What kind of chatbot do you need? Does it need to provide simple, one-way interactions or be able to hold a more complex conversation? On this blog, we have often pointed out that complexity is not necessarily a good thing for a chatbot and this case is no exception. Each company needs to find the balance between a complex chatbot that can handle all types of conversation and a simpler chatbot that will be cheaper to build and easier to maintain but comes with a more limited skill set.

The one-way chatbot

The most basic chatbot implementations are usually the conversational equivalent of an FAQ. page. They can receive questions from users and answer them with information stored in their knowledge base.  Given their simplicity, some companies question the utility of these chatbots since, as we said, they don’t appear to be too dissimilar from traditional FAQ or information pages. 

The difference, however, lies in the way people interact with them and the places where these chatbots can be implemented. Starting with the latter it is easy to see how a chatbot can provide information on a variety of messaging and communication applications such as WeChat, Facebook Messenger, or WhatsApp, while an FAQ page will only ever be suitable to live in a website. 

Interacting with a chatbot is also vastly simpler. All users have to do is ask a question, leaving the chatbot to do the time-consuming work of diving into the knowledge-base and finding the information. This difference might seem trivial but when dealing with large numbers of potential questions the time saved becomes significant. This is especially true when, instead of simply using a list of FAQs, the chatbot is used to extract information from company databases or manuals. 

Guided tasks and two-way chatbots

Going beyond the world of one-way chatbots we find two other varieties of automated systems: guided task chatbots and chatbots that can engage in two-way conversations. Guided-task chatbots sit in between their one-way conversations and two-way conversation cousins. They can’t hold a full two-way conversation, but they can guide a user through a process or a decision tree and get feedback from them on whether they have completed a task or not. 

Chatbots that can hold two-way conversations are the last step in this “evolutionary” scale, they can both ask and answer questions and can tackle a wider range of problems. To better understand what system will work best for your company, reach out to our team of experts using the contact link below.  They will be happy to listen to your problem and analyze your company to identify the best solution.