Artificial Intelligence is the umbrella term describing the use of computer science to mimic human intelligence. AI is nothing new, we’ve seen it in films for years and now we interact with it every day on the internet. Bots, and ‘chat bots’ in particular, are an increasing trend taking over the internet the past few years, and they’re slated to be labeled as the next big thing in 2017. Bing just recently launched their very own chatbot, “Bing Business Bot,” and it’s getting a lot of hype.
So, what exactly are bots, and how do they work? What is different about the Bing Business Bot? Allow us to explain.
What Is A Bot?
A Bot does more than just simulate conversation with a computer. A bot automates tasks over the internet. These are tasks you might usually do on your own, such as researching the answer to a question, adding an appointment to your calendar or making a making a dinner reservation.
The newest types of bots, “chatbots” or “chatterbots,” communicate for you via text, rather than speech. They work within messaging apps to simulate conversation. They make it feel like you are chatting back and forth with a human being.
Chatbots: The Virtual Employee
The latest chatbots are being used as virtual employees. They work similarly to a human manning a front help desk at a business; a live chat box appears to take business related questions.
For example, if you typed the question, “what are your holiday hours,” the chatbot would respond the same way a human would using the information available.
However, bots are only as smart and as ‘smooth’ as their programming. There are both “Structured” and “Machine Learning” bots.
Machine Learning Bots vs. Structured Bots:
Programmed with Natural Language Processing (NLP), Machine Learning bots harness the full power of AI. NLP allows the bot to understand and process the human language, allowing the machine to “learn.” It can understand the language pretty well, so the questions it is asked don’t need to be so specific. Machine learning bots continue to learn as they go, getting more and more clever each time they are interacted with. Specific learning algorithms, such as Neural Networks, are responsible for this capability. They consist of many different layers for analyzing and learning data
Structured or Scripted bots work on questions and answers that are hardcoded; they are basically the virtual employee with a smaller knowledge base and skill set. They can only give scripted answers to specific questions, and those questions must line up with the programming with which they have been set up. If you don’t ask a question the way the bot has been programmed to receive it, you may end up with an answer such as “I’m sorry, I don’t understand your question” more frequently.
What Is Bing Business Bot?
Bing has recently launched their very own chatbot – the Bing Business Bot. It is designed as a virtual employee to answer customer related questions and help manage customer communication on your behalf.
Since Microsoft already has a full suite of natural language understanding, artificial intelligence, and bot building tools, it’s no surprise they’ve come out with this app.
So, what makes it better than any other chat box current out there?
How Bing Business Bot Works:
Microsoft is currently offering their bot completely for free, which is a huge plus, but it is only available to restaurants at this time.
Once you claim your business in Bing Places, anyone who looks up your restaurant profile will see a “Chat” button. When clicked on, it immediately connects you to an automated chat box that is able to answer F.A.Q.’s based on the information entered in the business profile.
If it receives a question it doesn’t know the answer to, it will ask you for clarification, and remember that information for future reference. It can even provide analytics and insights as to what customers are asking about most often.
The Bing Bot is a Machine-Learning bot, meaning it gets smarter over time as it continues to gather information from you and answer questions from you customers. It allows customers to make reservations and ask business related questions, without taking time away from your busy staff. It can even act as a virtual waiter, with the ability to take and process orders for pickup.
Bing business bot can be accessed 24/7 via desktop or mobile device and can be embedded on your business website. It is also available on Bing and Skype. Once you’ve created your bot through the Bing Business Bot program, it will appear in Bing.com search results as well.
Microsoft has put together this informative video, with a great overview of what the bot has to offer:
ChatBots: The Wave of the Customer Service Future
AI in the form of live chatbots is here to stay, and they are an incredible communication tool, if done right. The reason a potential customer would use a live chat program is to have their questions answered immediately, and accurately.
So, If you are going to take advantage of this technology for your business, be sure you program your bot thoroughly and correctly to maximize its potential. A great way to ensure your chat program is set up thoroughly is to have a sales rep or other employee handle all support requests for a period of time, maybe a few weeks or a month. Have them take extensive notes so as to create a knowledge base of questions and answers. Use this information when programming your bot, and update it frequently.
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