AI-powered chatbots are getting more complex by the minute, and they are more and more present in our lives, even if we don’t always realize it. From healthcare and retail to travel and education, chatbots are taking over repetitive tasks like booking, making appointments, authorizing transactions, and addressing people’s questions and concerns in ways that make them increasingly indistinguishable from a human operator.
What Is a Chatbot Exactly
A chatbot is a computer program designed to mimic online human interactions via text or text-to-speech using an AI advance known as Natural Language Processing (NLP). Some chatbots are not AI-enabled, which means that what they can do is quite limited by their creator’s resources and creativity. But the most advanced chatbots now use AI, deep learning, and NLP capabilities to learn and evolve based on the data they gather.
The most common applications of chatbots in our daily lives include 24/7 support, remote troubleshooting, personalized product recommendations, purchase assistance (including post-purchase assistance), hotel reservations and restaurant reservations, flight booking, order placement, and delivery, banking services, student assistance, and much more.
5 Ways Chatbots Are Taking over Our Lives
There are countless ways chatbots have become ubiquitous in our lives as more and more companies use them to slash costs, enhance customer experience, and harvest precious data on their customers to boost leads and sales. Here are five common day-to-day applications.
1. Smart home support
Virtual assistants have gone mainstream in recent years, as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana have entered the stage. These voice-activated virtual helpers can interact with human users through speech or text and can complete various tasks from booking flights and searching a piece of information on the Internet to controlling your smart home’s thermostat and lights and answering random questions.
2. A healthcare professional at your fingertips
Healthcare alongside real estate, travel, education, and banking are the industries that have the most significant chatbot implementation. Healthcare chatbots can offer helpful information to patients like medical articles, breaking news, disease symptoms, and treatments.
They can also help patients book an appointment with their doctors, follow up with their treatments, and guide them through the billing and insurance claims processes. More advanced chatbots like Stanford University’s Woebot can offer limited medical advice to specific users.
3. 24/7 customer support
Live chatbots have replaced customer service representatives in many industries since they are fast, free, and offer 24/7 customer support where needed. Now more and more websites are equipped with a live chat icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the page where a friendly chatbot welcomes you and asks you if you have any questions about the goods and services showcased on the website.
Some live chatbots like the AI-powered Hoory can be so customizable that they can be easily mistaken for a human customer service representative. Also, these types of chatbots use machine learning to improve their interactions with potential users while filling in any gaps through manual training.
One of the reasons so many businesses have embraced these bots is their ease of training and customization – no coding skills needed. (Take a glimpse at Hoory chatbot training to see just how easy it is.)
4. Automated booking
Google’s Duplex is an automated booking service that can call a restaurant to make reservations on your behalf. The bot makes uses of AI to sound like a real person and even have a conversation like a real human does. The technology is still in its infancy as human operators are often prompted to take over the conversation if things become too sophisticated for Duplex. Just like Siri and Alexa, Duplex is activated via a voice command like “Book me a women’s haircut!”
5. Offering companionship.
The so-called companion chatbots have been touted as an alternative to human relationships for people with conditions that make it hard for them to interact with their peers in healthy ways. For instance, Endurance can help Alzheimer’s patients have normal conversations despite the many challenges short-term memory loss poses to them. Endura also gathers information on the patient that doctors can use to spot further degradation in memory function and communication.
Another companion chatbot is the award-winning Mitsuku, which can help anxiety-prone and depressed users fight off loneliness by having conversations that feel like talking to a friend.