Chatbots and Conversational AI are NOT the same

Kiren Kahlon

July 27, 2022

9 min read

What is the difference between Conversational AI and chatbots? This is a question we hear all too often, so this article will be unpacking the key differences to help you decide which is best for your business.

What are chatbots?

Simply put, a chatbot is a software or computer program that is used to conduct an online chat conversation via text or text-to-speech. This allows humans to interact with digital applications online, in a way that mimics conversation with a real person.

The complexity of chatbots varies, with basic chatbots only being able to complete limited tasks such as answering simple FAQs. Most chatbots are rule or flow-based, which means they have pre-written questions and answers and have to follow a set flow, so they are unable to deviate from their provided answers or topics. This means that answers are pre-determined and there is little room for manoeuvre, however following a set flow means they are relatively easy to build. 

Chatbots are a great option for businesses looking to improve their customer experiences, with common functionalities including:

  • Online shopping — Chatbots can be used to answer simple product questions and provide useful information, such as shipping prices and tracking and returns information.
  • Customer service — Chatbots can answer common questions, such as FAQs, provide basic troubleshooting and connect customers to relevant departments within the business.  

It’s important to remember that the majority of chatbots don't understand sentences. Instead, they focus on keywords and provide an automated response to those.

What is Conversational AI? 

Conversational AI is a set of technologies that allows people to communicate with applications, websites or devices in a human-like manner. While the chatbot works for text-based conversations, Conversational AI can be used via text or speech. 

Conversational AI can recognise text and speech, understand intent and different languages and can respond in a human-like manner. So how does it work?

The core technologies used include Natural Language Processing, Natural Language Understanding, Machine Learning, Automatic Speech Recognition, Deep Learning, and Predictive Analytics. These elements allow conversational AI applications to:

  • Understand natural human language, including slang, abbreviations and mispronunciation.
  • Develop greater understanding through interactions rather than rules given in advance.
  • Continuously get smarter through analysis and data gathered to improve future experiences.
  • Respond in an intelligent and conversation-like manner.

Since Conversational AI applications don’t need to follow a set of rules or a script, the business use cases are a lot more advanced than those with the chatbot. Some ways it can be used in businesses include:

  • Customer service — Conversational AI technology can support companies with the entire customer journey, from interacting at the very first touchpoint to automating support.
  • Company forms and reports — Existing forms can easily be automated, whether that is search, filtering, Q/A, or form filling, Conversational AI technology speeds this up to allow forms to be completed and processed more accurately, easily and at speed. 
  • Training and recruitment Training can be automated, tailored and personalised for the end-user, so they only see things relevant to their job role or specific job needs. HR could also use the technologies to provide additional support to workers or to help with recruitment efforts. 
  • Recommend products and services — Conversational AI’s are great listeners. Through interacting with users, it gets to know them and in touch is able to make recommendations tailored for their needs. That means you could use it to upsell, cross sell, renew contracts, or just to know your end users better. 

Conversational AI can power chatbots

Conversational AI can be used to power chatbots, allowing them to become smarter and more efficient. However, it's important to recognise that not all chatbots are powered by conversational AI, as we have already mentioned above when it comes to rule or flow-based chatbots. 

The primary features of most chatbots include:

  • Keyword Focus — Most chatbots don't understand sentences. Instead, they look for specific words that customers type, then provide an automated response to those words.
  • Quick Deploy Times — Chatbots are relatively easy to deploy within your system, which is handy if you need to get something up quickly. Since Conversational AI is more powerful and capable than chatbots, it takes longer to initially set up.
  • Customer Intents — Most chatbots can handle around 100- 200 customer intents well. In this context, a customer intent is something that a customer is trying to communicate to the chatbot, which normally involves a specific combination of keywords.

In the chatbot versus Conversational AI debate, unless you are looking for a very basic bot that can answer questions you have preset, Conversational AI is almost always the better choice for businesses. It takes longer to set up and teach, however once it’s set up it is able to handle a lot more of the everyday tasks and queries, saving you more time in the long-run. 

Empower your workforce

At Wluper, we are working on ​​unique voice-based Conversational AI technology, giving you access to powerful voice and language understanding technology on any device. Using advanced NLU, we allow users to speak more naturally than ever before. No scripts or patterns, simply speak as you normally would and our voice-based technology will understand. 

Learn more about our TrueUnderstanding™ API or book a live demo to see Wluper in action.

‍Follow us on Twitter and Linkedin for the latest updates on what we’re up to.

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