How Do Chatbots Work?



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Angela Lepelley from Five9, and Steven Harris from Odigo describe how chatbots work.

How Do Chatbots Work?

Angela Lepelley (Five9)

Angela Lepelley at Five9

Angela Lepelley

For me a chatbot is essentially just a computer program that’s taking actions, specific inputs and triggers to complete the task through a human conversation.

So ultimately you have a user, who communicates with the chatbot through a user interface. This can be a chat interface, messaging application, or via voice. And you speak to that chatbot just like you would another person.

And then the chatbot interprets those words given to them by the user and then provides an answer and a response back to the user. I think it’s how we interpret these words and extract meaning out of them that’s important.

There’s a distinction between the simple rule-based bots, where you’re clicking buttons and choosing from options and relevant answers. These are based on basic pattern matching and keyword spotting, and there’s often only just kind of preset answers to these.

But the distinction between those and now what we’re moving to in today’s chatbots, which are AI powered, is really the ability to use free language and speak naturally. And that’s where we need the more sophisticated algorithms and capability.

Steven Harris (Odigo)

Steven Harris at Odigo

Steven Harris

Chatbots are used to answer queries, provide information or help you through a process such as booking travel.

And I think the same as people, they go through four stages.

First they make sure they understand the request, they analyse the words using statistical techniques and so on. Then, like us, they have the ability to learn and get better at understanding.

Second, they then gather any relevant data. So maybe a customer’s account details, an outstanding order, product information, whatever is appropriate to the query.

Third, they use all of this to determine the type of response and they’ll typically have a library of options to do that. And then obviously they can incorporate the specific information that they’ve gathered where it’s needed to answer the query.

Fourth, they then deliver a response. That could be an answer, it could be a request for clarification information, it could be a request for the next piece of information needed to go through a process.

And I guess in some cases they recognize they can’t handle a request and they put you through to a human being.

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Published On: 6th Jun 2022
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