the other hand, is capable of voice and text commands, inputs, and outputs. Moreover, conversational AI systems can work simultaneously in various languages while conveying the same overall logic.

  3. Channels

    Let’s now focus on the different channels that you can use traditional chatbots and conversational AI solutions on:

    1. Chatbot

      A chatbot is a single channel tool, meaning it can be used only as a chat interface on a website, social media platform, or app.

    2. Conversational AI

      Conversational AI is omnichannel, making it far more versatile. It can be deployed in a website, voice assistant (Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant), smart speaker (Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home), virtual assistant (or intelligent virtual assistant), virtual agent, call center, and even SMS!

  4. Operation

    When it comes to how a chatbot and conversational AI platform work, there are significant differences:

    1. Chatbot

      Chatbots operate on predetermined, scripted conversational flows. If you wish to update or revise the pre-defined script and conversational flow, you'll have to reconfigure the chatbot.

      Chatbots also use Natural Language Understanding, but it’s limited to basic keyword recognition. They look for specific words in customer input and then provide an automated response to those words.

    2. Conversational AI

      Conversational AI solutions use natural language processing and contextualization to generate a unique response that isn’t pre-programmed.

      This also allows the AI bot to continuously improve itself and generate accurate, personalized humanlike responses. It does not rely on a set of predetermined keywords to generate fixed responses.

  5. Interaction and Scope

    The technologies that help a chatbot and conversational AI solution interact with a customer also vary greatly:

    1. Chatbot

      A chatbot is rule-based and follows a predetermined conversational flow. This means a chatbot’s conversations are limited to linear interactions.

      The pre-defined regulations and workflows also prevent a rule based chatbot from handling out-of-scope tasks (responding to things the bot wasn’t programmed to respond to).

    2. Conversational AI

      Conversational AI, however, has a vast scope thanks to machine learning and Natural Language Understanding (NLU). These technologies help conversational AI applications have nonlinear and dynamic customer interactions.

      As a conversational AI solution doesn't follow specific scripts, it can adapt to unique situations in real-time, enhancing customer experience and customer satisfaction.

  6. Scalability

    Conversational AI and traditional chatbots are both scalable. However, there’s a massive difference between their cost and ease of scalability.

    1. Chatbot

      A chatbot is quite expensive and time-consuming to scale because its conversational flow requires frequent manual maintenance, updates, and revisions to remain useful for quality customer service.

      Every time you wish to change how your chatbot responds to a particular customer query, you’ll need to reprogram it.

    2. Conversational AI

      Conversational AI, on the other hand, is easily scalable.

      The AI technology pulls data from various sources such as websites, databases, text corpora, and APIs. Whenever these sources are revised or updated, the changes are automatically applied to the conversational interface.

      Moreover, with such large databases, a conversational AI platform is constantly self-learning and grows with your company without manual updates or revisions.

So, the question is, which technology solution is the best option for your business?

Chatbot vs Conversational AI: Final Verdict

The answer’s simple, conversational AI is a far better solution for your business.

Sure, both rule based chatbots and conversational AI applications make it possible to resolve a customer query without human interaction or human agent interference.

However, traditional chatbots can only perform certain specified, pre-scripted tasks such as answering simple FAQs and helping with app navigation, etc.

And when customer questions go beyond the script, the response is either robotic or unhelpful. This can reduce customer engagement because they’d rather have a conversation with a helpful person than a bot.

Conversational AI, on the other hand, is the clear winner between the two since it can do everything a chatbot can and more!

Unlike basic chatbots, conversational AI can handle difficult customer problems, employ machine learning, and generate personalized, humanlike responses. This way, a human agent can focus on more complex business operations.

As a result, conversational AI plays a massive role in improving customer engagement, customer satisfaction, and user experience.

With that said, let’s go through three FAQs to clear up any questions you may have:

3 FAQs on Chatbots and Conversational AI

Here are some answers to FAQs related to conversational AI solutions and chatbots:

  1. What is Natural Language Understanding?

    Natural Language Understanding is a branch of Artificial Intelligence (that’s part of Natural Language Processing).

    It’s the software that enables computer-human interaction.

    To do so, Natural Language Understanding (NLU) employs computer software to comprehend and transform human language, such as English, Spanish, French, etc., into a machine-readable format.

    With NLU and machine learning, computers can automatically analyze tons of data quickly, saving countless hours for businesses like a call center or customer support when analyzing customer service feedback.

  2. What Makes a Chatbot Conversational?

    There are different types of chatbots, including rule-based and AI-driven. A conversational chatbot (or conversational AI chatbot) is the most advanced AI-powered chatbot or virtual agent today.

    Unlike basic chatbots, a conversational AI bot uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to deliver the best customer experience possible.

    With the help of AI technology tools, it examines any available context to get a contextual understanding of a customer query. The conversational bot then applies every bit of its understanding to figure out a solution for the customer query.

    The main advantage of an advanced conversational AI chatbot over basic chatbots (or rule based chatbots) is that it understands the meaning behind every customer query and doesn’t just detect keywords. This way, the bot can also understand customer questions with typos, improving customer service and customer experience.

  3. What is Conversational Commerce?

    Conversational commerce (or chat commerce or conversational marketing) is the name given to the way online retailers use the power of conversation via chatbots to sell their products and services.

    This technique quickly moves your potential customers through the marketing and sales funnels.

    The conversational marketing experience can be delivered to your customer via live chat, AI chatbot, voice assistant (like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant), social media messaging platform (like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp), etc.

Final Thoughts

While basic chatbots can handle a limited number of simple tasks, they’re limited to following predetermined rules and workflows. If a customer request is unique and hasn’t been previously defined, rule based chatbots can’t help.

In contrast, conversational AI can understand and mimic human interaction and perform more complex tasks, increasing customer engagement. And it does it all while self-learning from every use case and customer interaction.

Thankfully, finding a conversational AI solution doesn’t have to be confusing.

You can efficiently introduce conversational AI to your company without designing your own AI bot and algorithm using a conversational AI solution like iovox Insights.

With the iovox Insights service, you can:

  • Make conversation searchable
  • Record calls to track and spot trends
  • Transcribe every recorded conversation to draw insights
  • Use the keyword spotter feature to track calls that mention specific terms
  • And more!

Try iovox Insights today to truly understand and track every customer interaction, and never miss a growth opportunity!

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